Graham By Kathi S Barton Emerson Wolves Release Day ( Final Book In Series ) 12/13/16

Ramsey had given up on family and love a long time ago, and the sooner she cut all ties with them, the better off she’d be. She was good with a camera, and as long as no one knew who she was, the daughter of the powerful Ram Stockholm, she could keep her cover intact.
Graham had just finished the construction of his house and was looking for any excuse he could find to stay away from people—that included his large family. But everyone had to eat so a trip to the grocery store was necessary. He didn’t, however, have a mate on his shopping list, but there she stood—injured and panicking.
Graham was about as happy as he could be, until three cops came to his property to arrest him and charged him with murder—now the whole family was in an uproar. Graham’s world was crashing around him, he wanted to marry Ramsey, but not like this…. Can they ban together to prove his innocence before it’s too late? Find out in the final chapter of the Emerson Wolves—Graham.
Do you know what you are to me? She shook her head as he whispered to her. His mouth was doing incredible things to her and she wanted more. Mate? Youre my mate. Do you know what that means?

Her body seemed to come alive at his words. She struggled to pull from him and he let her go, but he didn’t back off. She moved back from him as far as the wall and tried to get her mind to function again. She was not going to be his mate, not any man’s.

You have to go. I won’t bother you anymore if you do the same for me. He moved to within a foot of her and she put up her hands. I don’t want you here. Please, you can’t want me as a mate. I don’tI’m not even sure that this isn’t some ploy to get what you want. Or money. Is that it?’ She looked up at him as he started cursing.

Hunter Emerson and his brothers answered the request of a pack looking for a new Alpha and moved to Sommersville. Since they were all Alphas, Hunter didn

t have a clue that he was the new Alpha until he arrived. It didn’t sit well with him at all that a woman on pack land held herself in recluse and wouldn’t answer and pledge herself to the new Alpha. What she could be doing there on that big estate with no one around to witness, His mind reeled with the possibilities?none of them good. 

Slone Morris had an understanding with the local pack?leave her alone and she’d let the pack stay on her land free of charge. It was as simple as that. She didn’t deal well with people. But the new Alpha in town wouldn’t take Fuck off for an answer.

Slone’s past threatened to rear its ugly head at every turn. There was one?someone she thought she trusted?who didn’t want the past dredged back up. He was determined to stop her at all cost?

Luke Emerson has big shoes to fill. He doesn’t know how to be a Mayor of their small town, but with the help of his assistant, Allen, he is damn sure going to give it a good try. From what little he’s seen of the town government it’s corrupt and he’s bound and determined to do something about it.

When they receive a call that Allen’s sister Jack has been critically injured in a fire, Allen falls apart. His sister is all he has left. 

Luke goes with him to the hospital and as soon as Luke catches her scent, he knows she’s his mate, but the doctor is giving her less than a three percent chance to survive . 

Can you save her?  Luke looked over at Allen, who was staring at his sister. I know what you are. I mean, I think I know what you are. You can’t live in our town and not hear things. Are you?

Am I what? Allen looked at him, and Luke felt as if he were staring at his very soul. Neither of them blinked, and when Allen finally looked away, Luke felt as if he’d been released from a tight hug. You want to know an answer to something, then ask me. I’m not going to assume anything right now.

Luke has two choices: convert her to a wolf, or watch her die. He doesn’t even know her, but he can’t lose his mate he’s just found her. But to convert her without her permission, there could be consequences.

Addison Parker is on the run. No matter how fast she runs, or how far she travels she can’t hide from herself, or the gift she’s been cursed with. She can read people’s minds and with a touch can see into their future. That is a secret that she has learned to keep well?everyone always wanted something from her when they learned what she could do. It’s easier to avoid people all together.

Jarrett Emerson is just helping his dad and brother protect an innocent from a perverted wretch. But when a falling brick knocks Addie unconscious, she falls right into Jarrett’s arms. To his surprise he realizes that she is his mate and human…

Addie felt stupid standing there like she was and moved to the sink. Jarrett watched her before he reached for a second glass. Addie had no idea why, but she thought he was nervous. “I’m not going to pounce on you.”

As soon as the words left her mouth, she knew that she’d made a major mistake. He turned so quickly that she backed up and hit her ass on the counter behind her. He didn’t stop there but took the two more steps to have her leaning back to look up at him.

“I’d like nothing more than to have you pounce on me.” His voice was a soft growl that had her thinking all sorts of things that had nothing to do with food. “You’re very beautiful.”

“No, I’m not.” He nodded and halved the distance between them. “You’re too close. I can’t think when you’re this close.”

Jarrett doesn’t want her to leave. If she goes, he goes with her. That’s the way it is with mates. But when a corrupt attorney has other ideas, the Emersons have to regroup to protect what they now consider their own….

Dawn Whitfield is on the run, and if her uncle catches her this time she knows he won’t just beat her…he’ll kill her. Her best bet is to keep moving, and at all cost keep hidden.

Addie Parker finds the shackled young woman and sets her up in an old house hidden from everything. And that’s where Dawn stays for eight lonely years.

Ellis Emerson is in a rut. He can’t seem to do anything right. He thinks he’s found his mate, but can’t get close enough to her to be sure… And that’s a huge distraction that’s turned their construction job from a week ahead of schedule with a huge bonus, to barely three days ahead. And when Addie asks him to assemble a small crew to fix one of her houses, his foreman, Dan, is all for Ellis getting away for a while.

Ellis finds his skittish mate hiding away in Addie’s home, but will she let her guard down long enough for him to convince her that their destiny is each other? Or will her Uncle Basil step in and finally take her prisoner again? Find out in the next installment of Emerson Wolves?Ellis.

No matter how hard she tried, Kimber Gray always seemed to manage to get knocked back down a peg or two. She was a top rate chef and graduated at the top of her class, but no matter how hard she tried no one would acknowledge it. Now, blackballed in the only profession she knew, she was a failure to the one that mattered most–her daughter, Hannah. With no recourse left to her, she’d have to grovel and beg her aunt for help.

Lee Emerson was glad to be back home for a while. He loved what he did, being a food critic and helping failing restaurants was a dream job come true. But he was tired of the traveling and just wanted to take care of things around the house and relax for a change. 

Slone, Hunter’s mate, wanted to open a fancy restaurant and have Lee run it. He wasn’t so sure about that, but he’d love nothing better than to hire that chef that had prepared the last meal he’d had in France before he left. It was the best meal he’d ever eaten, and he had been disappointed when he found out the man had left before he could tell him so. The slush claiming to cook the meal, wasn’t the cook and he’d bet his last dollar on it.

Kimber had had it. Her aunt had gone too far this time, and there was no way she’d expose her little girl to such meanness again. They’d live on the street first, and she was trying to tell Slone that she wasn’t a charity case. That she could provide for her daughter somehow, when the most gorgeous man she’d ever seen cornered her, snarling that he’d protect her with his life.

Ah, hell no. Who in the hell did he think he was?

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Hello! My name is Kathi Barton and I’m a award winning, best selling author of dark fantasy erotic paranormal romance . I have been married to my very best friend Paul, a potter, for at times seems several lifetimes – in a good way, honey. And together we have three wonderful children and then the ones we brought into the world – Paul and Dale Barton, Jason and Wendy Barton and Danielle and Ben Conklin. They have given us eight of the greatest treasures on Earth. They don’t live at home seven days a week! No, seriously, eight grandchildren – Gavin, Spring, Ben, Trinity, Sarah, Kelly, Kian and Bailee

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“I tell you, Ram, that daughter of yours is a hoot. I just asked her what she thought of all this, and she said that the money from what was going to be tossed out when this was over could have fed an entire village for a week.”  Ram Stockholm looked around the room for his daughter. “When did you speak to her? I thought her and Chad had left for their honeymoon already.” There was no way his daughter would say that about her own wedding. At least he hoped not. But she was a little stressed out right now. Christ, they’d spent a fortune on this thing, and to have her upset wasn’t going to happen. Not that his baby girl didn’t deserve it, but to say something like this to William Frank was terrible.  “No, no. I meant Ramsey. To tell you the truth, Ram, I had no idea you had another child, much less one as beautiful as she is. But she’s the spitting image of you now that I think on it.” Ram wondered about Ramsey, his youngest child, as William continued. “Like I said, a beautiful little thing, but a mite outspoken. I’d wondered why you didn’t have her up there with her sister, but I’m assuming that the two of them don’t get along.” “They don’t. Where did you see her go? I’d like to speak to her.” William laughed and pointed to the large open doors at the back of the large room. “Excuse me.” If William answered him, he didn’t hear him. Ramsey wasn’t going to ruin her sisters’ day by complaining about something that was none of her business. But as soon as he stepped out on the deck to talk to her, he stilled. When the hell had she grown up? The dark blue dress she had on made the paleness of her porcelain skin almost glow. With her hair done up in one of those complicated twists, it gave her neck a gracefulness that would make most men he knew drool. She was tall too, Ram just realized, and rail thin. He cleared his throat before going out all the way. When Ramsey turned his way, Ram thought that he’d made a mistake…this could not be his child. “Hello, Dad.”  Ram moved out to stand beside her. He was speechless. Not only was this his child, but she’d grown up before…well, she had. “I just talked to William. He said you were a hoot.” Ramsey looked at him, confused. “William Frank. His son is going to Yale right now. I guess you told him we spent too much on this wedding. Why would you say something like that?” “I didn’t. Well, I did, but not like that. He asked me if I was going to have an extravagant wedding like this in a few years, and I told him no. If I ever get married, I want it simple, and the money spent on all this could go to some charity to feed the hungry. There are quite a few of them right here in our own town.” She looked at him as she continued. “Deidra is pissed at me again.” “Don’t talk like that. You’re not old enough to use that kind of language.” She laughed, a harsh sound that seemed to him like she too was upset. “What did you do to her this time, Ramsey?” 
As soon as the words left his mouth, he knew that he’d made a mistake. But the two of them, along with Gregory, their brother, had been fighting since the day that Ramsey was brought home from the hospital, or so it seemed. He just wanted peace and quiet. He never got it when they were all together. And now that he thought about it, he’d not seen them all together in a good long time. Ramsey had been…well, he had no idea where she’d been of late. “First of all, I’m nineteen. Secondly, I didn’t do anything other than to show up here. She seems to think that I’m going to embarrass her because I’m not in the wedding party. And people—her kind, she called them—would ask questions.” Ram started to ask her why she wasn’t in the party, but Ramsey spoke again. “She didn’t ask me to be in it, if you were going to ask me. And when I asked her about it, she told me that I would never fit in. Deidra said that she wanted people in her party that were nice and beautiful, something that I’m certainly not.” “I’ll talk to her.” He would too. He thought this feuding had gone on long enough. “To be honest with you, Ramsey, I almost didn’t know who you were when I came out here. And where have you been hiding yourself? You look lovely.” “Thanks.”  He nodded, then followed her when she moved to sit in one of the chairs that had been brought for people to use. The country club where Deidra’s wedding reception was being held was very accommodating. But he supposed that had to do with his money rather than who he might be. They sat there for several moments before Ramsey spoke again. “I’m leaving, Dad.” He offered to get her a car to take her home. He asked her to tell the butler that they’d be along shortly. When she looked at him with the oddest look on her face, he wondered what he’d said wrong now. He was still trying to get over the fact that she was really nineteen. “I don’t live at home, and I wasn’t planning on going there anyway. I haven’t lived there for some time now. Dad, do you know anything about me? What I do for a living? Where I live?” He was embarrassed that he didn’t know the answer to any of those things. And the worst part of it was, William wasn’t the first person to ask him about Ramsey, saying that they had no idea he had a third child. What have I done? he asked himself. And where the hell had all the time gone? Gregory was the oldest, and had gotten into college on a sports scholarship. He’d been struggling in high school, so it had come as a surprise to know that a college was willing to take him. Gregory had always been more of a player than a scholar. Now he was living at home again, with nothing to show for his six years at a very expensive and prestigious university. Deidra had been, like her mother before her, the prom queen every year since she’d gotten to junior high. Before that she’d been in countless pageants, and had won most of those as well. She was pretty, and vain enough to make them work for her. Now at twenty five she was newly married to a man that Ram didn’t like, and hated to have around for any reason. But his baby had wanted him, and he’d done everything in his power to make sure she had what she wanted…or, he supposed, what his wife had wanted for her. He’d 
been involved in their lives. From the time they were old enough to enter things, sometimes even before that, he and his wife Krista had been there for them. But not Ramsey. He couldn’t remember a single moment, sports event, or even a play that he’d gone to for his youngest child. “I’ve never…I’m sorry to say, I don’t know any of those things.” He looked away from her knowing face and continued. “I can’t remember one single play that we attended that you were in. Not a game of any sort that you might have been in. Nor do I remember having any sort of graduation party when you got out of school last year.” He looked at her then. “I’m drawing a blank as to what I got you for your sixteenth birthday. What I got you for your eighteenth or any in-between, and I haven’t the slightest idea what you’ve been up to since you got out of school.” “I graduated from high school six years ago. So no, you didn’t have a party for me. I think that Deidra said it would mess up her summer plans with her friends or something like that. I just finished up my last year of college last month, and I’m nearly done with my master’s degree as well. I moved out when Mom told me to because I was bothering Deidra too much and it was getting on her nerves. That would have been right after I turned seventeen and was nearly finished with college. I work for….” She stood up and he did as well. “It doesn’t matter now. But I’m going away. And…I have a job opportunity and I’m going to take it.” “Going away to where? And what are you going to do for this company?” Her laugh hurt him. “Ramsey, I’m so sorry. I wish I could tell you that I do remember all of this, but I don’t want to lie to you. I feel like this is all my fault. Don’t leave. Please. I’d like for you to move back home and for us to get to know one another. It’s not too late, is it?” “You mean because Deidra is gone now, you wouldn’t mind me being there?” Ram felt as if she’d stabbed him in the heart. But if she thought that she’d hurt him, he couldn’t see it on her face. And it was nothing less than he deserved. “No thanks. I think…I think that after all this time, it would just be an embarrassment for all of us.” “Ramsey, let me make this up to you. Please don’t go like this. I’ve messed up badly, but this is…we’re family, after all.” She only stood there with her back to him. Ram wanted to take her into his arms and hold her, but he didn’t know how. In all honesty, he didn’t remember a single time when he’d hugged his baby. “Will you at least call me sometimes? Weekly?” “I don’t know. I’ll try.” She turned then and looked at him. “My plane leaves at six in the morning. I’ve taken care of my house and all my bills, so there is no reason for you to be bothered by that. And I’ve sold off all the things that I no longer need. So…well, I guess this is goodbye for a while.” As she walked away and out of his life, all Ram could think about was that he’d wasted a lot of his life and hers not getting to know her. It both saddened him and made him hate himself that he’d done this to her. Not just him, but all of them had. Sitting down on the chair again, he thought of all the times he and his wife would talk about Deidra and Gregory. What they were doing. How they were doing in school. Conversations about Ramsey were few and far between. And worse yet, when they did speak of her, mostly his wife, it was about how she was nothing like them and how she’d never fit in 
properly with them. That if she were more like her brother and sister, perhaps they’d take her to more places. Ram would never forgive himself.  ~~~ Ramsey drove home wondering if she’d done the right thing. Her original plan had been to simply leave without telling them, but then her dad had come out to talk to her and she’d told him. It wouldn’t be like them to miss her or anything. In fact, she was pretty sure that not one of them would have given her a second thought. But her dad had hurt her, and she thought that she wanted to hurt him back for a change. Well, she was sure she had, and herself as well. Going into her little house, she thought of the cases that she’d packed over the last week. She had no idea if she’d be back here again, but really couldn’t see any reason to return. So what she didn’t put into storage—and she’d stored very little—had been given away, sold, or just donated to whoever had wanted it. Which again, wasn’t all that much. She’d sold her house the week before, and had thirty days to leave before the new owners would be taking it. Ramsey had already sold most of her furniture, and all she had left was the bed that she’d been sleeping in and a single dresser. There were no mementos in the house that she was taking. No pictures of her family because she didn’t have any, and there were no pets in her life. Ramsey had made such a tiny footprint in her life so far, and she was looking forward to making more.  Putting all her cameras away except the one that she’d taken to Deidra’s wedding, she made her way to the darkroom. Her plane didn’t leave until late tomorrow night, but she’d told her dad differently because she didn’t want him to think they could get together beforehand. Ramsey had meant nothing to them before this, and she saw no reason to try and cram a lifetime of conversations and hugs into her last day. Neither of them would be very comfortable with that, and she was pretty sure it would piss off her mother. The woman had never really liked her, not even as a child. Ramsey had long since given up on trying to do something that would get her noticed, and had gone on with her life as if they’d never been a part of it. The pictures that she’d taken at her sister’s wedding were all on a clip, and she ran them through the computer to see which ones she wanted to print. While it downloaded them onto the hard-drive, she went to change into more comfy clothes. Ramsey had no idea if her sister would ever see the pictures that she’d taken, or even if she’d want them. Sending them to her father, she decided suddenly, was the best way to get them to her, and she hoped that he’d at least look. The camera, or what she could do with it, was her passion. Just as she was hanging the last of the prints up to dry, Ramsey heard her phone ringing. Turning on the lights overhead, she made her way to it as she dried her hands. She knew who it was before she picked it up, and decided that as soon as possible she was going to change her number. This guy was a pain in the ass. And if he’d known who she was and who he worked for, he’d back the fuck off. “I just heard that you’re leaving. When did this take place? I’d very much like to have you come in before you leave, Miss Holms. The job that I have for you is still open.” Ramsey looked through the mail as he continued talking, wondering if the change of her 
name when she worked was enough to distance her from her family. “I have a noon opening, and also one at two. Which one can I put you down for?” “Neither.” He laughed a little on the other end. Ramsey put the mail, mostly credit card applications, in the trash and pulled a paper bowl from the sleeve to have some cereal. “I really have to go, Mr. Carter. I have things to do.” “Wait. This is the job of a lifetime, Miss…can I call you Ramsey? This is the job of a lifetime. This is a large paper and very prestigious. Think of what doors it could open for you in the long-term.” She didn’t answer him but yawned. “Ramsey, tell me what I need to do to have you come here and work for us.” “There is nothing you can do. I do not want to work for you. I have a job, one that I wanted and worked hard for. I’m sorry, but you’ll have to find someone else.” She hung up as he was speaking. Then when she was sure that he wasn’t going to be on the other end, she put a block on his number and sent it directly to her voicemail. He’d more than likely still call and fill up the message box, but for now she was happy.  The stupid man worked for her father, as he owned the paper that Mr. Carter thought she should come to work for. And not only that, but the job that he wanted her to take? She’d been doing it all the way through college to make ends meet. It had always surprised her that not once in all that time had she ever run across her family. After making sure that everything was turned off in the darkroom, she made her way to her room after eating the last of her cereal. The bed wasn’t made, of course, but she didn’t care. Taking the last of her suitcases off it, Ramsey stripped down and laid out on the messy bed. She was asleep almost immediately.  Two hours later she was awake and refreshed. Taking a long hot shower, Ramsey thought of where she might be going. And when she got there, what she was going to do first. Ramsey didn’t have a job to go to like everyone thought. She’d said that to her dad to make sure he didn’t worry. Moot point, she supposed, since he’d not cared before. But she was going somewhere. Ramsey didn’t even have a destination in mind, not really, but she was going to South Africa. And she was going to take pictures of everything. And a lot of them. By six that night she had everything printed and the pictures—which she’d made extras of for her dad—in a box. Affixing a label to the box, she put it near her luggage so she’d remember to mail it. Sitting down on the floor in the kitchen, she tried to remember if she had everything she was going to need. At seven she picked up the last of her things and was headed out the door and locking it up when someone came up behind her. Lucky for him, or maybe herself, she was able to stop herself from knocking her dad on his ass. Ramsey asked him what he was doing there. “I’m a very resourceful man when I need to be, Ramsey. And I realized that if you left today, without me even talking to you once more, I wouldn’t get to see you again. I think…well, you have no reason to want me in your life, but I would very much like for you to try and have me in it.” He took the biggest suitcase from her and put it in his car. “I paid the driver that was here. I’ll make sure you get to the airport on time.” 
“Why are you doing this? I thought we cleared things up last night.” She was still standing on her stoop when he came back for the other piece of luggage. “Dad? What are you really doing here?” “How about if we have dinner before you go? I know you have time. We can even eat in the airport if you want. I just…I’d like to have dinner with you before you go. I don’t deserve this chance, and Lord knows that you have every reason to tell me to go to hell, but I need this, Ramsey.” She asked him why again. “Because I need to connect with you, and will take whatever…. No, that’s not quite right. I do want to be with you tonight, but I also wanted to make sure you knew how serious I was about you calling me. I thought…I hoped that I could convince you that I love you.” “I love you too, but this is unnecessary. Besides, I was just going to grab a burger at the airport, then wait for my flight. Dad, what does Mom think about you being here?” When he looked away, she knew. “She told you not to come here, didn’t she? It’s all right, Dad. Whatever she said, I’m sure she was right.” “She said you were trying for attention. You weren’t going anywhere, but acting out because you weren’t the center of attention at the wedding. I told her she couldn’t have been more wrong. You’ve never wanted to be there before. That’s more Deidra’s style, not yours.” He took the box from her and noticed that it had his name on it. “What’s this?” “I took some pictures at the wedding and thought she’d want them. Or you might. I don’t care. I don’t even know why I took them other than I wanted to do it. It was just…I don’t understand any of this.” He laughed, and it sounded so sad that she had to brace herself when the pain tore at her heart. “You should go back home before Mom gets upset.” “She already is. And it’s doubtful that she’s going to be in any better mood from now on.” He shut the trunk of his car and turned to her. “Where are you going, Ramsey? Please let me know that much. Not that I deserve it, but I’d like to know.” “My first stop is in South Africa. The next…I don’t know. I don’t have a plan or a job. I just know that I can’t be here and not be in your lives anymore.” He nodded as if he already knew that. “Dad, it’s all right. I’ve told myself that you had the other two, and Mom has often told me that I wasn’t planned. It’s fine.” “But it’s not. It’s not fine at all. Not for me. I screwed up. Now I want to…I don’t know what I want, but I know that I want to get to know you. Start over, I guess.”  Ramsey looked at the big moving van coming down the street. Going to her dad’s car, she wasn’t surprised that he opened the door for her. He was old world all the way to his little bow tie he always wore. When he got in on the driver’s side, she told him she was ready and they drove off. Ramsey tried her best not to see the van pulling up in front of her little house so they could strip out the rest of her things. The darkroom would be picked up later that day by someone from the high school as a donation to their art department. And that would be it. Everything that she’d been would be gone in a matter of hours. It would be as if Ramsey Stockholm had never been. The trip to the airport didn’t take long. Her dad asked her questions and she answered them. Not anything too personal, she realized, but he was trying. When he 
parked, he took most of her luggage and she her carry-on things. He had the box of pictures under his arm, and when she asked him about that, he laughed. “I want to see them while you’re here so that I can tell you what a great job you did.” He laughed again when she told him they might be crap. “Nah, I don’t think so. I found out you’re pretty famous with your camera. I mean, you are R. S. Holms, aren’t you? I had no idea.” “No one does. And I’d like to keep it that way.” He nodded as they made their way through the line to have her luggage checked. “Those pictures aren’t your normal wedding kind of thing. Most of them are candid shots that I had fun taking. You really might think they’re crap when you see them.” “I highly doubt that. You’re quite famous as a photographer, aren’t you? The article I read about you, they don’t know who you are, do they? No one even knows that you’re a female.” She shook her head. “I’m glad I looked. I almost skipped over the article because it said you weren’t who I was looking for. Why did you change it?” “My personal life is just that. Personal. And if I put out there that I was who I am, I think any doors that would have opened for me when I started taking pictures would have been because of your last name. This is all mine, not the family’s.” She wondered if she might have hurt him again, but he smiled at her. “I wanted to do this on my own, and I did it.” “You certainly did, and I understand that.” She wasn’t sure he did but said nothing. “While our name means a great deal around the world, you just wanted to make it without my help. I’m proud of you for that.” “Thank you.”  After her luggage was tagged and taken away, they decided to have dinner at one of the nicer restaurants in the place. Ramsey had about three hours before her plane took off, and she wasn’t sure she wanted to sit with her dad while waiting. He seemed to genuinely want to be with her, but she was sure that he’d get bored after a while and want to cut it short. When he ordered his dinner then she hers, he pulled out the box and opened it. The very first picture was of Deidra standing in her room with her sweat pants and tee shirt on, with her wedding gown hanging from the hook on the wall. He pulled it from the box and studied it. “That dress alone could have fed an entire village.” She laughed when he did. “I guess I’m odd when I think that the money could have been better spent. Like on a house or something. But I guess they have their own ideas of what is going to work in their own lives. What that is, I have no idea, but that’s what she said to me. I don’t care for Chad all that much anyway.” “To be honest with you, neither do I. And we did buy them a house, but…well, Chad, I found out, has a bit of a gambling problem, and I made him a deal. I’ll use what I paid for the house to pay the debt off, and he’ll be on his own.” He shook his head. “I have a feeling that this is never going to be the end of it for them. And Gregory is…well, I don’t want to talk about them right now.” 
He had made his way through about half the pictures when their dinner came. Ramsey had the grilled salmon with grilled scallops on the side, plus a huge baked potato. Her dad, a steak and potatoes man, had ordered a beautiful porterhouse with the same potato with butter and sour cream. No salads for either of them. When he looked at the last picture in the box, she felt herself getting uncomfortable. He stared at the last one for so long that she wanted to ask him what was wrong with it. Her dad looked at her with tears in his eyes and she felt her heart twist. “The only family picture in the world that is half assed. You should have been in this with us. Obviously you were there. Why didn’t you join us?” She just shook her head and he nodded as if he might know. “Was it your mom or Deidra that told you to step out of the picture? I have no doubt, after this, that it could have been both of them.” “I understand why she didn’t want me there. It was Deidra’s day, not mine.” That wasn’t really what was said to her, but it was less painfully said her way. “But the picture turned out nicely, didn’t it?” “It did. I believe that these pictures are going to be much nicer than the ones we paid that man too much money to take. But I want to know. What did your mother say to you, Ramsey? I need to know.” She didn’t want to tell him. But then she thought what the hell, I’m leaving and more than likely won’t be back. “Ramsey?” “She told me it was for the family and not for upstarts like me. I started to point out that I was her daughter too when she…she slapped me. Told me that she wished I’d not been born. I unbalanced her life. Unbalanced? How did I…? I had no say in being born. Why does she say things like that to me?” She turned away from him to finish. “To be honest with you, it was the deciding factor in my leaving without saying a word to any of you. I don’t know why I even told…yes I do. I wanted to hurt you like you all have hurt me my entire life. That’s the only reason that I even told you I was going.” “I don’t know why she’d say those things to you. I really don’t. But I am glad that you told me. It afforded me this, this opportunity to see if I could patch things up—even if it is nearly too late—between us.” He pushed his plate away too. Her appetite was gone, as it appeared his was. “She said that I was a fool to try and mend the fences with you, even if that was what I was going to do. She blamed you for this and so many things that I don’t even know how she thought you were a part of. I never realized the extent of her hatred for you. Saying that all you wanted was for…well, you know what she said. All the attention. Then when I told her I was going to talk to you, she had a fit and ended up in bed with one of her headaches. I didn’t stay to listen to her anymore. Gregory said he’d keep an eye on her for me.” “She hates me, Dad.” He didn’t say anything, and for that she was grateful.  The rest of the meal was spent not mentioning the family. Ramsey thought that was about as depressing as it could get. When her flight was called, he walked her to the barriers and pulled her into his arms. “I’m sorry. So very sorry, honey.” She told him not to worry about it. “I will, and I still am. But I want you to take this. It’s a credit card with just your name on it. You can…if you want to come home sometime or anything, just use it. And I have a number there 
that I want you to use. It’s…well, it’s mine and mine alone. If you can’t get me that way, then use the house phone. But I want you to call me. Weekly if you can.” “I don’t need this, Dad.” He pushed it back at her when she tried to give it back. “Dad, you don’t have to do this for me to call you. I will.” “It’s not why I’m doing it. I want you to have a backup plan. A way to come home to me if you need me.” She wanted to tell him she needed him years ago, but said nothing. “I wasn’t there for you for nineteen years, Ramsey, but I want to be now.” Nodding, she was moving to the gates when he called her back. This hug she returned, and felt better when they parted ways. Ramsey cried all the way to her first stop, and got off the plane with a heavy and saddened heart.   

