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Grayson The Sons of Crosby By Kathi S Barton Release Day & GiveAway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Misty Quartermain met Sean Crosby in college. One night, before they’d met, he’d saved her from a vicious vampire attack and after that they become close friends. He’d shared his family secrets with her and took a little of her blood so that they’d always share a connection. Sean knew Misty wasn’t his mate, but he’d always felt protective of her. A few years later, when Misty and her family were in trouble and on the run, Sean enlisted his family to come to their aid.

Grayson Crosby had always been somewhat of a loner. He mostly kept to himself but was there for the family when they needed him. Sean said he needed help to keep his college friend safe so Grayson was there for him, maybe not enthusiastically, but there. He heard Sean making the family introductions and came out of the kitchen. His beast suddenly had the poor woman backed into the wall.

“You said that she knows all about us?” Sean said that she did and that he was terrifying her. “Yeah, I know, but my beast, he won’t let me go enough to help her.”

“Well, let me help you then. I’m sick of men running over me.” Misty doubled up her fist and hit Grayson square in the nose. Then, when he was going back, she swung her leg around and did a round house slap with her foot to his head. He went to the floor in a thud, breaking the end table behind him.

 

 

 

 

Amazon USA https://amzn.to/2zGRO0E

Amazon UK https://amzn.to/2OlsiGC

B&N  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/grayson-kathi-s-barton/1129603836?ean=2940161945148

SmashWords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/896982

KOBO https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/grayson-13

I TUNES  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/grayson/id1437031966?mt=11

PaperBack  https://amzn.to/2zElf3v

 

 

Spencer Graham had been trying to get a hold of Jason Crosby for weeks, but he didn’t seem to answer emails, mail or the telephone. She had an idea that would make them a great deal of money, but she needed him to invest in her project before it was too late. So, barging into his home at 4 a. m. was the only solution as far as she was concerned. She didn’t, however, expect him to answer the door naked and proposition her as soon as she walked in the door. Spencer did the only thing that came natural to her, she knocked him on his ass….

Jason Crosby was nearly two thousand years old, and in all his days as a vampire, he’d never seen anyone quite like her, not that he thought that was a good thing. He didn’t. She was his mate, and he was only going the tolerate her because he had to….

 

 

Chase Crosby didn’t know what he wanted right now. He was trying to get a grip on who his new mate was. He was told she was an ice dragon, but that wasn’t right either, she was a protector of the ice dragons. He had so many questions, and all he could do was sit there while she was locked away in his freezer to recover from her injuries.

Emerald was a warrior, and she had no idea what she was going to do with a mate. Even though the vampire appealed to her, she was worried the people chasing her would hurt him or his family to get to her, and she couldn’t allow that.

A Homeland Security Agent had gone rogue and he was after Emerald. He didn’t know exactly who or what she was, but he was going to prove she’d been around for centuries, and it didn’t matter who he had to go through to get to her.

 

 

Elliot knew the little boy, Cody, was in trouble. When he found the boy hiding out in his greenhouse, he could see that he was starving and battered. The boy’s little dog didn’t look like he was faring any better. When the boy’s father, Duncan, busted down the door of the greenhouse, Elliot had had enough.

Hannah didn’t have much use for her idiot brother, Duncan. And when she heard her brother had murdered his wife, and her nephew Cody was on the run from his father, she wasn’t surprised. She was surprised, however, and elated to find out her sister, Julia, was alive. Julia’s slimy ex-husband, Nathan, had Hannah believing Julia was dead.

Elliot was sent to bring Hannah back. Nathan had learned that Julia had left town and taking Hannah would be his leverage to make Julia do as he wanted. Elliot knew Nathan was on his way, and they had to hurry to keep Nathan from finding her. What he wasn’t expecting to find was his mate.

Hannah had had enough of men telling her what to do and finding out Elliot was a vampire didn’t make the situation any easier. He would take it slow and tread softly, or she would stake him, simple as that.

Finding out Nathan and Duncan had banned together spelled trouble for everyone. Even though Hannah was now immortal, Elliot still worried about her because she could still be hurt, and no one touched his mate if they wanted to live.

