THE COLLECTORS’ SOCIETY SERIES
By: Ada Frost
Releasing August 29, 2016
My skill? Providing illicit pleasure to thousands. If there is a fantasy to fulfil, my company will provide it.
I am the Porn Prince.
The cold hearted producer at Stone Industries who creates the hottest porn in the business.
But every ruler has an Achilles heel, and mine is chaos.
Abigail Warner is chaos.
From the moment she entered my office my world was turned upside down. She is my passion, my fantasy and everything I never wanted in life. The chaotic infuriating mess of a woman is everything I hate and avoid.
So why can’t I stop watching her.
Why do I crave her?
One taste and I know she will destroy me.
Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2016/08/watch-me-by-ada-frost.html
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29630580-watch-me?from_search=true
I love to read, and write. I only read romance, any in that genre really. But it has to have a beautiful happy ending, I know reality isn't like that, but I read to excape real life not re-live it. Reality is too broken and jaded without having to live through the trauma and angst in a book for it to end unhappily.
I live in Yorkshire, England with my family, and many pets. When I'm not writing I am a very busy mummy and wife. My family is my world, my purpose and I am proud to be a part of their lives.
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Captain Devlin Limmerick knows its secrets, keeps them hidden with his own. Feared as ‘The Devil’ on the high seas, he is lured to the manor by an unquenchable thirst for revenge. It is a thirst matched only by his hunger for the powerful medium he has coerced to aid him. Her presence at the manor invites strange, inexplicable happenings, forcing him to believe nothing is as dead as it seems. Especially his heart.
Blinded from youth and touched with an ability to communicate beyond the grave, Grace has been both feared and revered by the uneasy town folk. Yet she is powerless against the unrest brewing within the manor walls and finds herself wickedly drawn to the Devil's darkness. Still, she refuses to sacrifice her soul to set Devlin's unspeakable plans in motion.
In the throes of passion and danger, their skills will be tested beyond any foe they've ever fought, and not a single soul is safe. The only way out is deep within ... if they dare to believe.
The carriage barreled along the gravel path at an alarming speed, its four spoked wheels devouring small stones under the weight of the conveyance. Grace had never had the pleasure of riding in such rich travel accommodations, and she would’ve enjoyed the experience if not for the dread blooming in her heart over reaching their final destination.
After some time passed in silence, the seat cushion beside her squeaked as Brother Anselm shifted his weight, presumably to peer out the window. “The mansion wants only a moat and a drawbridge,” her mentor said. “Then the picture would be complete. Something out of Grimms’ Fairy Tales to be sure.”
Grace leaned closer into his side and smiled in spite of the fact that he confirmed her worst fears about Devil’s Cove Manor. He always did enjoy a scary story.
Captain Limmerick emitted a dry laugh. “You believe in witches or the big bad wolf, then? I’m sorry to hear it. You’ll not survive long in the manor. Perhaps you prefer to stay closer to your almighty God in the chapel?”
“Do not be unkind,” Grace lashed out. “Brother Anselm has faced far worse than witches and wolves. I assure you we both have. Isn’t that the reason you sought my services tonight?”
“Something like that,” the captain replied. “Pray tell, Miss Grace, what exactly does 100 pounds get me? For that price I should expect a meeting with the devil, at the very least. Or perhaps the gatekeeper to Hell?”
Grace sat up straighter, unfazed by his taunts. He was barbaric for attempting to alarm her, and stupid, too, if he truly required her services. But if he wished to tease her, then two could play at his game.
“Who believes in fairy tales now? Can we expect a visit from the neighboring prince bearing a glass slipper?”
The captain’s amused chuckled filled the cabin. “That would require a ball first. I’ll see what I can do about that.”
Grace snorted and pulled her cloak tighter around her, warding off the sudden chill racing up her spine. Balls held no allure for her, and she was tired of sparring with the captain. She hunkered down in her seat, tapping her feet to promote blood flow to her frozen toes.
A foreign creaking sound filled her ears for a brief moment, and then the captain cleared his throat. “Take this blanket,” he said, placing it in Grace’s hands. “The nights grow cold in fall. We’ll be home soon, then you can warm yourself by the fire.”
She accepted it with a curt nod and set the blanket over her legs, reveling in what little warmth it offered now; for soon they would arrive at the manor and she would face the cold reality of her greatest fears.
A Wounded Warrior Novel Book Two
By Anna del Mar
Genre: Romantic Suspense, Contemporary romance, SEAL romance, Military Romance
Publisher: Carina Press
Date of Publication: August 22, 2016
When a mysterious stranger is your only hope...
The scars of the past have left their mark, both physical and emotional, on former military pilot Seth Erickson. Off-grid in the far reaches of the bitter Alaskan wilderness, he wants only to be left alone with his ghosts. But he can’t ignore a woman in need—beautiful, stranded and nearly frozen with fear.
