Link should work this time , sorry that it wasn’t working for last giveaway ..
COMING OCT 2ND 2017
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Winnie wasn’t happy with Cooper at all. She had only done what she was ordered to do and had spent five years in prison because of it. Cooper was supposed to protect her, but he didn’t. Now the dragon king wanted her to protect them all from the new slayers in town? How was that fair? The sooner she completed her mission, the sooner she could move on and leave this all behind her.
Hudson had been told that Cooper had hired a man by the name of Wendall to protect them. He just wanted to meet the man so he could measure his worth, but when the door opened, the woman behind it was writhing in pain, he only meant to help her. The moment he touched her, her pain was now his as well.
Winnie had been appointed by the Dragon Board to be the protector of dragons long before last names were given. She had hunted her first, expecting to be paid by coin, but was rewarded instead with magic and title. She didn’t have time to take a mate, much less a Manning, she had work to do.
The word “no” wasn’t in Hudson’s vocabulary. Winnie was his mate and he’d do whatever he had to do to claim her.
With slayers lurking in the shadows, Winnie had her hands full, and she couldn’t let a new mate distract her. She had to remain on her toes or all would be lost….
Quinn decided that if she ever woke up from this dream, she was going to be terribly upset with someone. She was in a real castle with servants and everything. As she made her way down the stairs again, trying hard not to make any noises that would bring someone after her, she thought of her sister, Carmine, who would be celebrating her tenth birthday in a few months, and how much fun she was having. Just yesterday she’d been swimming in the big pool of water. Kendrick said she’d been having so much fun that she hated to have her come in for dinner. And Carmine said that the water was warm, not at all like a bath but better. It was wonderful seeing her smile again. “You really should listen to the doctor, my dear.” Quinn turned and looked at Elissa, Danburn’s mom, when she spoke. “I know how it is, however. I so love to keep moving too. Where are you headed and I’ll come with you, as a helper.” “To the window. Carmine said it was snowing and I wanted to see it.” Elissa nodded and walked with her, not telling her to be careful again and again. “Kendrick is out and so is Danburn. I think they went to go Christmas shopping.” “They did. I talked with her a little while ago. And she got news that one of Danburn’s friends is coming in tonight. You’ll like Hanson. He’s a nice man.” Pausing to rest, Quinn leaned against the banister to get her breath back. “How’s your mom today?” That hurt her. Not the question, but the fact that she would have to tell her that her mom was dying. Looking at the window, wanting to change the subject, she thought of life without her mom. But being a realist was what got her through things. “She isn’t going to make it much longer, I’m afraid. I’ve known that for some time, but the stress of me being hurt and my sister sick, it’s taken its toll on her. She’s…. My mom is special to me. All I have besides my little sister.” Elissa said she was sorry. “I am as well. She’s trying to be strong, but I think that’s making it harder for her. I told her a little while ago just to let go. I hate it, but I can’t see her suffering much more.” Quinn saw her mom every chance she got. But she also noticed that while she was in the room with her, Mom didn’t rest as well. Fussing at her for getting up, or worrying after her and Carmine. After assuring her that they were both well and Carmine was no longer ill, her mom closed her eyes with a smile and she’d left her there. “She’s comfortable though, isn’t she?” Quinn said that she was. The medications were helping her a great deal. “I lost my husband. He got an infection from a shard of iron we didn’t know that he had and it killed him. You’d think that it only happened yesterday the way I feel some days. But I miss him every day.” They started walking again, and just as they were going to the front of the house, her sister came running around the corner. Carmine was the picture of health, and it made Quinn smile every time she saw her.