 

The Sons of Crosby Series
1.Jason http://amzn.to/2rBDG5A
2.Chase  http://amzn.to/2BcTznZ
3.Elliot https://amzn.to/2y7mPMm

 

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Misty had been sitting in a cramped car for five days. It really wasn’t restrictive— her dad had always liked the bigger cars. And when he found one that suited him, he would drive it until there was nothing but rust, spit, and tape holding it together. This particular rust bucket was newer—well, at least it wasn’t too bad…yet. As soon as he pulled into the hotel parking lot, she nearly leaped from the car to stretch.

“You sure do creak a lot.” She turned and looked at her dad, ready to blast him for saying such a thing. That was when she realized that he was talking to the car and not her. “But you got us here all right, so I guess that’s fine too.” She would never, for as long as she lived, understand men and their relationships with cars. Or for that matter, sports. Misty loved football. It was like the only thing she could watch that would relax her.

And that was only because she could scream and throw things at the television and no one got hurt. She took her football seriously. And her team was Ohio State. Misty went into the office of the hotel and signed her and her dad into a room by using a false identity. Going to different hotels for the past few days, using fake names, was the only way she knew to be assured of their safety. And that of her brother too. She’d also been using cash since they’d left their home, as well as random names. Dad had had a bit of money at the house, and she had gone by her own on the way here and taken out all the cash she had in the bank, as well as any she had stashed around the house. That was one of the many things that she’d learned from Sean.

“Always have a backup. Not just a backup plan, but things that will make the backup work. I mean in everything you do. Money stashed where you can easily get to it. Get a couple of burner phones. A set of your car keys someplace other than your home, as well as water. You cannot be on the run without that.” She laughed and asked him if he thought she was going to be in trouble. “I’d like to say yes because you are trouble, but that’s not what I mean right now. I’m being serious. Someday you might be, you might have to run, and those things will get you closer to being safe.” Misty had done what he’d told her.

Not only did she have several thousand dollars that she could grab and go, but all the other things that he’d told her as well. Misty had also added jerky to her things. She knew that she couldn’t go far on an empty stomach, and she was forever forgetting to eat. “You want to get a pizza? Or go for a burger?” Her dad was enjoying this trip. Zigzagging across the state to keep ahead of the guys after Alex would be fun, she thought, if it wasn’t for the fact that it wasn’t for the fun of exploring, but a necessity. Dad was terrified, as was she, about her brother, but they were both trying to make the best of it. And knowing that he was safe helped a great deal. “I’m all for a burger, and not to eat it in the car.” “Yeah, me too. I want to check in with Sean. Let him know that we’re close and then we’ll go.” Dad smiled and said that he’d drive. “All right. And Dad, I love you.”

“I love you too, pumpkin. And I also wanted to tell you how proud I am of you.” She was tired, she told herself. That was why his words affected her so deeply. Instead of standing there like a fool sobbing about her daddy’s words, she picked up one of the burner phones and turned it on. You do know that you can speak to me like this, don’t you? Misty smiled. Why are you wasting your phone on calling someone that you only have to reach for? It sort of freaks my dad out. He understands what you are and that I trust you. But the mind talking thing, it makes him feel weird. But he’s in the car, waiting for me, so I can tell you that we’ve stopped at a hotel on Route Forty. It’s called Sweet Dreams. He asked her where she was in the hotel. If you mean, where am I standing, just outside room six. We’ve not gone into our rooms as yet. Why? He was suddenly standing in front of her. Backing up a bit, he was so close, two more people appeared near him, and none of them looked all that happy. Or maybe it was their natural state. The woman started barking orders almost as soon as she appeared. It was then that she noticed there were several more people coming out of the small group of trees behind the place. “You’re in trouble.” She nodded to him.

“We’re here to get rid of anything that can place you here. Someone wants your ass but bad. It’s a nice one, by the way, but just not my type.” “Are you trying to tell me something and you’re buttering me up for the bad news?” He nodded. “Is Alex all right?” “Yes. But you’re not. Nor is your dad. We’re here to erase you from here.” She asked him what was going on. “I honestly don’t know yet, and neither do my sisters-inlaw. The men that are following the two of you, they only have one thing in their head—get you or one of your other family members and take them back to the boss. We don’t know who that is either. And Alex, I’m sorry to say, is going to be their target. He’s the easiest to capture. And they’re sure that you’d do anything to keep him safe.” “I would.” He nodded and looked over her shoulder. Turning, she saw her dad there. Also, there was a lot of work being done, some of it she only just now understood. There were wolves pissing on cars as well as the hotel room they’d not been in yet. She looked at her dad, who looked confused and concerned. “Dad, this is my friend, Sean Crosby.

