Release Blitz: Cultivating Love by Addison Albright

Length: 40,472 words
Publisher: JMS Books
Blurb

A man of few words, Joe is a hard-working farmhand who likes his simple, uncomplicated life. Ed is satisfied with his existence as an auto mechanic, but thrilled when an unexpected development in his life allows him to help Joe realize a dream.

It forces them, however, to reevaluate the casual, undefined nature of their relationship. They’re too macho to speak of love, and neither would acknowledge he doesn’t really mind when it’s his turn to bottom. When life throws them a curve ball, and the rules of their game get old, Ed tries to take every aspect of their relationship up a notch. Can Joe adapt to the open sentimentality Ed’s injecting into their relationship, let alone the new spice in their bedroom activities?

This is a previously published story that has been rewritten, expanded, and re-edited.

Buy Links:
JMS | Amazon US | Amazon UK | iTunes | KOBO

Excerpt

Ed ended the call and set down his phone. He tapped his pencil on the table and swallowed as he reread his notes. It was all arranged. He would meet the lawyer in Mayfield early tomorrow morning, sign a bunch of papers, and get the keys. After that, he and Joe would be pretty much on their own to figure it all out. Keep it, sell it, the lawyer didn’t care; it would be out of his hands.

He smiled. Apparently, his earlier worries had all been for nothing. Joe was willing to give up city life—such as it was in Omaha—with all its inherent activities, to move to the boonies with him. That had to mean something, didn’t it?

He’d spent too much time simply staring at the lawyer’s cover letter, trembling with a fear he couldn’t quite place, until it had hit him like a runaway freight train. It wouldn’t have been such a big deal to sell the farm and invest the money. Or he could have hired some help while learning the ropes. But the idea of losing Joe had panicked him. He’d never spent time thinking about it before—had taken Joe for granted—but he’d do or give up anything to stay with the man.

The water turned off in the shower. He stood and walked toward the bedroom to strip for his own shower. He kicked off his work shoes and peeled off his greasy coveralls, then ambled into the bathroom.

Joe had already dried off and was combing his short summer-blond hair. Ed’s breath caught in his throat as he watched the flex of Joe’s back muscles. Back, ass, hamstrings, arms—hell—all of him. The potent effect of Joe’s nakedness on his libido never ceased to amaze him.

Ed picked up the nail brush and casually turned on the water at the sink. “Don’t bother getting dressed.”

Joe hooted. His hazel eyes gleamed at Ed in the mirror. “Not a problem. It’s my turn, by the way.”

“Is not.” Ed loaded the brush with grease-removing hand soap and started scrubbing. He yelped when Joe slapped his ass, and attempted a scowl—though it better resembled a leer— at Joe’s self-assured grin reflecting back at him.

“Is too.”

“You have to fix dinner then.” Ed’s stab at a hardline mien wasn’t any more successful than his glower.

Joe snickered again, turning away. “Whatever” came from over his shoulder as he walked toward their bedroom.

Ed smiled as he finished scrubbing his nails. He hurried through his shower and dried off to the beat of the Rolling Stones reverberating from the living room.

 

Author Bio

 

Addison Albright lives in the middle of the USA with two peculiar cats. Her stories are gay (sometimes erotic) romance, and tend to be sweet man-love in contemporary settings. Her education includes a BS in Education with a major in mathematics and a minor in chemistry. Addison loves spending time with her family, reading, popcorn, boating, French fries, “open window weather,” cats, math, and anything chocolate. She loves to read pretty much anything and everything, anytime and anywhere.

 

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Book Blast: Harper’s Place by Sheryl Winters

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Harper’s Place

Genre: Romance

Synopsis:

Harper Grey is fed up with over-bearing men. Her father wants to sell the family hamburger joint to her brother because a woman could never make it successful.

Harper knows she has the same flair for business as her mother, and sexy Navy SEAL Patrick O’Brien dares her to prove it to the world.

When duty calls and Patrick must leave her side, will Harper be strong enough to make her dream a reality?