“Did you know that I have a snow coat? And boots? Kendrick gave them to me. She said that it’s a present with no ties. I didn’t know what she meant, so Danburn told me that it was just a present, without being something for my birthday or Christmas.” Quinn told her that was wonderful. “I’m going to miss them when we go.” After Carmine left them to run more, Elissa asked her if they were going somewhere. She smiled at the older woman. They were the kindest people she’d ever known. Nodding, she sat down on the chair that had been moved near the front window for her. “We can’t stay here forever. I mean, I have to get myself a job and a place to stay.” She had lost her job, but thanks to the state, she wasn’t going to have to work nearly as many jobs to keep them in food and meds. “Rett said that he was looking into a few things for me. I don’t know what that means, but he told me to leave it to him.” “I would imagine that he does have a handle on things. He’s a good man too. And happy. There was a time when he was as sad as any man I’ve ever known. Cassie has done him a world of good.” Quinn said she liked her too. “I do as well. I’ve always thought of Rett as my son, and now that he’s living close to us, I can go and see him whenever I wish. The rest of them too. I think that all of them, for the most part, have decided to stay here. Or at least have a home that they can come to when they need to be with family. But as for you leaving, I don’t think that Kendrick has any idea of your plans, does she?” “She can be pretty bossy, can’t she?” They both laughed. “No, I’ve not told her. I think she’s figured it out that I’m needing to go, but she won’t be as easy to convince of it. I’ve loved staying here for the last two weeks, but it’s time we got back up on our own two feet. I need to get Carmine into some kind of school. And then there is the rest of our lives. Things haven’t been all that good for us.” Elissa sat down next to her on the little couch that had been brought for her as well. To have someone know your every need and take care of it, to not have to go without because you have all the money in the world, was amazing. It wasn’t anything she thought she’d ever get used to. Not in several lifetimes. “Have Danburn and Kendrick spoken to you yet?” Quinn shook her head, bracing for the bad news. “They will. There are things that you need to be made aware of. And things you need to understand. I think their plan was for them to speak to you this evening. After your sister goes to bed.” “Do we need to start packing now? I’ve been just living out of my suitcase—not that I have that much—in case they get tired of us. Carmine isn’t so easy to keep neat…that’s it, isn’t it? We’ll go, but I really do need to—” The hand over her mouth shut her up. “I’m sorry. I just worry.” “No, nothing to be sorry for or to worry about. You’ll be fine.” A noise, or the lack of it, had the two of them turning to the grand staircase. It wasn’t until she saw the doctor, Pierce, go running up the stairs that she knew it was her mom. Standing up, she turned when Elissa told her to wait. “I’ll go up now, but you take your time, child. Hurrying up there will get you hurt or worse. I won’t tell you to stay here, but don’t hurt yourself.”
She was gone. Her mom, she knew, had died. Moving toward the stairs, she was stopped when the doorbell rang. Quinn stood there, not wanting to go and needing to at the same time, but turned to the door. She opened it just as a man turned away to speak to someone behind him. “I can get them. Just leave them there and I’ll make a couple of trips. No big deal.” The man moved as if he was going to get whatever it was now, and she heard Elissa coming back down the stairs. “Excuse me, but I’m going to leave the door open for you. I have to go upstairs. My mom is…I have to go upstairs.” He looked at her then and she felt her heart flutter. Good Lord, he was handsome. “I’m so sorry. Please, I have to go.” “Let me help you. I can smell your pain.” That wasn’t right, so she was sure she’d misheard him. “Come on, love. Let me help you out and you’ll be fine.” He picked her up like she weighed nothing at all and carried her to the stairs. It was strange and delightful to be handled like this. But before they made it up even three of the stairs, Elissa stopped them. “I’m so sorry, Quinn.” It was true then, her mom had passed away. Sobbing, she buried her face in the neck of the man who held her. “Hanson, take her on up, please. Her mother has just passed. And do be careful, son. She’s been hurt badly herself.” Quinn had no idea how they made it the rest of the way to her mom’s room. Before she knew it, she was in the large room and sitting by her side. Holding her hand, Quinn told her mom how sorry she was and that she wished she’d been there for her. All the while, the man, Hanson, stayed with her. Carmine came in a few minutes later and tried to sit on her lap. “Here you go, honey. Come sit with me. I’ll hold you up.” Carmine, usually so reserved around strangers, went right to Hanson and climbed onto his lap. Holding her gently, Hanson told her how sorry he was and that he had her. They both cried for several minutes before Pierce came in to talk to her. “I’m so sorry, Quinn. But I will tell you that after you talked to her earlier, she did rest easier. Telling her that you were going to take care of Carmine, that helped.” Quinn told him it was her sister. “Yes, but at times like this, you have no idea how the smallest things can seem so large when you’re ill. I’m to understand that she wanted to be cremated, correct?” “Yes. She thought that her ashes could be placed with my dad’s. He’s been cremated as well.” Pierce nodded. “Was she in any pain? I mean, I should have been here. I was only going to…. She sent me to see the snow.” “No, she wasn’t in any pain. The medications were helping her with that. She simply went to sleep and that was all.” She nodded, holding her mom’s hand while he continued. “Danburn and Kendrick are on their way back. As soon as they get here, we’ll call the ambulance to take her to the funeral home.” Hanson and Pierce talked quietly. Carmine left them when the maid from the kitchen came to get her. Carmine was going to enjoy some cookies and milk, she told her. As soon as her sister was out of earshot, Quinn laid her head on her mom’s chest and spoke to her.