I’ve told you about him. They’re marking our things with their scent so that we cannot be detected as being here.” “Thank you, daughter. I was a might clueless. And you, young man, I want to tell you that I’m indebted to you. You surely saved my son, and I will be forever working on repaying you for that.” It never occurred to her dad to think that calling Sean a young man was well off the mark. But like her, he was stressed too. “What do we—? That guy is taking our wheels. I do hope that he isn’t stealing it. Is he?” “No, sir. He’s taking it to my brother’s house. He has a large barn that we’re going to store it in. And there are pack on the land that are going to mark that place up as well.” She looked up at Sean. “You’re going to travel with me. And your dad is going to go with my brother, Jason. All right?”
“Yes. You’re better at this cloak and dagger shit than I am. By the way, I had to ditch my real phone. Do you have a landline that I can use to get some work done? Someone I work with has been trying to get in touch with me since we left.” He said that he did. “Good.

I would love for you to meet him. He’s more persnickety. Nothing ever changes with him. It’s fucking annoying.” “He sounds like a real winner. Are you ready?” She nodded and closed her eyes. Misty knew what to expect, and when she got to wherever he was taking her, she’d be sick for a little bit. In no time, they were standing in a very lovely living room. “Steady now. Let me get you to a seat, then you can sit for a moment.” It didn’t take long, his way of travel, but it was hard on a girl. As soon as she had her bearings, her brother came to give her a hug. Standing up so that she could make sure that he wasn’t hurt, she let the tears fall freely from her eyes. Alex was all right—that was all she could focus on right now. Her little brother was all right. Dad hugged him too when he arrived. He had taken to the way vampires travelled better than she had. Misty hugged them both. They were safe. She knew that if anyone or anything came their way, they were in a position to be as safe as they could be. There were several other people in the room with them. Misty had never met Sean’s family, but she could almost guess who they were. Sean had told her all about his family over the years, his brothers anyway, and she was glad to finally meet them. She only wished that it wasn’t an emergency that had brought them all together. “Everyone, this is Able and Misty Quartermain. Able, Misty, this is my family. From left to right, you have Jason and his wife, Jewel, Chase and Emerald next to them. Elliot and Hannah, and that’s Ryan, the youngest.” Misty looked for the fifth brother. Just then he walked into the room eating a thick sandwich of what smelled like roast beef. “And that hog there is my brother Grayson.” The sandwich was still poised halfway to his mouth as he stared at her. The plate in his other hand held another one. He kept watching her like he’d rather be having her for a meal. The amount of hunger in his eyes scared her enough to stand behind Sean.

The low growl coming from Grayson brought her not only out from behind Sean, but right up in Grayson’s face. “You growl at me again, you jackass, and I’ll tear your face off. I’ve had it up to my fucking ass with men that think they can growl at me and I’ll jump.” She poked him in the chest then. “I don’t jump for any man, woman, or child. Do you understand me? I’m not going to keep my desk cleaned off when I’m working, and I most certainly will not go on vacation when you do just so things can be the same as usual. I’m my own person, not a puppet with strings that you’re going to use.” She realized what she’d done before they started clapping. Misty had mixed in her trouble at work with this man, and she was sorry for it. However, Grayson didn’t seem to think it was worth applauding at. He just kept staring at her—no longer with hunger, but with anger. It was so hot coming off him that she took several steps back. Grayson countered her, coming toward her even as she backed up more. Handing his plate and
sandwich to the man next to him, he kept coming. Putting up her hand, she told him to stop. “Who?” She asked him what he meant.