 

Buy Links:

Roane Publishing •  Amazon US • Amazon UK
B&N • Kobo •  SmashwordsBookstrand

Excerpt:

“How would you bring in new business, though?”

I’m amazed that he seems to find our conversation interesting. He’s an audience willing to listen and I’ve not had that in a long time. Damn this crush of mine. It won’t be easy to tame after tonight.

“New menu items, specials, things like that. Start serving dessert, like pies. Easy cook items. With the new burgers I’ve created and a new décor, I’d open in the summer when the air is fresh and everyone is happy to be out of the snow, hungry for grilled food. I think we could do fine.”

“What’s your hold up?”

“Tony, Dad. It’s complicated.” I shrug. His arm feels good, and I have the overwhelming urge to nuzzle against it. “Did you kiss Amy Parker when you were twelve? She still brags about it.” Did I just ask him about kissing? What is wrong with me? Will this mouth of mine never shut up? Stop it, Stop it, stop it!

“That I did, in a closet over at Robert Anderson’s house.”

“Ew.”

“I was twelve and desperate. You can’t blame me. I do blame that stupid soda bottle. And your first kiss?” There is a challenge in his voice.

“Kevin Monroe at the Klines Movie Theater. He sent me a six-page note the next day about how much he loved me, and I freaked out and dumped him.”

“Any regrets?”

I choke back a giggle. “Naw, ‘cept I remember I liked his cologne. It could have been aftershave, but it was nice.” It’s not half as nice as the Aramis that Patrick has on. Something about it sends a shiver up my spine that has nothing to do with the zombie waiting in Dad’s office.

“The dark isn’t so bad, now is it?”

“I guess not.”

Silence surrounds us. The fear that enveloped me seems to disappear.

“Are you seeing anyone?”

“No.” It sounds terrible now that I’ve said it out loud. Like I’m admitting to being a desperate and dateless leper.

“So,” he drawls out, “ever thought of dating a military guy?” He squeezes my fingers.

Is he serious?

His fingertip smooths over the rough callouses I’ve gained from years of hard work. Suddenly my wasted evening of not going out to celebrate is starting to look better. “I think it would depend on which military guy.”

“You’re killing me. You know that, don’t you?” His strangled tone only sets off a case of the giggles.

“Are you asking me out, Patrick?”

“Trying to, but you’re not making it easy.” The challenge is back in his voice.

“I wouldn’t mind a date or two,” I manage to squeak out. Breathe, Harper, just breathe, calmly through your nose, out your mouth. Sainted Mother of God, Patrick asked me out! I hit the jackpot! Now all I have to do is not hit him.

Author Bio:

I never set out to be an author. Only a storyteller. Some days I succeed better than others.

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Release Day Launch: Unashamed by M. Malone & Nana Malone

 

Unashamed
(Shameless Trilogy #3)

Genre: New Adult, Romance

Synopsis:

He is the thing that goes bump in the night. He is a liar, a protector…a killer… He is Noah Blake.

…And I love him.

Everything I thought I knew about the night that changed our lives has been turned upside down. I have no idea who to trust, but the one thing I do know is that I am his…And I will do anything to protect him. Lie, betray…kill.

 

Buy Links:

Amazon US | Amazon UKiTunes | Nook | Google Play | Kobo | Print

Catch up on the series!

Book 1 – Shameless

Amazon US | Amazon UKiTunes | Nook | Google Play | Kobo | Print

Book 2 – Shameful

Amazon US | Amazon UK | iTunes| Nook | Google Play | Kobo | Print

 Exclusive Excerpt:

Noah wasn’t sure whether to be furious with Lucia, or thrilled that she was right. Either way, they needed to have it out. She made love to him not two hours ago, but when she’d looked at him and told him she loved him, she’d been lying to him.

She didn’t lie; she kept it to herself. Damn it. Keeping a secret like this was tantamount to lying. How the hell was he supposed to keep her safe, keep them all safe if she didn’t tell him the most pertinent information of all? As much as he wanted to justify it, he couldn’t deny the bitter tang of betrayal on his tongue.