Drew By Kathi S Barton Release Day & Giveaway 11/14/16

Drew: Justice Series 
Paranormal Erotic Romance
Ryder Mackenzie didn’t remember much about what happened to her. All she knew was she hurt in more places than she could remember. Mac barely remembered going over the falls and hitting the rocks below to save the little girl. But now that she’d been to the other side, the ghosts wouldn’t leave her alone.
Drew Mullins was a haunted man, quite literally. His mother tortured him as a child and seemed bound and determined to continue doing so seventeen years after her death. Drew, being a necromancer, was having a hard time avoiding her because she didn’t know she was dead.
Between Mac having the little girl’s father haunting her and Drew dealing with his mother’s ghost, they both were a mess. But in each other they found what had been missing in their lives—love.
But when the thirst for revenge heats up, can Steele and his group find a solution? At least one where no one else ends up dead?
B&N   Coming Soon 
Steele Bennett was born with a gift, but he sees it more as a curse―he can see and speak with spirits. And when he loses his twin sister at seventeen, he wants to turn his back on life―block his heart so that he never has to feel the sharp pain of loss again… 

The small bar Kari Briggs runs is failing fast. She hasn’t seen the owner in three months, past due notices are piling high, and her last paycheck bounced twice. And if she doesn’t pay the delivery guy soon, there’ll be no more supplies. 
She has trouble enough controlling her cat, so the last thing she needs tonight is trouble. But those guys at the bar won’t listen and take it outside. Deciding to take matters into her own hands, she is shocked when a tall stranger grips her arms from behind and her cat wants to roll over and purr.
From the moment Steele touches her, she knows he’s her mate. And Steele thinks he can just get her out of his system with sex and a lot of it―he won’t mark her and she can’t mark him―no permanent attachments. But that’s not how it works with a shifter, she will die if her cat can’t get what she needs from him. She will love him because she has no choice―he is her mate―but that is a secret she is willing to take to her grave…

Nick Stark had known Addison West for quite some time. Although they’d never met in person they shared the same nightmare?both were unwilling participants. However, through these dreams they had formed a bond between them. And a telepathic connection. So when out of the blue, Addie contacted Nick and told him she had seen some things that she shouldn’t have and she was next on the killer’s list, Nick didn’t hesitate to come to her rescue.

Nick had known for some time that Addie was to be his?why else would they share the same dream? But he was in no hurry to form emotional attachments. Never having much in the way of a decent family life, he didn’t know much about love. And with the deep emotional scars he bore from an abusive childhood, he didn’t want to bring that burden onto another soul?especially Addie.

Addie had her own baggage. Her father had been forcing her to marry an abusive man?he told her it was her duty as his daughter to obey him. Addie wasn’t having any part of it, so she ran…. She had been hiding for the last five years.

Nick may not have wanted any attachments but he couldn’t ignore the beauty he’d rescued. But there were things he had to tell her…about all of them…about Steele Bennett’s group. He wasn’t sure how she fit into all this….

Mitch Riley was a haunted man, and being a necromancer didn’t have much to do with what haunted him. A troubled childhood left him withdrawn and short tempered, so when he received a summons that he was being sued by the foster parents who had abused him, he didn’t take it well at all. And their attorney? None other than a vamp. There was nothing much worse than a vamp in Mitch’s opinion.
Victoria Graham, or Vinnie her mother had nicknamed her, wasn’t expecting the man her clients were suing to be her mate, and a necromancer. She would have refused the case had she known she’d be walking into a den of necromancers. She had grown up on horror stories that necromancers were the one thing that could kill her kind, and it was clear the man hated her very existence…. But when he touched her, she’d lost control of her magic…and her mind too apparently.
Landon Logan is a man haunted by a tragedy that he blames himself for but didn’t do. No one can convince him otherwise–especially his well-meaning Grandda who happens to be dead. Landon is a necromancer.

Dillon Malone has a few abilities of her own. She can “find” things by touching the owner or touching something the owner has touched. This makes her a wanted woman.

Landon is so angry at his good-for-nothing parents that he storms out of their house with their maid in tow. Dillon is happy to leave with this brooding young man and soon discovers that the handsome hunk is her other half.

Dillon’s happiness is short lived when her past reaches out to bite her, and she and Landon become pawns in her father’s evil scheme. When Dillon’s father has Steele’s new baby kidnapped, all bets are off.

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Hello! My name is Kathi Barton and I’m a award winning, best selling author of dark fantasy erotic paranormal romance . I have been married to my very best friend Paul, a potter, for at times seems several lifetimes – in a good way, honey. And together we have three wonderful children and then the ones we brought into the world – Paul and Dale Barton, Jason and Wendy Barton and Danielle and Ben Conklin. They have given us eight of the greatest treasures on Earth. They don’t live at home seven days a week! No, seriously, eight grandchildren – Gavin, Spring, Ben, Trinity, Sarah, Kelly, Kian and Bailee
Chapter 1  
Addie put the phone back on the hook and sat down. Since she’d gotten up she’d been trying to reach out to her friend, Mac, and hadn’t gotten a single answer, or a call back when she left her messages. She was coming here in a few days, to hang out with her and to meet her new friends. But now, trying to get in touch with Mac and not having any success made her worry. Something was wrong, she just knew it. Going to find Nick, she wasn’t surprised to find Landon and Steele in the office with him. Nick stood up when she entered the room and gave her his seat. The man was a constant worry wart, especially since she’d found out she was expecting. She wasn’t sure she could make it the last few months without bashing his head in. “Here, honey, please have a seat. And put your feet up on the stool. Did you get in touch with her?” Addie told him that she’d not as she sat down in his chair, but she didn’t put her feet up. There was only so much pampering she could take right now. “I know that you’re worried. I think you need to call her place of business. Didn’t you tell me she works for some sort of boating company?” “Extreme. And she doesn’t just work for them, but owns the company. Few people know that. I’m pretty sure not even the people that work for her are aware they work for her, not just with her. But, no, I’ve not called yet. I wanted to ask you first. I don’t want her to think I’m over protective of her. She accused me of that in college when we were younger.” Addie rubbed her growing belly as she continued. “It’s not like her to not call me back. I know that it’s silly, but I’m afraid something has happened to her. But I don’t want to feel stupid for calling her work and embarrassing her. Do you understand?” “Call them.” When Steele nodded in agreement with Nick, she thought she’d do it. But later. “No, not later, now. Call them and ask where she is. You know that you’re not sleeping well worrying over this. She will get a good laugh out of it and so will you, but you won’t worry any more. Just go ahead and call and see what might be going on. It might be something simple, like her phone is down or something like that.” Getting up, she went to her own office. If she was going to feel stupid for calling for no reason other than Mac was really busy, she’d rather do it where no one could hear her. Picking up the phone and dialing the number she’d memorized yesterday, she wasn’t surprised when the answering machine picked up. But she was no less worried either. “Hello. You’re going to think this is really silly, but I’m trying to get in touch with Ryder Mackenzie. Mac. She goes by Mac. Anyway, my name is Addie Stark and she was supposed to call me back and—” “Hello? Don’t hang up. Please, just hang on while I try to turn this off.” The woman, she thought it was Sandy Miller who worked for Mac, cursed a few times as buttons were pushed. “I’m not very good at this thing. Mac usually…please call back if I hang up on us.” After telling the woman that she would, the line went dead. Addie sat there for several minutes trying to reason with her fingers to dial the numbers again when it rang. Picking up the phone carefully, she heard more cursing and knew it was Sandy again. 
“I’m so sorry. I’m not the office type. Cameras yes, but…I just came in here to pick up the money and heard you. There’s nobody around to help me out on this thing.” Addie told her it was all right. “Mac is…She’s in the hospital, has been since yesterday late. Mac is…I mean she…they don’t really expect her to make it. She took a terrible fall over the falls near where she lives, and…and…poor baby….” The sobbing was what got her. The woman was sobbing so hard that it sounded as if she were tearing her heart out. Addie felt her own eyes fill with tears, then run over as she thought of her friend lying dead. Mac was such a vibrant and full of life woman. Knowing that she was hurt and might not make it…well, Addie knew that she’d feel it forever if she were to pass. Her sorrow became more as Sandy told her what she knew. “She’d told me she was going on home, and I never thought no more about it until I heard the scanner going off and her telling them that she had three in the water. A little kid, she said. They didn’t have any life jackets on them, so…oh, that poor little thing. I turned the cameras around to find her and saw it. Just saw that kayak go right over with her hanging onto that child. I think there was some man trying to help her save the girl, but…well, he died too. Mac said that…she said that she was going after her. I knew as soon as I heard there was a little one involved that she’d go and try and save her. But those falls, even for someone like her, experienced and all, they’re a bit much, especially this time of year. She and that little girl went right over, and I never saw them again until I made my way to the hospital.” Addie was crying hard now, knowing that Mac would hurt herself to save anyone, but especially a little kid. As the story unfolded, Addie could almost see it happening. “Those people on the raft, they were all screaming at the police when they got there. Took them a good five minutes to get them calmed enough to tell them where she’d gone over. By then…well, it was damned near too late for all of them.” “The child, is she all right?” Sandy said that she was broken up pretty good, but was expected to make a full recovery. “And the others, what happened to them?” “Both parents are gone. The mister, Adam was his name, he broke his neck. They think he might have been dead before he ended up on the bottom of the falls, but we don’t know for sure. His wife Cindy, little Becky’s mother, she drowned. Again, they don’t know for sure when that happened. Like I said, them falls, they’re unforgiving if you don’t know how to run them.” Addie wanted to ask about Mac’s injuries, but was afraid to. But Sandy spoke before she could. “Mac was beaten up, near dead when they got to her. Her head was split open by the rocks, and they’re worried about what sort of damage…they’re worried about brain damage. Broke both her arms and crushed her leg. The doctor told me that she’d be lucky if she walked again without a cane. Then he broke down. Imagine that, a doctor breaking down, and he told me that she wasn’t going to live out the night, not the way she was right now. That was…she’s my little girl and she’s been hanging on since. They had to…I won’t let them just let her go. She’ll never forgive me for doing that. Not one to hang on, she told me more than once. But they brought her back for us. The staff there at the critical care, they don’t…I don’t know what I’m supposed to do without her. She’s all I have…I love her like my own.” 
“I’m coming there.” Addie stood up, then sat down when she thought of what she had to do. “I’ll be there in the morning if not tonight. Can you find me a place to stay? Please? I need to be there for her.” “Oh honey, that would be wonderful for us. Me too. Yes, that’s good. Yes, of course you need to be here. And I’d like that too. She talked of nothing else but seeing you. It’s why I picked up the machine. And you come on out here. You can stay in her place if you want. It’s a big place, but she loves it. That pup of hers will be more than glad to see someone besides me.” Addie wasn’t sure about a puppy. All she cared about right now was seeing her friend and maybe trying to figure out a way to bring her around. “I’ll have someone pick you up at the hangar. Not much of an airport, but we make due.”  Addie hung up a few minutes later, after taking notes on not only where to go but how to get to the house if she ended up staying there. Still not sure what she was going to do once she got there, Addie went to find Nick. She was leaving right now if she could arrange it. ~~~ Drew wandered around the house again, ending up near his own room. He wasn’t sure yet what he was supposed to do with his new house, but he was making headway, he thought. The house was so big that at times he felt smothered by it. Stupid he supposed, but that was the feelings he got. And if he was honest with himself, he wasn’t sure he liked this place. It was…dark, he thought, was a good word for it. Dark and not suited to him at all. Anna, his cook, and right now the only person he saw much of, was in the kitchen for the most part while he was there, and he’d finally convinced her to stay in the pool house instead of driving back and forth every day. Most days they both ate in the kitchen, as he just couldn’t stand the thought of her carrying what food she thought was good for him between the dining room and the kitchen like he was something special. Smiling at that thought, he went out onto the deck that was off his bedroom. It was the one thing he’d loved about the house. The way the deck, all covered and filled with the most comfortable furniture, seemed to invite a person to come and have a seat. Kick off their shoes, as he had done when he’d sat down, and relax. He wondered if the previous owners of the house, Landon’s parents, had ever had an occasion to relax at all between stealing from people and making everyone’s life hard. He supposed that he should have taken the master suite when he moved in. But it was bigger by far than one floor of his other home. Not to mention he had yet to go through the personal things in the room, and Landon had told him there was nothing there he wanted of his parents. He guessed he could hire someone to do it, but he had no idea how to even begin that task. Putting his feet up on the stool that matched the rest of the furniture, he looked out over the wooded area behind his house. The deer came out about now, and he had made it a habit when he was home to watch them. It was relaxing, and he never thought much when he watched them romp and play. Yesterday there had been a small one with them, and he had enjoyed watching it get its feet under it. The buck, a big boy with about a dozen points, just watched him. Drew wondered if he’d learn to trust him soon. 
“Drew?” He looked up at the sound of his name, afraid, not for the first time since he’d moved in when he heard his name in such an unfamiliar place. Instead of being his mother coming to haunt him again, it was Anna. “Are you all right, sir? I didn’t mean to startle you like that. I said your name a couple of times.” “It’s fine. My fault entirely. I’m all right, I promise. You just…I was startled, that’s all. What is it I can do for you?” She looked out over the woods then back at him. He knew that she thought him a little off. If she only knew how off he really was, she’d more than likely go running into the woods to get away from him. “I was watching the family of deer that come around. They have a way of making even the worst day nicer with their ways, don’t you think?” “Yes, I think so as well. I saw them as well two nights ago, and slept better knowing they were here for some reason.” He waited for her to continue, and thought perhaps she was telling him she was quitting. “There’s someone here to see you. Miss Vinnie and Miss Addie. They’re in the parlor. I told them you’d be along shortly. I can tell them you need a few moments if you’d like.” “No. I’ll come along now. Thank you. And if you have any cookies, I know that Addie loves them.” She blushed and told him she had some, and some scones too if she was of a mind to try them. “I’m sure that she’d love that. Thank you.” Drew knew that Anna was aware of what they all were. Vinnie was a vampire, and Kari, Steele’s wife, was a panther shifter. Then there were the rest of them, all necromancers with a little extra that came in handy when they worked. As he made his way to the big room, he wondered what they needed. Right now he’d do just about anything to stem the boredom. He’d never been one to sit idle, because the memories invaded even his waking thoughts. And since he was off for the rest of the week, he had to find something to do or go nuts…well, nuttier. Entering the room, he smiled at them as if he had not a care in the world. Addie was adorable with her belly starting to show. She was about four months now, and he could see that she was extremely happy. So was Nick. All he ever talked about was the new baby. Drew was sort of jealous of him getting that experience, as he knew that he never would. “Ladies. Have you come to help me figure out the house? I sure could…. What’s happened?” He could tell by their faces that something was wrong, and he immediately thought of the men that he worked with. He sat down when Vinnie stared to pace. Whatever it was, it wasn’t going to be good. “Nick is going away on a call, as I’m sure you know, and we’re in sort of a pickle. I’ve always wanted to use that phrase. Anyway, we need your help.” He nodded at Addie, knowing from the call this morning that the others were going to be awhile. And they wouldn’t let him go to them. It was a new rotation thing they were doing, so that they could spend more time with families and not be so burnt out all the time. One week off, two on was how it had been set up. Drew hated it.  “There’s been an accident with a friend of Addie’s. She needs to go there and…it’s not good.” Drew asked Vinnie what he could do. “I can watch over her in the evenings, 
but the day time, I can’t as you well know. Can you come with us? Nick said that he’d rather we both went rather than her be alone during the day.” “You know I’ll do anything for you guys.” He would, too. “When do you want to leave? I’m assuming now. All I need to do is throw a few things into a bag and I’m set.” “Yes, that would be wonderful. We have the plane on standby. I don’t know how long we’ll be gone…my friend, Mac, she was hurt pretty bad when her kayak went over the falls while she was…while she was trying to rescue a little girl. She…the little girl’s parents drowned and…I need to be with her; Mac, not the child.” “I’ll go and pack now.” He stood up and then moved to the door just as Anna was coming in with a tray of cookies and tea. Drew asked them to let her know what was going on as he left them to pack up.  Tossing things into his duffel, he thought of the friendship that he had with these people. All of them were family, and he’d do just about anything they asked of him when they needed him. He didn’t share with them most of the things going on in his life as they did. He trusted them, but not with knowing his secret. It was bad enough that he had had to live through what his mother had done to him; he didn’t think he could stand to see their pity when they looked at him. Drew had always been a very private person, and it hadn’t changed much when he became an adult. He wondered if they thought of him as a friend, as someone they could trust, and thought perhaps they did. He worked with the men on the team, and he liked them a great deal. But he was a loner. He didn’t like it very much, but it was all he knew. Keeping busy was what kept him from thinking, and thinking was a dangerous thing for him. His childhood and his life had made him that way. He’d always been alone, and deterred people from asking too many questions. Questions that Drew didn’t want to answer. Then there was the added fact that he was scarred. Not just in his mind, but his body as well. Badly. Mostly the worst of them were on his back and the back of his legs; the ones on the rest of his torso were faded, as they hadn’t been nearly as bad. It was what caused him so much pain when he got up in the morning or after standing or sitting in one position for too long. And long ago he knew that if he didn’t kick the pain pills he’d be as drugged up as his mother had been most of her life. Drew didn’t want to end his life that way. So now, he simply suffered. Andrew? His entire body stiffened at the sound of the voice. It was distant, but he knew it anyway. Turning slowly around the room, he looked for his mother, only to find himself alone in the big bedroom. But he knew as surely as he was standing there, she was close. Andrew, where the hell are you, boy? Not answering her seemed the best way to keep her at bay. Stuffing the rest of his things in the duffle, he tried to think what he had to do to rid himself of her if she found him again. The need to have her banished, kept away from him, nearly took him to his knees. Even after all she’d done to him and continued to do to him, she was still his mother. But even as he zipped up the bag and headed out, he knew he was never going to be able to make his mother go away forever. Because he was still that ten year old little boy. 
“Are you ready?” Telling Vinnie that he was, she looked at him oddly. He wondered if she could see his mother, or if any of them could, and that made him feel exposed. He hadn’t thought they could, but with Vinnie, who knew? And he was hard pressed to ask her if she could or not. But Vinnie only turned and went to his front door, met there by Anna. Drew thought about asking Vinnie for help with his mom, but didn’t. Fear and pride made him keep his mouth shut. “I packed some cookies and tea for the trip. I know that your plane must have all these things, but I so worry about you.” Anna gave him the large plastic container, filled to the top with cookies and wrapped scones, and the thermos of tea. “Sugar is there, as well as cream if you need it. Not sure how the rest of you take your tea.”  After she hugged Addie and Vinnie and left them, Drew went to the big car that Addie and Nick had only just recently purchased. Since she handed him the keys, he put his bag in the back of it with the other two pieces of luggage and got in the driver’s seat. Just as he was ready to start it up to go, his cell phone rang. It was Nick. “Thank you for doing this for me.” He told him it was no problem, he was glad to help out. “She’s really stressed out about this. If she…this woman, I guess she’s really bad off. I had a couple of the guys here go and check on her, and Addie is going to be devastated when she sees her. I guess they were right in saying she might not make it.” “Addie told me that the secretary said that they didn’t expect her to make it past the first night. Perhaps her hanging on this way, it’s a good sign.” Addie got in the back with Vinnie. It was darker back there, because even though it was nearly dark, the sun still burned Vinnie a little. Being a vampire had some difficult rules attached to it. “The little girl’s parents, should I be looking for them there? I mean, they might want to hang out with their daughter for a little while.” “I never thought of that. But I would keep a look out for them. I don’t know what sort of people they were alive, but we both know that things change when they figure out they’re dead. The little girl is deep in a coma, but I’m not sure if it’s drug induced or just from all the injuries. She is only alive because of Addie’s friend, I guess. They have her head cam and it shows pretty much everything that happened to the two of them when they went over the falls.” Drew wondered if Addie would want to see that, and thought she might be better off not. It had to be pretty horrific. “Anyway, I want you to call me if you need anything. Steele got you guys a nice hotel, and I guess Vinnie has a place she can stay while out there too. There is the woman’s house too. There is a dog; I’m not sure what it is, but he’ll need some looking over too. I can’t thank you guys enough for helping me out.” “I’m glad to have something to do, to be honest.” He put the phone on the holder and stuck his earphones in. One thing he did not do was drive and hold onto his phone at the same time. He wouldn’t even answer it until he pulled over to do so. Drew might not like his life overly much, but he’d not take out others just to end his. “Is there anything else I might need to know out there? I mean for Addie. She’s pretty upset.” “Not that I know of. She’s been talking about this girl for a while now. They’ve met at least once a year since they got out of college. Her family is gone. I think she might only have the people she works with. She owns this company, Extreme. There are several 
of them across the United States, so I think she’s done well for herself.” Drew was impressed with that. Not that as a woman she’d done well, but that she wasn’t any older than Addie and was successful. “She’s also somewhat of a loner. Not like you, but pretty close. If she’s not working, then she’s at home. And Addie wanted me to see if you’d take care of the dog. I’m not sure what kind it is, but Sandy, the woman who works for Mac, said he’s all right. Addie didn’t feel right staying at her house. She said it would be too painful.” “I’ll take care of it. And you know I love being alone.” He knew that he’d sounded defensive, but Nick only laughed. “I’ll let you know when we get there. And I’ll take care of the dog too.” “Like I said, I really appreciate this. And should this girl pass, I’ll drop everything here and make it out. I’ve already made some arrangements with Steele.” Drew told him he’d replace him. “Thanks for doing this for me. For us. Hopefully it will turn out all right for everyone.” In Drew’s experience it rarely turned out well. Most of the time, if it could go to shit for him, it did. He closed out the connection and drove them to the airport. Everything was set, and they were up in the air within twenty minutes of getting everything stowed away. Drew thought about what he had now compared to what he’d had as a kid. Since working for Steele and the rest he had a car, credit cards for company trips, and a home. Money enough to spend should he do so carefully. Clothing enough that he was warm when needed. A television that didn’t only work when it wanted to, and enough food in the house that he was never hungry unless he wanted to be. Shirts and pants, dressy when needed or casual when working, were also provided. His personal items—socks, shoes, and other items such as underwear and tee’s—were his own to buy, and he rarely spent much on those. And now, thanks to Landon and his wife, he had a house bigger than he needed, and servants too. He still wasn’t sure what to do with all that, but it was his, and no one else’s. Closing his eyes for the trip, Drew felt himself drift off. As his body relaxed his mind became fertile. His mother was just there, memories of her fighting with his need to vanquish her from his mind. As he drifted deeper into sleep, his mother was welcoming him to her horror. “Do you have any idea how much I despise you right now?” The ten year old Drew whimpered. “Shut up. Just shut up. If I could afford it, I’d end you right now and be done with you.”  He never answered her; to speak to her when she was stoned, as she had been, would have been bad. To have done so would have given her another reason to hurt him. And she did enough of that without his help. Instead, he sat there on the floor with his towel under his body, so the blood from his latest injuries wouldn’t ruin the carpet beneath him. His mother wanted to make sure they made a good impression when the welfare people came by to check on him. They did it less and less as he had gotten older, and he doubted very much that any of them cared what sort of state the house was in so long as he was there and still breathing.  
She didn’t love him. He’d figured that out long ago. And even if he hadn’t figured it out, it wouldn’t have mattered. She told him almost hourly how much she despised him. He was her means to get what she wanted, whatever that was. Her anger at him was legendary. But this time, she was madder than he’d ever seen her. And getting angrier by the second. He was sure she’d broken his nose. His jaw, on a previous beating, had been bruised badly, but not broken. Now it was painful to move, even if he did want to speak to her. Drew looked at her when she screamed his name. “Pay attention to me, you moron. Or so help me, I’m going to teach you a lesson you won’t ever forget. No one will look at you with pity again, by God.” She had hit him then, his arms tied above his head to her canopy bed. Pain made him sick, dizzy even, as he had no way of getting down. Not until she let him, cutting at the ropes until he just simply dropped to the floor. Drew had hung there before, more times than he wanted to remember. She would tie him there, beat him over a couple of days, then let him down, telling him how it had been his fault that she’d been driven to beat him. Again. As he had drifted off, his entire being worn out, his adult mind tried to tell him to get away, to run, to hide. But it did him no good; what was to come was coming no matter what he did now, even if he could have gotten away. “Drew?”  His name, said so softly, startled him. The dream, the memory really, had him in its clutches tightly, and he knew she was coming for him. As soon as he was touched, a small hand to his shoulder, Drew fought, lashed out at whoever was trying to hurt him. When he realized that he’d been dreaming and that his mother wasn’t there, Drew knew that he’d made a major mistake. Staring down at the face under him, Drew tried to think what had happened. How Vinnie had a bloodied mouth, her lip already swelling. Her hands were above her head, palms out. She didn’t move, said nothing as they lay there. It was the voice behind him that had him knowing he’d fucked up, and had done something terrible. He was going to have to explain what he’d done, as if he even knew how to. “Drew, are you okay?” Was he? No. And would never be if he didn’t get over this fear of his mother. “Drew, please answer me and let Vinnie breathe. I’m scared that you’re hurting her.” His hands were curled around her throat. The bruising there was already making itself known to him. Letting go, his fingers loosening even as the grip of the memories did, he felt his heart twist, and his mind begin to work. Fear slid over him as a shirt did when he was fresh from his shower. “I’m so sorry.” Sliding his heavier body off hers, he lay there, curling his body into a fetal position and trying to wrap his mind around what he had just done. “I had a bad dream. I’m so sorry. I never meant to hurt you. I’m very sorry.” “Who is she?” He thought of his mother when Vinnie asked him the question. He wasn’t even aware he’d answered her aloud until she spoke again. “Is your mother dead, 
Drew? Does she haunt you even now? Is she the person that you were thinking about when you came into the living room today?” “It was her. She never leaves me alone. But yes, she’s dead. And does she haunt me?” He laughed bitterly, knowing that he would have to tell her in order to make up for what he’d done. “Every waking moment of my life, even when I’m not asleep.” Drew didn’t know how long he lay there. He knew that they had landed, the vibration of the engines running now gone. The women spoke quietly, but still he didn’t move. The need to get up, run, and hide had him fighting for some sort of control over himself.  After a while, when he knew he couldn’t put it off any longer, he sat up and stared at them. Not sure what he needed to say, he opened his mouth, hoping for something brilliant, when Addie spoke first. “It’s really late, so Vinnie will be with me now. Why don’t you go to the house, Mac’s house, and see to her puppy and rest? I heard you tell Nick you’d help with that. Then in the morning, you can bring me breakfast and hang out with me. Okay?” Drew nodded and waited for either of them to ask questions. When they both stood and went to the exit, he let out a long breath. He didn’t think he was off the hook, but he did buy himself some much needed time. Taking a cab to the address given to him by Addie, Drew knew a new kind of fear. They knew he was haunted, and worse yet, by whom. He wondered what they were going to tell the others, knowing that they would. Drew also wondered which one of them would call him first and tell him he was fucking nuts.   

Anthony Bentley Legacy By Kathi S Barton Release Day 10/31/16

Coleen had heard just about all she wanted to hear from her grandmother about the Bentleys—no one could be that nice. There had to be an angle there somewhere. People just didn’t help other people for nothing—not in this day and age.