“I’m going to miss you so much. I’m so glad that you were here instead of the hospital. You would have hated that. And they wouldn’t have let you rest as well, either. I love you, Mom. So very much.” Crying again, she felt someone put their hand on her back and she looked up at Hanson. “She’d been sick for so long. They told her that she’d have six months, tops, but she didn’t even get to have three. And now she’s missed Thanksgiving too. What am I going to do without her now?” He got down on his knees and held her to him. It was strange to think that she didn’t know this man but felt so at home in his arms. As she let tears fall over her cheeks, she had a fleeting thought of how it would feel to have someone hold her like this all the time. But men like this one, rich and probably famous too, wouldn’t ever think to do this if she’d not been in such need. “I’m all right now.” Pulling away from his arms was the most difficult thing she’d had to do in a while. “I’m okay now. I’m sure you didn’t come here to help me out. I heard you were coming. I thank you for what you’ve done for us, but I’m sure this wasn’t part of your planned visit.” “Its fine, my dear. And yes, Danburn invited me for a holiday. However, I had no idea that things were going to go so well for me when I got here. To get to hold a pretty woman in my arms and be her knight in shining armor isn’t something that a man gets to do often.” She nodded and told him he was being kind. “No, not kind, truthful. My name is Hanson McClain. You’re…?” “Quinn Langley. My sister is Carmine Langley. We’re cousins to Kendrick. Well, not really. My mom was good friends with Kendrick’s father’s family, and we sort of grew up together. As much as we could.” He said that he’d heard about Kendrick’s mom. “Yeah, not a nice person. I lost track of Kendrick after she was hurt, but she called me when I was shot and came to get me. Who would have thought that we only lived a drive away? Like decades hadn’t passed.” “That’s the way it is with the Englishs. But my parents aren’t all that nice either. In fact, they’re a pain in my ass. Not nice people at all. Thankfully, Danburn would bring me here when things got too bad, and I’d hang out with his family. I’ve thought of Elissa as my mom since I was a child.” She nodded. “You’re very beautiful, has anyone told you that?” “Right. No, they haven’t. You’re a nice man, and a flirt. But you don’t have to do that.” He asked her what he’d done. “Being nice. I thank you for bringing me up here. I hope you didn’t hurt your back. I’m not exactly a lightweight.” “You don’t weigh anything to me. Especially since I’m not—” Elissa cleared her throat, then shook her head. “Ah, so you’ve not been told. All right. Then we’ll talk later. Elissa, my love, how have you been?” Quinn had no idea what was going on, but it didn’t matter. She had to make arrangements now. Find a place for her and her sister to live. As Elissa and Hanson spoke, she thought of things that she was going to have to do, and soon. Her mom had left her. But she was also in a better place, a place without pain. And that, she knew, was the point of her leaving her all alone in the world. ~~~
Hanson sat in his friend’s office while he made arrangements to have the body picked up. There wasn’t anything for Hanson to do to help him, so he thought about what had brought him here. Certainly not the little woman upstairs, that’s for sure. But he was here, and so was she. While the timing could have been a lot better, he wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do now. But he’d hold his secret with him just a little while longer. Danburn hung up just as Hanson was going to leave him. “I’m sorry to have you sit there bored, but things had to be taken care of. The poor woman has been ill for a long time. I mean, in human years at least. By the time we got them here, Madeline was so far gone that we weren’t able to do anything but make her comfortable. It’s sad, really. The way that she just gave up toward the end. Pierce said that had she had better care in the beginning, she might have been able to live a little longer, but they could only do so much. They were on all kinds of government programs that did little to nothing for her.” Hanson told him he was sorry. “Not exactly the homecoming that I wanted you to have.” “It’s fine, Danburn. I’m all right.” He stood up. “I have luggage to take someplace. I’m assuming that since you already have a full house, I should—” “You will stay here.” Hanson nodded and sat back down when Danburn asked him to. He could have argued about the hotel, but it would have done no good. Danburn’s word was law where he was concerned. “We’ll get this cleared up and then have a nice dinner. I’m sure that Quinn won’t be joining us. I had hoped that you’d hit it off, but we’ll get through this. And then the two of you can become friends too. She’s a wonderful person. You