He found her in the living room, cross-legged on the couch, wearing one of his shirts and a pair of his boxer shorts. She had the sleeves rolled up to reveal her slim forearms. Head bent over, she was going through a stack of fashion magazines labeling things and putting Post-its on them. Writing things like, “Pull,” “Check with Adriana if we have it,” “Can we partner with this designer?

She was working. Completely in her zone. Well, too bad for her; Noah was about to interrupt her. He marched over to the couch, and she looked up, giving him the sweetest smile he’d ever seen. So sweet it pulled at the places in his heart he’d swear didn’t exist anymore. She looked so perfect there, sunlight streaming into the living room and splashing over her, creating soft shadows and halos all over her. She looked like an angel.

“Hi. What’s up?” There was an invitation in her smile and, like the traitor it was, his dick swelled. He couldn’t seem to keep his mind or his hand off of her. They needed to talk, so the big guy downstairs would just have to wait.

“I was going to ask you the same thing. Is there anything you want to talk to me about?”

Her brows furrowed even as she continued smiling up at him. “No. I mean, unless when you say talk, you mean —” She lifted a brow and her eyes danced mischievously.

Okay, so he could totally understand how even the most hardened spies could fall for the enemy. Because, right about now, he wasn’t using the brain cells God gave him. He was using the other part of his brain. The one completely responsible for manning the sex train. The one that wanted to yank off her boxers and sink into her, right here in the middle of the living room, where anyone could walk in.

No. Stay strong. Besides, they’d done enough of that. After one too many close calls, the tracking devices he had everyone wear were now used to track where he and Lucia were, so the team could give them a wide berth.

Not exactly the use he had planned for them, but whatever. But they had enough privacy. And maybe if he just sank deep into her, he’d stop riding the razor’s edge and focus enough so he could ask her what he needed to ask her. If he slid the boxers off, spread her wide and stroked deep, they’d both feel better. They’d be relaxed enough to have this conversation. It was amazing the things he could come up with when he let his dick do the thinking.

He considered it. For a long moment, he considered it. She’d taste so sweet. Was she sore from earlier? Or, from this morning? He hadn’t exactly been gentle. But then again, neither had she. He still had her nail marks on his shoulders. Noah grinned with purely male satisfaction. He could still feel how those scratches had stung this morning in the shower when the water hit them.

Oh shit. He did not need to think about the shower, or what they did in there.

And he probably shouldn’t think about her taste because then he’d think about what they’d just done and—no. Never mind, there it was. In amazing Technicolor and surround sound in his mind. He cleared his throat.

No. They were having this conversation now. Because he was pretty damn certain that after they had this conversation, the last thing on his mind would be sex.

“Nope. Nothing to talk about.”

Her gaze searched his. And he saw pain there. He hated that he’d had a part in the pain there. Because he was pretty damn sure there was one thing she probably wanted to talk about but she didn’t trust him to be open-minded. That hurt more than anything else, that she couldn’t talk to him. Didn’t she understand that all he wanted was her safety and happiness?

Behind his back, Noah’s fingers tightened around the tablet he held. A tablet that held the image of a ghost he’d long since buried. A ghost that was back to haunt them all. The question was, what did he want?

Noah took the picture tablet from behind his back and slapped it on the table. “Explain.”

Lucia glanced at the picture and her breath caught. Her fingers flew to her lips then her gaze flickered to his. “I don’t know what to say.”

“Yesterday Matthias came into my office freaking the fuck out because Nelson came back as a false name. I lost years on my life in that split second when I was worried about you.”

“Noah, I can explain.”

He shook his head. “I was terrified that something happened to you. Terrified that once again I was too late. And then I called Ryan and everything was fine. So that was when I knew that either the false identity was laying groundwork for something crazier than we’re already dealing with or you were lying to me.”

“I didn’t lie to you, Noah.”