Tony Bentley wasn’t expecting to find his mate, and as a Were Panther he could even understand her reluctance. He was, after all, a Bentley, and the poor woman had been taken through the ringer, but she was his mate, and he wasn’t about to take no for an answer. 

Coleen’s ex had left her in a heap of debt, and she couldn’t allow herself to bring that kind of baggage into a relationship. She’d work through it somehow—without the help of the mighty Bentleys. 

Micah Bentley is a third generation cop and a panther. He always wanted to be a homicide detective like his dad, but kept getting passed up for the job because he was too good at what he currently did working the beat. Micah has a gift, he can read people’s minds. Such a gift could be a help and a hindrance on a job. He could pluck the information he needs right out of someone’s mind, but knowing they’re guilty and proving it are two different things. But when his dad is killed off duty it has him rethinking his career choice.
Regina Webster, Reggie to her friends, is just trying to make ends meet by working three jobs to keep her head above water, and also take care of her invalid brother. She doesn’t have time for socializing with bossy men like Micah Bentley who butt into her life making everything concerning her his business. She doesn’t know anything about this mate thing he keeps spouting off about, she just wants him to leave her alone.
Due to a random act of violence, she finds herself suddenly homeless: no home, no money, no car and suffering from a gunshot wound to boot. Reggie has no choice but to accept a helping hand from the Bentleys at―least until she can get back on her feet.
Trouble has Reggie marked, and this time they take Micah’s mom too. Micah knows they’re in trouble, but when the bad guys don’t go where they’re expected it’s a race against the clock…
Christiana McKenzie, Chris to her friends, was at her wits end. She and her sister, Angel, were born witches. Their mother had warned them that to use their powers would bring on another witch hunt, and they’d risk being burned, just like their ancestors. Her sister didn’t heed their mother’s warning and now Angel was dead. Angel had lived long enough to tell Chris that she’d left something for her with a man by the name of Bentley, then she died. Chris had to track down this Bentley no matter the cost….
Joseph Bentley almost had everything finished: the house, the barn…everything. In a few weeks it would be finished and he would be able to move into the house and get the ranch going. But the progress wasn’t going fast enough to suit him―he was lonely. 
Micah had come out to tell him that the sister of the girl that died to protect him was coming to see him, and he was hoping that the nightmares since the incident would stop. Micah wanted him to come out to the main house and be there when she arrived. But the limo delivered the woman to Joey’s house instead of Micah’s. Joey couldn’t believe it, the hostile woman was his mate…and more than he could have ever hoped for….
Whether or not Chris wanted a mate or not was irrelevant, Joey wasn’t letting her out of his sight. And when she found out that her mother had lied to her―she wasn’t an ordinary witch―and that others would come to try to possess her. If they couldn’t do that, then they would kill her to possess her powers―she needed help.
The Bentleys ban together to save one of their own, but will it be enough? Can they even fight the powerful magic that’s targeting Chris and Joey?

Christiana McKenzie, Chris to her friends, was at her wits end. She and her sister, Angel, were born witches. Their mother had warned them that to use their powers would bring on another witch hunt, and they’d risk being burned, just like their ancestors. Her sister didn’t heed their mother’s warning and now Angel was dead. Angel had lived long enough to tell Chris that she’d left something for her with a man by the name of Bentley, then she died. Chris had to track down this Bentley no matter the cost….
Joseph Bentley almost had everything finished: the house, the barn…everything. In a few weeks it would be finished and he would be able to move into the house and get the ranch going. But the progress wasn’t going fast enough to suit him―he was lonely. 
Micah had come out to tell him that the sister of the girl that died to protect him was coming to see him, and he was hoping that the nightmares since the incident would stop. Micah wanted him to come out to the main house and be there when she arrived. But the limo delivered the woman to Joey’s house instead of Micah’s. Joey couldn’t believe it, the hostile woman was his mate…and more than he could have ever hoped for….
Whether or not Chris wanted a mate or not was irrelevant, Joey wasn’t letting her out of his sight. And when she found out that her mother had lied to her―she wasn’t an ordinary witch―and that others would come to try to possess her. If they couldn’t do that, then they would kill her to possess her powers―she needed help.
The Bentleys ban together to save one of their own, but will it be enough? Can they even fight the powerful magic that’s targeting Chris and Joey?

Nolan finally had a practice of his own, and soon his brother Burke would be leaving the hospital and joining him. Now, if the rest of the family would mind their own business, Nolan would be much happier…or not. He was sulking over his dilemma when his nurse told him he had a patient, a hurt kid who wasn’t doing much talking.
Rylee nearly collapsed with worry when she found out her nephew had been hurt. She wasn’t sure if she was cut out to be a parent. She loved her nephew, Shane, dearly and had taken on his care when her sister died, but how she’d missed the warning signs was beyond her. He was being bullied at school daily and she knew nothing about it until he’d been cut with a knife. 
“I didn’t know.” Her entire body sagged at her confession. “He said he had it handled. And I thought he did. It’s my fault he’s beaten up like this. I should have…I’m not any good at this parenting thing.”
Nolan reached for her just as Shane moved on the bed. He wasn’t sure what the kid could do, banged up the way that he was, but as soon as Nolan touched her, he knew what she was to him. Her body, warm and strong, leaned into his even as he buried his nose into her neck. Christ, his body screamed at him, she was his. Licking her throat, tasting her, he could hear her moan, but when his head was jerked up by his hair, all he could do was stare at her.
1. MICAH – 

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Meet Kathi Barton, author of best selling novels such as the Force of Nature series and Ryland of the Golden Streak series. She lives in Nashport, Ohio with her husband Paul Barton, an amazing and talented potter. Kathi likes to spend time with her eight grandchildren. she writes to relax and have fun. Also, she and Paul can be found at auctions in the summer months.
Coleen signed her name to the last page and closed the thick file that had been handed to her. The man across from her, Harry Mercer, hadn’t been a bastard; he could have been, but he was nice to her. She thought that might have hurt most of all. When he asked her if she had any questions, she wanted to ask him why her, but she knew he’d have no more answers to that than she did. “No. I’m going to go live with my grandma, try to get my life together and get a job. They’re taking most of my money, so I’ll have to live very frugally until I win the lottery.” She meant it as a joke but it failed miserably, much as her life had. “How can I make arrangements to pay you back?” “I told you, I’ve made an arrangement with the firm I work for, and this will be a probono case. You have enough to worry about right now, Ms. Greer. And don’t forget, you have to have whomever you work for contact us so that we can make arrangements for the money to come here. And then we’ll disperse the payments that we’ve lined out for you. You’ll be all right. How about we go and celebrate that this is going to be behind you soon?” She told him she just wanted to get out of town. “When do you leave? Not right away, I hope.” “Today. I’ve had to sell my house and my things, so I don’t have anything left here. Grandma has room for me for the time being, and she’ll need help with my brother’s little girl.” She smiled when she thought of the little tike. “She’s a handful, Grandma said. Sweet, but a little energetic for a seventy-year-old to handle.” “I bet she is.” Coleen realized that she was taking up this man’s time, and he’d given her a lot over the last few weeks. “Coleen, are you going to be all right? I know that you didn’t cause any of this, but the law is the law. I think we’re lucky that I was handed this information rather than some other firm. They might have taken you to the cleaners. If you have any questions now or later, just call me. No other lawyer is going to be able to answer them like I can.” “I understand. I thought we were divorced. Apparently I should have looked better at the paperwork he sent me back.” The man nodded and smiled. She didn’t think this was funny, but he might have just been thinking how sad she was. “Thank you so much. You’ve been very kind. I’m not…it’s been a long time since someone has gone out of their way to be nice to me.” As she left the big building, she did wonder what she was going to do now. Her car was loaded with her entire life. And she had just enough money in her purse to pay for gas and as little food as she could eat to get to her next landing spot. Micky hadn’t been a bastard when they’d been married, but this had simply come out of nowhere. The man had been a fruitcake, sure, but she’d never have thought him to have had the brains to have pulled this shit. And now that he was dead, she couldn’t go and find out what he’d been thinking. No one had said a word about the divorce paperwork. She hadn’t thought a thing about it until she’d been summoned to the courthouse under the guise of being the only 
living relative to one Mick Greer. When she’d produced copies of the divorce papers that she’d filed to show that she had nothing to do with his debt, they had produced the paperwork that had been filed at the courthouse. It had been fake; nothing about it even made sense. It looked as if Micky had rambled on for several pages about a baseball game that he’d bet on, then about the house that he’d wanted to buy with the money had he won. No one had checked it at the courthouse when she’d taken it to be filed, and she was still legally married. For as much as she found that hard to believe, it was the debt that he’d run up in her name that had floored her. She had no cell phone…the service had been cut off days ago. There wasn’t any way for her to call Grandma and let her know she was coming either. Her money would have to last her the week it would take her to drive there. And calling her would be too costly. So Coleen got into her car and started her trip. Why she had married Micky was a mystery to her. She had been working in Vegas at the time as a dealer, trying to save up her money, and had woken up not only married to the man who had bothered her all night, but also in a house that wasn’t hers…as well as naked. When she tried to get away from him, she realized that she was trapped. Quite literally. He’d cuffed her to the bed. His plan, he’d told her, was to marry her—well, any dealer—and have them stack the tables in his favor. When she’d told him she couldn’t and wouldn’t do that, he’d slapped her, and did so repeatedly over the next several days. When she finally was able to get away from him, he’d tracked her down and told her again what she needed to do for him, and when she’d refused this time, he ended up sending her to the emergency room. Coleen spent the next four weeks hiding and being hurt. It wasn’t until she was able to get to the station house and press charges that she was able to get the divorce started. It had taken her another year and a half to get him to sign the papers. Then seven months later he was dead.  She had figured out at some point he was a little off. He’d had lists of things that he wanted her to do for him. One of them was to rob a bank, and another had been for her to run in the Miss Universe pageant. It took her an hour to make him understand that by marrying her, he’d fucked that up. She was no longer single. Micky wasn’t a bad man, just not very smart. That’s why this entire thing with the bills had surprised her. Turning up the radio to drown out her thoughts, she tried to think at what point she’d become such an idiot. Coleen had gone to college, graduated with honors with a culinary degree, and had been on her way to making a name for herself. She only worked part time at the casino to make some extra money for herself to buy her first home. Then after she’d gotten that, she’d wanted a newer car. That had never happened, along with a lot of other plans that she’d had. All because she’d been the fancy, as he’d called her, to a man that had no idea what he was up to most of the time. And now he’d ruined her from the grave without giving her any idea why he’d done it. Coleen wasn’t sure if she’d really been his fancy or someone that had been in the wrong place at the wrong time. But it was the only reason she could come up with for him marrying her. She oftentimes wondered if he’d drugged her too. Not even the chapel that she’d supposedly gone to could believe it when she’d been brought in. The man who 
ran the place, an Elvis impersonator, had told her she had seemed intoxicated and not really into her new husband. There were no recordings of the nuptials, and the marriage had been filed correctly. Coleen wondered, not for the first time, if things would ever go her way. “I’ll never trust another man, that’s for sure.” She looked at the radio when it just popped twice and went out. “See? Can’t even trust a fucking car.” Coleen drove until she was simply too tired to go on. Pulling into a rest area, she made her way to the bathroom with her things and cleaned up. It was the best she could do, she knew that; but she still would love to have had a nice deep tub with a million bubbles. After brushing her teeth, she made her way back to her car to sleep for a few hours. At the rate she was going, she was going to need to be hosed off outside when she got to Ohio before her grandma would allow her into the house. As soon as she closed her eyes, the tears started. They were useless, she knew that. As much as she hated to shed them, there was just no stopping them these days. She wasn’t depressed, but really sad. How had things come to this? It was a question that she had no answer for. Coleen wasn’t even sure there was one. For the next fifteen years, more if she didn’t get a job soon, the law firm would be taking more than half of what she made. It didn’t matter if there were tips involved; she’d have to declare a percentage of whatever the check would be even if she didn’t make that much in tips to cover it. Micky had put her in debt for over a hundred and fifty-three thousand dollars. Lucky for her, or them, they only wanted to collect half. Like she had twenty-six thousand dollars just laying around. “And let’s not forget the funeral costs. The fucking bastard even stuck me for that.” Why he’d needed the best of everything was beyond her, but Harry had shown her what the bill had come to, as well as a prearrangement form that he’d filled out at some point. That was another thing that surprised her. Micky had seemed to live in the now, not ever thinking of the future.  Who was going to give a shit if he was in an oak casket with silk trim when he was in the dirt? That was another twenty-three thousand dollars, because he’d decided that instead of just calling hours like a normal person would have, he wanted a wake, with steak and lobster served to his mourners. Had Coleen had any idea she would have put a stop to it. But at the time she thought she wasn’t his wife and was not responsible for his bill. Selling her home and cashing in all her money had only paid a few bills. The rest, every charge card that he’d forged her name to, every charge that he’d put to every store along the strip, was now something that she’d be paying forever, it would seem. All because she was pretty, he’d said.  As the sun was coming up on yet another fucked up day, she gathered her things and went to the bathroom to clean up again. Coleen got a soda from the vending machine, and looked longingly at the overpriced candy bars there. Turning her back on them, she went to her car and started out again. Her plan was to eat only at lunch, and then at a buffet. It was cheating, she knew, taking carry out at those kinds of restaurants, but it might be the only way she could eat decently for the next week. 
It was going to be a very long week too. And she’d be on the road for Christmas, which was only a few days away. Crying again as she started out, she realized that she needed to get a grip on herself. She wasn’t a whiney person, had never been one to let people walk all over her, but she was as stressed as she’d ever been, and felt like the weight of the world was around her neck. Coleen just wanted one or two things to go her way. She thought even that was too much to ask. ~~~ “Christmas is in three days. Are you ready for it?” Tony wasn’t sure how he was supposed to be ready when all he had to do was show up with some gifts and be cheerful, but he nodded at Micah. “Did you even decorate your house?” “I just moved in about an hour ago, so no, I’ve not decorated. And since it’s just me living there, I don’t really care to go to the trouble of putting up a tree by myself and then having the job of taking it down again.” Micah nodded and Tony realized he was distracted. “Did you get the elephant that I sent you? I also managed to snag a snake or two. They should arrive by courier sometime on Christmas morning. I think Reggie will love it, don’t you?” “Yes, yes. What did you get for Grandma and Grandda? Did you get the luggage set that I told you about?” Tony thought this was just too much fun. He told him he’d gotten them four sets. And that he’d made sure they were the ugliest colors that the store had had. “And did you wrap them or have them wrapped? I want this to be perfect.” “It’s going to fail. All of it is going down the tubes with you right at the end of it. They’re going to be calling the holiday fucked up day rather than Christmas after this, all because you failed.” Micah looked at him as if he’d just found out he was there. “Are you back now? If you’re going to berate me about something, the least you can do is pay attention to me.” “It’s the girls’ first Christmas, and we just heard that the little boy that we were going to take for the holidays might come to us permanently. His parents just don’t want him.” Tony told him congratulations, but he still wasn’t sure that Micah was paying attention to him. “How can someone just say, ‘I don’t want a part of my body’ like that? I mean, it’s their child. Created by them with passion. I just don’t understand how anyone can do that. She was leaving the hospital and said she wasn’t going to take him at all.” “The child will be better off with you guys anyway…you know that as well as I do. And he’ll be loved, not just by you but all of us.” Micah nodded. “What’s really eating at you? You’re acting like a man who is going to the gallows, not getting ready for the best time of the year.” Micah didn’t look as if he was going to answer, but Tony could wait him out. Something was bothering him, and until he got some help with it, he was going to stew himself into being sick. Tony had been doing that a lot himself lately…worrying about shit he had no control over. “Before I forget to tell you, Bethany and Amanda said to tell you that they’re going to join us for Christmas Eve dinner. That was really great of Reggie to invite them.” Micah nodded and said he liked them both. “Did you get her anything? Amanda, I mean?” 
“I did. I’m sure all of us did. She’s come right into our hearts like she belonged there. Her dad is going to get to come back early too. Hardship discharge. Reggie is swinging it for him. And he’s going to be honorably discharged too. Don’t tell them, it’s a surprise to them all.” Tony knew that it was hard on the elderly woman raising a little girl. He’d been talking to Bethany a lot lately. The woman was really worried about her granddaughter too, the one coming home soon. “Did you get the cell phone delivered to Coleen, her granddaughter, like you said you were going to?” “Yes. We have no idea where she might be, but I had one sent to each of the bigger cities along the route she told Bethany she was taking. They’ll use them for something if they don’t find her, but they’re watching for her. I have a friend that is supposed to give her some cash, and I’ve reimbursed him for taking it to all the places where the phones are. I don’t know if the police will find her, but hopefully she’ll hook up with them and not break down on some secondary road. I can’t imagine going on a trip that far without some sort of way to contact people.” Micah said had he known, they could have sent the plane for her. “Yeah, I thought of that too. Hopefully she’ll be able to contact Bethany soon and she’ll feel better. Now tell me what has you all twisted up. It’s not just this little boy either.” Bethany had shared with him how broke her granddaughter was. And why. Her exhusband had done a number on her. She’d had to sell her home and everything of value that she’d owned, and it still hadn’t been enough. Even the cell phone had cost much more than Coleen could handle at the moment. But when she arrived, if she did, there was not just a place for her to live, but a job too if she wanted it. The news that she had some cooking experience had made Elroy Baker jump right on hiring her, sight unseen. He just hoped the man wasn’t taking on more than he could handle with this girl. Tony didn’t much care for the new chef, and thought him a lush. “I’ve been worried over Mom.” Tony asked him what had been going on with Mom. “She’s doing too much. I think she might be spreading herself too thin, and I’m worried that she’ll get sick.” “I think she’s happy working at Faerie Tales and Dreams, don’t you?” Micah said she was but that was not what he meant. “Then I don’t understand why you’d think she’s overworking herself.” “She also works at the shelter, at the school, as well as helping us out with the girls when she’s here. Did you know that she and Grandma had a fight the other day?” Tony said that he’d been unpacking and not heard. “Grandma wanted Mom to slow down and to take it easy. I guess they were working on the Christmas thing for the pack when Mom just keeled over. Grandma said it scared her to death. Mom insisted she was fine, but Grandma was too worried to let it go and made a big deal out of it, and Mom blew up at her. I asked Mom about it and she got angry with me too.” “You have Chris or one of the others look?” Micah shook his head. “I’d be talking to someone who can have a look without Mom knowing. I know that it’s underhanded, but it worries me too that she fell over. Was she hurt or anything?” “No, she just said she was tired and got a little dizzy. I know that we’re all immortal, but that doesn’t lessen the fact that she’s our mom and not well.” Tony agreed. “I was 
wondering, since you’re almost the baby and all, if you’d go and talk to her. She likes you a great deal more than she does me right now.” “Oh, so you want me thrown under the Mom bus. I see how you are.” Micah said he was worried. “I am too, but what if she takes all my gifts back? I saw my name on a lot of those packages under that tree. I’d love to be strong enough to open them.” “I’ll make sure you get them.” They both laughed. “So you’ll do it? You’ll talk to her and find out what’s going on for us?” “Yes, I will…but you owe me.” Micah told him anything. “You might not think that’s such a good idea when I figure out what it might be.” “To know that Mom is only tired and not sick, I’ll do it. Even dance naked in the streets if that is what you want.” Tony thought that had some merit to it, but only smiled. “Christ, you have no idea how much better this has made me feel already.” “She might just tell me to fuck off too.” Micah said he didn’t think she would. “Why? Because you think she has some sort of different love for me? I’m pretty sure that she loves us all equally.” “She does, but you’re her baby boy. Well, second baby boy. She has special feelings for you on that score.” Tony told him he was full of shit. “That too.” When he left for his new home, he thought about his mom. She was the best, always there for them, and kept them straight. Any of them could go to her for anything and she’d tell them not what they wanted to hear, but what they needed to hear about whatever problem they had. Tony decided to go and see her, just to see if she was really doing all right. He pulled up in front of Faeries Tales and Dreams, where he knew she’d be; or would be soon enough. The nursery/greenhouse was busy. He’d known it would be even before it had opened. Being the week before Christmas and a new place in town, people were coming in to see what sort of things they might be able to get last minute. His mom was at the cash register ringing out a woman who had two carts full of things. He kissed his mom on the cheek and started to wrap the pretty little ornaments in the tissue paper on the counter. “Maybeth, you remember my boy, Tony. Tony, this is Sarah’s mom. She just came in to see if we had any more of the furniture for the gardens.” Tony thought it looked like she might have cleaned them out, she had so many of them. “I was just telling her about the summer items we have coming in. You going to put any pots on your porch?” “I don’t know right now.” He started to tell her just what he’d told Micah, he’d just moved in, but he looked at her face. She was making a sale and he was fucking it up for her. “Yes. I want to get them, but I’m not sure how many right now. I’ve got a big wrap around porch that I think can hold about two dozen; don’t you think, Mom?” “Oh yes, and around your back deck too.” He nodded, not sure what went on a back deck that didn’t go on the front, but she smiled at him. “You should see his home, Maybeth. It’s a beautiful sight to behold. I’m hoping that he’ll have some decorations up for next Christmas; we have so many here to choose from.”  He looked around. The place looked like a grocery store when a big storm was going to hit. The shelves were a little bare; the trees that had been decorated were devoid of 
much more than a few items. The shelves for the faerie items, a huge hit for the nursery, were mostly empty as well; even the displays had been picked clean. He looked again at the cart that his mom had yet to empty. The woman had spent a great deal of money here, and his mom had been responsible for it, he knew it. After Maybeth left with a promise of being called when the new shipments came in, he hugged his mom.  “You came here just to give me a hug?” He told her of course. “Yes, well, pull the other leg. I’m not buying it. Which one sent you, Micah or Reggie? Or was it your grandma? I’m sort of upset with her too.” He sat on the counter and smiled at her. “Spill it, young man, I’m too busy to mess with you.” “You have no idea what my house looks like, because every time I want you to come out, you’re off on some project. And when I invited you to lunch yesterday, you didn’t show.” She told him she’d forgotten, but had been busy. “Yes, I’m beginning to see that you’re really busy. With other people.” “Don’t try that guilt on me. I have a life too. Or I’m trying to make me one. So what if I fell over? It’s not that big of a deal. I’m sure you have as well at some point lately.” He told her that he’d not fallen since he was a baby, and she knew it. “I’m just trying to be helpful to Pip and her new venture.” “Micah wanted me to come and see what’s up. I think he thought I’d come here, talk to you a bit, and you’d just tell me. You won’t, so I’m not even going to try that way. But I am going to find out what’s going on. And you are not trying to help Pip. You’re avoiding things, and I want to know why.” He could see her temper rising, but he didn’t let it get to him. She was his mom and like the rest, he was worried about her. “Mom, that’s not going to work with me and you know it. You can bluster and be pissy all you want, but I’m going to know why you’re avoiding us and getting sicker by the day for overworking yourself.” “Micah and Joey have their families all set. Nolan and Rylee get along so well that I’m not sure that they even finish a sentence when they’re together. Burke loves his new job and his mate, as it should be. He takes such good care that she’s happy and not depressed all the time, and I love him all the more for it. Garth is out making money hand over fist. You have a new home that is all complete and not in need of a mother’s touch. Even your grandparents have their own things going on. Howie has his own business ventures going on. Since the nursery opened Katie has been in more flower clubs than I knew existed. And here I stand, all by myself, feeling like I’ve missed the boat somewhere along the line.” He told her he loved her very much. “And I love all of you, but I miss your father.” That surprised him. His dad had been gone almost twenty-two years, and she was now missing him? Tony knew there was more, a lot more, but he stood up and hugged her to him. “My home needs you very much. I have the things I want in it, but it feels cold and lonely. It’s why I wanted you to come out. I have boxes everywhere, but I don’t want to unpack. I feel lonely too.” He lifted his mom’s chin up and looked at her. “Why are you missing Dad so much right now, Mom?” 
“He would be so happy with all that you boys are doing. He’d be helping with decorations in the yard like he used to do. There would be menus going around, things that you boys like the most, and how we were going to incorporate them into the meal. The grandchildren would be spoiled with gifts; not that I haven’t done that, but I find myself thinking of him with each purchase and it saddens me.” Tony felt his own sadness take him a little. “I’m trying to keep busy so that it doesn’t hurt so much that I feel like a fifth wheel right now.” “Oh, Mom, you are anything but a fifth wheel. You hold us together; you have always held us together. Dad would be so proud of you.” She wiped at his tears and hers. “Mom, I love you so much. I don’t know what I’d do without you in my life. And that being said, I need for you to take a break, come to my house, and show me how to put a lap blanket on the back of my couch so that it looks homey, not staged. How to put my canisters on the counter so that they don’t look like I stood across the room and tossed them there. And for the love of all that is holy, can you please tell me what I’m supposed to do with five bedrooms, and a living room that looks like I could host a thousand people in it?” “Oh, my dear boy, you are the very best.” He told her that he knew that. “I’m sorry. I guess I should tell everyone else that I’m sorry too.” “Nah, let them stew around about it for a while. But I really think you should take it easy. Not quit working, because I know how much fun you’re having, but come back to us. We need you to.” She nodded. “And since I know there is someone here that can take over for you, why don’t you come out to my house, have some dinner, and help me out? I hate the way my house feels so cold.” “You just need a woman’s touch.” He nodded. “I’m sorry, baby. I truly am. But I’ll help you out. No telling when you might find the right girl.” He had to tell her, soon he knew, that his own mate had died. As she went back to find someone to take over for her, he looked around again and had to smile. The trees were already redecorated and the shelves looked as full as they’d been on opening day. Magic could really make a place look good, he thought. He wondered what it would look like when spring rolled around. Christ, this place would be beautiful.

A NEW BEGINNING by LORHAINNE ECKHART SALE BLITZ & Rafflecopter giveaway 10/29/16


The Friessens: A New Beginning
by Lorhainne Eckhart
Series: The Friessens: A New Beginning, #1 – #4
Genre: Romance
Release Date: December 16, 2014




—“Author Lorhainne Eckhart is adept at showing deeply felt emotions through actions, instead of just telling us.” ~ Reviewed by Natasha Jackson, Readers Favorite

—“A wonderful love story not only about an unconditional love between a man and woman, but an unconditional heart -filled love for a special child.” ~ S. George

—”I absolutely love this author. I have read the complete outsider series and search for the continuing saga because I am addicted.” ~ Katzbut

The Friessens: A New Beginning includes, The Deadline, The Price to Love, A Different Kind of Love and A Vow of Love, a big family romance series that has become a worldwide bestseller.

Andy Friessen has packed up everything and moved his family two states away, to Montana, to protect his wife, Laura, his newborn babies, and his stepson, Gabriel, from the threats of his mother. What Andy doesn’t know is that they’ll soon face a new threat, one he never saw coming.

She could give him everything except the one thing he wanted—a child.

Brad and Emily are return in this heartfelt story where they face an entirely new set of challenges with their preteen autistic boy when his mother, Crystal, returns. She wants a relationship with the boy she abandoned—something Brad and Emily never expected. She says she’s changed, but can the Friessens believe her?

Thirteen days before Christmas, a letter arrives in the mail—a letter that was never meant for Candy Friessen. When she opens it, she discovers a lie that rocks her world, and she begins to question everything she and Neil have created together, including his love for her and their family.


How do you describe the feeling you get the first time you drive down a long, winding road to a place that is all yours? To Andy Friessen, this wasn’t just a house or a piece of land: he had staked a claim in another state, in another part of the country, uprooting his family and selling everything, all for a brand new beginning.Andy took in the miles of vast hillside and the cleanest pastures he’d ever seen. The green grass swayed in the wind and, for the first time, he sensed the sun, the moon, the stars and the changing of the seasons more deeply than he ever had before. This was a part of the country he had never traveled, but it felt like coming home. He glanced over at his wife, Laura, asleep in the passenger seat, her head resting against the door, her breath whispering softly in and out. He always knew when she was overtired, as she snored in her soft, delicate way. This time, she stirred a bit before settling into a deep sleep, as if her body had finally run out of steam.