Summer Silva never imagined that the search for her missing sister would leave her abandoned on a wintry back road, barely escaping with her life from a cold-blooded killer for hire. Now, hiding out in the isolated cabin of the secretive wounded warrior who saved her, Summer knows she must do what she fears most. Putting her trust in a stranger is all she has left.
All defenses are down
After a fiery first night together, Seth and Summer are bound by a need as powerful as a Bering Sea superstorm—and vulnerable to enemies just as fierce. For Seth, reawakened by desire, there is no sacrifice too great, no memory too dark, to keep Summer safe. But murder and treason lurk everywhere and Summer may not survive Alaska’s ruthless winter.
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Silence. Only the sound of my ragged breath and my pulse, pounding in my temples, interrupted the atmospheric quiet. I pried my fingers from the wheel and stared at my shaking hands. They flickered in and out of focus until I managed to even out my breaths.
The good news? I was alive and, although the wreck had probably relocated some of my internal organs, nothing seemed broken. The bad news? The air bag hadn’t gone off and pain throbbed in my thigh and somewhere behind my ear. Crap. I’d come to Alaska to find my wayward sister, but my search had hit a major snag. Time to figure out how bad of a snag it was.
My hand was still quaking as I reached into my purse and found my cell. Zero bars. I groaned. What was the point of technology if it never worked when you needed it most? I snatched my purse and pulled on the door handle. The door refused to open. I scooted across to the other seat and opened the passenger side door, grateful to crawl out in one piece.
The cold hit me like a slap to the face. My nostrils flared and my lungs ached with the arctic wallop. To a tropical gal like me, the air smelled as though someone had stuffed a live Christmas tree in the freezer. Delicate snowflakes floated in the air like tiny speckles of silver. This was the first time I’d seen snow in real life. It was pretty, kind of magical really, but the cold crawled under my skin, stiffened my muscles and clung to my bones. I pulled my hood over my head. Had it been this cold when my plane landed in Anchorage?
My wrecked rental was wedged between the slope and the spruce like a deflated accordion. I had no prayer of backing it up the hill. I tackled the ravine, scrambling on all fours, and followed the wheel ruts up the slippery incline. It wasn’t easy. I wore a narrow pencil skirt under my Burberry trench coat, and a pair of four-inch heels I now wished I’d never bought.
It served me right for allowing my stepmother to choose my outfit for the Darius project presentation. Louise was a sucker for shoes—the taller, the better. Note to self: never again relinquish your feet to someone else’s sense of fashion when it’s you—and you alone—who has to suffer the resulting torture.
I’m not sure how long it took me to climb back to the road, but by the time I reached the top, my toes had gone numb, my hands ached and my fingertips had turned white. The road I’d been driving on looked totally benign, not like the camouflaged skating rink that had hurled my vehicle into the ravine.
I clapped my hands together to warm them up. The sound echoed for miles around me. Stuck in the Alaskan wilderness. Unreal. It was an unlikely predicament for a gal who’d much rather be at the beach. Shark attack? Sure, it wouldn’t surprise me if that ended up being part of my obituary. But frozen alive? Only if it involved a freak accident in Publix’s frozen food section.
“Summer Silva, get your act together,” I said out loud to break the eerie silence. My father hadn’t clung to a capsized raft for three days in the Florida Straits in order for me to die on my first day in Alaska.
I straightened my coat, shoved my hands into my pockets, and began to walk. A layer of slush-covered ice crackled beneath my heels. Crap. My feet slid every which way and my legs wobbled. Steady , Silva . I could handle the unwieldy shoes...on firm, unfrozen ground. The only ice I’d ever dealt with came out in little cubes from the automated dispenser in the freezer door.
Five minutes later, the cold skewered me and not a single car had made an appearance. I leaned into the bitter wind. I wasn’t made of sugar and spice. I was tough, and I meant to get out of this one, but I was majorly pissed. I was so going to give Tammy a piece of my mind when I found her.
I envisioned my sister lying on a white pelt in front of a roaring fireplace. I mouthed off into the deepening darkness. I was the levelheaded one. I was the one who always followed the rules, cleaned up the messes, did the responsible thing. And yet, right now, I was the one freezing my ass off on a desolate Alaskan road.
The headlights caught me by surprise. They sprang out from behind the curve and pierced the dusk. I waved my hands to flag down the speeding vehicle. As it got closer, I made out a Ford F-450 Super Duty, black as night, the type that would’ve made my truck-obsessed sister drool with envy. The truck drove right by me before the taillights lit up and it skidded to a stop, then accelerated in reverse.
The window whirred down to reveal the warmth and comfort of the softly illuminated cab. The leather-scented, heated air wafted from the window and teased my frozen senses. A man sat at the wheel, enveloped in a black thermal jacket that I would’ve gladly traded a thousand bucks for, on the spot. His face might have been handsome, if it hadn’t been distorted by the scowl that wilted my poor attempt at a smile.
He more or less growled. “Who the hell put you up to this?”
“Excuse me?” I clutched my hood against a sudden burst of wind.