He crossed his arms. “Oh yeah? Then what do you call it exactly? Omission? You just happened to forget that you saw your brother in your fucking office yesterday?” He kneeled down so that their gazes were level. “Or, please tell me that you didn’t see him. Please fucking tell me that he came into your office but you didn’t see him. Tell me that. So that I don’t think that the woman I love lied to me.”

 

 

Author Bio:

Nana Malone:

USA Today bestselling author Nana Malone’s love of all things romance and adventure started with a tattered romantic suspense novel she “borrowed” from her cousin.

It was a sultry summer afternoon in Ghana, and Nana was a precocious thirteen. She’s been in love with kick-butt heroines ever since. With her overactive imagination constantly channeling her inner Buffy, it was only a matter a time before she started creating her own characters.

While she waits for her chance at a job as a ninja assassin, Nana works out her drama, passion and sass with fictional characters every bit as brazen and kick-butt as she thinks she is.

Connect with Nana Malone:

Facebook | Twitter | Website

About M. Malone:

NYT & USA Today bestselling author M. Malone lives in the Washington, DC metro area with her three favorite guys ; her husband and their two sons. She holds a master’s degree in Business from a prestigious college that would no doubt be scandalized by how she’s using her expensive education.

Independently published, she has sold more than 1/2 million ebooks in her two series, THE ALEXANDERS and BLUE-COLLAR BILLIONAIRES. Since starting her indie journey in 2011 with the runaway bestselling novella “Teasing Trent ,” her work has appeared on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists more than a dozen times.

She’s now a full-time writer and spends 99.8% of her time in her pajamas.

Connect with M. Malone:

Website | Twitter | Facebook

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Cover Reveal: Fall by Eden Butler

Fall
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: July 25, 2017
A secret smile.

A haunting kiss.

Life – Interrupted.

Keilen Rivers was the best Lily Campbell never had. He was the promise she didn’t let herself keep. After all, nothing in life seems meant to last, and love is no exception.

When Lily’s life takes an unexpected and tragic turn, she leaves behind both her island home and the boy she could have loved to protect the only family she has left.

But sometimes life takes without giving. Sometimes you cannot bend, only break. And when her career spirals out of her control, Lily can only watch as everything she worked for falls to ruin.

But some lies are hard to come back from. And some promises are made to be broken. Sometimes going home again is the only thing that can save you. But first you have to break. First you have to fall.

Eden Butler is an editor and writer of Mystery, Suspense and Contemporary Romance novels and the nine-times great-granddaughter of an honest-to-God English pirate. This could explain her affinity for rule breaking and rum. 
When she’s not writing or wondering about her possibly Jack Sparrowesque ancestor, Eden patiently waits for her Hogwarts letter, edits, reads and spends way too much time watching rugby, Doctor Who and New Orleans Saints football. 

She is currently living under teenage rule alongside her husband in southeast Louisiana. 

Please send help.

 

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Spotlight: For 100 Reasons by Lara Adrian

We are so excited to be sharing the blurb and release date for New York Times Bestselling Author Lara Adrian’s FOR 100 REASONS, the conclusion to the sexy, suspenseful 100 series.
 Mark your calendars, FOR 100 REASONS is coming July 31, 2017.

 

FOR 100 REASONS

By Lara Adrian

Series: 100 Series #3

Release Date: July 31, 2017

Love takes no prisoners…

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

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

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

AVAILABLE JULY 31, 2017 – PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY TODAY!
Amazon / iTunes / B&N / Kobo

 

 

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

 

FOR 100 DAYS

Pleasure has a price…

Struggling artist Avery Ross is barely scraping by. Bartending at a trendy New York City restaurant for an overbearing boss and two weeks away from losing her apartment to a condo developer, she’s desperate for a break. So when she’s offered a temporary housesitting job, she takes it.

Living at one of the poshest addresses in Manhattan is like entering a new world—one that catapults her into the orbit of billionaire Dominic Baine, the darkly handsome, arrogantly alpha resident of the building’s penthouse. What begins as a powerful attraction soon explodes into a white-hot passion neither can deny.