She was on edge and had been for some time, but that wasn’t unusual for a mother of newborns. For Andy and Laura, there was twice as much stress with their six-week-old twins, Chelsea and Jeremy, who were sound asleep in the backseat of the truck. Their five-year-old big brother, Gabriel, Laura’s son from a pregnancy at fifteen, sat beside them.

Laura was so young but had lived through more heartache, rejection and struggle than most people would in a lifetime. As a teenager, she had been tossed out onto the street by her judgmental parents, who thought she was a bad influence on her younger brothers. Laura had only mentioned it once to Andy, and only when he pushed. He wanted to know what had happened, to know everything about her family, but he saw the deep hurt like a tread mark on her soul. No matter what he did, he wondered if that was something she’d never be able to make peace with. Andy wouldn’t, not in this lifetime. In fact, George and Sue Parnell were the first people Andy had ever hated without even meeting them.

They had come so far, Laura and him. At first, the only reason he had married her was to save her son when the state took him away. Laura and Gabriel had been living in her car, and Andy had married her because he felt responsible for the entire mess. After all, it had been his mother who fired Laura from her position as a maid in the Friessen house. Andy had treated her horribly at first, but so much had changed since then. He loved her—his child bride, as everyone teased him. She had recently turned twenty-one, legal in every state, and Andy would soon be thirty-three.

Andy pressed the brakes to slow his pickup as the ruts deepened on the driveway. The horse trailer rattled, and he glanced in the side mirror and rolled down his window just as his three-year-old buckskin mare, Ladystar, nickered. Apparently, she’d had enough of this two-day trip, leaving North Lakewood behind and moving two states away to a seventy-two-acre spread Andy had purchased outside of Columbia Falls, Montana.

“Where are we?” Laura said. She didn’t open her eyes as she yawned. Her short bob was a tangled mess, but it was cute. Andy had been irritated when she cut off all her hair, saying it was easier to look after. Maybe so, but he liked her long hair. “Andy?” she said. The leather seat rustled as she sat up.

Andy had to clear his throat. “We should be close. …”

He stepped on the brakes when a sprawling one-story ranch house came into view. It had a light wood finish and a post-and-beam front deck, but something about the place didn’t look right. The railing appeared broken, with pieces of wood scattered here and there. Everything looked unkempt. Piles of debris littered the yard, including a rusted-out pickup with missing wheels parked in waist-high grass that was now weighted down by the melting snow. Maybe he had the wrong place? He eased on the gas pedal and started up the slight incline that circled the house. It was similar to the photos he had seen, but the house in the photos had been newer than this. A couple of the shutters were hanging sideways, and the fence surrounding the house was falling down, as was the corral, but it was the junk, the debris, the plastic, garbage and scattered metal parts, that pissed him off.

“What the hell is this?”

He’d bought the place unseen. The Montana realtor had sent photos of the exterior and interior, and maybe Andy should have asked when they had been taken, but he’d been in a hurry to get Laura and the kids as far away from his family as he could. He parked in front of the house and spotted the red and white realty sign leaning against the front step.

“Andy, this doesn’t look like the pictures the realtor sent,” Laura said. “Are you sure this is the right place?”

One of the babies started fussing, and Ladystar nickered from the trailer.

“Andy, are we here?” Gabriel called out from the backseat, rubbing his eyes.

“Yeah, just stay there, bud,” Andy said as he opened his door. Laura was reaching over to unbuckle Jeremy from his car seat, his tiny hands flailing. “He hungry?”

Laura appeared so tired as she nodded. “I think so. Wet, too.” She patted his bottom and rested him on the seat. “Andy, can you reach the diaper bag on the floor in the back?” She had already unfastened his sleeper as Andy lifted the blue bag, shut the back door and set the bag on his seat.

“Just stay in here until I check things out,” he said.

Laura glanced up with a weary smile. “Okay.”

He shut the door and stepped around the truck, taking in the mess. Ladystar nickered again. “Okay, girl,” he murmured, unlatching the horse trailer and leading his horse out before tying her to the side and bringing out a flake of hay for her. “Better find you some water, too,” he said, pulling out his bucket. Around the side of the house, he found a barn with a missing door, another gated pasture, and a round ring. As he stepped closer, he noticed the round pen appeared intact, with no missing posts and all the rails up. It was probably a safe bet for tonight, at least for Ladystar, until he got a better look around.

He found a water tap at the back of the house and turned it on, but rusty water poured out. “Crap!” he muttered, waiting for it to run clear before he filled the bucket. When he took it back to the trailer where Ladystar was tied and eating, Laura opened the door of the truck and called out, “Andy, Gabriel has to go to the bathroom, and so do I. Can we go inside?”

Andy took in what was supposed to have been a ten-year-old sprawling rancher, with a wraparound deck where they could spend evenings and mornings looking out over their spread. Instead, it resembled the kind of house his cousin Jed would have picked up for a good price to gut and renovate—not something Andy was interested in doing.
“All right,” Andy said. He opened the back door and lifted Gabriel, who was already unbuckled and waiting. “Stay here, Gabriel. Hey, Laura, Chelsea is still sleeping.” Andy lifted his very quiet daughter from the car.

Laura slid down, carrying Jeremy, who was fussing again. She had on just a beige sweater. “Ooh, it’s cold,” she said. She reached in the truck for her tan jacket and pulled it out, holding it out to Andy so he could help her as she juggled the baby.

Laura started up the steps, and Gabriel and Andy followed. At the sound of a vehicle coming down the road, they both turned to see a newer pickup truck flying over the ruts and then pulling in just behind the horse trailer. A woman with a round face, bright smile, and dark hair tied back in a ponytail stepped out, wearing a sheepskin coat and blue jeans.

Laura shrieked behind Andy. He turned just as the screen door Laura had pulled fell over and crashed to the front deck. Chelsea, who had been sleeping, whimpered and then started howling along with her brother.




—“My heart ached for Neil and Candy is this book.” Reviewer Amanda

—”Lorhainne Eckhart has a way at really tugging on the heartstrings and this story is no exception.” Love’s Reading

—”Eckhart is one of the best storytellers that I have read in a long time.” Nook Reviewer

—”Wow…Wow!! A must read.” Susie

—”Grabbed me from the start and held me the whole way through.” Kindle Reviewer



New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Lorhainne Eckhart recently received the 2016 Readers’ Favorite Award for Suspense and Romance for her two titles Vanished & The Bloodline. With over fifty titles under her belt, her big family romance series are loved by fans worldwide. Books that celebrate love, family, commitment, hope, and making a relationship work. With flawed strong characters, characters you can relate to. Lorhainne writes the kind of books she wants to read.

She is an award winning author and frequently a Top 100 bestselling author in multiple genres, such as romance, western, military and mystery/suspense. She has written multiple series, including The Outsider, Walk the Right Road, The Wilde Brothers, Saved, The Friessens, and her two newest additions, Married in Montana, and her high-stakes suspense and sizzling, red-hot romance series, Kate and Walker, Deadly, Dangerous and Desired.

You can chat with Lorhainne on Facebook (, Twitter @LEckhart, and her blog at .

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Scott: Calhoun Men By Kathi S Barton Release Blitz & Giveaway 10/17/16

Chloe Davis was giving up. She thought for sure the owners of the computer shop she worked for were responsible for her father’s death, but in all the time she’d worked there she’d not been able to find enough evidence to prove it, so as far as she was concerned she was out of there. Her boss, George, on the other hand had other ideas. As far as he was concerned she wasn’t going anywhere…by force if necessary.
Scott Calhoun was just trying to help his grandfather get the young woman to safety, the last thing he expected was for her to be his mate. And he wasn’t happy about it either. Scott was a Dom, and he liked his sex hard and rough and his women submissive…this woman was a spitfire, and he was pretty sure he’d scare her off with his demands…. As far as he was concerned he was a deviant, not mate material.
But when Chloe and Scott come together, they both find more than they expected…Scott has finally met his match. Now, if everyone would stop trying to kill them, they might live long enough to enjoy each other.

KOBO  Coming Soon
Johanna, better known as Joe, had been a day walker for her only friend, Noah, for centuries. An immortal with eight hundred years under her belt, she had become proficient in several languages and occupations. When her friend Noah talked about meeting the sun, she had every intention of following in his path. 

Joe had only gone to the Calhoun’s office to catch a ride to the estate. When she entered, it took her breath away to see the younger man on the floor and no one doing a damn thing to help him. 

Trent Calhoun had forgotten how to have fun. Diving into his work was what kept him happy. At 33 he had no life, so when he had a heart attack, his doctor said to change his ways or else.

When the gorgeous woman stumbled into his hospital room, Trent thought his dad was up to his old tricks again?that was until he caught her scent…. Now, because of his wolf, he’s face to face with an angry vampire….

Noelle was in somewhat of a pickle. She had researched the Calhoun firm?Elijah Calhoun in particular?before she made the appointment, but she was having second and third thoughts about hiring the firm after she got there. All her research indicated she could trust them, but big men scared the hell out of her, and the place was full of them.

Elijah had been running a tad late for work, so his brother Trent took his first appointment. Elijah never dreamed that the woman he had an appointment with was his future mate…and she needed his protection.

Noelle’s stepfather wasn’t their only problem. Elijah’s brother Sterling’s nightmares had gotten worse and somehow the creature that had marked him was controlling his actions as well…no one was safe….


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Stalking Links


“I don’t think I understand what you’re telling me.” Chloe wasn’t mad, but she was
pretty frustrated. This training session was taking much longer than it should have. If the
man would only listen to her, she knew he’d get it. “You’re saying that all I have to do is
keep putting a little screw in the back of each of these here things, and that’s it? All the
time? That don’t seem like a job at all. I think a monkey could do it.”
It was on the tip of her tongue to tell him that monkeys could do it, with a great fewer
questions too. But instead, she nodded at him and told him to get to work. If he did it or
not, she really didn’t care anymore. Today was her freedom day.
Chloe Davis had given her notice over eight weeks ago. She’d only meant to give
them two weeks, but the owner of the little computer shop had begged her to stay on for
another month. Well, begged wasn’t really the term she might have used. He sort of
tricked her into it with fat tears. So she had stayed. And then two more weeks, then two
more after that. So now today was her last day. She was not going to extend her notice
again. Whatever she had hoped to find there was either hidden better than her skills
could ferret out or it wasn’t there. She needed to move on before she made herself crazy
with hunting.
She’d been working in this place since she’d left her other job, when she’d figured
out they were as crooked as the people they were arresting. But it had been here. Her
fellow officers hadn’t bothered to hunt down here. None of them cared, it seemed, that
her dad had been murdered by the people working in this little dive of a computer shop.
And she was worn out. The trip, the one her and her dad had been planning when he’d
been killed, was something she needed to do now so she could get a fresh start.
The trip had been something that she’d been saving for since she’d read about the
cruise in the paper. Her and her dad would have four weeks of travel, a whole month for
just the two of them. Sometimes in a plane, others on a ship. They were to see Europe and
every other country on the list of things they wanted to do. Now he was gone and she
was going to do it in his honor. And she was going to fucking enjoy it, if that was possible
Glancing at the clock, she was surprised to see that it was just after five. Time to leave.
Chloe wasn’t going to miss this place nor the people that worked here. The turnover was
so huge, she’d stopped trying to make friends with the staff. Two weeks; that was about
how long any of them lasted once they figured out they were working for a failing
company. She was here only to find information, which she’d failed at as well.
Yesterday she’d taken all her personal things home with her. There hadn’t been all
that much. No pictures graced her desk like they did for the few people she worked with.
There had been a little bouquet of artificial flowers, a little box that had been a birthday
gift, and a blotter pad. She had pens that she’d bought over the years—most of them were
cheap anyway—and a calendar.
It was old, out of date by six years. But it had special meaning to her. Her dad had
given it to her, his last gift to her before he’d been murdered on the job. He’d written
something for her on every day of it, even beyond the date that he’d passed away, leaving
her alone in the world.
“There you are. I bet you can’t wait for the weekend. Me either. To have no reason to
get up until Monday morning will be a thrill.” Chloe said nothing to her boss, George
Flynn, as she gathered her purse and the last two things that were on her desk. “I guess
you have plans for the weekend. Before coming back on Monday.”
“I’m not.” He asked her what she was doing then. “Oh, I’m going to sleep in. Not
much however; I have things to get done all day on Saturday. But I’m not returning on
Monday. I told you, several times this week, that today was my last day. I even wrote
you a note, reminding you that today was it for me. I’m not coming back on Monday or
any other day. I’m done.”
“I can’t let you go. You can’t just up and leave me like this. No, no this can’t be right.
You said you’d give me two weeks. I need those two weeks. I’ve not told my dad yet that
you said you might not be staying. You have to give me those two weeks. Come on,
Chloe, you know that you’re the only one that does anything around here. Even I don’t
do as much as you do.” She told him that she’d given him eight weeks and she wasn’t
extending it again. “I can’t let you go, Chloe. I really can’t. This place needs you here.
You’re the only reason that we’re still alive. My dad will be pretty upset if I let one of his
best employees go without any kind of notice.”
“As I’ve told you, several times, I’ve given you my notice that I’m leaving this week.
Today, it’s my last day. I’m done with this place.” As she moved by him, he grabbed her
arm. It hurt, but she looked him in the eye, and he just shook his head when she asked
him to let her go. “What the hell do you think you’re doing? I’m done here, George. I’ve
worked out my notice more than I should have, and I want you to let me go.”
His hand came out quickly, striking her across the face before she could think to back
off. And when she hit the back of her head on the desk behind her when she fell, Chloe
felt sick to her stomach, the pain was so bad. But she was more upset that he’d hit her for
leaving when it was scheduled.
George pulled her back up, never loosening his grip on her arm. “Look what you
made me do, Chloe. And I can’t let you go. I never told anyone that you gave your notice,
so see, it’s fine. You can come back on Monday and no one has to know that you were
leaving. You can’t anyway. I want you to stay here. My dad will too. Once he finds out
that you’re carrying this company all on your own. He said that we have to stay in
business. That it’s imperative that we never close our doors for any reason. So he’ll be
thrilled to know that, you know, I was able to make you stay. And I’m going to. I need
you to stay here. I can’t keep this place open without you being here.”
She jerked from him and felt her skin burn in pain. Something was wrong with him,
she thought. And he was dangerous too. Chloe had noticed over the last several weeks
that he’d been coming into working later and later and then leaving early. And he was
acting strangely. She was pretty sure that he was stoned about all the time now; she’d
seen enough of it on the job to know what it looked like.
“You’ll have to learn to live with disappointment. I certainly have. Now, I gave you
my notice and I’m leaving.” Standing up, she made her way to the door, afraid now for
the first time since she started working here. She spoke to George over her shoulder,
keeping her distance from him in the event he tried to hit her again. “I have held up my
end of the bargain and I’m leaving here. Today.”
Going down the elevator to the lower level, she held onto her things like a lifeline.
This place had gotten stranger and stranger, and she was glad to be quit of them. But as
soon as the doors opened, she knew she was fucked. Security was there when she got out
of the doors.
Chloe wasn’t sure what they thought they were going to do, but she tried to hand the
first one her badge and he wouldn’t take it. This was surreal. She was leaving and they
were barring her from it. It wasn’t like she was running off; she’d given her notice. She
wanted to scream at them.
Taking out her phone, only meaning to take their pictures, she flinched when the man
to her left knocked it out of her hand and crushed it under his boot. Chloe was terrified
now and wasn’t sure what she was going to do. Normally she was armed, as she had a
concealed weapon permit, but she’d left it at home today. Then the door behind the
security team opened and a tall elderly man came in and looked at her. For some reason
she thought that this man alone could take all the security team alone, but she also didn’t
want him to get hurt.
He was holding one of their bags, a large one that had the name of the company,
Flynn Ark Computers, blazed on the side. She’d bet anything he was bringing it back
because it no longer worked. Which was, sadly, par for the course of this place.
He looked at her, then at the men, and asked her if she was all right. One of the
security team drew out his gun and had it pointed down at his side. This shit was getting
too real. But she was desperate and needed to leave.
“No, they won’t let me leave. They’re detaining me from going home for the day. I
hate to say this, but I need your help. George Flynn, the man behind me, has already hurt
me by slapping me. Please, can you help me?” The elderly man just stared at her, then he
moved away.
She just knew that no one was going to help her, and she wasn’t even sure what was
going on. Then the elderly man came back, his arms now free of the computer bag he’d
had in his hand. He stood there, his arms across his chest as he sort of rocked back on his
“I haven’t a clue what the devil is going on here, but that little lady there said you
hurt her. Is that right? ‘Cause I’m thinking she wants to leave here.” George started
talking behind her. How he needed her to stay. “I don’t care a little bit that you want her
to stay. The thing is, she don’t want to. And in my book, that trumps what you want. You
and your men, you back on up now, and me and her will get ourselves out of here.”
“You can’t just come in here and take one of my employees. I tried to explain to her
that she can’t go, and she just won’t listen. Now you just go on and toddle away and we’ll
get this fixed. She’ll want to stay here when I explain it to her.” The elderly man only
cocked a brow at George. “She needs to work here. I want her to. I don’t know why she’d
even want to leave here in the first place. Just because I let her give me that paper saying
she was leaving doesn’t mean that I have to let her go. This might be a crappy job, but
my dad said I have to keep the doors open, and if she’s not here taking up my slack, then
we’ll be out of business.”
He wiped at his nose, something that he’d done several times while standing there.
When he came away with blood on his hand, he pulled out a hand towel and wiped it
away. The strip of cloth was nearly covered with blood, both fresh and dried. The elderly
man snorted and then laughed.
“Well, sir, she don’t seem to think so, and if she wants to go then I think you’d better
let her. In fact, I’m gonna have to insist on it. You just don’t treat women the way you are.
They’re too precious for that to be going on.” He told her to come to him and she did, as
far as she could before the armed guard stopped her. “You just back off, boy, and we’ll
just be going about our business.”
“Look here, old man, I don’t think you heard me well. I told her that I’d let her go
when I had enough people that knew her job. Nobody knows her job as well as she does.
And it’s hard to replace her. Not that I tried all that much, but she can’t just leave me in
a lurch like this. My dad will be pissed.” The nice gentleman told her again to come along
with him and they worked their way to the door. “You’re not leaving here, Chloe. I told
you, you’re going to work for me. And you damned well will until I say differently. I’m
in enough trouble with my daddy as it is.”
Rocket, one of the security team, stepped in front of them when they were right in
front of the door. The low growl coming from the older man startled her, but she held on
tight to his hand when he took hers. The man was going to get hurt because of her, and
she was worried about that. When Rocket backed away, his head down, Chloe thought
they’d be free when two more men came at them. They were going to die, she thought.
Just because she’d given her notice like a good employee. The elderly man laughed a little
and she looked at him.
“You see them men out there?” She looked outside of the building through the big
glass door and nodded. “You go on out there with them and when you’re safe, I’m gonna
kick me some bottom in here as soon as I get me some reinforcements.” She looked at the
nice man and put her hand on his shoulder. He wasn’t going to get killed because of her,
damn it.
“Just come out with me. Those men, they look like they could keep us safe. Come out
with me.” He just gave her a little shove and she ran into something hard. She looked up
into the face of one of the men that had been standing outside. “They’re going to hurt
him. Please, make him come out with me.”
“Grandda?” The elderly man said he had this. “Maybe so, but she’s afraid, and if you
get your ass handed to you, I’m going to have to kill these men. And then Grandma is
going to eat you and us alive for letting you get hurt. Don’t you think this would go a lot
better if you just come with us? I do.”
“She’s always been a party pooper, your grandma. You know that, don’t you? But
they were about to kidnap this here girl. She asked me for help. Not you and them others,
but me. And I’m just chivalrous enough to want to help her. This here man, he’s trying
to say she is gonna do something she don’t wanna. That ain’t right in any book and you
know it.” He turned from George to look at the man that held her gently by her arms.
“You thinking I can’t handle these young men here? You might be right. I don’t think
they’re gonna play fairly anyways. That’s why I asked you to come on in and help me
George tried to take her from the man holding her. He didn’t get the chance before
the man behind her not only growled like the other had, but grabbed George’s hand and
twisted it. George went to the floor like he’d been tossed there, and didn’t look like he
was going to be getting up any time soon. She hated to be glad at someone else’s pain,
but he’d slapped her first, and she had a feeling that he’d have done a lot worse had these
men not come to help. George started shouting almost the moment he touched the floor.
“You mother fucker. I don’t know what’s going on here or why you resorted to
violence against me, and frankly, I don’t really care. But she isn’t leaving. I told her, over
and over, that I need her here. Chloe is the only one that does her job and does it well. If
I let her leave, then my dad is going to be very upset with me. She has to understand that
I cannot be in any more trouble with him. He’ll cut me off, and I need that money.”
George cried out when the man jerked his wrist again. “That fucking hurt, you bastard.
Come on, Chloe. You just go back and retract your notice and then I’ll see you on Monday,
just like normal. Then we’ll talk about how you’re going to make it up to me for this man
hurting me. If you don’t, then I’m not sure what’s going to happen to your last check.
You know that I can hold it.”
“Chloe, is it?” She nodded at the man behind her. “My name is Trent Calhoun. That’s
my grandda, Trent Calhoun the third; he goes by James. Those other men, the ones out
there waiting on us, are my brothers. Not that you need to know who they are right this
moment, but you can trust them. And if you’d be so kind as to go out to them, I’d really
appreciate it. Grandda and I have to talk to these men about respecting other people’s
“They’ll hurt you.” Trent stretched his neck and she heard it pop. Looking at George
now, she shook her head. No, she thought, they’d hurt George, and right now, she didn’t
care as much as she might have at one time. “These men will hurt you, I think. And after
this, I really could care less if they did. I’m not sure where all this came from, but I
wouldn’t work here now if you gave me a million dollars. You’re a prick.”
She heard the older man, James, laugh, and she turned to the door again. The guards
there didn’t look like they were going to move, but she saw the door open and two of the
men from outside were there with her. The guards, seemingly as a single unit, moved
back out of their way. While not outnumbered or outgunned, they were certainly out
smarted and out muscled. The Calhoun brothers were frigging huge in comparison, and
she thought more dangerous even unarmed. Chloe looked back at George and his men.
Turning when one of the brothers said her name, she looked into his eyes that seemed
bright with humor.
“He wants you to come with us.” Chloe had no idea why but she was willing to go
with these men, anywhere so long as it wasn’t here. Not just because George was being
so weird and scary, but she had a feeling that they’d not harm her. Moving out onto the
sidewalk, she let out a breath that she’d been holding. The younger of the two men spoke
again. “Are you all right? Did he hurt you?”
Nodding then shaking her head, Chloe frowned when the man laughed. Pulling her
sweater sleeve above her wrist, she showed him her arm. The bruise there was huge
already, and a perfect imprint of a hand. It sort of made her sick to her stomach to know
that someone would hurt her like this over a job. When the police showed up, she looked
up at the man who had asked after her injuries.
“They had to be called in. He was trying to detain you. And while you did get away,
we have to cover our own butts so as not to get sued for helping you. Besides, I’m pretty
sure that my grandda was going to hurt one of them. He cannot stand the unjust, as he
calls it.” She thanked him and he smiled at her. “You’re not going to like the fact that
you’re going to have to go to the hospital, are you?”
“I’m fine.” He shook his head. “No, really, I’ve been bruised before. This is no big
deal. I just don’t understand what came over him. For the last few weeks, he’s been…well,
he’s been off his rocker, I guess.”
“I’d say that you’ve got that about right. But you’re going to be safe now, so don’t
worry too much over it. But I have to insist that you head on over to the emergency room.
That way you have a record of what was done to you and why we had to step in.” She
tried to tell him she was fine. “Fine or not, you need to have someone look at that. What
if it’s sprained really badly?”
In the end not only did she end up at the hospital, but the men, all four of them,
stayed with her. She hadn’t felt this protected since her daddy had died. George had
sprained her arm. The bruising would go away and she’d heal, but she just didn’t
understand what had come over him.
James sat in the lobby and watched the comings and goings of the people. There were
all manner of sickness and hurts coming in. The nurses and staff were doing their best,
but there just weren’t enough of them to go around. When the seat next to him moved,
he looked over at Scott.
“They send you here to bust me up too?” Scott told him it was called busting his
chops, but no, he’d just come by. “That man, he was hurting that girl. Scared her some
too, I think. He just wasn’t gonna let her go without a fight.”
“Trent said that he was high. No excuse, mind you, but that can affect a person’s
thinking. Also, I had Joe make a few calls. Flynn’s dad is on the way to the station to see
his son. I guess William Flynn, his father, is on some of the boards that you’re on around
town. Flynn the senior has been putting his son in some rehab places for a few years now,
and it’s never taken. Or whatever they call it. Joe said she’d let us know what goes on
down there. In addition, and this is just my opinion, I think there is more to this than him
wanting her to retract her notice. Trent said he was rabid about it almost. Do you know
William?” James nodded and looked at his grandson. “I’m fine, Grandda. I promise you.”
Yesterday when they’d been working in the shop, Scott had just dropped to the floor.
James had never been so terrified in his entire life. And when Scott finally came around,
he’d made him sit on the floor for another hour before he’d let him stand. James thought
for sure he’d lost his grandson.
“You been to see that quack?” Scott told him he had an appointment tomorrow. “You
should go on up to that desk and tell them what you told me. That ain’t right and you
know it.”
“I’m just exhausted. I’ve not been eating as well as I should; the house is coming
along nicely now and I’ve been putting in too many hours. I really need to hire me a cook
and someone to clean up after me all the time.” It didn’t make him feel any better about
his grandson, but James thought that might help some. “Grandda, I promise you, I’m just
“Why? What are you not telling me? Something happening you don’t want to share
with me? Hell boy, I done told you everything about me.” Scott said he knew, too much.
“Well, I want you to know me inside and out. Now that we’re going to live forever.”
“You still pissed about that? What are you going to think when those great
grandbabies come along? That you sure wish you didn’t have immortality?” James glared
at Scott. “Don’t give me that shit. You know as well as I do that you’re going to be walking
that little girl down the aisle and acting as if you invented living forever.”
“Ever tell you that I don’t like you much?” Scott laughed and James felt it all the way
to his heart. “You gonna find you a mate and forget about your old grandda. That’s
what’s got me so tied up.”
“You know better than that. You are my world. And any woman that comes into my
life is going to have to know that.” Scott looked around the lobby of the hospital much
like James had. “They’re understaffed here. Trent said he was going to try and get some
of the younger pack to go to college to be nurses and doctors. Not only that, but whatever
they want to do. We have set up different scholarships for them. He’s also setting up a
clinic for the pack.”
“I heard tell that man that’s coming in with his new business, he’s moving here too.
That’ll sure help with the money flow around here. He’s been buying up a few of the
properties about and helping turn them into shops and such. I heard tell that he’s having
some issues out there in the building department. You know anything about that?” Scott
nodded and told him it was permit issues, but he thought Joe was handling that. “I sure
hope so. He’s gonna bring this town back to its former self if he keeps that up. I guess the
land out there, it’s been cleared of everything, and they’ve started on the construction of
his plant.”
“The men and women working on the construction are applying to work in the plant
once it’s up and running. At first it won’t be as many jobs as we need, but Doug said that
within a year he’ll have over a thousand jobs to fill here. And I guess Joe is working on
another guy to come out and put a plant in.” James was right proud of his grandchildren.
And loved the women that they’d been mated to as much as if they were his own.
“Grandda, is that the doctor?”
They both stood up when a man in a white lab coat came toward them. Trent had
gone home, telling them that he’d see them later. Both Sterl and Elijah had left as well,
telling him that they’d be around should he need them. James had been dealing with
pricks like the one in that place even before these kids had been born. And now they were
treating him like he was some kid. He was a grown man, damn it.
“Miss Davis is getting dressed now. She has a sprained wrist that we’ve wrapped up.
And there is some tearing to her skin that I’m not worried about, but it is painful to her.
The bruising will fade after some time, but she’ll need to be watched for a while, I think.
She’s a little shaken up by this.” James said he’d be too if a man he worked for hurt him.
“Yes, about that. Mr. Flynn has called here and said we were to detain her. I guess he’s
thinking that somehow what happened is all her fault. This is with the backing of his
security team too, I guess. Whatever that little shit told his daddy, he is bringing the
police. If I were you, I’d not wait around for them.”
“Damn it all to hell and back. When?” The doc said they had about twenty minutes.
“Well, that rules out walking out, trying to get her going all gentle like. They’ll be coming
with their lights and sirens running for sure now. You willing to help us spring her?”
“Yes. I have also taken pictures of her injuries, had her write out her statement with
a witness, and have given her copies of everything.” James and Scott made their way to
the curtained area as the doctor continued. “She’s aware of the police coming and why. I
also suggested to her that she needs to leave with the two of you. Her home will be
watched as well, so they’ll head there next if I don’t miss my bet. I don’t know what sort
of burr he has up his butt about her, but I don’t think I’d wait around to find out.”
Scott said he’d get the car. James wasn’t sure what he was gonna do with a pretty
little thing, but he’d sure keep her safe. Nobody should be afraid to leave their job, not
like she’d been. Chloe came around the curtain just as he was reaching for it. She looked
so upset that he felt his wolf run along his skin needing to protect her.
“I don’t know what to do. I didn’t do anything and now the police are coming. And
I know them well enough to know that they’re going to hurt me worse than George did.
What the hell is going on around here when a person can’t just quit their job without pain
and suffering?” Grandda told her he didn’t know and that he had it. “Yes, I’m sure you
do, Mr. Calhoun, but this man is after me. And while I’m afraid, there isn’t any reason
for you to be involved any more. I can handle him.”
“They’re coming here to arrest you, or worse, like you said. That boy of his, he sure
enough told a tale that will get you into trouble, if I don’t know any better. And when
they do get here, there might be a lot more bloodshed than they think if they try and take
you against your will…or mine, for that matter. Men like William Flynn, they get what
they want simply because they think they can. I don’t cotton to that, no ma’am, I do not.”
James knew William well enough to know that he was a bastard and a bad man to do
business with. And to his way of thinking, the apple never fell far from the tree. “You
come on with us and we’ll put you up proper like. Then when we figure out what the
heck is going on with them, we’ll help you get yourself settled again. All right?”
“I don’t know why he’s doing this to me. I gave him my notice, and even worked
past it to help out. But I have plans. Damn it, I never did a thing wrong while I was there.
I even, against my better judgment, tried to help him out by trying to train a few of the
people I worked with on how to keep the place running.” He gave her a gentle nudge
toward the front of the lobby and she went with him. “What is wrong with people
nowadays? My dad would have kicked his ass for treating an employee like that.”
“Your daddy need to be called?” Chloe told him he’d been murdered. “I’m sorry,
darling, I am. But we’re going to have to get our feet moving here.”
He saw them before they saw him and Chloe. James pushed her into a curtained area
and told her to be still. As the police moved by him, he reached for Scott and told him
there was a change of plans, and to meet them at the back entrance. Pulling Chloe along
when the police moved down the hall, they nearly ran out of the department.
By the time they were nearly out of the hospital, his heart was going a mile a minute.
He wasn’t worried about the police or the other men, but he was excited. He’d not had
this much fun in years. Well, not all of it was fun, but he was enjoying himself a bit too
much. He wasn’t worried about the girl getting hurt, but he was worried about the police.
They could be a little off at times. Jasmine touched his mind just as Scott was pulling the
truck up in front of them.
You old poop, what are you doing now? He told her as he opened the door to leave the
hospital. Trent said that that man hurt that girl. Is she all right? You bring her here. I’ll help you
take care of her.
She’s not a puppy, Jas. She’s a full grown woman. He laughed because he’d been thinking
the same thing. I’m gonna bring her there. She’s got nowhere else to go for now. That dumb butt
done went and called the police on her. He told her he’d be there soon, that Scott was there
with the truck now.
James got in once the girl was in the back seat. He looked over at Scott when he’d not
moved. Saying his name got him nothing, so he snapped his fingers in front of his face.
Scott looked at him with the most pained look, and James felt his fear for his grandson
“Son?” He shook his head. “Come on now, what is it? You hurting? Scott? Tell me.
What is it?”
“Nothing.” He started the truck but James put his hand over his before he was able
to shift. “Grandda, this is neither the time nor the place for this. The police are coming
now. And…and I’d appreciate it if you’d just leave it alone for a moment.”
“Hell no, I’m not going to do any such thing. You tell me what ails you or we’re going
to sit right here until them police come out here and arrest us all.” Scott looked at him
again and James felt a moment of fear. Scott’s wolf was moving along his skin like he was
ready to do some terrible business. “Scott?”
“She’s my mate.” James was so shocked by the confession that he leaned back in the
seat and looked at them both. The girl was his mate? That pretty little thing was Scott’s
mate? As they drove out of the parking lot and onto the road, he started laughing. That,
of course, pissed off his grandson.
“You gotta admit, this is just perfect.” Scott asked him why. “Well, she needs some
protecting, and there ain’t no better man in the world for the job than you. Might even
shake your world up a little.”
“Excuse me, what are you talking about?” James looked at Chloe and thought of her
as his granddaughter. “I’m not sure what you think is going on here, but I’m not a mate
to anyone. Not now. Not ever. I have plans.”
“Yeah, well, so did I, but I guess neither of us is getting what we want.” James started
to tell Scott he was going to get more, so much more, when he turned to him. “Don’t. I
don’t want to hear about how my life is better now. How I’m going to be the happiest
man in the world. I’m not, so let it go.”
James held his tongue, the hardest thing he’d ever done. He reached out to his Jas
and told her what was going on and what Scott had said. James glanced back at Chloe
and noticed she was just as hard set on this not working as Scott, and told his own mate.
I’d not worry about it, James. They’ll work it out. He told her that the girl had already
been hurt once today. And I’m sure she will be again before this is done. Bring her here like you
wanted and we’ll sort this out.
He wasn’t so sure that there would be any sorting today. And he doubted very much
if Chloe was going to be staying with them. Scott might not be happy about having a
mate, but James knew he’d care for her with his life.