“You better come clean right now,” he bit out in a tone that matched the frosty temperature. “A name. I want to know who the hell hired you and what you were expected to do.”
“Don’t play dumb with me.” He eyed me like a wolf eyed a meal. “Who was it? Was it someone related to me? I swear, if you don’t tell me this goddamn minute, you’re going to be sorry.”
I stared at the man in the cab, unable to comprehend his rage. What on earth was he talking about? The fury blazing in his striking amber eyes frightened me. As it was, I was so cold I couldn’t think, let alone make sense of what he was saying. I rubbed the sore spot behind my ear. Maybe I’d hit my head harder than I thought. Maybe this was a dream or a nightmare. Oh, God. My stomach clenched. I really hoped I was awake. I shoved my hand up my sleeve and pinched my arm. It hurt. In fact, a lot of me was either throbbing or aching. A good sign, yes?
“Well?” he said. “Are you going to speak up or are you dumb, deaf, and mute?”
“Um, no.” I rubbed my arms. “I usually have a lot to say. It’s just that...well...I’m cold and you—I’m really sorry to have to tell you—but you sound like a crazy person.”
He launched another blistering glower in my direction. “For the last time,” he said, his tone intractable, “who the hell put you up to this?”
“Nobody,” I said. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. My car skidded off the road and I’ve got no cell reception.”
“Your car?” He looked up and down the road. “I don’t see a car. Where is it?”
“Back there somewhere.” I’m not sure whether my treacherous heels slid on the ice or if fatigue did me in, but my feet went out from under me and, though I clung to the window, I landed on my knees. “Ow,” I might have said aloud.
“What the hell?”
I let go of the window and my dignity at the same time. I surrendered to the elements and settled precariously on the frosty ground. The cold iced my shins, traveled up to my core, and chilled my spine. I was about to pass out from exhaustion. I’d been up for over seventy-two hours. On top of that, I was suffering from a bad case of jet lag. If all of that wasn’t enough, the wreck had jarred my senses. I wasn’t in good shape and I knew it.
But I couldn’t allow myself to go unconscious. No, sir, no way in hell. I knew the risks of passing out in front of a stranger too well. I just needed a moment to gather my strength, defrost myself and get my act together. I leaned my forehead on the door and, basking in the warmth radiating from the undercarriage, forced myself to stay alert. Surely, I could get some help, the crazy man would go on his merry way, and I could move on to finish what I’d come to do.
The engine quit. The truck quaked with the slam of a door. Angry steps crunched on the road. A pair of hiking boots parked by my side. I looked up and cringed. The man’s scowl pummeled me. From my perspective on the ground, he soared above me, tall and imposing, a giant really. His knees cracked when he crouched next to me.
“Did Alex hire you?” he said. “Alex Erickson?”
“Are you telling me you don’t know who Alex Erickson is?”
His breath came out in angry puffs that condensed in the air. “Do you know who I am?”
“No clue,” I said. “Am I supposed to know?”
“You tell me.” He looked like he was about to spit fire. “If no one put you up to this, then what the hell are you doing out here in the middle of nowhere?”
“Not taking a walk in the park, that’s for sure.”
My throat made this weird noise, a cross between a sob and a giggle, a sound that combined confusion with hilarity, fear with absurdity. But I wasn’t going to cry. No freaking way. I wasn’t going to panic either. The part of me that felt utterly ridiculous kneeling on the frozen pavement in the middle of nowhere won out. I pressed my hand over my mouth, but the quiet giggles leaked out anyway.
The man rubbed the back of his neck and frowned, a dip of full eyebrows that screamed vexation. “Do you think this is funny?”
“Funny?” I couldn’t stop giggling. “No, not funny, more like hilarious.”
“Jesus Christ.” He raked his fingers through his longish hair, leaving a bunch of straight, flaxen strands in disarray. He didn’t know what to make of me, but he sure knew how to scowl.
The shivering, combined with his radioactive glower, stifled my giggle attack. I forced myself to pay attention. Determination whetted the man’s features and set the line of his jaw into a straight angle. A shade of stubble covered the lower half of his face, imbuing him with a golden glow that echoed the gleam in his eye, but there was nothing soft in his stare, not a hint of humor or friendliness.
At least he looked clean and groomed, unlike the rugged, hygiene-challenged bunch I’d met in the back-to-back episodes of Alaska’s Bush Men I’d binge-watched on the plane. Alaska had never been on my long list of places I wanted to visit, and after watching the show, I’d questioned my sister’s sanity along with that of people who lived away from even the most basic human comforts. Now I wondered about this surly stranger too, the first off-the-grid Alaskan I’d met.
“Is your cell working?” I said. “Could you please call the police?”
“There’s no reception on this stretch of road.” The copper-hued eyes probed my face. “If you really need help, I’m all you’ve got.”
Great. Just great. The world whirled around me. I steadied myself against the truck. Three days ago, I’d been in the middle of the most important presentation of my professional life when Louise had called to tell me about my stepsister, Tammy. I’d already been short of sleep and high on stress, but since then, I’d been on the go, trying to get to Alaska.