Yet as scorching as they need for each other is, Avery doesn’t expect Nick’s interest in her to last. Nor does she dare to dream that the desire she feels for this scarred, emotionally remote man could deepen into something real. For Avery has secrets of her own—and a past that could destroy her…and shatter everything she and Nick share.

Amazon / iTunes / B&N / Kobo

 

FOR 100 NIGHTS

Passion knows no bounds…

Avery Ross is living a dream. After struggling all of her life to make ends meet, a change encounter with a powerful, darkly handsome man has catapulted her into a dazzling new world of penthouse luxury, elegant parties, and a wild, consuming passion with her billionaire love, Dominic Baine. Nothing is out of his reach in business or in pleasure, yet the only woman he wants is her. Nick sweeps her to sensual heights she has never dared explore, commanding her body the same way he commands her heat. Yet Avery knows the fantasy she’s living cannot last.

With dark secrets and a dangerous enemy haunting her past, Avery must find a way to trust Nick with the truth before it destroys everything they share. But Nick is harboring secrets of his own as well. And when they come to light, Avery will be forced to decide if the love she feels for Nick is strong enough to endure a betrayal she may never be able to forgive.

Amazon / iTunes / B&N / Kobo

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

LARA ADRIAN is a New York Times and #1 international bestselling author with nearly 4 million books in print and digital worldwide and translations licensed in more than 20 countries. Her upcoming release is FOR 100 REASONS, the third book in a contemporary romance series that reviewers are calling “phenomenal” and “one of the hottest series of the year.” Learn more about the author and her books at LaraAdrian.com.

 

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Release Blitz: Down and Dirty by Annette Fields

Down and Dirty
Annette Fields
Publication date: June 1st 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Women come and go from my bed but they’ll never have my heart.

There’s only one girl I’m committed to and that’s my six-year-old daughter.

Every dirty deal I make is to secure a good future for her.

When I find Natalie in the back of my truck ready to die fighting, everything gets flipped upside down.

I saved her life and took her home. Her stay was supposed to be temporary but I don’t want her to leave.

I want to feel her soft, sweet body writhing underneath me, begging for more and never stopping.

But what’s really got my head spinning?

My daughter wants a mother.

I escaped Hell only to run right into the arms of another demon.

But Solomon says he won’t hurt me, not in that way.

He’ll keep them from finding me, but can I trust him?

He’s just another criminal working with the one who captured me.

I feel ruined from what I’ve been through but somehow, he makes my body come alive again.

He reminds me what pleasure feels like and I can’t get enough.

I’m beyond torn in multiple directions but that’s not the most confusing part.

How can a tattooed, muscle-bound criminal also be such a caring, devoted father?

Down and Dirty is a full-length standalone bad boy romance in my Small Town Bad Boy series. Absolutely no cliffhangers and guaranteed HEA!

Goodreads / Amazon

DownDirtyteaser1-1

Excerpt:

I crept in quietly through the front door. Most of the lights were off except for a reading lamp next to the couch. Peering over the cushions, I saw a sight that made my cold, calloused heart absolutely melt.

Ari was asleep with a picture book in her lap with Natalie cuddled up next to her, also asleep.

They were both under a blanket and laid stretched out on the couch. I couldn’t help but smile at seeing my little girl sleeping peacefully. She never dozed off out here. She loved her princess bed too much.

And Natalie.

She looked absolutely beautiful and angelic. Her face was also relaxed and peaceful, the complete opposite of the expression she wore this morning.

And still my cock grew hard, pressing against my zipper as if reaching for her.

Careful not to disturb them, I sat on the couch just behind where Ari’s feet stretched out. Natalie’s arm draped across Ari’s shoulders protectively and a strand of dark blonde hair fell across her face. Without thinking, I brushed that piece of hair back behind her ear and my fingers had no desire to leave her skin.

Her skin was so incredibly soft. The curving lines of her jaw and neck so feminine and elegant.

I found myself leaning down closer, brushing more silky strands of hair away from her gorgeous face. She smelled like strawberries.