and her, you have a lot in common too, I think.” He hoped they hit it off too, now that he knew what she was to him. Sitting there while he thought of his mate upstairs, he also thought of his parents. They were going to be very unhappy with him. Not just him, but they would absolutely hate Quinn. If for no other reason than she was his mate. There were things— “Hanson? Where did you go just now?” He felt embarrassed and smiled. “There it is, that famous smile that got you out of more trouble than anyone I knew. I’m glad that you’re here. With Thanksgiving in a few days, I think it’ll be great. Kip and the rest of the gang are coming too. They should all three arrive tomorrow sometime.” “The girl and her mom. What’s up with them? I know that she’s related to Kendrick, but why was the younger one, I think her name is Quinn, shot?” Danburn leaned back in his chair and regarded him. It was a look he’d seen on the dragon king a million times. Too knowing and too smart. “What do you have running through that thick skull of yours?” “She doesn’t know what we are yet. We thought it best that we waited, to see how things went. She’s your mate, isn’t she?” He nodded, his heart feeling the push of happiness right then. “We have talked to her, but Kendrick was watching the news one night and heard about it. Quinn was applying for aid from the state for some help for her mom and sister. The poor girl was working three or four jobs, trying her best to make it, but the meds were too much for her and her mom needed them. While there, an employee had a breakdown, and shot Quinn three times while she tried to protect
some children that were there. And another woman—Smith, I think her name was—the mother of the four kids, was also killed. Then the employee, CarolAnn Bishop, put the gun to her head and killed herself before the police arrived. It was touch and go for a while whether or not Quinn was going to be able to come here, what with her injuries and how much pain she was in. But Kendrick, as is her way, pushed and pushed until she was released to Pierce’s care.” “And then your lovely wife brought them all here and has been taking care of them, correct?” He said that was pretty much it. “Now the mom is gone, leaving a little sister and my mate…. Where do they have to go now? Besides with me.” “Rett is an attorney, as you know, and he’s working on getting them representation for some money. He can’t do it himself, sadly, because he’s our mayor, but he knows some people that can. Also, while talking about him, his mom is in jail and his dad is out. That’s another long story, but I think you’ll enjoy that one.” Hanson laughed but still thought of Quinn. “You upset? About any of this? The girl, her sister? I should tell you, Hanson, they’ve been dealt some pretty shitty hands. Not just with this, but in looking into their lives, it’s been pretty much a downhill shit ball from the beginning.” “My parents will hate them both.” Danburn nodded. “As for the little girl, no, I don’t mind having her in my life too. Our life, I suppose I should say now. And as you called it, my parents have decided that now the house is paid off and taxes caught up, they can come back. I’ve not seen them yet, and I have no desire to, but I’ve given word that they’re not to enter the castle, nor are they to touch the money in my account. I’m sure if they don’t know where I am yet, they’ll figure it out soon enough. And I have to tell you, that worries me a great deal. They’ll hurt her, just to get back at me.” “Let them come. We can take care of them.” Hanson knew that he’d say that and told him it was his fight. “No. You’re one of my best friends, a man that I have come to love like a brother. It’s our fight. And I’m sure we can make them rue the day they messed with us.” “Your mom will have fun with it.” They both laughed and were still doing so when Elissa came into the room. After hugging her tightly, they all made their way into the living room to talk. Quinn and her sister were in there and started to leave when they entered. “Please, don’t leave on our account. We were just going to talk about Thanksgiving.” “My sister is ready for bed, I’m afraid. And she’s had a rough day. So, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go up with her.” He and Danburn stood when she did, and he could tell that she was embarrassed. “Good night.” Then she was gone, taking a small part of his heart with him. Soon enough, she’d have it all, and he was glad to give it to her. Elissa eyed him strangely but didn’t ask. He was sure she’d figure it out soon. Danburn laughed, and he knew that she’d been told by him. And Elissa, being Elissa, surely made a comment along the lines of it was about time. He loved this family, and had always thought of them as a better family than the one he was born to. Elissa had been the mother that he’d always needed, and Danburn and the others, brothers.