The earth beneath my knees shifted again. I tightened my grip on the truck and took a deep breath. I wasn’t one to fall apart so easily. To bad weather , a brave face , my father used to say, quoting an old Spanish proverb. I might be out of my comfort zone, but I hadn’t given up on my pride just yet. I straightened my coat and, balancing carefully on one knee, planted one foot first, then the other. I rose slowly from the iffy crouch.
“Oops!” My heels skidded in opposite directions. I fell, bounced on my butt, and ended up sprawled on the ground all over again, rear smarting from the impact. I cursed under my breath.
“Dammit.” The man hooked his hands under my arms, lifted me up, and set me upright. “There. Do you think you can stand on your own?”
“Maybe,” I mumbled, rubbing my ass. My legs buckled, but I steadied myself on the truck and willed my feet to stick to the ground.
“You’re shivering.” He opened the car door. “Get in.”
“No, thank you.” Even if I was freezing, there were rules about cars and strangers. “Can you please call for Roadside Assistance?”
The man actually scoffed. “No reception, remember?” He eyed me impatiently. “Lady, you do know that there’s a storm barreling down on south central Alaska, right?”
“The clerk at the airport did mention that.”
“But did he mention that anytime now, a Bering Sea superstorm is expected to bring blizzard conditions with winds in excess of sixty miles an hour?”
“Yeah, no.” I swallowed a dry gulp. “He didn’t put it quite as bad as that.”
“It’s going to get a hell of a lot colder,” the man said. “Emergency services went on lockdown about fifteen minutes ago.”
Fabulous, just fabulous.
“What I’m trying to tell you,” he explained in a strained tone obviously intended for the dimwits among us, “is that—assuming you’re not a trap—I’m your only option at the moment. So get in the damn truck, before you freeze your ass off.”
Dressed in his black jacket and blue jeans, glinting with all that gold in his eyes and hair, he looked perfectly normal. Minus the scowl, he might have even been good looking. But his bad temper and my flash-frozen brain made for a bad combination. Plus, there was a good chance he was more than paranoid and grouchy. Maybe he was off the grid in more ways than one.
“Look,” he said. “I’ve had a long day and I’m in a shitty mood.”
I rolled my eyes. “No kidding.”
“I wasn’t expecting this. You. Whatever.”
I perched my fist on my hip. “Do you think I was expecting you?”
“Just get in, okay?” He gestured to the cab. “I want to get indoors before the storm hits.”
“Oh, I don’t know.” I considered both, the brawny guy and his burly truck. “Where I come from, hitchhiking is dangerous.”
“Too bad,” he said. “In Alaska hitchhiking is a common form of transportation.”
“As far as I know, you could be a serial killer.”
“So could you.” He held the door open for me. “And my risk is higher than yours since, according to the Discovery Channel, female serial killers have been proven to be more dangerous than male serial killers.”
I’d either met my match or found the only other person in the world who watched as much Discovery Channel as I did.
“Get the hell in,” he said impatiently. “We’re running out of time.”
The weather was getting colder. The wind had picked up and the snow fell in bigger, wetter chunks. I was shivering violently, but still, I hesitated.
“Can you please take me to the nearest gas station or hotel?” I said, trying to keep my voice from quavering.
“The nearest gas station is sixty-five miles that way.” He stuck out his thumb and pointed behind him. “The nearest motel is seventy-eight miles in the opposite direction. There’s no time to get there. My cabin is close by and I have the full intention of being there by the time the storm hits in...” he paused to look at his watch, “...anytime now.”
The mention of the word “cabin” did nothing to appease my fears. I’d seen plenty of “cabins” in my reality show marathon. I didn’t want to spend a moment—let alone hours—chewing on squirrel parts in a rustic shelter without heat, electricity, or plumbing, especially in the company of a pissed-off guy whose actions so far put the strange in stranger.
“What is it going to be?” he said. “I’m willing to play the female killer odds if you decide you don’t want to turn into an icicle. It’s your choice, but I’m hauling ass right now.”
What’s the use of choices when one has none?
I said a little prayer, shuffled on the ice and, balancing carefully on my unwieldy heels, climbed into the front seat. He helped me up, shut the door, and walked around the truck. My head began to hurt, pangs of pain stabbing behind my eyes. Not good.
The man climbed in next to me in the cab. “Strap in.”
He switched on the ignition, pressed on the pedal and accelerated down the icy track as if truck skating was an X Games signature event and he was going for the gold. My knuckles tightened around the door handle. I bit down on my lips, but the backseat driver in me was out of control. Whether he was a serial killer or not was irrelevant. We were both going to die today.
He glanced in my direction. “You got a name?”
“Yes.” I pressed my frozen fingertips against the heating vent, reveling in the blessed heat.
“Well?” he said in that demanding tone of his.
I stared at him, mystified by his persistent state of grouchiness. “Well what?”
“Are you going to tell me what your name is or what?”