My cock throbbed eagerly from being so intimately close to her, so close that I could inhale her scent and see the adorable freckle just under her ear. Maybe it was my alcohol and lust-fueled brain urging me on, I don’t know why, but I just had to kiss it.

When my lips touched the skin of her neck, it was like they caught fire from her body heat which quickly spread throughout all of my limbs.

I couldn’t stop at just one little kiss. I was under a spell and I needed more.

Q&A with author Annette Fields:

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Somewhere around 8-10 years old. My dad was always writing, be it journaling or poetry, so I picked it up early in wanting to be just like him. I also read a lot as a kid and had teachers that encouraged creative writing at that age.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I can’t sit in one place in a writing session. At some point I always have to move from my desk to the kitchen table, or to the floor, or to the library or coffee shop. I’ve given up trying to fight this and found that I write more and better if I switch up my space a little.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Google is amazing tool, haha! I use the internet for nitty gritty details but a lot of my ideas are based on what I have actually experienced, either firsthand or through people I know. For example my character Liam is inspired by people close to me who have worked in law enforcement.
Also at one point I worked in a brewery like my character Aubrey in Big Bad Boss. She’s loosely based on a couple of awesome female coworkers I had at that time.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I was around 14 when I made my first attempt a novel. I was really into vampires and witches at the time (pre-Twilight days!) and wrote a story that would probably be considered YA urban fantasy. That one’s never been published though! I’m not sure if it still exists…

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I do yoga, read books whenever I have the chance, and play boardgames with friends. I love gardening and may have an obsession with plants (there’s definitely a little of me in my character Dahlia from this series!)

What do you think makes a good story?
Complex and flawed characters. The ones that make you want to cry, cheer, and scream “Noooo, what are you doing!”

 

Author Bio:

Get Her Soldier, a military bad boy novella for FREE when you sign up for emails at: http://www.subscribepage.com/hersoldier

Annette Fields is a soft-spoken California girl with a big and filthy imagination. She’s always daydreaming about her next hot bad boy story to share with you, her readers!

Aside from writing fiery hot romance and lounging in the equally hot California sun, Annette loves coffee, gin, and her bad boy husband.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook

 

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Release Day Launch: Infinite Us by Eden Butler

Infinite Us

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: May 23, 2017

Synopsis:

Love is timeless….

Nash Nation loves zeroes and ones, over-sized monitors and late office hours. He’s too busy taking over the world to make time for relationships—that is, until his new neighbor Willow O’Bryant barges into his life, and now Nash can’t shake the feeling that this isn’t the first time she’s interrupted his world.

Then, the dreams start. And in the dreams—memories.

Memories of a girl named Sookie who couldn’t count on love or friendship, never mind forever. Memories of a library and a boy called Isaac and secrets made in private that destroyed his world.

The memories seem real, but who do they belong to?

When Nash and Willow discover the truth, life as they know it unravels.

The bridge between this life and the next is shored up by blood and bone and memory. Sometimes, that bridge leads to the place we’ve always wanted to be.

 

My brain went into autopilot as I left Manhattan, grabbing the A train to get me to downtown Brooklyn. And the whole way home, with the rocking of the train, the funky smell of the city getting fainter with every stop, and the even worse body odor of all the compressed bodies, the ache in my head—threatening to turn into a migraine for real—grew the closer we came to my stop, that weird memory nagging at me.

That shit wouldn’t let me be.

Over and over in my head, as I huddled tight behind my jacket in the unseasonably chilly weather, the memory came clear as a raindrop.

Me and her. Me and the woman I didn’t know. Me as a man I’d never been.

The smell of roses. The hint of dust and coffee.

The feel of worn book bindings and the scrap of metal chairs on wood floors.

The taste of honey on my tongue.

The woman wrapped around me, holding tight, like I was her lifeline. Her red hair between my fingers, her nails pulling at my collar. Feeling needed. Feeling free.