“Who did those things to you? I’m assuming that he’s still alive. Otherwise you’d not be here.” “It doesn’t matter. Why are you crowding me? Stop where you are.” He did, but now she was backed against the wall and her body was drenched in not just fear, but excitement as well. “Can you back up?” He didn’t, of course, and she was tempted to hit him. But he only turned his head just enough to speak to Sean, not taking his eyes off her. Misty didn’t know exactly what was going on—she hoped not, anyway. But she was afraid that she did actually understand, and she was in more trouble than ever. “You said that she knows all about us?” Sean said that she did and that he was terrifying her. “Yeah, I know, but my beast, he won’t let me go enough to help her.” “Well, let me help you then. I’m sick of men running over me.” Misty doubled up her fist and hit Grayson square in the nose. Then, when he was going back, she swung her leg around and did a roundhouse slap with her foot to his head. He went to the floor in a thud, breaking the end table that was behind him. The room erupted in laughter. Misty was not only afraid but embarrassed as well. Leaving the room, dragging Sean behind her, he told her that she had to let him go or he’d be dead. Stopping, she looked at her friend. “Please tell me that I’m wrong about his.” Sean backed away a few feet, then shook his head. “I don’t have time for his shit, Sean. I don’t even want to involve you guys at all, but I didn’t know what else to do.” “I know, honey, and I’m sorry. But Grayson is your mate. You can’t touch any of the males in the house until he touches you first.” She cocked her head at him, put her hands on her hips, and glared. “All you need to do now is tap your foot and you’d look just like you did in college.

” The women came out of the room and stood beside Sean. She hadn’t any idea what she was to do now, so she asked if there was a hotel that she could stay in. They shook their heads, and said it was much too late for that. “Fuck.” Jewel, she thought her name was, told her that was about right. “What the fuck am I supposed to do now? I don’t need this on top of all the shit that I have going on in my life. And I have to protect my brother. My dad too, since he has been drawn into this.” “He’s not the target. You are.” She looked at the woman she thought was Hannah. “I’ve been going over some of your cases—you’re good, by the way—and I found that you have opened up a can of shit that is supposed to have you dead. However, I can’t connect any of the dots to anyone you sent away. Not even parents of any of the deadbeats you won against.” “Why?” Grayson came out of the living room and she only glared at him. He leaned against the wall and didn’t come any closer. “You can’t get into my cases. They’re a part of the firm where I work.”

“I have ways.” She didn’t even bother asking her when Grayson came to stand by her and said that he was sorry. Misty ignored him for now. “Grayson is a good guy, if you can discount that he’s a Neanderthal. All of them are, as a matter of fact. But this thing with you, we’ll sit down after dinner and talk. There is a lot going on with you and your firm.” Misty moved to the front door and stopped when Grayson followed her, but she did notice that he kept his distance. Opening the front door, going out onto the front porch to just rock for a few minutes, Grayson came out too, and leaned against the railing in front of her. ~*~ She was furious. And beautiful. Grayson didn’t try to crowd her again but stood there watching her take angry strides to the chair. He might have pointed out that the rocker was old and rickety, but again, he thought he’d get further if he kept his mouth shut. “I’m your mate.” He nodded. “I know enough about your kind, as well as your family, to know that this is a done deal, no matter what I say or try to do. Isn’t it?” “Yes. If it helps you any, I’m as surprised by this as you are.

” She rocked harder, and the chair was inching its way to him. “May I ask you a favor? And I know you will have no trouble whatsoever telling me no, but I’d like for you to hear me out.” “All right. But I also reserve the right to tell you to fuck off again.” He told her it was a deal and asked if he could sit next to her. “Sure, but no touching yet. I’m still working a few things out in my head, and I do much better when I can think without distractions.” “I do that as well. I’m a loner, most of the time. Anyway, I’d like for you to move into my house with me.” She just stared at him, and Grayson could have gladly laid at her feet and let her abuse him. “Your family is welcome there as well. The house is an old one, and I’ve only just had it brought up to code. The kitchen is a mess, but it’s coming along. As I was saying, it’s a large house, with plenty of rooms so you’d never have to see me if you didn’t want. But I’d feel safer, until we can get this figured out, if you stay there.” “What’s so different that you think your house is better? I know that a hotel is out— too many people coming and going all the time. The hotel we were going to stay at, it looked like a stiff wind could have blown open the doors. Why your place and not, say, one of your brothers’ homes?” “I’d have to kill one of my family members, and I’d rather not.” She just stared off into the drive, and he wondered what she was thinking. He could have looked, but he didn’t want her not to trust him. “You and Sean, you’ve known each other for a while, I guess.” “Yes. He saved my life. Quite literally. I was nearly raped and left for dead one night after leaving work. Sean just happened to be in the right place to kill some men that were hell bent on having fun with me. I didn’t know until a few days later they weren’t human, but vampires like him.” Misty looked at him. “Like you all, I guess.”
“Yes, the men in the family are. We’re lucky enough to have a bit more too, as I’m sure he told you.