“Oh.” I was close to frozen stupid. “My name is Summer, Summer Silva.”
“Summer in Alaska?” He stared at me for an instant, then burst out into quiet laughter. “You’re a little late. Summer arrived in Alaska just in time to meet winter.”
Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I hadn’t slept in a while, but yeah, no. He wasn’t going to laugh at my expense. I narrowed my eyes on him.
“That’s quite the glare.” He suppressed another round of laughter. “I didn’t mean to be rude.”
“Well, you are rude, a lot rude in fact, accusing me of God knows what and acting like a total jerk.”
“Sorry,” he said. “It’s just that... Summer in Alaska.” His lips twitched. “You’ve got to admit. It’s pretty damn good.”
“Are you drunk?” I said. “Because if you are, maybe I should be doing the driving. I imagine they’ve got laws in Alaska, including some about drinking and driving?”
“You’re turning out to be a piece of work,” he said, smirking. “Bossy too, for someone riding in my goddamn truck. Here I am, doing you a favor, not letting you freeze off your pretty little stuck-up ass and yet you’re being a smartass and giving me attitude.”
“Are you for real?” He had a lot of nerve calling me a smartass. “You’re not exactly attitude free yourself.”
“And yes,” he added, ignoring my comment, “we do have some laws here in Alaska, although not nearly as many as they’ve got in the lower forty-eight. As to your question, nope, I’m not drunk, haven’t had a drop all day. Should’ve, but didn’t.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I mean that if there was ever a good day for drinking, today was it.” He stomped on the clutch and shifted gears. “But no, unfortunately, I’m not drunk. That and the shitty day probably explain why you’re getting a double dose of sarcasm.”
“Sorry about your shitty day,” I said. “But you need to mellow out. Do you always go around trying to bully people into doing whatever you want?”
“Pretty much.” He flashed what could’ve been a semi-contrite glance in my direction. “Look, I apologize for my lack of manners.” He offered his hand. “My name is Seth, Seth Erickson.”
I shook his hand, mostly because, sarcasm aside, he was making an effort to be civil. Plus, he was a fellow Discovery Channel watcher. His hold was firm, hot, and supremely comforting to my fingers. My entire body wanted to shrink into his grip if only to bask in his radiant heat. My fingertips tripped against the unusual texture at the bottom of his hand. I spotted a patch of mangled skin scarring his palm, crawling up his wrist and disappearing into his sleeve. He caught me looking and covered most of the scar with a self-conscious tug of his sleeve.
“You’ve got some icy fingers there.” He tapped on the console’s screen and punched up the temperature of my heated seat. “Tuck them under your thigh. Trust me. It’s the quickest way to warm up those puppies.”
He was right. Trapped between the heat of my body and the seat, my fingers began to thaw.
“Where the hell are you from?” he asked. “Miami.”
“Ah.” He smirked. “That explains it.”
“Your inability to cope with ice. And the outfit.”
I looked down at myself. “What’s wrong with my outfit?”
“No gloves, hat, boots, or a proper coat,” he said. “When I first saw you I thought you were either crazy or—well—you know.”
“No, I don’t know.”
“I thought maybe you were a plant, someone looking for attention, or more specifically, my attention.”
I stared at him for a full thirty seconds, unable to figure out what he meant. “What are you talking about?”
“Nobody in their right mind out here wears skirts and high heels on the roads, except the occasional call girl, playing a pre-ordered role or meeting a very specific customer...”
“Oh no you didn’t.” What was wrong with this man? “You thought I was a whore?”
“I couldn’t see beneath the coat...”
“Are you like...freaking insane?”
He cleared his throat. “It was probably the heels that gave me the wrong impression...”
“You’re out of your mind, you know that?” I snapped. “First you think your family is out to get you. Then you think I’m...what? A prostitute? Which implies that you think someone in your family was going to set you up with a...Jesus!” I rubbed my temples, wishing that I’d never come to Alaska and also that I’d ditched those damn shoes. “I really want to go home.”
“Don’t get upset.” His eyes betrayed a hint of concern. “I would’ve bought the look if I’d seen you down in, say, Ketchikan getting down from one of them fancy cruises. For future reference, Alaska 101: dress warm, keep dry, stay warm. That coat might look fine for a fall afternoon on Fifth Avenue, but in Alaska? It’ll kill you faster than a dip in the Bering Sea.”
Great. Advice from Mr. Sunshine himself. His condescending tone annoyed the hell out of me. “Okay, fine, maybe I’m not properly dressed for the weather, but that’s only because I had no time to plan for this trip. I’m not as stupid as you’re making me out to be.”
“No offense,” he said, “but all the tourists are gone. What the hell is someone like you doing all the way out here at the end of September?”
“It’s kind of a long story.”
“I don’t know why,” he muttered, “but I’m itching to hear it.”
“If you must know,” I said, “my sister ran away with a guy she met on the internet. He’s from Alaska and I came to find her.”
He flashed me a skeptical look. “Is your sister stupid?”