A gust of wind blew off my hood, had my eyes watering as I jogged the rest of the way toward my building, barely acknowledging the people grouped around the front entrance. But then the sound of kids screeching cut into my brain, and I finally noticed that Old Man Walker was handing out Jolly Ranchers from the top step; for his grandkids and the others bouncing around, he couldn’t get the wrapped candy out of his pockets fast enough.

In that small chaos, compounded by an arguing couple from 3C coming out of the elevator, brushing past the cluster of kids in their red and green puffy coats and their sniffling noses, heels clicking on the tile floor and crackling over the candy wrappers littering the hall, I forgot about the dream. If only for a second.

Until I saw Willow at the mailboxes.

Until I realized I couldn’t walk away from her.

She didn’t look much like the woman in my dream. Her hair was not red, but light brown. The redhead’s had been thick and bone straight. Willow’s was wild, all over the place, as though she could never get it under control.

The woman in my dream had been thin with barely a hint of curve to her shape. Elegant, graceful like a ballerina. Willow was all dips and bends, luscious, her legs strong with well-defined muscle, and a wide, wondrous ass.

Suddenly the rest of the world receded and there was nothing but the movement of Willow’s hair as she dug the mail from her box, the rhythm of her limbs as she swatted at that thick mass of hair, the swoop of her jacket hem against all those round, perfect curves as she turned, her attention on the envelopes in her hand.

The smell of her skin, the jasmine in her hair, seemed to billow around me as I stood motionless in the lobby. She was everywhere, familiar and yet unknown. A stranger/not stranger I had held at arm’s length, but still far more real than my dream, than the memory it was trying to evoke.

Willow stopped short as she noticed me, pausing with the mail held against her chest, a frown appearing on her face. I knew that expression from the last time I saw her, when I lied and told her I didn’t want her, when I had spoken promises that even then I knew I’d never keep.

“Nash.” There was a bite in her voice, the clip of my name, as if she was trying to sound disdainful, yet her voice still held an undertone of something that, if it had a flavor, would have tasted like honey. 

And then the dream, that sweet, stinging memory crashed over me. It wasn’t the first. It wasn’t the last. There was no girl called Sookie, no boy named Dempsey who loved her. This time, I’d watched, not knowing who I was; a voyeur in someone else’s life, but someone who felt so real to me. Someone I knew better than myself.

Déjà vu and fantasy and nonsense I did not understand hit me like a fever, and I was lost. The redhead kissed my neck. The hint of her soft, liquid tongue against my skin, tugging on my ear, wanting me with a fierceness no one ever had before, overwhelmed me, and I had to close my eyes to keep from being dragged under.

“What’s wrong with you?” Willow’s voice reeled me back in, and I opened my eyes to see her sweet, concerned expression and the curve of her mouth, the fullness of her bottom lip.

Then Willow… she took the back of her hair in one hand, twisting it into a braid—the smallest gesture that I’d seen her do a dozen times—and suddenly I realized: the woman in my dream had done the same thing. The same motion, the same movement. Just like Willow.

A sharp intake of breath—that was me. Willow had backed up a half step, her face confused, conflicted, and despite what I’d said before, I reached out and slid my fingers tentatively to touch her face, guiding her chin up so I could look into her eyes.

“What are…”

She made the smallest noise, something that sounded like a moan and a laugh at the same time. It transformed, deepened to a growl when I kissed her. Yet even as my mouth found hers, as my tongue slid along her lip, begging an invitation, one thought consumed me, something I didn’t believe was left over from my dream. One thought that made me brave, made me hungry: this woman belongs to me.

Eden Butler is an editor and writer of Mystery, Suspense and Contemporary Romance novels and the nine-times great-granddaughter of an honest-to-God English pirate. This could explain her affinity for rule breaking and rum. 

When she’s not writing or wondering about her possibly Jack Sparrowesque ancestor, Eden patiently waits for her Hogwarts letter, edits, reads and spends way too much time watching rugby, Doctor Who and New Orleans Saints football. 

She is currently living under teenage rule alongside her husband in southeast Louisiana. 

Please send help.

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