But the women, they’re not just human either. We have a faerie prince and princess, a dragon king and queen, as well as ice dragons that we can call to us for help. As well as the pack that roams all of our land.” Her rocking had slowed, and he paced his rocker with hers. “I was a fool earlier with you. I had my feet knocked out from under me, even before you did it.” “I’m sorry about that. Lately men have been giving me shit, and I’ve about had it.” She looked at him and he let her. There was something so profoundly heartwarming to have someone look at him like she was. “I’m an attorney. I’ve worked really hard at it too. The firm that I work for—worked for, I guess—they don’t think that women have any place in that business other than— Well, other than fucking their way to the top of them. I don’t play around.” “No, I know that.” She stared at him, then looked out over the drive. There was pack there, several of them as a matter of fact. “I don’t live far from here. After dinner, would you and your family like to come out and see the house? Like I said, it’s being worked on, extensively as a matter of fact. But the security system is state of the art, and the furniture is some that I’ve collected over the years.” Grayson decided not to bring up her job again, or the men she was working for. He wasn’t sure what she meant by the change in her job status, but he’d have Jewel—or better yet, Emerald—look into it for him. The company was going to pay if they didn’t play ball with whatever she wanted from them. “There are things about me that I’d like to tell you.

” She looked at him and he nodded. “I’m aware that you can tell that I’ve never had sex, but the reason why might make you laugh at me. Especially considering how I was treated at my job. I’m not going back there—I don’t think, anyway. I’ve only just decided that I think I could do better on my own.” “More than likely. Ryan, the one just younger than me, he practices law for us— well, practice is a comical term when you realize that he’s been practicing for centuries.” She nodded and leaned back in the chair, no longer rocking. “You said that you might make me laugh when I hear why you’re still a virgin. And you’re correct, I can smell that about you.” “I was saving myself for one man—you, I guess now. But I wanted it to be perfect when I married. I guess that is shot all to hell.” Grayson asked her why. “You have to survive with me only, correct? I mean, Sean told me a great deal about mates, and the way they go at sex like rabbits in heat.

” Grayson burst out laughing. For such a serious conversation, she was delightfully honest. When she smiled at him, it was as if she’d given him a rare glimpse of her. He’d bet anything that her life over the last several months was taking its toll on her. And now this. “We do like our sex. And yes, when you’re ready, we’ll have lots of it.” She just cocked a brow at him. “I don’t mean to be indelicate, but I’ve fed recently. I can go a bit longer before I want to sink my teeth into you and have a hell of an orgasm.”
Misty’s face brightened in embarrassment. They both turned when the front door to Jason’s home opened. Alex stepped out onto the porch and began signing to his sister. Misty was telling him what they were talking about, he supposed, so that he’d not feel left out. “He said that we’re to come in for dinner, but only if I can refrain from hitting you again.” She looked at him, then back at her brother as she answered him. “That remains to be seen. We’ll have to cross that bridge when we get to it. Also, your father is on his way, and Jason wants to know if he can tell them that we’re a couple.” “If you don’t mind.” She said that she didn’t care either way, but she wasn’t easy. This too she signed to her brother, and his face heated up. “Does your brother read lips?”

“Ask him. And yes, he does, but I have been really hard on my brother. I bullied him into never being handicapped.” Alex laughed, then nodded. “He can read lips, but only if you’re looking at him. And mustaches muddle the words for him. Which is no problem here—none of you are sporting any.” Grayson could talk to Alex and did so, welcoming him to the family. Alex glanced at his sister as she made her way into the house, and then asked to speak to him. Grayson told him that he could, at any time. He sat down next to him. After telling Grayson everything that happened at the police station, Alex asked him why he’d not been arrested, or for that matter, why it hadn’t been put into the paper that he was missing. Grayson had an answer for him, but he wasn’t sure if he could be honest with him as he would with his sister. “Please do. Misty, she made sure that I was never handicapped, as she said, but she’s also made it so that I could become a part of the world. Most in my place have given up, only hang out with others like them—deaf and/or mute people. I have a few friends like me, but most of my friends are speaking and hearing people.” Grayson told him he was extremely lucky to have a sister like Misty. “I am. I don’t know what would have happened to me had she not been who she is. Also, even though I’m just human, if you hurt her in any way, I will grind you to dust. Understand?”