“No,” I said, but at times like these, I wondered. “Tammy is just...impulsive.”
“Has she done stuff like this before?”
“Well, yeah, but it’s not really her fault.”
“What do you mean it’s not her fault?”
“She struggles with bipolar disorder.”
“Hey, lady, Summer—right?” he said. “There’s no excuse for stupidity. I’ve met people with all kinds of injuries and disorders who know better than to run away with a stranger they met on the internet.”
“I know, but Tammy is...”
My cell rang to the tune of chirping birds. Reception. I had reception! I groped through my purse until I found the phone.
“You might get a minute or two if you’re lucky,” Seth cautioned. “After that, nothing for a while.”
My tepid fingers fumbled over the keypad, accidentally hitting the speaker in the process. “Hello?”
“Did you find Tammy?” Louise’s voice blared in her best Brooklyn accent, shrill, loud, and capable of busting an eardrum or two. “Where is she? Is she okay?”
“Calm down.” I tried to turn off the speaker but my stiff fingers succeeded only at increasing the volume. “I’m on my way to find her now. There might be an itsy-bitsy delay. The weather is not cooperating, but don’t worry, I’ll find her.”
“Are you locked in a fancy hotel room?” Louise demanded. “You won’t find Tammy from behind a bolted door.”
“Of course not.” Louise could be such a witch when she was anxious. “I promised you I’d find Tammy and I will.”
“I sure hope you’re not enjoying room service while your sister is gone and I’m here, suffering, imagining all the terrible things she could be going through...”
“Please, don’t be a drama queen,” I said. “We don’t have any evidence to suggest that Tammy is in immediate danger.”
“Find your sister!” Louise’s voice flickered in and out of range. “Find her! I don’t care what you have to do, just do it...”
The phone lost all its bars again and the call dropped. The narrow reception zone had ended. Part of me was grateful for the reprieve. The other part knew I was cut off again. The headache throbbing behind my eye intensified. The sights blurred before me.
“Hey,” Seth said. “You okay?”
“Fine.” I dropped my cell in my purse and straightened my back, fighting the exhaustion.
“Who was that very loud woman?”
“Is she right in the head?”
“She’s just worried about Tammy.”
“Something’s not adding up here.” He rubbed his wide back against the seat like a great big bison scratching against a tree. “Your sister’s an idiot. Your stepmother demands that you drop everything and go chase her. Your family? Sounds like a major clusterfuck.”
“Look who’s talking.” I sniffed. “My family may be a little different, but we love each other. We don’t hire people to try to set each other up. Sure, we can be loud and a tad dramatic on occasion, but honestly? Your family sounds a million times more screwed up than mine.”
His mouth twisted into the sarcastic smirk he favored. “You might have a point there.”
“Yeah, you bet I do.” I leaned back on the headrest. After a two-day journey, a three-hour drive, and a car wreck, I felt as if someone had taken a bat to me.
“You’re looking very sleepy there,” he said. “Talk to me. Are you all right?”
“I’ll live,” I mumbled, rubbing the knot behind my ear.
“Are you hurt?” He turned on the cabin lights and leaned over to inspect my head as he continued to drive. “Is that a bruise behind your ear? Hell, I didn’t notice before.” The truck swerved in the road. “Did you hit your head when your car went off the road? Are you sure you’re all right?”
“Just concentrate on driving straight, please.” I inched away from his touch and switched the cabin lights off. “I’m a little tired, that’s all. I haven’t slept for a few days.”
“A few days? That’s not good.” He groped behind the seat, opened the top of a small cooler and, after grabbing a bottle, handed it over to me. “Here you go.”
“No, thanks.” I wasn’t about add alcohol to my troubles.
“It’s not for drinking.” He pressed the cold bottle to the side of my head. “It’s to keep the swelling down.”
“Oh.” I took the bottle from him and held it against the lump.
“Hang on tight,” he said. “That’s a real nice handcrafted lager. I wouldn’t want it to go to waste.”
“Got it,” I said. “Hanging on to the brew over here.”
He smiled, a genuine, eye-lightening grin that eased the angles on his face and radiated charm and warmth. Could a guy who smiled like that really be a jerk or a serial killer?
The world around us turned into a white maelstrom. The wind wrestled with the truck. The road became invisible under a new layer of snow. Seth geared down and kept his eyes on the road as we negotiated some hairy turns and the road’s deteriorating conditions. In all my twenty-nine years of life, I’d never seen weather like this.
“We’re not beating the storm, are we?”
“This is just the beginning.” He tilted his head and surveyed the sky. “It’s going to get bad soon, thirteen hours of very nasty wind, snow, and ice.”
My timing sucked. “And I thought this was bad.”
“This is nothing.” He slowed down to maneuver over a bridge. “I don’t suppose you get blizzards in Miami. But don’t worry, we’re almost there.”
“Goody,” I mumbled.
I knew my chances of getting to a hotel tonight were nil, but I needed to keep it together, at least until we got to the cabin. With a little luck, it might be a two-room cabin, with a door and a lock between me and the rest of the place. A door chain would be nice, but I could always improvise.