“I’ve been thinking, I need a safe house for…. I need a safe house until my parents see the light.” Danburn asked him if here was all right. “It might be, but I’d rather not. I don’t want you to be involved in this thing with them. I know you will be…they’ll blame whatever I’m doing on you, as you know. But I would like to have a place that they can focus their anger on me and not you. I know it’s going to be bad, and to be honest, I just want it over with. Especially now.” “Your parents, you mean?” He nodded at Elissa. “They should have been dealt with a great many decades ago. They need to be horsewhipped. Or worse. What have they done now, Hanson? Something diabolical, I’m betting.” “They left me with a mess. I had called the bank on another matter, and since the banker knows me, he told me about the taxes as well as the lack of upkeep on the house. My God, you should have seen it. The animals that roam the ground were all but dead. It took me over a month to get that alone squared away. Then there were the taxes. Fifty-two years of back taxes. I had to sell off some of the family things just to get it taken care of that day. Money wasn’t something that I had readily, but I do now. I’ve since been able to get the things back, but you have no idea what kind of mess the home was in. Even the staff…. There wasn’t any money for them to fall back on after my parents left them there holding the bag. Most of them had begun sleeping in the keep to have a place to go at night. And to keep out the town.” Elissa told him she was sorry. “Not as sorry as they’re going to be when I see them. I’ve had enough. It’s been difficult enough trying to get things finished up without them being childish, as well as a couple of deadbeats. And there was Jessie…. They left her there, Danburn. Just left her to die all alone. I had no idea.” “You should have called me. I would have helped you.” Hanson knew that, and it was precisely the reason that he hadn’t called. Not that he was embarrassed, because Danburn knew his family almost as well as he did, but he just didn’t want to bother his friend. Again. “Well, you’re here now and we can take care that they don’t get in. I insist that you allow me to let someone go in there and keep an eye on it. I need to help you.” “You make sure that things here are safe too. You know what they’re going to do. And now with Quinn in the picture, I don’t want her hurt either.” He stood up when he heard someone coming. Her scent blew toward him and he knew it was going to be her. When she entered the room, he knew that she’d been crying again. “I’m sorry to interrupt your visit, but I wanted to ask you about the arrangements. I should have done so earlier, but my mind wasn’t clear.” Danburn asked her to have a seat and she did. “I seem to be in a fog right now, but I know that things have to be taken care of before we leave.” “You’re leaving?” She looked at Hanson as he glanced at Danburn. “You’re not kicking her to the curb, are you, old man? I thought for sure you were going to open your home to all that needed you. Sort of a home for wayward friends.” “I didn’t need him.” He wanted to smile at her tone…so indignant, and hot mad. He loved it. “His wife came to get me and brought me here when I was out of it. I’m pretty sure that if I was forced to come here, I might have remembered that. Who are
you anyway to ask such a thing of Danburn and his wife? They’ve been nothing but kind to us in our hour of need.” As if she realized what she’d done, gotten upset at a stranger, she looked at Danburn and he could tell that she was going to cry. Getting up, Hanson pulled her from her chair and held her while she did. Danburn and his mom left them, closing the door behind them. “There now, it’s all right. I have you.” He wasn’t sure what to say to her, so he started talking about his mom and dad. “You should meet my parents. You will eventually, but let me warn you now, they’re not nice. I mean, on a scale of one to ten, ten being the worst they could be, they’d be upwards of about ten million. And my mom? Well, let’s just say that she gives a whole new meaning to the word bitch. My dad…he’s not much better. What is it you call a male version of bitch?” “Bastard, I guess. Why do you think I’ll meet them?” He shrugged and brushed her wet hair from her cheeks. “I’m sorry that I snapped at you. I don’t normally do that sort of thing to someone I don’t know. Perhaps you bring out the worst in me.” “Could be. But usually women swoon at my feet.” She smiled at him. “Christ, you’re beautiful when you smile. I’d love to kiss you.” “Whatever for?” He was shocked by the question, but before he could tell her, she pulled away. It was like being given warmth in his heart to have it taken away. “I’m very sorry for snapping at you. I’ve had a stressful few weeks. My mom…. Well, I guess you know that she passed away. And now my sister and I have to find us a place to stay.” “I don’t think you should leave here. I mean, not right away anyway. Danburn was just telling me that he likes having you here. And Carmine is a joy.” Not true, but he knew that Danburn would say that if asked. She moved back more and he took a step toward her. “I mean, it’s the holidays, and mine and Danburn’s friends will be here soon.” “All the more reason for us to get out of your hair. We have…. What are you doing? Stop following me.” He told her he couldn’t help it. “Figure it out. I’m not sure what you think is going on, but you have to stop this. And just because I seemed to fall apart on your shoulder doesn’t mean that I’m going to let you kiss me. It’s…. We’re strangers.” “Just one kiss.” She was afraid of him, and he could almost taste it. “I’m sorry. I don’t see that many pretty girls, and I get lonely.” Instead of laughing, as he had hoped she would, she turned on her heel and left him. Hanson sat down. Then after thinking about what a fool he’d made of himself, he started laughing, which brought in Danburn again. Then he thought of the look on Danburn’s face when he told him what he’d done and he laughed harder. It was the best feeling he’d had in a very long time. Now he had to woo his mate back into his arms. He had a feeling it was going to be much more difficult than dealing with his parents. “But a good deal more fun.”