Parker McCullough’s Jamboree Release Blitz & GiveAway 10/3/16

Who rescued who was still a little vague, but they escaped just the same. The lab called him SA-8, and they had made him into a very powerful weapon. But to Reese he was just Josh, a boy that could do amazing things, but a boy none the less—not a lab rat. That was two years ago—the lab had been relentless and lethal in their pursuit. With her big rig running on fumes, and their last dime spent, they wound up on a small town in Ohio….

Parker McCullough found an abandoned big rig parked on his land. It had been there a few days, and he wasn’t quite sure what to do about it. Calling the authorities seemed like the logical thing to do, but when he tried to do so, his cell phone went flying from his hand and a teenage boy appeared from nowhere. Parker thought the boy was an Elite Shifter, and after hearing a little of the boy’s story he wanted to help.

Reese didn’t know who all these people were, but if she and Josh didn’t get away from them, the “others” would find them and they’d all be dead, just like all the other people who had tried to help them along the way…. And now the gorgeous shifter, Parker, had her trapped in the kitchen claiming to be her mate…. She didn’t have time for herself, and she didn’t want to see them all die because they’d helped her and Josh—Reese was out of options.

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Chapter 1
Parker walked around the big semi three times before he made his way to the driver’s door again. He glanced over at his dad when he came around the back end of the thing, having just jumped down off the hitch. He was glad now that Dad had come with him today.
“Don’t see nothing to indicate that it’s broke down.” Parker said he didn’t either. “Strange thing though, like you said, there ain’t no scent on it. Like it just appeared here without a driver. Mighty weird.”
“No kidding. I saw it two days ago but thought whatever was going on, they’d have come back for it by now. But nothing. And the door is unlocked.” His dad asked him if he’d been inside. “Yes. Just to look but not enter. There isn’t anything in there either. Like you said, it magically appeared.” Parker pulled out his phone.
“You calling the cops?” Before he could tell his dad he was, something came out of nowhere and knocked him on his ass. His dad was backing from him and whatever it was that had attacked. His phone had been tossed away from him, and just as he was reaching for it, a boy appeared. “Christ love a waddling whale.”
Parker glanced at his dad, wondering not for the first time where the hell he got his little sayings. But he also knew that he’d been frightened too. The boy picked up his phone but didn’t hand it to him.
“I’d rather you didn’t bother with the police. They have a tendency to make matters worse for us. And for the moment, she’s happy.” Parker asked him who. “Reese. We’ve been on the run for a long time and she’s having fun and relaxing. She needs it more than I thought she did. It’s been a while since she’s been able to do that, relax I mean. And we need the money, I’m afraid. The rig, it’s very hard on gas and she’s not getting much in the way of work. More than likely due to the men chasing after us.”
“I see.” The boy looked at his Parker’s dad then put out his hand to help Parker up, but Parker ignored it for now. “This woman, she owns this rig? And if so, why is it on my property?”
“It was the only place we could find so that the men trying to find us didn’t see it. We won’t be here much longer, really. The trees will be turning soon, what with autumn coming. It’ll be more visible then and we can’t stay. You understand.” Parker looked at the hand still offered, then at the boy. “My name is Josh Savage. The Josh part is what I picked out, but the last is what I was given at the lab.”
“Lab?” Josh nodded, shaking his hand at him as if to say, take it. “I’m a bit heavier than I look. If you would just back up a bit, I could get up and we can figure out what we’re going to do about these men chasing you.”
“That would be nice, but it’s doubtful that you could help us much. They’re very determined, you see.” When he put his hand closer, Parker took it. The grip was startling, but it was the immediate connection that shocked him more. The kid was an elite shifter. “I’m not what you think. You’re a jaguar, correct?”
“Yes. Parker McCullough. This is my dad, Rich.” The boy shook his hand then turned to do the same to his dad. He knew the moment that his dad felt the connection as well. “These people, can you tell me why they’re chasing after you?”
“Yes. I can.” But when no more was forthcoming, Parker looked at his dad for help. The boy laughed a little. Parker had no idea, but he thought it sounded sort of sad. “I can tell you but alas, I cannot. Reese, she says that I’m too trusting. I suppose in a way that I am. But since I have all the information I need to know about you and that you’re trustworthy, I feel I can. But I need to ask her first. She is not trusting at all.”
“This Reese…is she in trouble too?” Josh nodded. “And these people that are looking for the two of you, do you suppose they’ll kill you when they find you?”
“Not me. Not right away. They need to take me apart, so to speak. To see what I can do if they use their weapons on me. And if I can be made into a weapon. Which, I assure you, I can. But Reese will die. Immediately if they can work it. She is of no use to them other than to get me to do as they wish.” Parker asked him if he would do that if they had Reese. “I would like to, but she has made me promise that I will not fall prey to their demands. She said that they would do as they pleased with her even after they capture me anyway, and that if I can, I am to take them all out.”
Parker wasn’t sure what to do now. If he called the police, which he knew that he should, then he’d have both their deaths on his head. He had no doubt whatsoever that Josh was telling him the truth in this. He looked at his dad when he started to laugh.
“I’m telling you right now that I think this is gonna end badly. Not for you boys, but for those that are chasing that girl and this one.” Parker asked him how he’d come to that conclusion. “I don’t really know, but I have a feeling now that we’re involved—and we were the second that truck there pulled onto your land—that the rest of us is gonna be working on this. I don’t know how, like I said, but there you go.”
Parker turned to Josh. The kid was smiling at his dad but not saying anything. He didn’t know why, but Parker had a feeling the kid didn’t say much of anything unless asked directly. Parker looked at the semi again and thought of someone finding it.
“I have a barn we can have Reese pull this into. It’ll be safer than it is out here. Also, I don’t know where you’re staying, with her or not, but I have plenty of room at my place that’ll be safer than the truck or wherever you are hiding now.” Josh told him. “Then I’m sure of it. Margaret runs a nice place but it’s not terribly secure. If she doesn’t want to stay at my house, I have a married brother that can put the two of you up as well.”
At least he hoped so. And with these guys coming around, it would be a good thing to have them close to Lauren. She was way more bad assed than any person that he’d ever met. Parker looked at his dad when he cleared his throat.
“Might want to go and see this girl. Just to let her know in person what you have in mind.” He nodded. “And Parker, I’d make this a request, not a demand. Things don’t go well when you boys make demands on women.”
“No, I’d never do that. I do think that the semi going into the barn would be better. But if she has other plans that’s fine too.” He looked at Josh then. “You know where she is?”
“Working. She works for May Roy, at Roy’s Place. Reese cooks for the morning group and sometimes, a lot lately, for the lunch one too. They like her.” His dad laughed. “You’ve tasted her food?”
“I believe that I have. Every morning, as a matter of fact. She’s been there about a week and a half now, correct?” Josh nodded and smiled. “Thought so. May is a wonderful woman and the best bartender you might want to come across. And Margaret is about the sweetest, most ornery woman you’d want to meet. But neither of them could cook a meal and have it come out right if their lives depended on it. Yes, sir, Reese is a fine cook.”
They made their way to his dad’s truck. They’d come out here together to have a look at the tomatoes and corn that he’d planted. His dad wanted to open up a little roadside place to get rid of the stuff he didn’t need, and Parker had brought him out to show him just how much there was. As he put a bushel of tomatoes and corn with some potatoes in the back of the truck, he thought of the young boy.
He wasn’t human, that much was certain. And he’d told him that he wasn’t right in thinking he was an elite shifter either. Parker had no idea what that might mean, nor the part about the lab that he talked about. Why a bunch of men would want anything to do with this kid was beyond him; especially enough to kill for him.
As they loaded into the truck, Josh telling him that he’d meet them there, he watched as he flew away as a beautiful red tailed hawk. His dad said his name quietly as he backed out of the field.
“Look.” They both turned to see a black SUV go by them. It was going pretty fast so he doubted that anyone in the thing had seen the truck, but he worried. “I’m thinking we might want to circle our wagons. There is gonna be trouble if we don’t help them.”
“I agree.” As he reached for his family, he was glad when Lauren said she was in town and would go by the diner to look around. He told her about the boy and the woman; also about the semi that was parked on his land.
I’ll see what I can do about that too. Bear is with me, as well as a few others. We’re here looking around for someplace to have a couple of meets and greets. He was almost afraid to ask her what that meant. I’ll keep an eye on things on this end for you. And Bear is gonna move the vehicle now. The barn unlocked?
Yes. He didn’t ask how Bear was going to move the big rig. There had been no keys in the sucker that he’d seen, and he was pretty sure that, without her knowing them, Reese wasn’t going to hand over the keys to them. Just tell him not to damage anything on the truck or the barn. I have stuff in there for the house that I bought cheap, but I don’t want it damaged.
She was still laughing at him when they pulled up in front of the diner alongside three big black vehicles without any sign of license plates. He could see the men in the cars as he walked by them. Parker felt the hair on his neck dance in fear.
Reese nearly screamed when someone spoke to her from behind. When she turned, holding the spatula like a weapon, the woman simply took it from her and pointed to the walk-in. Reese started to ask her what the hell she was doing when Josh came in the back room with them.
She’s going to help us. Reese wanted to ask him how and why they might need help when he continued. They’re here. And before you think to run, they’re all around this place. Do as she asks, please. I think she can help us.
She was so afraid that she stood there for a few seconds just staring at the woman. When the woman pulled out a gun and then nodded to the walk-in again, Reese went where she was told, grabbing Josh’s hand as she passed him to take him with her. As soon as the door closed behind them, she looked at her friend.
“What the hell is going on?” He smiled at her but she could see the fear. “How did they find us? We…. The truck. They found the truck, didn’t they?”
“Not that I’m aware of. But a man did find it. He said that he’d take care that it was safe.” She asked him how they were going to do that. “He has a barn. I have been over his property. The barn is sufficient to hide it in. Also, he said that we should stay with him rather than the hotel. I think that might be a better plan. When I came here, they were at the hotel too. May, she was calling the police even as they left her office.”
When the door opened, she had to put her hand over her mouth to keep from screaming. The elderly man standing there smiled at her and asked her to please come with him. Josh started forward and she grabbed him by the arm.
“I don’t know you and I’m not going anywhere with you. That woman out there, she has a gun. While I think that can be a good thing, as I said, I don’t know you.” He nodded and told her that he knew Josh. “How do you know him? Did you call these guys? Did you tell them that I would give him up? I have news for you, you overgrown fucking bastard, I will not go down easily.”
“Good for you. And my family isn’t going to let a thing happen to either of you now.” She started to ask him why but she wasn’t given the chance. “Lauren is talking to those men now. She would like for you two to come to the house with me. She assures me that they’ll not know you’re there. And I’d believe her if I were you. She’s got a way about her that makes grown men sob when she doesn’t get her way. I love her to death, you see, but she scares the bejeebes out of me too.”
“Sob? What the hell is a bejeebe? Never mind, I don’t want to know.” He nodded and that was when she heard talking. Well, shouting might have been a better term. As she made her way out of the walk-in with Josh, she peeked into the dining room where she knew the woman had gone.
Reese could see her back to her and four men down on their knees in front of Lauren. Two men were standing behind the men, one of them with a gun to the bigger guy’s head and the other man holding a knife to the throat of the last guy. Reese wondered what the hell was going on when the woman spoke.
“You see, I don’t really give a fucking good shit what you think you’re going to have done to me. In the event that you might have missed this, I’m holding all the cards right now.” A man spoke then, telling the woman that she was going to pay for this. “Nah, I don’t think so. You can think that all you want, but the only thing I might have to pay for is the mess in this dining room should I have to kill you all. Margaret gets kinda pissy when I make a bloody mess in here. She might even bar me from coming here again. It was pretty messy the last time.”
Margaret huffed and pushed her ample bosom up when she moved to stand behind the woman. She was a large woman, both the sisters were, but Reese thought that the younger, smaller woman looked meaner by a lot.
“Honey, if you break one table in taking care of these fools, I’ll be happy as lemonade on a warm day. They done went and dicked around with our hotel too. Messed up two of the rooms like they owned them. May and me are not gonna be able to rent them out for a time now, and that’s just not right. You have to kill ’em, then you go on ahead and do it.” The woman asked the men if that was true. But Margaret answered for them. “You darned right it’s true. The guest staying there isn’t gonna be a bit happy to find all her things a mess.”
Her things? Reese wanted to know, but the man behind her touched her arm. When she turned to him, she could see fear and something more. Something in his eyes told her that he was afraid for her. When she shook her head at him, turning back to the scene in front of her, Reese had a feeling that the four men weren’t going to get out of there without some heavy fines.
“We’re not paying for shit.” The man behind him popped him in the back of the head with his gun. “You fucking do that again and I’m going to tear you apart. I’m here on official business. That woman, the one that we were telling you about, she’s kidnapped my boss’s son. And he wants him back. You either hand him over, with the woman, or I’m going to call in the troops.”
“Troops? Would that be the army? Or perhaps you might have been thinking of some other branch of the services?” The man told the woman that he’d call who was necessary to finish this peacefully. “I think that boat has done sank, don’t you? Peaceful went out the door the moment you came into my town and messed with my friends. Perhaps later, if you’re still breathing that is, I can show you the meaning of the word. I think there might be a dictionary around I can use. By the way, you can read, can’t you?”
“Yes, I can fucking read, you cunt. You’re going to regret this.” She nodded and pulled out her phone. When whoever on the other end answered, the woman said her name, Lauren McCullough, and that she had a problem here. “You think this is gonna win you points with the boss? I got news for you, bitch, he’ll take you down with that brat and woman.”
“You think? Here, my boss wants a word with you.” She held the phone to his ear and when the man paled, Reese looked at Josh when he laughed. When the woman turned and winked at them, Reese backed from the scene. Something was going on there, something bigger than her and Josh.
As they made their way out the back of the diner, she tried to tell herself that this was going to work out. That the woman in there, whatever boss she had, was going to give her enough time to get out of town with Josh. She had no idea how that was going to happen, but she was going to do it. Then the older man said her name and she looked at him. He did look sad.
“You have nothing left at the hotel, child. Those men destroyed everything in the room. Parker is there now with the police getting things squared away. Also, we’ve had your truck moved to the barn on his place so nobody will notice it. You have to know
that you can’t keep doing this, running like this. Not now.” She nodded. Reese didn’t even have the strength to cry. “You come on home with me and we’ll have my wife make you up a nice dinner and gather you up something more to wear. Parker will be along in a bit and you can go out to his place to stay. He’s a good boy, my Parker.”
“They’re going to figure out where we are and come there too. You might be better off just dropping me off at my truck. Josh and I need to head out of town now while the getting is good.” The man turned the opposite way of her truck and she just sat there. It wasn’t until Josh took her hand and reminded her that the truck was hidden in Parker’s barn that she started to cry. “We’ve had a good run, haven’t we? I’m sorry. So sorry about this.”
“Now you see here. This isn’t done. It might look like the storm has come in and is raining on your party, but those men, they don’t know what they’ve messed with in coming to the McCullough doorstep.” She nodded at the older man. “Chin up there, child. You’re in good hands now. We’ll get the two of you safe.”
“You have no idea how long we’ve been running. And what sort of monsters they are. They just don’t care who they hurt to get us. Josh is all I have.” When Josh said he had to go, she simply rolled down the window and watched him fly away. If the man was shocked, he didn’t say anything. Then something occurred to her. “You spoke to Josh. He told you what was going on, didn’t he?”
“No. Well, yes and no. We talked to him. My son, Parker, the one that’s out there getting things squared away with May, he and I were out looking at the truck you left here. Josh sort of just come out of nowhere at us. Told us a little, that you and him were in trouble, but not why or with who.” She said nothing, not sure how much the man really did know. “So when he told us about the diner, we were headed out that way when those cars flew by us. Josh, he went on ahead to see to you and we come in a little later. My daughter-in-law—that’s Lauren that came in with me—she was already in town with her men and headed in first. She’s scary, that one is. Love her to death, but she can be a mite intense when she’s got herself in a pickle.”
“Yeah, I noticed that too. But we’re broke and down on our luck. I was doing okay for a while, then the runs sort of dried up for us.” He nodded but didn’t question the way of her runs. “Josh isn’t really my nephew. He’s my friend.”
“Didn’t figure that after meeting you. I know that you’re human and he…well, he ain’t. I can see that the two of you are close though. Yes, ma’am. He sure does love you.” She told the man that she loved Josh as well. “My name is Rich McCullough. My missus, Bea, she’s rounding you and the boy up a meal right now. It might be a little cramped at the table with us all, but you just leave that to us. We’ll get you in.”
“You don’t have to do this, Mr. McCullough. We’ll be fine once we’re rolling.” He only told her that she was all right. “I don’t want these men coming here and hurting you guys. It’s our fight.”
“It’s mine too, and that of my family. When you parked on the land out there, you sort of give us the okay to take you in. You’re not going to be with a better family than this one.” She didn’t say anything, knowing that talk was cheap and she was going to be
going as soon as she could get Josh to her. “Josh mentioned a lab, said that’s where the men are coming from. You work there?”
“No, I never worked there. I did deliver things to there for a time, but I never worked there. And after talking with Josh, I’m glad that I never did.” She waited for him to ask her about Josh but he only nodded. “Those men aren’t going to give up. They want him back. And as I said, they’ll go to great lengths to get him.”
“Well, I’m not worried and you shouldn’t be either. It’s not going to happen. Not so long as you’re here with us.” Reese said nothing again. “I’m assuming that Reese is your right name. May called you Anna. Anna Reese. You thinking that was gonna hide you some?”
“I wasn’t sure. I’ve never been on the run before.” Mr. McCullough laughed and said he’d not been either. “I think you should just let this go. As I said, these men aren’t going to give up, and they’ll hurt or kill whoever is in their way.”
“You just leave them to us. We’ll take care of them.” She thought of all the things these men, all of them, had done to people who had helped her. Reese knew that she shouldn’t have stopped to work for the little diner, nor stayed in the small but clean hotel, but she’d been tired and broke. She would have to take better care from now on. “What’s the name of this here lab?”
“Barker Benton Institute of Regeneration. It goes by BBIR.” She looked at the man when she told him the name. It hadn’t been her intention to tell him. In fact, she’d not told a single person she had asked for help what the name was. “You made me tell you.”
“No. I’d like to think I had that much power over someone, but I didn’t. And so you know, I’d not do that to you anyway. You’re worn down and that just slipped out. You’ll see, we’re a good group of people to have in your corner. Lauren, she’s going to have a look-see into them and find out what she can. Her and my son, Colin, they’ll have a whole lot of information before dinner is done, I’m betting. And a way to figure this out too. We got us some pretty powerful people in our neck of the woods now, you wait and see.”
“You mean Lauren’s boss?” He looked at her and nodded. “I’m betting that he’s just another man with a lot of money just waiting to get Josh in his hands. Well, I got news for everyone…over my dead body will he ever go back there and be tested on.”
“I believe you. But when Lauren and Colin sit down with you to talk about this, I’d like for you to have an open mind. Her boss might just surprise you.” Reese doubted it. She had become really jaded over the years on the run. “Here we go. Home sweethome.”

Logan By Kathi S Barton Release Blitz & GiveAway 9/5/16

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Logan Douglas was bored. Everyone seemed to have something to do, a purpose, except him, and he didn’t know what to do about it. He needed to get out of town or get a life before he killed somebody. And if Mason made one more snide remark about him being available because he didn’t have anything better to do it was gonna be him.

Charlie Stone knew the meaning of being overworked and underpaid. That was the story of her life. If she hadn’t needed what little pay she got from the nursing home, she’d have quit a long time ago. Now, the police were shutting the place down and she had nowhere to go.

Logan had found his mate, Mary Shafer, when they were still children. They knew what they were to each other, but Mary had been killed by a drunk driver when she was only ten. As far as Logan was concerned he’d lost his only shot at love. One mate in a lifetime, everyone knew that. But what Logan couldn’t understand was his attraction to the feisty beauty, Charlie Stone. She couldn’t be his mate, he’d already lost his shot at that….