“Yes.” Grayson liked this young man and decided that he’d like for him to stay with them until he met his own mate. He thought he could learn a great deal from the younger man. “The reason that you’ve never been pursued or attached to what happened there is because you were never to have been arrested for that crime. I don’t know all the details yet—my sisters, the other women, they’ll have a better handle on this than me. But, like I told your sister, you were just the person that they were going to use to get to her. And you would have been killed had my family, mostly Sean, not stepped in and helped.” Alex sat there, not saying anything, and Grayson waited. Alex, like his sister, was a thinker. He thought that they might have gotten that from their mom. Their dad, Able, he tossed out ideas and threw them away like he was testing the grounds. They were a good family. And Grayson found himself thinking that he was going to enjoy getting to know all three of them, provided Misty didn’t kill him first.

Laughing, he went into the house with Alex. “I hope you’re hungry.” Alex nodded and rubbed his belly. “Well, don’t sit next to Elliot. He’s a pig and will take food from your plate if you’re not watching him.” Alex told him that he’d figured that out but thanked him. Yes, Grayson thought, he was really enjoying having a mate so far.

 

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Griffith The English Dragon By Kathi S Barton Release Day & Giveaway

 

Griffith was a very old and powerful dragon and just the opposite of his twin James. The only thing they had in common was their looks, they were identical. James, although first born and immortal, didn’t inherit the dragon gene and had held that over Griff’s head their entire lives. Anything Griff got, James felt it should be his instead.

Griff found his mate, Lilac, by chance. She had just barely escaped James’s evil clutches, and the moment she saw Griff she was terrified that they were one and the same.

Lilac was a water faerie, and daughter to the queen of faeries which made her queen of the water, but that was a secret she would have to keep to herself. That knowledge in the wrong hands could spell disaster, especially if James found out. Lilac was slow to trust, but Griff made it difficult not to love him. And when Griff suddenly disappeared, would he be able to forgive her for holding such a secret? Trust worked both ways and that was one huge secret.

 

Amazon USA https://amzn.to/2Pk7qgl
Amazon UK https://amzn.to/2MyHqiO
B&N https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/griffith-kathi-s-barton/1129187834?ean=2940161642849

SmashWords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/883670

ITunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/griffith/id1418800342?mt=11

KOBO https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/griffith
PAPERBACK  https://amzn.to/2MrrQGJ

 

 

Danburn English is the ninth earl of the English castle. He and his dragon alter ego have been on this earth for a very long time. Danburn is accustom to his orders being followed to the letter, no questions asked, so when this feisty young woman bucks his authority he is beyond angry.

Kendrick Barrera can’t seem to get caught up. Every time she turns around, her sister is in trouble again. Now, because of her sister’s new mess, she’s being evicted and has nowhere to go.

Danburn’s intentions were to defend her honor, but when Kendrick intervenes, she steps in front of a punch intended for her mouthy landlord. Now Danburn has to step back and take a good long look at himself, and he doesn’t much like what he sees.

Kendrick doesn’t care for the overbearing lord of the manor and makes no bones about telling him so either. No one, especially him, is going to tell her what to do or how to act or dress.

There is something about the feisty woman that has touched Danburn’s heart. She has a rare honesty and bravery that has him take notice. A woman like that is hard to find and should be protected and cherished. The chemistry is there, they’ve both felt it, but controlling his mouth just might get in the way of winning Kendrick’s heart….

 

 

Cassie had just arrived in Danburn’s territory and she knew as a dragon she had to report to him. Whether she liked it or not, she’d gone from one ruling male, her father, to another. Being a female dragon, and unmated, she felt cursed for her lot.

Everette Welsh, Rett to his friends, was having a hard time making ends meet. He was a good attorney, but it seemed to do him little good. His good friend, Danburn, insisted he quit his job and come work for him. Rett had no intentions of taking Danburn up on his offer, but when his boss called him into his office and was demanding that he apologize for threatening a man who blackmailing him, the words “I quit” spilled from his mouth without thinking. However, once said, he felt better for it.