I eyed the man riding next to me. Maybe under all that hubris, he’d turn out to be a decent human being. After all, he had stopped to help me. I toyed with the idea of giving him a quick rundown of my condition, but my hackles went up. No way. He was a stranger and a guy and maybe even a little off, with all that paranoia. I knew from experience what would happen if I warned him. No need to add premeditation to humiliation.
All of a sudden, my vision narrowed. My thoughts slowed down to a crawl. My body slacked and my eyelids slammed over my eyes like hurricane shutters. I ran out of time and energy at the same moment. Oh, crap. I knew exactly what was happening to me.
“Hey, Summer.” Seth’s voice came from far away. “We’re almost there.” He shook me softly. “Wake up. Stick with me, girl.”
I had no time to explain. “Make sure you lock the door,” I mumbled, before I conked out.
Anna del Mar
The playlist that I’ve put together to celebrate the release of The Stranger follows on that tradition. The Stranger is my newest romantic suspense and the second book of my Wounded Warrior Series, following on the heels of the Amazon bestseller, The Asset. But here’s a cool fact. Each novel stands on its own and you can read them in whatever order you choose.
The storyline for The Stranger goes something like this: When her sister runs away with a guy she met on the internet, Summer, a warmth-loving Miami architect chases her reckless sibling to Alaska and finds her life in danger from more than the elements. Only a stranger, Seth, a wounded warrior who is also a powerful Alaskan tycoon with a quarreling family as complicated as Summer’s and no time for a lady in distress can save her from disaster. Together, two strangers from different worlds and opposite spectrums of the thermometer must unravel the intrigues that threaten their lives to chase after a new dream, in majestic Alaska.
These songs take you through the emotional journey of Seth and Summer as they fight their demons, tackle their enemies and transform their lust for each other into true, enduring love.
Viva La Vida
Princes of the Universe
Wake Me Up
Run to You
Stand By You
Here’s a first review of The Stranger. And it’s an awesome one!
"Oh my God. What can I say? I FLOVED this so much!!!" ~5 Star Amazon Review by Rene
"I fell in love with this book and I fell hard." ~5 Star Review by Shakespeare's Wench Book Blog
"I can't believe I just read a debut novel! D.B. James did a great job job with her storyline and definitely kept me reading!" ~5 Star Amazon Review by DawnInTX
"This is a great storyline, which is emotional and humorous, and the author had me enthralled from the very beginning." ~5 Star Review by Wendy's Book Blog
For Better or Worse
The Wedding Belles #2
By: Lauren Layne
Releasing August 30, 2016
When small-town girl Heather Fowler finally gets promoted from assistant to actual wedding planner, she’s determined to make it as one of Manhattan’s elite Wedding Belles. Unfortunately, her first client demands an opulent black-tie affair at the Plaza…in five months’ time. Heather’s days quickly become a flurry of cake tastings, dress-fittings, RSVP cards, and bridal tantrums. But what she’s really losing sleep over is the live music blaring from her playboy neighbor’s apartment all night.
Five years ago, Josh Tanner was an up-and-comer on Wall Street, complete with the penthouse and the migraines. But a grim cancer diagnosis made him realize there is more to life than the corner office. If only he could convince his pretty, workaholic neighbor to let loose, too. As Heather lets down her guard, Josh is surprised when he starts falling for the sweet, vulnerable woman hiding beneath those power suits. Soon, it’s Heather’s turn to convince Josh to take the biggest risk of all: love.
Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2016/06/for-better-or-worse-wedding-belles-2-by.html
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27276194-for-better-or-worse
Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/165203-the-wedding-belles
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Josh’s eyes narrowed as his friend’s hand touched Heather’s back briefly. “Absolutely,” Trevor said. “We’re sorry it keeps you up though.”
“Oh, it’s okay,” she said, waving her hand. “I mean . . . it’s not. But tonight I couldn’t sleep anyway, so you get a free pass. What do you all play?”
“Donny’s bass, Felix is on drums. Josh is lead guitar, and I, as the most important member, have the pipes.”
“Oh! I thought Josh was the singer,” Heather said with a quick glance over her shoulder at him.
Their eyes locked, and Josh felt a flicker of . . . something.
“Ah, is that what he’s telling the women these days,” Trevor joked.
“No, I just . . . I hear him, singing sometimes,” Heather muttered.
“Our boy can carry a tune well enough, but wait until you hear me, love,” Trevor said.
Josh turned away in mild disgust, pulling a beer out of the fridge as Trevor and the other guys coaxed Heather into the practice room, thrilled to have any sort of audience, even a reluctant one.
“Yo, Tanner,” Felix called.
“What,” he called, popping the lid off the bottle and tilting the beer back to his lips as he tried to shake off whatever was bringing down his mood tonight.
“Let’s show Heather here that we’re more than a bit of noise coming through her bedroom wall.”