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Ann Ivey
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Chapter 1
“I’ve no idea.” And he didn’t as he sat there looking at the paperwork in front of him. Logan wanted to hand it over to his brother again, but Zach had asked him to come over and look at it and he was going to do that. But as far as knowing if it was a good deal or not, he wasn’t sure what to tell his brother.
“To me the interest seems a little high. But then as Landon said, I only have this ground as my backup, and I’ve not made but two payments on it so far. And the first one was late because I forgot to take it to the bank while they were open.” Logan handed the paperwork to purchase the tractor Zach needed back to his brother as Zach continued. “It wasn’t really late, but I wanted to pay it on the day it was due, not the next day.”
“You’re going to hurt yourself overthinking this shit.” Logan got up and pulled them both a bottle of water from the fridge before being seated again. “Okay, here’s the way I see it. You only get the interest charged to you when you drag out the payments for as long as this loan is for. I’d not pay it off too soon…there is the matter of you having no credit. But after a year, I’d pay it off and move on to something bigger. You’ll more than likely need it the way things are going out there anyway.”
“The family is buying the grain I raise the first three years. I can’t sell to anyone else.” Logan said he knew that. “And Jace is paying to have a barn put in, one that will hold all that I can grow, as well as the tractor.”
“I’ve seen the plans. It’ll be large enough to hold three of these suckers.” He took a drink of his water, trying his best not to think of what was going on right under his ass with his own home; and to not be angry about it. He was angry a great deal lately, and wasn’t entirely sure why. “I’m guessing that the work on your home will be finished before Christmas, right?” Zach said that things were moving right along.
When Logan had moved into the family house, given to him by his aunt, he’d had no idea what he was getting into. The furniture was all nearly new; the carpets were worn through in some places but in otherwise usable condition. And he had a roof over his head that didn’t leak, so long as it didn’t rain for more than three or so hours.
When the furnace, nearly as old as he was, broke down, he’d called in someone to fix or replace it. What they found was that not only was the furnace not worth saving, but the house would be, even with the installment of the new furnace, worth less than it would cost him to have the furnace put in. The foundation was shot.
Logan had to find someplace to live. He’d been told that with the age of the house, the way that it was out of date, and now the foundation, he’d be better off building new rather than fixing. He knew that in order to have a safe home he was going to have to start over or find himself an apartment in town and use the land for something else. What that was, he had no idea. He’d not decided on what he wanted to do yet. Moving away—out of the ranching business, the family business, and away from them all—was sounding better and better all the time of late. Not that he didn’t love them, but he was bored out of his ever loving mind.
The man who had come out to talk to him showed him the way the foundation was slipping, and in less than five years, not only would the house fall in on the basement, but the waterlines were in bad shape, as well as all the electrical wiring. He told Logan that the wiring would probably burn it down long before the house fell, but there was little doubt that it would fall.
“How much longer are you going to be staying here? I’m to understand that you’ve been told to move out.” Logan told him he was working on it. “It’s really sad to see it go, don’t you think? There are a great many memories here. And in the yard. I don’t know that I’d be able to have it torn down either.”
“I have someone coming in next week to pack everything up. You got what you wanted out of here, right?” Zach said that he had. “Jace and Mason are coming by later to get the rest of the things they picked out. And there are the pictures that I still have to go through. I’ve taken them to a storage unit in the event something terrible happens here. I never realized how many boxes there were.”
“I don’t envy you at all.” Logan assured him it wasn’t so bad. Zach stood up and stretched, and said, “Okay, I’m going to sign the paperwork and have them deliver the tractor when it gets into town. I think they said five days from the time I get the money to them until I have it. But about the house, Logan…as I said before, you can come and stay with me should you want. That trailer that I’m staying in is pretty nice.”
“I’m all right here. But I’ll keep it in mind.”
Logan sat at the table for another hour before he got up to make himself some dinner. The rest of the family, his other brothers that were mated, had butlers, cooks, and maids. He and Zach were the only two that had to make due for themselves. Logan wasn’t sure, but he thought he might like his way better. Less people underfoot.
As he made his way to the ranch, riding old Sable, his horse, he thought of his days now. He’d been in charge of repairs, a daily thing, since before Jace had married. And since there was nothing old—not even houses, except his own, that were older than a few months old—his job consisted of taking hay out of a trailer that might be on the property and loading it in one of the many barns that held it for the cattle and horses. Or—and this one drove him nuttier than a fruitcake at Christmas—he was set to ride lines. Lines that a hundred other people working the ranch checked every day when they were out and about.
Frankly, he was thinking of taking a job in town, just to have something to occupy his mind rather than all the things he wished he could do. And just lately he’d been thinking of going into one of the barns and breaking a bunch of the new shit so he’d feel useful again. Viable, he thought. Because for all his family saying that they needed him around, Logan certainly didn’t feel it. He felt like a fifth wheel.
“Just the man that I wanted to see.” He looked at the tractor trailer in the yard that he could see was filled with bales of hay, and then back at Mercedes. “I think that can wait a minute or two, don’t you?”
“Yes, ma’am.” He tipped his hat back, wondering what she’d need him for. As far as he knew, she had several of the hands eating right out of her hand. “I do have an appointment at noonish with one of the builders. Do you think it’ll take that long?”
“No. It’s a matter of one of my pieces of equipment. Georgie said you might be able to help with the instructions.” He said he’d give it a try. “I was hoping you’d say that. And so you know, I had no idea you could speak another language.”
“I can when pressed.” He could actually speak ten languages, not including a few that he was picking up from reading books—antique books that were older than Monroe—and he was good at math. Of any kind. She handed him a stapled together stack of papers that looked like photo copies of photo copies of a manual. “And this would go with which of your fancy new machines?”
“The portable ultrasound machine for the animals. Mostly for the horses, but I thought using it for the cows won’t be much different if need be.” He nodded and started reading the instructions while she explained. “I have read the English ones three times and I keep coming up confused. I think it was poorly translated. I’m not sure from which language, but I know it’s not well done.”
When she moved out of the room to speak to someone at the door of her offices, he picked up the oversized laptop looking thing and started comparing the steps to have it work to what he was seeing on the machine. By the time she returned, not even half an hour later, he not only had it turned on, but the display screen was now in English and not the French it had been.
“This is wonderful. Thank you so much. How did you do it?” He explained how whoever had set it up had simply pushed the wrong button. “That’s it? I’ve been playing with this thing for three days and you only had to change the language? Christ, I should have asked you sooner.”
It was more complicated than that. There was also uploading the new software that hadn’t been updated before it was sent to her, and turning on the links she would need to be able to read it in her office and out in the field. But he only shrugged when she thanked him again.
Logan made his way back to the overloaded trailer to start his day. He was pulling the first bale of hay off the trailer when Mason came to find him.
“I’d have thought you’d have more of this done by now.” Logan said nothing but felt his temper rise. “Not that it matters. But I was wondering what your plans are for this evening. I have this meeting I have to attend in town and wondered if you’d go with me.”
“Everyone else too busy?” He knew that he sounded bitter but didn’t bother taking it back. “I don’t have any plans. What sort of dress is required? I don’t own a suit that fits anymore. And my other tux is at the cleaners.”
He was snipping, and the more he said the more his voice took a nasty turn. By the time he talked about his tux and the lack of having one, he was nearly ready to leap at his brother and tear him apart. An overreaction, yes, but he just couldn’t seem to control his temper of late.
“What’s up your ass?” Logan just popped his neck but said nothing. “For the last week you’ve been biting and snipping at anyone that comes close enough to talk to you. Even Bonnie, who I might add you made cry. If you have an issue with one of us, you should tell us before you get hurt.”
“You want to try and hurt me, Mason, then bring it on. I’m about in the mood to kick your ass all over this ranch.” When Mason started to climb up on the hay with him, he looked at the doorway where someone had whistled at them. To them would have been a better description. It was more of a way to get their attention. Landon looked amused as he took his fingers out of his mouth.
“You boys got nothing better to do than beat each other to snot, then I’d like to borrow Logan for a minute or two first. I don’t have time to hear his bellyaching any more than I do yours, Mason.” Logan looked at Mason, who looked ready to commit murder. “Or I could just go on in and tell your aunt that you’re out here making a mess of things when there is work to be done. I’m thinking you boys are still afraid of her even though you’re grown men.”
“What is it you want?” Logan cleared his throat and started again when Landon only cocked a brow at him. “I’m moving hay. Again. And probably will be tomorrow too, if you want to know the truth of it. Whatever you want, you’ll have to ask the master here.”
Mason looked ready to resume the fight that Logan had offered up to him. It was on the tip of his tongue to provoke him more, but Landon laughed. Logan stretched his neck again and got down off the trailer.
“We’re not done here.” Logan just nodded. If he was honest with himself and Mason, he had no idea why but he thought he’d actually love for Mason to hit him; a lot, and hard. He walked to Landon and told him he was free to help him. Mason continued talking as he walked to the older man. “Logan, when you get back, we’re going to talk.”
Saying nothing, Logan followed Landon to his truck and got in. It was walk away or have the shit knocked out of him. Mason wasn’t a mean fighter…neither was he, but Logan wanted blood, and he didn’t care if he had to shed a bit to get it. He was angry all the time he thought, too angry.
“You wanna talk about it?” Logan told Landon that he didn’t. “Well, suit yourself, but you should know you keep it up and there is going to be some tarring and feathering going on. You’ve been making quite the name for yourself around here of late.”
“I’m bored.” Landon said he could see that. “And fighting with someone will make me less tense. I think. I’m thinking that I need to move on. The house, the land, the lack of jobs…it’s taking its toll on me. And my well-being. All I want to do is just sit at home and stay there. Not have any contact with anyone at all. And I’m sick of doing shit jobs, Landon. I haven’t done a damned thing worthwhile in a long time.”
“What if I needed you for something that hasn’t a thing to do with cows and horses? Heck fire, boy, I’m not sure that this’ll be anything that I might like, but I’m bored too.” Logan pointed out that he wasn’t fighting with his family. “No. No, I’m not. Could, I suppose, if I wanted to be in the dog house with my wife, or on the outs with my daughter and son-in-law. I’ve been getting myself in and out of trouble like you have, and I think we need a plan.”
As they turned down a driveway, Logan felt himself begin to relax. He rolled the window down, despite the cold of the air, and thought maybe he should get a new truck. Or at least something that he could drive around in style. Not that he could afford something like this vehicle, and he didn’t need anything to get around in but his steady
and sometimes slow horse. But Logan thought he might enjoy having something. When the truck stopped moving, he looked out the front glass, only just realizing that he’d closed his eyes, and looked at the house and barn.
“Is this the Martin farm?” Landon said it was and got out. Logan was almost afraid to join him. He’d heard stories about this place all his life. Most of them he knew were untrue, but to see this place now, he could almost believe them. The area surrounding the big house was unkempt and overgrown.
“You thinking about the ghosts that haunt it here? I been out here three times in the last month. I haven’t seen a single darn one of them.” Logan asked him where the Martins were. “William died about three months ago, poor old soul. He knew it was coming; had me out to talk to him a bit here and there. Then when he passed on, the kids stuffed Dolly into one of the nursing places where she is tied to a bed all day and only let out when it’s feeding time. But she’s getting out soon, I heard. Had a doctor say she was doing all right and able to get out to one of them assisted living places. I don’t imagine that sets too well with them kids of theirs. They’re a lot like my Dirk was. Everything is about them.”
Logan knew that Landon and his wife still hurt about Dirk and what he’d done to them. He also knew that Katie was getting help, too, for her depression. Logan loved these two people like no one he’d ever loved before. His own parents had been gone for so long, he’d begun to think of them as their substitutes a long time ago.
“I’m sorry, Landon. I truly am. But I have to admit, I don’t remember seeing anything about the Martins’ children.” He looked at Landon when he said nothing. “We helped them out last year. He got sick and we came to help him and his men out by picking grapes. I liked Mr. and Mrs. Martin, but like I said, the children weren’t around then.”
“Yeah, I remember that. Right proud of you for doing that too. But he never did recover from what had put him down. Heard tell that when he passed on the kids were so mad at him that they only did what they had to do to get him buried. Then when the will was read, they got rid of their Mom too. I’ve been to see her a couple of times.” Logan said he thought they’d been friends of his parents. “Your parents, they did right by them. Even before you boys were coming along, they’d go over and help them out. Their own kids never did appreciate them.”
“Why are we here then?”
Landon opened the front door to the house. Logan was surprised to see that the man not only had a key, but seemed to know just where the light switches were, as well as glasses in the cabinets. But when he pulled a pitcher of tea from the fridge, Logan asked him what was going on.
“Six months or so before William passed on, he called me over here to have a little talk. And some of his wife’s pie. She couldn’t bake one to save her life, even when she poured the middle of it from a can, so I knew when I got here that I was in trouble. He was dying even then, he told me, and needed my help.” Logan nodded, sipping his drink. “Dirk was alive then. He’d been in trouble with something, like he always was, and I called William back to beg off. But he said that he wasn’t long for this world and it would do him good to see me. So I packed myself up and came over. I found that in the three or four months since I’d seen him last, William had aged a great deal.”
“His kids.” Landon nodded and got up and brought them a box of cookies. Not the kind that was homemade, but ones that had been processed so much they were only cookies because some ad guy said so. “What happened when you got here?”
“He told me that he wasn’t going to be around long, and that he needed to settle some debts up before he passed on. One of them being about his daughter, the one that he’d fathered when he was a younger man.” Logan leaned back in his chair and said nothing. “I can see where your mind is going. You’re thinking that I might should have stayed at home. And I might agree with you but for what I found out. She’s gone; this girl died before he had time to do much for her. He found out about her too late. You knew her too, Logan.”
“No, I don’t think so. I told you, I didn’t know his children.” He watched Landon pull out some pictures from a worn yellowed envelope, and almost wanted to get up and leave when he handed him one of them. Even upside down, he knew the face when he held it. “Landon, whatever you think you know, I’d just as soon you tell me. Those pictures…you know as well as I that she was not a child of Mr. Martin’s.”
“But she was. A child he fathered long ago. An affair, he told me, one that he regretted the moment he did it, but for the child he never knew. Mary Shafer, she was his little girl.” Logan took the picture and held it but didn’t look. He knew what she looked like as well as he knew his own face. “You and her, you were mates.”
“Yes. We were. She was killed by a drunk driver when she was ten. We’d been in school together, hung out when we could. I knew when I saw her what she was to me, even as young as I was. I tried to help her, protect her, but that was out of my hands.” Landon said he knew that too, William had told him. “I had no idea that William was her father. Not that it mattered to us who she was. We were just children.”
“Yes, you were. Now, Dolly, William’s wife, she knew who she was too. Even the mother. Dolly was a better woman, I think, than most would have been, and opened her doors to the child when it was apparent that her mother wasn’t giving her the things that she and William had sacrificed to get her. Clothing, a better home. All the money he sent for her each month went to habits that weren’t beneficial to her child. So when she was killed, little Mary was in his will too.” Logan got up and paced the big spacious kitchen. “Logan, William knew who—”
“No. I don’t want to hear it.” Landon said nothing. “Whatever plan the two of you hatched up, it has nothing at all to do with me. Mary died, and I knew then that things like having a mate and a home life were gone to me. I’ve moved on. I had no choice, but that didn’t stop me from grieving for her like I’d killed her myself.”
“Have you moved on, Logan? On account’a, from where I’m sitting, you’re stuck.” Logan stared at the man who had been the father figure he’d never had. His dad might have been just like Landon McBride, more than likely would have been right there with them in this room. But he’d died. “You’re carrying around some powerful hurt now. Seeing the others get their own mates, them having babies. You’re hurting, aren’t you?”
Logan thought about shutting him up; the anger surged forward like a quick moving storm over his body. When he sat down again, Logan picked up the other pictures and
thought of the little girl who had meant the world to him. He realized then that Landon was right. He was jealous of his brothers, and was letting it color his world.
“She and I were inseparable. We did everything together…skinny dipping in the pond not far from here, sneaking into the barn late at night. I’d bring her food and blankets. One summer she spent the better part of it in that big barn, eating what leftovers I could sneak out to her. I was never sure why she was there or why she wasn’t getting enough to eat wherever she was from, but we had fun. I even brought her things in the house and washed them up when no one was looking.” He knew that his aunt had guessed she was there, or that someone was, and had begun leaving things like extra chicken and bread on the counter for him to take. “Then one day, just like that, she was gone, dead because some bastard ran a stop sign and killed her at a crosswalk.”
“He left it all to you.” Logan asked him what he’d said. “The vinery, the house, barns. Even the wine making business, it’s all yours if you want it. There is more than enough money to keep it running, forever if you wish. He said that he knew of all the men he had met in his lifetime that you’d make it viable and keep it going.”
“I don’t understand.”
Landon pulled out another envelope and handed it to him. There was a copy of the will and a sealed, smaller envelope with his name on it. Landon pointed to the small colorful tabs on the side and told him to read that first. William Martin had named not just him in his will, but also his little girl, the one that had died all those years ago.
“I bequeath all my worldly goods and possessions to Logan Benson Douglas, a man of good standing and intelligence. I wish for him to run my winery, live in the house, and keep it going in the name of a child that we both loved. Mary Shafer, my daughter, would live here too but for my lack of sense.”
“What did he mean by that?” Landon said nothing and Logan was afraid that if he did answer, he wasn’t going to like it. “Landon, why did he leave it to me? You know, don’t you?”
“His little girl was killed by her mother; the drunk driver was none other than her own mother.” Landon leaned back in his seat while Logan tried to wrap that up in his mind. “You want to know more, you’re going to have to read what he wrote you. But you should know that if’n you don’t take the land and what he’s given you, the kids will get it. And as much as it grieves me to say this, they’re no better than my own son was, and this place will have condos on it by the end of next year. And you know as well as I that this is good farm land, and to have them plopping houses on it is gonna do nothing for your family’s ranches.”
“They butt up against each other.”
Landon nodded. If he said any more or showed him anything else, Logan had no idea. When he came back round, the thoughts swirling in his head, he noticed that the sliding door was open to the deck off the kitchen and he could see Landon’s booted feet. Getting up, Logan went to see Landon to let him tell him this was a joke. Not a funny one, but a joke all the same.
“You all right now?” Logan said he wasn’t sure. “Yeah, don’t blame you none there. There’s a lot to take in. If’n you’re ready for the rest of it, then I can give it to you.”
“I’m not sure yet. What do his kids think of all this? By now, I’m sure that they know.” He said that they did and were none too thrilled about things. “Are they going to give me any trouble? I mean, if I take this?”
“You already took it, son. The only thing you’ve not done is moved in. And that could be done lickety split.” Logan told him he knew nothing of grapes and wine making. “I don’t imagine that many do unless they read up on it. And there is the foreman that is taking care of things for you. Production has been going on, grapes were tended to. William has been gone for a bit, not even a year, but someone’s been here all along.”
Logan sat down on one of the deck chairs and realized that they were fairly new. Now that he thought on it, Logan realized that the kitchen seemed to be updated and clean. He wondered what he’d find should he go looking around the rest of the place. He asked Landon about it.
“He had it all taken care of. Most of the renovations, they occurred before he passed, but he wanted things to be prettied up for you. Dolly, she said to me that last time I was out there to visit her that that someone had been hired to come in and take out all the personal things and put them in storage. The house, the lands, they’re all ready for you.” Logan asked him why now. Why had he waited so long? “It was time.”

Shane By Kathi S Barton Release Day & Giveaway 8/22/16

Please scroll down to enter for a signed paperback
Lelani Wayne trusted no one but her familiar, Roger. And even he, at times, got on her last nerve. She didn’t like being around people. People made her nervous, and when a witch as powerful as she was got nervous, it could be disastrous for anyone in the vicinity.

A powerful witch, Erin Wayne, knew she was going to die, and reached out to the closest being she could find to take her powers and memories. She connected with Kiaran, Asher’s dragon counterpart. The jolt of the transfer took all the Benson’s to their knees.

The Benson’s were on a mission to finish the reconstruction of the castle. Shane, and his dragon counterpart, Keion, were doing their share to make it happen. But when Shane saw his very pregnant sister-in-law, Essie, bringing lunch, and a stranger approaching her fast, he couldn’t get to Essie fast enough. The baby was coming–now.

Lelani was looking for Kiaran to get her sister’s memories and warn him that the Herald, a group of witch hunting zealots, might have traced the memories and be after Kiaran as well. What she didn’t expect to find was Shane and Keion, two very big, handsome, virile men, invading her personal space claiming to be her mate. That made her nervous….
Aedan  News Letter winners was
Jorden news Letter  Winners was
                                                                     Reda Blair
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1. Asher: Dragon’s Savior –

2. Jedidiah: Dragon’s Savior –

3. Elam: Dragon’s Savior –

4. Shane: Dragon’s Savior –

Happy Reading ,
Hope  to see you there !!!!!!!!
 Kathi S. Barton Author & Elizabeth Seckman Book Signing at Empire Books & News
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“Tonight, we will rid the world of another witch. Their magic, their unholy ways of making others do what they wish, their worshipping of Satan, will be abolished with them one at a time, so long as we have breath in our bodies to do so.” Rohm Herald looked out over his followers, men who believed as he did, that witches and their kind should not be allowed to be a part of this world. He turned to look at the witch on the stake behind him, at her face and then her belly, fat with no doubt Satan’s bastard no matter what she said to the contrary. Her lies had brought her here, and she would die knowing that he’d done all he could to bring her from the darkness this night. “Do you give yourself over to His word? Do you now forsake the lifestyle that you have lived, following the man with a forked tongue and black magic?”
For an answer, she spit in his face. He wished they were alone even now. He would wipe that smile from her face even as he cut her heart out. Rohm drew back his hand to slap her, to bloody her blasphemous lips once again.
“You do and you will never see your next child take its first breath. Mayhap you won’t anyway, if I can help it.” The words, spoken softly, felt as if she’d burned them into his head. “You will stop this foolishness, Rohm Michael Herald, or I will bring a curse down on you that will be felt generations down your line. So far removed from you that you will think I lie, that my magic has no meaning to you.”
“Are you saying that you be a witch?” She laughed then, her head thrown back in mirth that made his body tighten in fear and anger. “You will die this day, by fire, should you not tell me that you have no magic in you, that you do not practice the arts of witchcraft if you be one. Renounce now and I will spare you the death of fire.”
“I will die anyway, and you know that. You have it in your head that I will, and that will come to pass. Even my babe, your grandchild, is going to die with me because you care not to hear the truth of my words.” He did know that, but he would make her death quick, much quicker than that which was planned. “I am a witch.”
His congregation gasped at her words. Then when she laughed, the sound of it echoing over the vast field that they had been using for a year now to rid the world of women such as her, once again Rohm felt the stirring of fear settle over him.
Rohm had no choice in this now. She had made her decision and now she must die by it. Lifting the flame that had been handed to him by his second, his own son Michael, he turned to the men that had worked with him for so long. It was coming up on midnight, the bewitching hour, he’d been told; time to do his duty for the world.
“Tonight we bring to our fold Mary Wayne. She has been found guilty of being a witch; has admitted to us all here that she is what we feared, the child of Satan.” Mary laughed behind him and began speaking, her voice too low for him to understand her words. Raising his own voice, Rohm continued. “We burn the devil from her and his child within her. Then when it is done, and all is balanced in this world, we will give her body a proper burial and bless her for her life. For being a mere woman, she knows not what she has done.”
The sound of her words came to him then. She was cursing him, and those that were in the field beyond. When he turned to her again, the flame ready to set to the wood there, the moon was blotted out for a moment. He staggered back when two great beasts landed in the field with them. But as he made his way to them, thinking the beasts were there to eat them, a man appeared in the place of one of them, a woman by his side in place of the other. Rohm thought perhaps it was his mind playing tricks on him, or maybe the witch making him see things that were not there. The man and woman were close enough to make out now, and he nearly welcomed them.
As soon as the flame in his hand went out, the men that he could call upon fell to their knees, then to their backs as the man and woman walked by them. They had surely killed them, he thought. And would him as well. Soon it was just the four of them, Mary, the couple, and himself. Rohm felt his body tighten, his skin crawl, when he dared to think what this might mean. They too were witches, powerful ones that had come to murder him.
“Mary, you’ve gotten yourself into trouble again, haven’t you?” The witch called the man his lordship. “Rohm. I can see that you have not heeded the advice of others, and have perhaps bitten off a bit more than you can chew in this. You were told to stop killing the women that will not heel to your word. And that burning women at the stake isn’t the way things are done. Were you not?”
“She has claimed boldly to be a witch. Has admitted before my men that she is indeed a practitioner of the dark arts. In this, she has left me no choice but to do as my fellow believers wish and burn the devilry out of her.” Mary claimed that she had not. “I heard you. You said you were a witch.”
“She is a witch, but does not wholly practice the dark side of it.” Rohm backed up when the man, a great warrior, stepped up on the dais of stone set up for him to stand upon when Rohm himself was at his duties. He looked to be a man of great wealth and size. His body was lean, not an ounce of fat upon him, Rohm thought, not at all like he was. “But it’s not the reason that you’ve brought her here, is it? You’ve another agenda that has nothing to do with dark or white magic, but with her babe and your son. You should learn more about witchcraft and the people who use it if you plan to use it against them. Dark arts are—”
“Anthony, he cares not what they practice,” the woman said with an air of authority. “Nor does he care if she is indeed a witch or not. Others have not done as he told them, and he’s found reason, much like he has with Mary here, to have them killed. Mary has done nothing to him, save not telling him sooner that it is his own son who is the father of her unborn child. It is only happenstance that she is also a witch.” Anthony turned to the woman at his side and smiled at her. Rohm could almost taste their love for each other, feel it as if it were a warmed blanket that had been dried on the line in the yard. And it pissed him off. Women were not to show such emotions to a man, especially not in the public as this one was doing. He’d opened his mouth to call her a witch as well when she simply looked at him. His throat grew tight and he could not speak. But she could. “Come, the night grows cold and we have much to do this night.”
“So we do.” Anthony turned to the witch, and with a snap of his fingers she was down on her knees in front of the stranger. “Mary, I have a task for you should you like. If you’ve no wish, there will be no punishment and you will be well paid for your troubles this night.”
“He meant to kill me, my lord. I feel it my duty to end his life where he stands. I am here only because his son, Michael, could not keep his pecker in his pants when he has a wife of his own.” Anthony looked out over the field, and Rohm knew the exact moment that Anthony spied his son. “He will need to pay for what he has had done to me this night. I have no house, my books have been burned, and he has taken my coin as well.”
“Do not think to harm my son, sir. I know not who you are, but should you harm him, I will find you and make you pay.” Anthony looked at him then, and Rohm felt his body burn with the desire to run and never look back. “He is my only son. You will not harm him.”
“Nay, I will not harm him.” Rohm felt the air rush from his body then. But it was short lived as the man continued. “But he will not live to see his next child born, nor will you, I fear. You both have been found out, I think. His wife and your own lady wife know of the bastards that you have sired. There is a lot going on at your house this night.”
Rohm looked at Mary and could see her head bent, her body shaking with her laughter. When he reached for her, his knife in his hand before he could think how close the man was, Rohm decided that he would kill the witch himself. But his body grew hard till he could not even blink when the man told him to stop. The command in his voice, as hard as the stone he stood upon, held Rohm there. Then the man helped Mary up till the witch now stood near the woman and the man as he spoke.
“As I have mentioned, we’ve a task for you should you like to take it. It will be one of great importance to me and my family. It concerns the babe that you now carry.” Rohm watched as the woman touched her hand to Mary’s bastard child. Did they not know how unclean she was? Did she even care what she was doing? That inside of her grew a child that was made in sin? But he could no more speak to them than he could move. He could only watch in horror as they moved away and out of his reach.
This is not to be, he thought. He was in charge of clearing the world of such things as witches and other things that he did not understand. He cared not for what they had to say, but it was his duty, as a man of the cloth, to do this thing. For now, there was little to nothing he could do. But he would rise again, and soon. Rohm had lost this battle, but he would find her again.
As the midnight hour passed over, then the sun began to rise up and over the mountain, Rohm could finally begin to move. His body was sore, stiff from lack of movement. But his mind, his plans for the woman and man, and even Mary, had been plotted out. He would be ready for them; he would have his revenge in this.
He would find them. Even if he had to do so on his own, he would find them and kill them for what they’d done to him this night. When the men with him began to move, standing and looking bewildered, Rohm started barking out orders. He wanted this done, he wanted them dead. His next grandchild was due to be born in a matter of weeks.
“Find Mary, bring her back to me.”
No one questioned what had happened to her, where she had gone if not up in flames, but moved as if they were in a trance, their bodies as stiff and sore as his. But when one of the men called to him, told him that something had gone wrong, he knew with each step he took that his son, Michael, had died this night, and by the hand of, if not the witch, then the man and woman with her.
His son, the only living son of his loins, lay where he had dropped, his body fat with laziness, his face relaxed in death. Leaning over his child, he touched his fingers to his face and found him to be cold, as cold as the ground that would soon welcome him.
Rohm thought that nothing could have prepared him for the pain of it. It rolled over him in waves of anger, sorrow, and hate. The feeling in his heart blackened, killing whatever peace and good will he’d had there.
Rohm’s son had been born to him late in life, his wife having given him nine girls, all of them useless. She had gone to her own cold grave when she’d finally done her duty to him and given him a son. So happy he was with his namesake that Rohm never saw his wife die, leaving the room as soon as his child was given to him. Rohm couldn’t even say if she had been dead long when he’d taken his child to the church to be baptized, having him blessed in the event that something befell him too. He had wanted to take no chances with this boy. He thought that blessing him so soon after his birth would prevent him from being sickly and dying.
“Lord Herald, what should we do now?” He looked over at the wood piled high yet unburned by flame. The stake that he himself had cut down and put in the ground stood in testimony to the fact that he had failed. “Shall we take young Michael to the undertaker now?”
“Yes. And tell my eldest daughter….” He couldn’t remember her name, not that he would have tried had he even known it. “Tell her that I said to prepare a feast for his wake. When he is buried, it is then that we will find this woman and man and bring them here for their crimes against us. Mary will pay for my son and all the other sins that she has heaped upon my door.”
“Man and woman, Lord Herald?” He had no idea how to describe them, so sending them on their way to take care of his child, he moved to his dais and sat upon it. The words of the man and of the witch came back to him. He would not see the birth of his next grandchild.
Anthony wasn’t sure what to make of the woman that walked with them. She wasn’t rude really, but she was too blunt for his taste, then she would act as if she were wounded and stupid if you called her out about it. It was difficult to keep up with her conversation as well, which was flying from one thing to the next like something bouncing in a room. And he knew from what they’d been able to see in the future that she wasn’t to be trusted, not even with this task, but she would not have much say in what they needed of her. She need only to give birth, that was all. The rest would work itself out. When his own lady wife told him to stop his thoughts and behave, he thought that he’d been very good in not taking her backside with his hand and showing the witch how to behave.
Eve, the heart of his body, her own body heavy with their children, looked as beautiful to him as did the sun setting over his castle. But they had seen what their future would be and had decided to take care that things were prepared for their children, children that they’d never see or meet should things come to pass as they were shown to them. This woman, one of many, would help them in that. She wasn’t as good as the others nor as magical, but needed all the same. Mary was the first of their tasks to set into motion, and Anthony was worried that they’d made a mistake in her.
You know as well as I that we have not. And it is not the woman that we’re depending upon, but her child. He looked at Eve when she spoke to him through their link. Mary’s daughter, she will be the key to many doors that will open that will save our children.
I know that, my love, but I do not have to like her much. She need only to understand what she is to do and when to do it. I fear, as I can feel that you do as well, that she is not up for the task. I worry for her part in this. If she does not heed our warnings and stay where we put her, then she will die, and her child as well. She assured him that Mary would do well. I hope so. I should hate to think of her failing them in their hours of need.
His wife told him that she would not fail. There was little doubt that she was to have a babe and that it would be a daughter. The rest had already been set in motion, and she need only to live long enough to bear the child. Eve patted his hand, then turned back to Mary to tell her of what they needed.
“Mary, we know that you have magic, but not a great deal of it. You can cast spells that come to pass, but other than that, you have nothing more.” Mary opened her mouth, but his lovely mate only raised her hand to stay her words. “I will not listen to you puff yourself up, Mary. You know as well as I that I am telling you no falsehood. You might be able to fool others with your misguided attempts to be a great sorceress, but we both know you have no more power than this rock does. Now cease these lies once and for all.”
“‘Tis as I have said about his son, my lady. He took me over and over one day and I conceived his bastard. When I went to his father when he’d do nothing to support me, I was beaten again and brought before the group you found me with.”
They also knew this to be only partly true. Michael had taken Mary, anywhere that he could find a hard surface. But she had enjoyed their coupling as much as he had. It wasn’t until she was full of a child that she complained. That was when he’d hit her, knocked her away from him, and scorned the woman. After going to the man’s father, she was taken into the cell that had held her until she was to be burned like nothing more than meat upon a spit. Anthony thought that humans, for the most part, were an odd group of beings.
Anthony wished that he could take all the men in the world that would raise their hand to someone smaller and without means of protecting themselves and burn them. It would take a lot of his flame, he thought…there were that many horrid people in the world. But there were times, he also knew, that the women could be just as mean, just as cruel as any man could be. Sometimes, in his experience, more so. People in general, he had learned, were not willing to think before speaking when they felt an injustice had been done to them.
“We have need of your help, in the form of a female child…your child. Her magic is greater than your own and will need guidance in the world that we live in. If you do not listen to me, follow my direction, she will surely die and you will be burned at the stake that we have saved you from this night.” Mary rubbed her hand over the babe there but said nothing. “Anthony and I have a place for you to go. A place where you will be safe and kept from harm should you do as you are told. There will be help as well, for you and any children you should have after you have given us this help. You will have more than enough coin to keep you, and food enough to never feel the pangs of hunger again. All you have to do is keep the babe safe and to help her grow into her magic. If you wish to say no, then we will leave you to yourself and go about our business. But know this; you will die, soon, and by the flame that nearly licked at your feet this night, Mary Wayne.”
“I have no wish to die, my lady. But I’ve no way of keeping her safe, either, unless you do indeed help me. Even now he plots my death.” Anthony knew this to be true, but also knew that his son was now dead, as cold as the ground that he fell upon. Not from the hand of the woman here, but because his own lady wife had found out about the babe Mary carried and the others. She had poisoned him. “I cannot keep myself safe now, much less a child. You say I will have coin? Servants? Someone to cook for me?”
“Yes. We shall protect you.” Mary began shaking her head even as his lady wife spoke. “You know what we are, Mary. You have known this since you were a child at your own mother’s feet. A dragon can protect you like none can. And we shall.”
“My babe, she has a meaning to you? You wish to buy her from me? I will gladly birth her and sell her to you.” Eve shook her head; they would not lie to the woman, but they couldn’t tell her why they’d not take her from her mother. They might not give her all the truths of it, but they’d not lie to her. “Then you take her. Raise her as your own so that she’ll be safe, and I will live in this house you have given me for payment. With the servants, of course. I shan’t be able to keep a house like I need on my own.”
Anthony wanted to tell her no, that someone as selfish and greedy as her should be punished. To think that she’d sell her own flesh and blood for nothing more than a house. Anthony would no more do that than he would cut off his lovely wife’s head. He wished now that they’d never seen the future, especially the one in which they needed this woman’s help.
“We cannot take your child. And should you wish not to do this, there will be no coin, no servants, and no home to keep you safe. You must do as we tell you. The hour, it grows late, and the men are, as you said, plotting.” He and Eve moved forward, deeper into the forest where the house was, knowing in their hearts that they’d have to convince this woman no matter what. But they also needed to be firm in their dealings with her. “You will come with us now. We will protect you and the babe so long as you do as you are told. We’ve set up this place to be safe and ready for you, with people there to help you once you have given birth.”
It took them nearly an hour to get her settled in her new home. Anthony wanted to shift, show her how well they could protect as they said they would and be done with it all. But he knew that while she believed what they were, she would be terrified to see
him. As they walked along to a safe place to shift, he spoke to his lady. Yes, they had done what they had come to do, but there were still going to be repercussions for young Mary Wayne.
“You have not told her the whole of her life. Nor have you told her she must love both her children equally. She will not, and you know this.” Eve said that it would do her no good to do so. “Yes, but you know as well as I that she will misunderstand what we have put before her.”
“Yes. And that will be good for the child too. The second child will survive, not by her mother’s hand, but because she will be left to her own devices. She will learn and survive as a strong woman. There are others there that will make sure that she gets what she needs to live and be what we need her to be. What all of us need for her to be.” Anthony knew this as well. “I have managed to help the children, not once as we had planned, but with both the magical powers they will need. Especially the second born. Her immortality is set now; they both, provided that they are born, will live for a great many years.”
“They will live then? Despite their mother’s inability to see the clear picture?” She said they would. “My love, my life, I don’t know if I can do this. To think…. I cannot lose you like this. We have so much to give. And our children, we shan’t see them grow and become the men we hope for them to be.”
“I know this too. And it grieves me so that I will never touch their skin, see them smile. We must do this, Anthony. You know this as well as I. Because if we don’t do this, then all will be lost. As will our children.” He nodded, his heart heavy with what they knew was coming. “Anthony, our children, do you think them to be great men? Men that will think of us when this all comes to pass?”
“They will love us no matter what we have done for them. This, this will ensure that our line does not end, but more importantly, that a great many lives will go on as well.” She nodded and reached for his hand. Taking hers, he put his hand over her heart and told her that he loved her.
“And I you. And will beyond our deaths. You have been the reason for my heart beating, my blood pounding in my body since I first touched you.” He wanted to stop now, take her into his arms and hold her. But he could not. Things were in motion now, things that they could see coming, and if they did not act now, everything and everyone would be lost.

Jorden The MCCade Dragon By Kathi S Barton Release Day & GiveAway 8/8/16

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Jasmine Tyler was wishing she had never found those earrings in that box of junk she bought at auction. They were so pretty, and the dragons had so much detail, that she simply had to try them on. That was the biggest mistake she’d ever made. Once they were on they weren’t coming off. And those men in the black SUVs meant business. She’d hand the earrings over or they’d kill her. They’d more than likely kill her anyway even if she could get the damn things off. Now she was on the run with her young son, Gavin, and her ailing granny. A voice in her head that started when she put the earrings on was directing her to find the McCades.

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Emma Gentry felt like she was losing her mind. From the time she had picked up the pretty ring to examine it, she’d been hearing a voice in her head. When she ran from the demolished building, she’d slipped the ring on her finger so that she wouldn’t drop it, now she couldn’t get it off. She was in dire need of medical attention, but the voice wouldn’t let her stop to get help. There were others looking for the ring and would kill her for it. Emma was on the run.

Kenton McCade was the doctor in the family. When found Emma in his office treating a badly infected wound on her leg, he had to help her. The infection had spread and she was near death.

Kenton and his brothers were dragon shifters born without the ability to shift into their other half. The magic, it seemed, lay dormant in a sleeping dragon that was tied to six pieces of jewelry. When the ring found its way to Emma, her touch had woken the sleeping beast. When Emma touched Kenton’s sigil on his chest, he shifted to his beast for the first time. But the beast from the ring would not be complete until all the jewelry found its way to their rightful dragons….

Emma was still on the run…they need her to survive…but Emma trusted no one…


1. Kenton –

2. Jorden –

Happy Reading ,
Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00071]
Chapter 1
Jasmine Tyler moved along the boxes, her heart not into looking for a deal. She was
exhausted, her body hurt in more places than she could think about, and she was lonely.
With all the people around her she knew that was silly, but she missed her son and her
grannie. It had been necessary to send them ahead. Ahead to what she wasn’t entirely
sure, but they were safer there than they were with her at the moment.
While I cannot see them as yet, I know they will be safe. Jasmine told the dragon that they’d
better be. I wish that you could talk to them. At least young Gavin. I think it would do you well
to hear his voice. Him as well, I would bet. The boy loves you very much.
And I love him very much as well. But you know as well as I that I can’t chance contacting
either of them. He said that he knew, but it made it no less sad for him too. I’ll be there soon,
and when I am, I can get these earrings to the right person, gather him and Grannie up, and move
on. And if you tell me again that I can’t do that, then I swear to you that I’ll cut my own ears off
and be done with the lot of you.
So the dragon didn’t bother telling her again that it didn’t work that way. Twice now
she’d told him that if he brought up again how this man and his family would keep her
and her family safe, she would never speak to him again. And the three days that she
didn’t say a single word had made her point for a little while. The dragon, or whatever
manifestation he was to her, didn’t listen well, it seemed.
She was going to have to move again soon. Making her way to this family was costing
her so much more than just being without her family. Jasmine could hardly do any
business with the way things were going, and it was more than a little difficult to trust
anyone enough to even see if they were really a buyer for her things or someone out to
get her. She shivered when she thought of what had happened to her and Gavin to get
her moving out of their home in the first place.
They’d been headed to the post office, her and him, and they were going to get some
pizza to take back to the house with them to share with her grannie. Gavin was telling
her what homework he’d done that day and she was teasing him about working on the
weekend. The car that hit them in the rear had come out of nowhere.
Being rear-ended really hadn’t been that bad. Her truck was old and made before
plastic was a big deal, and thankfully had no airbags or they might not have been able to
get moving so quickly. For the most part they’d been all right, thankfully. But before she
could get out of her truck to see what damage, if any, had been done to her truck, the
man hit her again, then again. It was then that she realized he was pushing her into
oncoming traffic. Screaming at Gavin to lay down on the floor, she floored the gas pedal
and closed her eyes.
Still to this day she had no idea how she had managed to not only get through the
traffic, which had been very heavy and fast, but also escape who had tried to kill them.
But as soon as she got home, she realized two things at once.
The dragon had been right. They were upset about the earrings and were coming for
her. And the worse part of it was, they were also going to harm her son and grandmother.
Secondly, they had to get out now. Not just out of the house, but they had to leave
everything behind and get the fuck out of dodge.
Less than two hours after they got home, her truck was loaded and coolers packed,
then they were gone. Even as they were driving through her little town, she saw three
large black SUVs pass her going in the opposite direction from the one she was
driving…the way toward her home. There were no plates on the big vehicles, and since
the windows were so dark, she had no idea who or how many people were in them.
Probably a good thing, she realized later.
She tried to tell herself that they might have been headed in any direction other than
her house. But two days after they left the only home they’d had, she’d seen on the news
that it had been burned to the ground, as had the barn that stood next to it. Jasmine
gathered them up once again and made another long trip before she felt she needed
information from the dragon in her head.
What is it about these earrings that has men trying to kill me for them? And why can’t I take
them out now that they’re in my ears? I don’t want to hear about how I’m going to this family, I
want to know why I have to. Why me?
I can do that, my lady. There are six parts to me, a set of jewelry called a demi parure. It
simply means matching set of jewelry. Few know that it was forged by a dragon and his master.
They decided, when things were too dangerous for a dragon to be roaming the earth, that it would
be safer if he, this being a part of me as a dragon, should have his spark, his magic, put within a
special piece of jewelry. But alas, the magic was too much for a single piece and was divided up
into five pieces. The sixth was made later when a lady thought the necklace was too large for anyone
to wear. Then a terrible tragedy was bestowed upon the master and the dragon, along with all of
his estate being taken away. I know not what happened to his things; only that the spark that
creates us was no longer together. Jasmine asked him how long ago this was. I have no way
of knowing that, my lady. For as a spark and only a small part of the whole, I cannot understand
the passing of time until I have been awakened. But the ring, it has been awakened and thus, myself
as well. And now it is held in trust by Emma…I have told you about her. The rest, not including
yours, was spread out all over the world at one time, but now are close, but since the other pieces
haven’t been awakened yet, I know not where. Her next question to him was, why her. I know
not, my lady. Until you touched the jewelry that has turned out to be my wings, I knew nothing
of the holder.
So, you want me to believe that there is this set of jewelry out there that a bunch of women
will touch and bring to life…or I guess, bring you to life. Then if that doesn’t sound creepy enough,
these women have to make their way to this family of men, dragon men, and give it over to them
and become their slave of sorts. And on top of that, they’re stuck with this stuff forever, even if
they want no part of this plot. I’m sorry, but this is about as farfetched as it gets. Not to mention
sort of like slave trade for me to believe in. He asked her how she was hearing him if he was
just a manifestation. I don’t know. A tumor? Could be. I’ve been under a lot of stress lately.
You have, and I’m sorry to say that it isn’t over as yet. When those men went to your home
and destroyed everything that you had, they did a search and found enough information to find
you and your family. She asked him what sort of information. Pictures of you and your family.
What Emma says is DNA on objects left behind. They can and will use every item in their
possession to find you.
And then what? What is it they think they’re going to do to me? He didn’t answer her. Is
my son in danger? My grannie?
Yes. You all are until you can get to the McCade family. And even then, they will not stop
until they either get what they desire or they are caught by the authorities. I am sorry, my lady.
She wanted to cry. All she’d done was find a pretty pair of earrings that she wished she’d
never seen now. It would not have mattered when you saw them, my lady; somehow they would
have come to you. You are the one that needs to be a part of the dragon with one of the McCade
I don’t want to be a part of any man. Don’t you see? I’ve lost enough shit in my life because
of a man. Not all of it was his fault, but he lied to me. Over and over, and there is no reason to
think that this man won’t too. He’ll take and take until I have nothing. I am nothing. The dragon
wisely said nothing. I know; I’ll mail them to them.
You cannot remove them now that you wear them. Stomping her foot, she paced in front
of the pretty little hotel where she’d stopped to rest for the night. These terrible men, they
will not stop until they have what they want. You must understand this.
No, I don’t have to understand anything. She turned when she heard Gavin call out to
her. “I’m sorry, baby. What is it? Everything all right?”
“Yes. Why are you talking to yourself? Or it is that dragon again? Tell him that we’re
doing the best we can and to cut you some slack.” She hugged him to her and felt tears
fill her eyes. “We’re going to be all right, aren’t we, Mom? As soon as we get to this house,
we’re going to be just fine, right?”
“I hope so, Gavin, I really do.”
Then five days later, nearly two weeks ago, she’d used every penny she had and put
them both, her grandma and son, on a plane for Ohio. It wasn’t safe for them to travel
together any longer.
She was just sorting through a box when she felt something, a kind of nervous panic,
which had her snatching her hand back from the items in the box and looking around.
Christ, would she ever feel safe again, she asked herself? Then the dragon spoke to her,
his voice calm yet slightly tight sounding.
The man near the food truck. Do you see him? Jasmine looked around, trying her best to
look as if she were checking out the rest of the items. He feels wrong.
As casually as she could, Jasmine made her way to where she could get a better look
at the man. She could see him now; he stood out like a man in a tux among a room of
cowboys. At the moment he was trying to figure out how to eat a hotdog without wearing
most of it. Backing into the trees and away from the man, she watched him unobserved
for several minutes. There wasn’t anything odd about him, not that she could say, “Hey,
that’s it,” but she still knew there was something. She nearly told the dragon that he was
looking for things that weren’t there when the man shifted on his feet and she saw the
The need to flee made her feel like she was being watched. Looking around, trying
to decide what to do now, she wanted to curl into a tight ball and just cry. She had no car,
nothing to protect herself with, and not a great deal of money either. She was, in a word,
I can’t leave yet. Can I?
The dragon told her that she could not. Then he pointed out the man across the table
from the auctioneer. He wasn’t watching the items but looking around, as if he were
searching the people and not what to buy next. Jasmine went deeper into the woods and
then stood behind a tree. When the two men came together, they scanned the area twice
before splitting up and moving around. She knew they were looking for her.
What do I do now? He told her not to move, not to run. I can’t let them get to me. If they
do, you said that they’d kill me for these earrings. And as much as I hate them right now, I need
to get to my son, damn it.
Do not move, my lady. They are looking for a young boy to be with you. They are thinking
that you’d not leave him or your grandmother alone while they are out there. They know not that
you have sent them both ahead. She let out a long breath and tried to think about anything
but wanting to run. If you do, then all is lost. Just wait for me to tell you that you can go. But to
the bus stop, not to the hotel.
She knew as surely as she was standing there listening to a dragon talk to her in her
head that they’d already been to her hotel room and had figured out where she was. The
newspaper. She’d gotten one and had circled the auction for today not far from where
she’d been staying. It wasn’t as if she had any money to spend—she didn’t—but Jasmine
was bored and needed to do something that didn’t involve her thinking about how much
she missed her son. So walking to the place that was stated in the ad, she had been there
for only a few minutes when she realized it wasn’t as fun as it used to be.
He is going to go by you in a few moments, and when he does, follow him, but not closely. I
will tell you when to move to the bus stop. She wanted to tell him to fuck off, there wasn’t
any way she was going to follow that man, but the dragon spoke again before she could.
He will not expect you to be behind him. Nor will his partner. You must trust me on this. I will
not allow you to be harmed.
As soon as she was given the signal to move, Jasmine moved out from behind the
tree and right behind the man. She was close enough that she could see the tat on the
back of his neck that looked like some sort of Japanese symbol; or Chinese, she wasn’t
sure. There was also one that peeked out the bottom of his sleeve. When he pulled the
shirt up enough, she nearly stopped walking. Dragon told her to keep moving.
I’ve seen that before. He told her to turn then, and to go to the bus stop. When she did,
the bus pulled up just as the man turned to go back to where she’d been. Sitting down,
she turned on her seat and watched as both men moved around the yard again. He had a
dragon tat on his arm. I’ve seen that before. The man that tried to shoot us the day that Gavin got
hurt and I sent them away. He had one just like it.
They are all a part of a group of men out to harm you and all that help you. They have no wish
to bring me to life, but to profit from controlling me. It is them that I am trying to save you from.
Jasmine asked the dragon who they were, what the writing meant. It’s Chinese, as you have
guessed. It says Sǐwáng de suǒyǒu lóng. Its translation is, death to all dragons. I have not seen
that for many years. More than you can imagine. It, like a great many things, comes and goes as
the need arises. Today they need it to feel important. Who knows what it will be used for in the
Her mind went in a single straight line direction. A group of men. Not a man, but a
group. And they didn’t just want her dead for the earrings, but they wanted to control
the dragon himself. That meant that the McCades, the very people that she was headed
to, were in danger as well. And her son and grannie would be caught up in it because she
had blindly sent them there. Christ, she wanted to crawl into a hole and cry. To just bawl
her eyes out. But now she had to make her way to Ohio faster, to see to her family. And
the only way to do that was go get some money to get herself a car. She told the dragon
what she needed and why.
I will help you. She nodded. He’d suggested that before, him helping her, but she’d
told him that she would never cheat, steal, or lie to get what she needed. She’d had that
done to her more than enough. You will see; I’ll keep you as safe as I can.
And my family? How will you protect them? He told her that until they connected with
the McCades he had no way of knowing about her son and grandmother. And they won’t
until I get there. This is really fucked up; you know that, don’t you?
He said nothing, which was good…she wasn’t ready for him to tell her anything but
that they were going to make it. How, she hadn’t any idea, but she so wanted to hear him
say that to her. And as surely as she was sitting there, she knew that there was a lot more
shit to deal with before she got to her son.
Jorden put the last of his paints in the box and set it on the floor. When he looked up,
his entire being froze. The kid, a little boy, was standing there so still that he looked like
one of his plaster casts. Jorden started forward to find out what he wanted when the kid
lifted a gun and pointed it, steadily no less, right at him. Jorden stopped.
“I’m not going to hurt you.” The kid said nothing. There were lines of exhaustion
under his eyes, and his face looked puffy, as if he’d been crying recently. “If you’re here
to get some money or drugs, I’m afraid that I’m not going to be able to help you. I have
neither here. The doctor isn’t in either.”
“It says there is a doctor here. There’s a name downstairs on the door. It’s the only
reason I’m here. To get a doctor to come with me. It says McCade. Where is he?” Jorden
tried to think where Kenton was when the little boy spoke again. “It doesn’t smell like a
doctor’s office up here either. More like Mrs. Witt’s art class. Is he a physician or some
other sort of doctor?”
“No, he’s a physician. A general practitioner, as a matter of fact. And this is where I
work, the reason for the smell. I’m an artist. Well, people tell me I am, and pretty good at
it, I guess.” He took a step forward and the kid told him to stop. “Do you need a doctor?
I can call him here if you need him. Kenton, he’s the doctor, he’s off today with his wife
doing…. Actually, I have no idea where he is. But if he’s not here, then he’s at his home.”
“I don’t know what else to do. I’ve been…I got up and she wouldn’t wake up. So I
thought that I could find a doctor. But I know that she’s not going to be all right. My
grannie, I believe she’s died.” Jorden nodded and sat down on the floor. He wanted to
give the kid the impression that he was relaxed when he was anything but. “I need
someone to come and look to make sure that I didn’t do something wrong. We’re on the
run, my grannie and I.”
“What might you have done to her?” He just shrugged. Jorden decided to ignore the
part where they were on the run for now. “I see. So you think you killed her then?”
“No. I didn’t kill her. She and I have been…. Last night she told me she was tired. She
has been a lot lately. Powerfully tired she told me, and wanted to turn in early. So I was
really quiet and got my shower and jammies on and played on my reader before I went
to bed as well. When she didn’t get up before I did, I checked on her and her face and
neck were cold. I think she might have died in her sleep last night or sometime.” The little
boy scrubbed at his face and Jorden felt badly for him. “I can’t get in touch with my mom
either. I’m all alone, so I thought a doctor could tell me for sure.”
“Where is she…your grannie, I mean?” The kid said nothing but did lower the gun.
“I’m going to get my cell phone out and call Kenton. And when he gets here, we’ll go to
where she is and we call in the police to—” The gun came up again, this time a little less
steady. For some reason that scared Jorden more than the steady handling of the gun had.
“No, you can’t do that. If you call the police, I’m as good as dead as I think she is.”
Jorden felt his dragon move along his skin. Fear and sadness made him want to go to the
young kid and hold him. “Mom, she sent us ahead of her so that we’d be safe. And we’ve
been doing everything we was told. But Grannie was sick before. It was why we went to
stay with her.”
Jorden pulled out his phone and pressed the button to call his brother. The kid never
moved, just stood there with the 9 mm pointed at him like he would most assuredly use
it if he fucked up. When Kenton answered his cell laughing, Jorden almost wanted to
hang up and call someone that wasn’t having as good a day as Kenton seemed to be
“Did you decide that you needed some help moving out anyway? I told you that it
Jorden cut his brother off. “I’ve got a visitor.”
Kenton must have noticed something in his voice and asked him through their link
who it was. “I have to speak to you this way. He has a gun pointed at me, and I don’t
want to be shot if it’s all the same to you.”
“I’m on my way.” Jorden told him to just come alone. No police. “I’m not going to
fucking come into a situation without some sort of back-up. You want me to tell Mom
that you got us both hurt? You know how well that might go over.”
“Kenton, you’re going to have to trust me on this and come here alone. I’m talking to
him now. I would say that he’s about ten or so years old.” The kid told him how old he
was. “He’s ten. Just last week as a matter of fact. He came here looking for a doctor. A
doctor named McCade. He said his grandma didn’t wake this morning. And that he has
been sent here ahead of his mom so that they’d be safe. He said that he’s all alone in this
Kenton put together a sting of curse words that made him smile. “Dragon said to ask
him if he is Gavin. If his mom is Jasmine.” Jorden asked and Gavin said that was right.
“She’s another part. The wings. Dragon said that she’s fine, but he had no way of keeping
in contact with the boy and his mom until one or both of them found us. I’m assuming
that’s why he doesn’t want the police or the media involved. His mom is protecting him
even now.”
“Christ.” Gavin lifted the gun again after having just put it at his side. Jorden had a
feeling that he was making him nervous. “Come here first and bring Mom. I have no idea
why, but I think he could use her. I know that I could right now.”
“I’m on my way. I’ve contacted Dalton as well. He’s not in uniform right now, so that
might not be so bad. Can you ask Gavin if he is hurt?” Again he asked the boy, who just
stared at him. “Jorden, did he tell you where his grandma is? Or where his mom might
“No. He said that his mom sent them ahead and that his grandma didn’t wake up.”
Jorden reached out to Kenton on their link. I think he’s hurting, but not physically. Also, he
looks exhausted, and I can hear his belly growling from here. If he’s been on the run since Dragon
told you that she was coming, then they’ve been on the run for over a month.
Poor kid. Christ, to try and stay safe like this and to have your grandmother die would be
horrific. The kid has guts; I’ll give him that. Jorden agreed, but told him he still had a gun
pointed at him. It’ll be fine, Jorden. I’m at the door now. Can you warn him that I’m here?
Jorden said that he would and the elevator motor kicked on, telling him that Kenton
must have been right in the lift when he told him. Jorden watched as Gavin lifted the gun
again and pointed it at him. It wasn’t nearly as steady, and when he lowered it once again,
Jorden realized how heavy it must have been for this kid.
“My brother. He’s coming up with my mom.” Gavin said nothing, but swayed just a
little. “We won’t hurt you, Gavin. We will protect you.”
“The dragon, he told my mom that she needed to go to the McCade family and give
them the earrings. He said that we’d be safe here. I’m not saying you had anything to do
with my grannie dying, but I don’t really feel very safe right now.” Jorden nodded and
watched his brother and mom come out of the elevator as Gavin continued. “He warned
us the night that these men showed up at the hotel we were in. I was going to the
bathroom when the door just flew open and there they were. One of them cut me with a
knife when Mom said she couldn’t give him whatever jewelry that she’d stolen from
them. My mom doesn’t steal. But they weren’t taking no for an answer. So she hit the big
one with a bat, then she shot the second guy. We got out of there right away.”
“Good for her. But men like this one, they think that if they want something that it
should be theirs. My name is Aisha McCade, by the way. And this is my son, Kenton.
You’ve met Jorden.” Gavin said nothing. “If you would put the gun down, I’d feel so
much better.”
“I can’t put it down, Mrs. McCade. My mom told me that this thing might be the only
thing between her seeing me again alive or in the morgue. I don’t want her to come see
me there. I’ve had a really hard time what with missing her, and I’d really hate to
disappoint her by getting my butt shot up.” Mom told Gavin of course he didn’t want to
disappoint her. “My grannie, I think she died. If it gets out that she is gone and her name,
then they’ll know that I’m here.”
“Do you know who they are? The men that your mom is being chased by? Do you
know them? Have you seen them lately?” Jorden wasn’t sure who could be coming now,
but they’d been warned that someone would. And if Gavin had any information they
could use, it might help them. “Have you seen them since you and your mom separated?”
“No. And I can’t call her either to let her know what’s happened. The dragon, he said
that it would be too dangerous. Mom said that determined people could track a fly fart if
they thought it would give them what they wanted.” Gavin flushed brightly. “I’m sorry.
I’m really tired and hungry. Do you think you can tell me if my grannie is really gone? I
need to figure out what I have to do next. Like where to live, and find something to eat.”
“Yes, I can go now. But for as much as I’d like for you to stay here, I think it would
be better if you came along with me. Just in case the owner might question why I’m
there.” Gavin sat down, his poor little body just giving up. When Kenton went to him to
see if he was all right, Jorden noticed that he didn’t bother trying to take his weapon. He
wasn’t sure if that was smart or not, but it wasn’t pointed at any of them now, and Jorden
thought he could live with that.
The hotel was within walking distance of his building. Kenton went in first with
Gavin. Jorden stayed outside, just waiting while his mom went to get Gavin something
to eat. He wasn’t sure what to say to the kid, not having a lot of experience with them,
but when Kenton came out of the room shaking his head, Gavin simply crumbled. Jorden
was glad to have been closest to him to gather him in his arms while he dealt with his
Jorden held him while he sobbed. He kept saying he was all alone now and that he
wanted his mom. Jorden didn’t blame him…right now he wanted his own. But when she
showed up with a burger, fries, and a cola, Gavin said he wasn’t hungry.
“You have to eat, kid. You want to get sick and end up somewhere you don’t want
to be? Someplace that you can’t control? Like a hospital or something?” Gavin just looked
at him—glared was more like it—and Jorden was impressed. Then Gavin told him he
was already where he didn’t want to be. “Yeah, okay, I’ll give you that one. But eat and
we’ll get this figured out. My brother Dalton is coming by. He wants to talk to you too.”
“How many brothers do you have?” Jorden told him five. “Sheesh. I bet they’re all
as big as you and Dr. McCade are too. I guess if the bad guys are coming, it would be best
if you weren’t puny little guys like me.”
“Yes, we’re all pretty big men.” Jorden snagged a fry and ate it as he continued.
“Dalton is a cop, so don’t freak out on him if he starts asking you cop questions. To be
honest, I’m not sure that Dalton knows any other way to ask questions. Anyway. As you
know, Kenton is a doctor. Private practice now. I paint. Grady fancies himself some sort
of computer wizard, which really he is, but he works for this asshole that sort of takes
advantage of him. Lewis, the baby, is a chef…a pretty good one, I guess, since he’s got all
these awards for his cooking. He lived with me until a little while ago, so I’m thinking
he’ll be finding him a place to put his hat. And Vance is…. Well, Vance is Vance. He has
a job that pays well, but I’m not entirely sure what it is he does any more. He was in the
service until recently, and has been known to disappear from time to time.”
Jorden told himself he wasn’t babbling but biding his time until Gavin finished his
meal. Besides, he was going to be staying with them now, so he needed to have all the
scoops on all of them.
By the time Kenton had made arrangements to have the body removed, Jorden and
Gavin had moved back from the place and into the diner across the street. He hadn’t
wanted to leave, but Kenton explained to him that they were going to Jane Doe his
grandma so that her name would never come out, and he had to keep a low profile. And
if the press showed up, which was highly likely, they didn’t want his picture taken.
In the end, Jorden took him to his house. By the time they were pulling up in front,
not only had Gavin fallen asleep, but Jorden had spoken to Kenton and Mom twice about
him. Jorden was glad now that he’d hired himself a staff. The house was fucking huge
for a single man, but the kid was going to need someone to cook and clean up after him.
Jorden hadn’t the slightest idea what to do with a ten-year-old, but he liked him and
figured they could work something out.