Josh turned around to see Donny dragging one of his kitchen chairs across the room, disappearing into the practice room.
“All right, love, you just sit down and get comfortable,” Trevor said. “Tanner! Come on, man.”
Josh heard the low strum of Donny’s guitar, heard Felix do a little warm-up rhythm, and knew there was no way of getting out of it. If he refused to play a song now, he’d look like an ass.
Still, his feet didn’t move, and he took another sip of beer.
Feeling eyes on him, he glanced up to see Heather in the doorway, leaning one shoulder against the doorjamb as she studied him.
“Okay, 4A?” she asked.
Her tone was lighthearted, almost slightly reluctant, as though she didn’t want to care about why he was out here alone, feeling oddly itchy with his life.
He appreciated it. He’d spent enough time in the past few years dealing with people who walked on eggshells around him, cooing sweetness. Some of it genuine, some of it not so much.
Heather’s no-nonsense question was refreshing—and exactly what he needed.
He was happy and healthy and living the dream, damn it.
Even if he was no longer sure it was his dream.
“You going soft on me?” he asked, taking one last sip of his beer before setting it aside and strolling toward her.
Heather’s eyes narrowed. “Hardly. I just wanted you to get your shit together so I can see your cute lead singer work his magic.”
He deliberately stepped into the doorway so she couldn’t move in either direction without brushing against him, grinning at her discomfort.
“You’re in a better mood tonight,” he said, his eyes skimming over her crazy curls and relaxed expression. “Why?”
“Believe it or not, I’m not a shrew.”
Heather shoved his shoulder with a little scowl. “I’m not!”
“Does that mean you’re going to start making banana bread like Mrs. Calvin?”
“Yes, definitely. And coffee cake and sugar cookies and whatever other goodies you might like. All while wearing a frilly, feminine apron.”
“Dare I hope there’s nothing under the apron?” he asked, leaning in slightly.
“Right again!” she said, in mock delight. “I just love to bake naked.”
Josh’s pulse leapt, but Trevor interrupted before the sudden X-rated picture in his mind could turn into a full-fledged fantasy.
“Dude, we doing this or what?”
Josh looked at Heather.
“One song,” she said, holding up a finger. “I may as well see what the music sounds like on this side of the wall.”
In 2011, she ditched her corporate career in Seattle to pursue a full-time writing career in Manhattan, and never looked back.
In her ideal world, every stiletto-wearing, Kate Spade wielding woman would carry a Kindle stocked with Lauren Layne books.
For a list of all her works, please be sure to check out her official website!
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The Water Kingdom
Author: Deborah Gray
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Now she has a secret that no one will believe, one that whispers danger even as it seems to call to her very soul. What really lurks beneath the glassy waves… and how much will finding out cost her?
All she knows is that she’s caught the attention of a strange boy with special abilities and violet eyes, a boy she is certain cannot be human.
Trapped by rules and tradition in a deteriorating kingdom, Sebastian feels he has no other choice except to act. Taking matters, and fate, into his own hands, the daring young man enters the realm of humans to retrieve what was once taken. The land beyond the waves is no friend to his kind, yet to save his home, he will do what few before him have ever dared. He is prepared for almost anything… except meeting a girl who somehow poses a threat to his identity, his hidden world and to everything he has ever known.
As the two fight for their own agendas it becomes clear that they may just have more in common than either realizes…
The Water Novels - Book One
Further details race to my brain. Male, arms, torso bare. No wetsuit, but his skin has a strange sheen to it. I flounder, trying to comprehend. Something causes him to stop dead in the water. He turns swiftly towards me, and bubbles trail upwards around him as he stares at me. A strange chill sweeps through me. It’s as if I shouldn’t be seeing him.
For a second we’re both suspended beneath the water, staring at each other. Neither of us moving, both wary.
Dark hair floats around his forehead and his gaze is careful. If I wasn’t holding my breath, I’d be drawing in air too quickly. I’m unprepared for the color of his eyes. They’re a startling violet. Distinct. Dangerous. My pulse thumps in my ears. I should be swimming to safety, getting above water as quickly as possible, but my body isn’t responding. I can’t see his legs. Where are his legs? He remains angled horizontally, concealing them. Some of his facial features are almost impish, youthful, but there’s a severity to some of the angles, suggesting he’s more young man than boy.
Then I notice something else. Salt water appears to be filtering in and out of his airways with no effect. A scream freezes in my throat. Panicked, my arms start to thrash around me. The sudden activity unnerves him and his vibrant purple eyes widen, like a trapped animal. Judging by the smooth motions of his upper body, he’d likely outswim me.
Desperately, I try to gauge how far the surface is, my hair billowing around my face. He’s not human, he’s not human. I know he’s not. I know it in every fiber of my being.
She is a member of the Christchurch Writers' Guild and currently lives in New Zealand with her husband, family and a mischievous black Labrador.
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/deborahgraywriting
Goodreads book page: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28517349-the-water-kingdom
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-water-kingdom-deborah-gray/1123248401?ean=2940152567021