Aedan By Kathi S Barton Release Day & Giveaway 7/25/16

Nikki Neal was damn good at her job. As an undercover cop, she had just about enough information to put the local crime boss away, but she needed more to make it stick. But when someone blew her cover, Nikki found herself on the wrong end of several guns. Aedan Harrison was on the fast track to winning the Governor’s seat for the state of Ohio. He had his whole life, or at least his immediate future, planned out. What he didn’t need was a mate he hadn’t made plans for throwing a monkey wrench into the mix. The last thing Nikki needed was an overbearing jackass ordering her about, and telling her how much he didn’t need her in his life right now. Well, she didn’t need him either. She had work to do and needed to get herself and her grandda to safety. It didn’t take long for Aedan’s family to convince him in the error of his ways, and when he saw what he’d done he felt like an ass. All he wanted to do was make it right, but could he grovel enough for her to accept him?


 Other Books in the series

1. Riordan –

2. Cormac –

                                                                                                                                        Happy Reading
Chapter 1
Aedan smiled when he saw all the flyers that had his name on them being put into yards. Aedan Harrison for Governor. Who would have thought that only a short three weeks ago he’d been working for his brother’s firm, and now he was not just running for governor, but he was also having a grand time. He saw his dad coming out of his political offices and had to smile when he showed him the new signage.
“I had to give them a little grief ‘bout the picture. You look like a little boy in them, and I thought about having them paint a mustache on you or something; but your mom, she liked them so we went with it.” He nodded at his dad, proud as he could be about what was going on, but also a little overwhelmed. “All you boys really take good pictures. It’s in your blood. I think it’s a trait that I passed down to you, what do you think?”
Four days ago there had been an ad on the television about Aedan running in the upcoming election. He was getting a late start, he knew that, but he was getting a lot of support too. The president had been in the commercial, saying that Aedan was a man of men and that he would do the best job possible for the state. Aedan had sat there for nearly an hour after it had aired just thinking about how fast this was all going down. Then he’d gotten up, done a little dance, and gone to run with his brother Darcy, who had been staying with him for a few weeks. He didn’t mention anything about seeing the ad until they were having beers and pizza at his house later. Then after polishing off two large with every kind of meat on them, they’d talked.
“You think that when the time comes, you’ll be sitting in the big house?” Aedan said nothing. Not that he hadn’t been having the same thoughts, but he was terrified to say the words out loud. Even to his brothers. Darcy laughed as he continued. “You have a sappy look on your face. The same one you get when you’ve figured out what you’re getting for Christmas from Mom and Dad. Just so you know, you’re going to have to be better at the poker look if you’re having thoughts that big.”
“I just want to get this election under my belt, then I can go from there.” Darcy only nodded, but he did have a smile that said a lot. “How are things going with you and the new building? I’m thinking that in no time you’re going to have your own mailbox out front. Not that I’m in any hurry for you to leave here. I love hanging out with you.”
“Storm is having it made up as we speak, believe it or not. She said to consider it a building warming gift. Did I tell you that she’s going to help me with finding furniture for the building? I asked for things that would blend well with the old building, and she had this amazing desk delivered yesterday. I’m going to love being in my own place but still working for the family. Christ, she really does know people who know people.”
They both laughed, and Darcy asked about his first duty in office when he won.
“I’m thinking we need more jobs, don’t you? But as for Storm, she really does know about everyone. And she’s being very pushy about things beyond the governorship. I’m not thinking along those lines yet. I have done some research on my opponent. He’s not very…well, I was going to say very trustworthy, but I think he’s underhanded and a jackass as well.” Darcy said nothing. “You know him?”
“I do, sort of. And this is between the two of us, but if you want to find some true dirt about him, you should look into the people who used to work for him. Both professionally as well as at his home. I understand that they’re the same, they both work for him, but I’m talking about his different staffers.” Aedan wasn’t sure that he wanted to sling mud, and Darcy handed him a file. “I got this in my inbox at work today. It’s a questionnaire. I’m pretty sure that as your brother I wasn’t meant to get it, but there are some pretty in-depth questions there.”
He told his brother that he’d look into the people but didn’t pick up the file just yet. He wasn’t even sure that he wanted to. Darcy took the decision out of his hands after it sat there for several more minutes, and picked up the paperwork and flipped through it to the back. Aedan wasn’t sure what he was doing until he handed it to him. Aedan read the first three questions, then looked at Darcy.
“They asked you what you thought my sexual preferences were?” Darcy nodded. “What the hell does that have to do with anything? I mean, how the hell does he get by with asking those sort of personal questions?”
“Don’t know, but there are a lot more in there. Read on. At one point they ask me if I thought you were going to have affairs while in the seat. I’m thinking that if they get one person to answer yes to that, you’re going to be labeled as a pervert as well as some sort of sexual deviant. Whoever sent this out is fishing, and they don’t care what sort of catch they get. I’m having someone look into it.” Aedan laughed. “No, not Storm. If she gets wind of this there will be hell to pay.”
“Yeah, she’s a little overprotective when it comes to us. But this shit, it’s not the way I want to do things, Darcy. You know me. I’d never want to stoop this low.” He read a few more questions until he got to the last one. “It asks if there are any things that the reader can think of that might be helpful to the people of this town. There’s a number here they can call.”
“Yep. And I called.” Darcy leaned back in the couch that had only been delivered that morning. “They’re asking more questions too. Like how long have you been a drug addict. They’re not asking if you were, but how long you’ve been using. And when was the last time I’d shot up with you, and where that might have been. I assured the person that I’d never even seen you take an aspirin and they laughed. This guy told me that he had enough people calling in to talk to them that they knew that wasn’t true. Whoever is working to smear you, they’re not playing very fairly. Like I said, any of this gets out, lies or not, it’s not going to go well for you or the family. Storm will be the least of their problems when Mom and Dad find out.”
“No shit.” He leaned back as well. “I wonder who it is. I mean, with this kind of work, someone is really out to make me look bad. I’m sure if I asked Ellison he’d say something like ‘well, I don’t know’ in his best you’re a moron voice. Any ideas who I might have to have murdered?”
“Nope. As I said, I’m having someone look. Mason, too, is having a little fun with this. He said to tell you when it hits his inbox, he’s going to answer all the questions in his own language and hopes someone there gets a kick out of it. He’s been in and out of the offices for a couple of days now; I’ve not really found out why, but it’s fun having
him around. Mason said that he’s helping out while Riordan is out of town.” Aedan asked when he’d be back. “Don’t know. Storm has been out of the country for a few days too. But I think she’s coming back tomorrow. The president has them doing something overseas, and I think they’re going to make a little vacation of it too.”
He’d spoken to Darcy, and now it was two days past when they were to have returned home and neither Storm nor Riordan was back yet. Something had come up, they’d been told. He’d never found out what it was, but he knew that it was like them to rest up after they were done working. Even Dad had been saying how he wished he’d had such perks. Then he and Mom had gone to wherever it was to help out.
Aedan was getting things put away in the kitchen when he heard someone in the drive. The house had a very long drive, lined with trees and a big fucking gate at the end, so he knew that whoever was here had made an effort in coming to see him. Going out to the back deck that wrapped around the entire house, he watched. While the car was in front of the garage, he stood there while whoever it was decided to either get out or drive away. The elderly man that finally got out of the car was no one he knew.
He stood with the car door opened and his hands on the door. Both of them. He looked more like he was hanging on rather than just taking in the view. Aedan decided that tomorrow he was going to have someone manning the gate house as Storm had told him to do weeks ago.
“Can I help you?” The man looked around like he was trying to decide if they were alone or not. Just as he was ready to ask again, another car pulled in the drive and he was relieved to see it was Darcy. Neither man spoke, but his brother did come up on the deck with him. “Perhaps you’re at the wrong address.”
“No, I’m where I’m to be. I’m here to meet someone else. It’s important that nobody knows where I am, you see, and I was told that I’d be okay here for a little while.” Aedan nodded. “You’re the boy, the one running for governor. I saw the signs in people’s yards. Congratulations on that. But you need to get yourself someone to man that gate down there. Doesn’t do you squat if anyone can come in here uninvited.”
“I was just thinking the same thing when you pulled up. Who are you?” The man looked worn out. Depressed, and like he wanted to curl into a ball and simply give up. Aedan had no idea where those thoughts had come from, but he had a feeling that they were all true. Making his way off the deck, Darcy was with him but he stayed back, like he was going to be ready should anything happen. When Aedan was nearly to the man he smelled it…blood. Old and fresh. “Are you hurt?”
“Yes. I got shot up a couple of days ago. I thought for sure that I was a goner, but I managed to get myself free. I’ve been on the run since, not able to stop the hole in me other than to press me a towel or two on it. Hurts like someone has been doing a jig on my insides. You’re not human.” Aedan shook his head and looked the man over. “I can manage to move in a bit, but I have to rest up if you’re planning to kick me to the curb.”
“All right, I won’t kick you anywhere so long as you don’t give me a reason to. Besides, I don’t think you’d make it if I did. I can help you, if you’d allow it.” He just shook his head and continued to hold onto the door that he was near. “Who are you meeting? Maybe I can call them for you.”
“It’s me, Aedan.” He looked at Mason as he made his way to the elderly man. “He’s a stubborn old coot, but I owe someone to keep him safe. Otherwise I would have left his sorry ass on the side of the road.” The older man laughed and then coughed hard enough to make Aedan think he was in a great deal more pain than he was letting on.
Aedan had no idea why he thought that Mason was lying about his feelings toward the stranger. But Mason picked him up in his arms and asked Aedan if he could use his house. Before he could figure out why the man was here or who he was, Mason had taken him to one of the spare bedrooms on the second floor and laid the now unconscious man on the bed.
“I’ll call Ennis.”
Darcy left the room when it was apparent that the man was really hurt. Mason pulled up his shirt and they both looked at the wounds. He had indeed been shot; twice, as a matter of fact. And both wounds were seeping enough to make Aedan realize that he might have used more than a couple of towels to try and stop the bleeding.
“His name is Neal. Paddy Neal. He’s an old friend of a friend that…Browning asked me to bring him here as they’re not home yet. I would have taken him to my place, but it’s too out in the open as yet. He needs a place to hide out until I can get him somewhere safe.” Aedan asked him why here. “Because, my dear friend, your house is built like a fortress and I have been here before, so had you not been home, I could have entered and put him up. It really is important that he is safe.”
“I don’t understand why he isn’t in a hospital, or at the very least a clinic somewhere.” Mason wasn’t one to explain himself, and this time was no different. As they both waited on Ennis to arrive with his black bag, they stripped Paddy’s clothing off. Mason told Aedan what he knew…or in this case, what he wanted Aedan to know.
“Just over a week ago there was a shooting. Nothing you would have heard about here, but an undercover agent was shot several times in the chest at close range. She was about the best there was, but the bad guys didn’t care for her. This is her grandda. Paddy was on the phone with her when she was taken out and presumed killed. She wasn’t, but not for lack of them trying. Just as they were ready to put one in her head, I arrived and took her away to someplace else.” Aedan felt like he was in one of those carnival rides that spun you about so quickly that you couldn’t figure out up or down. “She’s critical, in grave condition actually, but she is going to pull through. But as far as the world is concerned, the world that she works in, she’s dead. And we need to keep it that way for a little while longer. I also have her phone.”
“Her phone.” Mason nodded as he sat down on the other chair in the room. Aedan had already taken the other. “And this is making sense to me how? In the event you didn’t notice, this is not a hospital. I have no staff here that can help out, and I’m pretty sure that since you said you’d been here before, you know that this house isn’t equipped to have guests just yet. The only reason I have this room is because I got a great deal on this set at an auction.”
“This house is very old, and at one time, many decades even before your father was a glint in anyone’s eye, this house was owned by a very dear and close friend of mine. We had many…well, let’s just say that if these walls could talk, you’d be out of here in a
minute.” This wasn’t funny and Aedan said that to him. “No, it’s not. But as I was saying, when Nikki was shot and presumably killed, they went after her grandda when her body and the phone that she used came up missing. I took her someplace safe, as I said, to make sure she would get the care that she needed. Also, I have taken care that the phone isn’t found. She has some pretty determined enemies because of what she’s found out about one of the drug dealers in her city. And trust me when I tell you, his little Nikki is one hell of an investigator.”
“Okay, let me get this straight. This undercover agent was murdered but not. Her grandda was shot to hell and you brought him here. And now, for whatever reason, you think he needs to stay here while he either recuperates or dies, and I’m supposed to keep quiet about it.” Mason grinned and nodded. “You do know that I’m running for governor, right? And this is just the kind of shit that my opponent is looking for to bury me in, correct?”
“You will be fine, young Aedan. And I’d not worry about the questionnaires either. I’ve taken care that none of those questions ever get out in the public.” Aedan asked Mason how he knew that. “Let’s just say that I know more people than Browning does, and mine are a bit more ruthless than she is. And as for Paddy being here, it’s because the president and Browning asked me to bring him here for you to keep safe. They have a great deal more confidence in you than you appear to have in yourself.”
That wasn’t quite true, but Aedan was nervous about having a bleeding stranger in his house. He knew that his family would cover for him in the event someone found out. And if the shit hit the fan, like Mason was suggesting, then they’d be there for him as well.
When Ennis came in a few minutes later, Darcy asked to speak to Aedan. As soon as they entered the hallway, leaving Mason and his other brother to deal with Paddy, Darcy started pacing the long hall. Darcy was a thinker, one who did not blurt out whatever was on his mind until he was sure of his facts.
“I think this is my fault.” Aedan asked him how when Mason had told the man to come here. “I helped him. In a way. You know how I love the news? And especially ones that have to do with syndicates and shit like that? Well, Mason knew as well.”
“Go on.” His brother really did have a fixation on things in the news. He had an app on his computer both here and at home that would tell him every major thing going down. Even his phone and car were rigged up with it. “If you tell me that you called Mason when this went down, I’m going to brain you.”
“I didn’t. Mason called me. About a week before. He said that he had an idea that something was going to go down with a friend that was working undercover. And that he wanted me to keep an ear out for something, anything, that might have to do with this certain city…Chicago. So when the call came in that an officer was down, I contacted him right away and told him what I knew. I think he went to get him or something.” He told him it was apparently a woman. “Okay, that makes sense. He probably had some affair with her and now he’s protecting her or something. Whatever it is, I think this man had something to do with it. Because a couple of hours later, I hear the name again, this time
they say it’s at a residence and shots are being fired. I let Mason know and now the man shows up here. What do you suppose this is about?”
“I don’t know. He just told me that the president and Storm told him to bring the undercover person’s grandda here.” Darcy just nodded, but looked as confused as Aedan felt. “I’m guessing they have something to do with him then. All I know is that I have a wounded man in my house that I know nothing about, as well as some woman out there that may or may not be dead. And I’m to keep quiet about it so that they’ll be safe. I have no problem with that, but I wish I had more information.”
The door opened behind them and Mason stood there. He looked injured, and that was when Aedan realized it was daylight and he was out in the sunlight. When he leaned back against the wall, seemingly exhausted, he and Darcy helped him to the lower levels and away from most of the sunlight. He took a seat but refused their offer of blood.
“She is not my lover, though once I had a look at the little morsel, I had thoughts of changing her and taking her to my bed. But alas, I cannot. She is off limits to me.” Aedan asked why. “She is the niece and goddaughter of the president. The man presently in your bedroom is his uncle. They’re keeping their identities quiet because of what they do and did for a living.”
Aedan nodded then shook his head. Goddaughter and uncle of the president? What else would he find out, that they were also aliens from another planet? Shaking his head to try and clear some of it up only made it worse. He was beginning to have a headache right between his eyes. And he never got headaches.
“Why here? Why not in some other house, closer to him? Or for that matter, why not in a hospital? And what do you mean, did and do? This is like being on a loop de loop ride and you can’t get off; you know that, don’t you?” Mason said nothing but leaned back on the couch. Aedan started to demand answers, but he sat down too and thought about things. “It’s because of this woman being undercover, isn’t it? Something about that is why they have to be protected. She knows something or has…. The phone…you mentioned the phone. You’re thinking that whatever is on it might be something someone would need to bring them in. And those people, the ones on the phone, need to think them dead. For now, like you said, they need to be safe to heal and to be able to bring this to light later. And if the people after them knew differently, then shit would hit the fan.”
“I would say that you’re onto it, at least I think. As I said before, I don’t know a great many of the details. Other than I was asked by Browning to keep an eye out for her. It was most difficult since this cop mostly worked during the daylight hours. But I knew that young Darcy here had an ear for this, so I asked him to have a listen for me.” Aedan looked at his brother then back at Mason. “I only had to give him a name and the city. The rest, it was up to him. He might well have saved her life by being diligent in this. And most assuredly her grandfather. I’m sorry to say that I was too weak to bring him to you quickly. Taking Nikki away the way that I did drained me badly. Driving here was the only way he could have made it. Thankfully he had taken precautions, and had another car with money and clothing it in for them both.”
“And this man, he is involved how? I mean, other than being her grandfather, how is it he has been shot? Being in the wrong place at the wrong time?” Mason said he only knew a few details. “Do I need to know them? Or better yet, do I want to know them?”
“I would say not.” Mason stood up. “There will be staff coming here to care for him and your household. Not from me but the president. He doesn’t want you to have to worry about things, so he has asked a butler to come in and take care of things here should you want. He said to call it a thank you gift. I know Basford; he and his wife are good people.”
“All right, but to be honest, I’m not sure what I need at this point. I’ve only been here for a few months. I mean, Howard is a good friend of the family, but I don’t really need someone to take over my house.” Mason said he figured he’d say that. “How do I give him updates on his uncle?”
“That won’t be necessary at this point. He said that he will contact you when the time is right. But for now, it is safer for his uncle to not be associated with him. Not because he’s done anything wrong, nothing like that, but he should like to keep him safe. And he knows he will be here.” Aedan had a thought, not a good one. Mason laughed. “You have many things running through that head of yours, my friend. I would suggest that you not read anything into this other than a good friend needed your help. You know as well as I that Howard is a good man. If he had not been Browning would have ended him long ago.”
Aedan was still sitting on his couch when someone came into the room with him. He only stared at the man, not having any idea if he should have been frightened, taken cover, or put out his hand in friendship. His head was going in so many directions he wasn’t sure which way was up.
“My name is Basford, my lord. You were told that I was coming?” He nodded. “Mason sent us to help out around the house. Cook and clean for you should you need it, and hire a staff should you want that as well. I’m to understand from him that you have a large household and may need more than just me in residence.”
“To be honest with you Basford, I have no idea what I need.” The man only nodded. “Do you know what’s going on here, with the man upstairs then?”
“I do. I have been informed that should he need something more than he has at the moment, I’m to make a few calls.” More than Aedan knew, and he said as much. “Mason, he said that you were slightly overwhelmed and that you may need a little guidance until you are settled.”
“That might not ever happen.” Basford nodded. “I’d really like to have some breakfast, then while I’m eating, perhaps you and I can figure out what I do with a butler and cook. While I know the duties of both, I’m not sure how to go about getting things done. Does that make sense?”
“It does. I have met the new cook at your parents’ house, as well as their butler there. Mr. Shaw has been a good friend of mine for many years.” That was helpful. Shaw had been working for his family for decades. “Shall we go to the kitchen and see where we stand there? My wife, she’s here as well and has asked to do a bit of cooking for you.
She’s not up to the standards of the young new Mrs. Harrison, but she said she can fill your belly.”
He was talking about Andi, Mac’s wife. Nodding once, he got up to follow the man. Whatever was going on right now, he thought it best if he just played along. For now, anyway.
As they entered the kitchen, he thought again about why the president would have sent the man here. Aedan wondered if he thought that just because he had endorsed him for the governorship that he could take advantage of him. Not that it was a huge hardship having Paddy in his home, but it was odd that the man had been shot and needed to hide out. Then there was the undercover cop thing too. Why was she presumed to be dead? And who wanted her that way? As he sat down to wait for his breakfast, a notebook and pen was set before him. He looked up at the woman, who also handed him a large glass of orange juice.
“To make notes with. Winnie said that you were going to figure things out.” He asked her who Winnie was. “My husband. His name is Winfred, but I call him Winnie. My name is Rose, Rose Basford. Would you like for me to call him Basford as well?”
“No. I like Winnie too. It sounds less…I don’t know. Less stiff. I’m new to this having a staff thing.” She smiled at him and he felt comforted by it. “My parents, you know them as well?”
“Oh yes. Well, not personally, but I know of them. It’s Browning that we know better. Her family would hire us when the staff was in flux. Happened a great deal at the beginning of their tenure in the mansion. But Winnie and I were never up to snuff for them. Only good enough…I should not be speaking of her parents so poorly. Forgive me.” He told her it was fine. He’d heard they were a little cold. “Browning—it was what we called her for so long after they passed—she wasn’t what they wanted in a child. Daring and full of spit and vinegar. Once, when she was about four, we’d been there for a couple of days when she came into the house with not just a snake in her hand, but a turtle as well. Told us right off if we dared cook them for her supper, she’d have us put before a firing squad. I have never laughed so hard in my life.”
When Winnie cleared his throat, his wife moved to the stove. But before pulling out things from the fridge, she kissed Winnie on the cheek and made him blush. Aedan thought he’d enjoy having them around as much as he did his parents.
It took them two hours to get things squared away. And when Ennis came to join them, he was fed as well. Darcy had gone to work, saying that he’d be back late because he had to find him a place to live, and had his eye on a building or two in the downtown area. He’d been saying that for nearly the three weeks that he’d been sleeping over here.
“Your guest is resting right now. I took out the bullets and gave them to Mason when he came back for them. He said he’d take care that they got into the right hands. Mr. Neal is going to be down for a few more days, so I’ve made arrangements to have him a nurse brought in. Also through Mason. He’ll just need help getting up and down and his dressing changed. I’ll come see him a couple of times a day if you don’t mind. Just to make sure he’s healing all right.”
“You don’t want to do this.” Ennis said that he really didn’t mind. That he owed Mason. “Everyone seems to owe him. How is it he’s indebted to you?”
“The new building that I’m moving into? It has a lair in the sublevels. I mean, really, it’s an apartment with all the things that you’d find anywhere, except no windows. I’ve given him permission to live there for as long as I own the building. It’s safer for him, he said, than the aunts’ house.” Lynn and Sally, aunts of Stormy, had been letting Mason stay in their basement while he was in the area. And he’d been having repairs done on the house in return. “He said that he’d take care of the taxes for me, but I said I just felt better with him living there. Sort of a safety net should I need it in the event the place is robbed. I’ll have a lot of drugs in the place when I’m done moving in. Oh yeah, that reminds me, I have to talk to an attorney about something. I got this letter in the mail about something to do with drugs on the premises. Did you ever hear of a vault for drugs in a business like mine? Huge sucker, too, if I’m reading this right.”
“No. I mean, I guess that makes sense, but it’s not like you’re going to be selling them, right? We’re talking just things like samples and such.” Ennis said that was it, but he had to get one. “I’d check into it like you are. Probably just a precautionary letter they sent to all doctors.”
After his brother left, Aedan went to check up on his new guest and wasn’t surprised to find him resting comfortably. Getting ready to go into the office himself, Aedan thought about all the things that could go wrong with this. First and foremost, he could be out of the running for a job that he’d come to want very badly.