Rett found himself on the wrong end of a shotgun blast, and Cassie gave a bit of herself to save him. There were only three conditions of taking dragon’s blood that a human would survive, and the other two didn’t apply to him. Rett and Cassie were mates.

Only two things stood in their way: Rett’s obnoxious mother, and Cassie’s father, a lethal combination…

 

Quinn Langley knew her mother didn’t have long to live. Soon it would just be her and her little sister, Carmine. Nearly recuperated from her own injuries, Quinn knew the first order of business would be to find a job and get out of Danburn and Kendrick’s hair.

Danburn had invited his friends to his home to spend the holidays, and that included his good friend, Hanson McClain. Hanson’s parents had run off and left the estate in a shamble and near financial ruin. It had taken Hanson months to repair the damage, and he was ready for a break.

Quinn had no idea that her cousin, Kendrick, was mated to a dragon, and that she and her sister were the only humans in the house. And now, the handsome stranger, Hanson, also a dragon, had claimed that she was his mate. It was time to leave. The ever practical, Quinn didn’t want solutions just handed to her on a silver platter. She’d make it on her own. But in life things don’t always go as planned. Like it or not, Hanson’s parents were a problem she’d be forced to deal with, and she discovered her sister, Carmine, had abilities Quinn didn’t quite understand.

Thrust head first into a world of immortals, Quinn found she had a whole new set of problems. Now, the first order of business would be to protect her little sister and hopefully not die in the process.

 

The injured women in the bed, Emerald, had been poisoned with lead. Dana could smell it on her and he wondered why Danburn hadn’t. With Danburn being the king of the dragons he should have been able to smell it right off, or at least Dana thought so anyway. With the woman’s surly temper Dana should have left her there to suffer alone, but he could smell his mate on her. Since Em was an emerald dragon he deduced that his mate must be another gem to compliment his diamond.

Sapphire had been summoned with the rest of her sisters, Ruby and Opal, to Em’s side. The young girl, Carmine had powerful magic that could extract the lead from Em, but she wasn’t strong enough to get it all out on her own. The sisters would have to combine their magic with Carmine’s or Em wouldn’t survive.

Sapphire knew instantly that Dana was her mate and she wasn’t thrilled about it either. She and her sisters had been around for thousands of years, why did a mate have to muddy the waters now?

Dana wanted to take it slow. They had the rest of their lives to get to know each other. He wanted to court her and ease into the relationship. They were both immortal, so time was on their side, right? Melville James had other ideas. If he couldn’t have the emerald dragon he’d just take the sapphire. After all, her mate hadn’t claimed her yet, and by dragon law that made her easy pickings.

 

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Kip moved along the walls and decided that he didn’t care for the smell or anything about this place. Not now, anyway. After it was abandoned, it had become a place to flop for all manner of things. It was dirty, filled with scents that made even his dragon sick. Well, he was going to take care of this place, once and for all. As soon as he was able to shift, to burn the place to the bare walls, Griffith showed up. Like he needed him to be there to witness his shame.

“I just heard. I’m so sorry, my friend.” Kip asked him what he’d heard. “You know what I’ve heard about this place. And before you ask, no, neither Danburn nor the others know. I’ve come to help you. If you’ll allow it.” “They ruined it all.” Griff, what he’d been calling him since they’d met, nodded and told him he was sorry again. “Yes, well, so will they when I find them. Have you seen your brother again?”

“No, not since yesterday. He’d been by the house a couple of times before I brought Em home, apparently—I was out of town. But no, we’ve not spoken since yesterday. James is going to be trouble, I think. That’s not right—he is definitely going to be trouble. I don’t understand him most of the time. I mean, why the fuck hasn’t anyone taken him to task yet?” Kip asked him why he’d not done it either. “I can’t. I made a promise to my mother that I’d not harm him. Then she revised that to I couldn’t kill him after James killed my father. I don’t want to do either, to be honest, but he’s after something that belongs to me. I found her, Kip. Just before my brother would have killed her. He would have, too.” “I’m so glad that you’ve found your mate.

And so you know, I really like her too.” He looked around the castle that had been in his family for several hundred generations. “They have been here too long, I think. I know that you’re aware of my family situation, and I have to tell you, I’m ashamed to be related to them, especially my mother, in all this. Why couldn’t we all have parents like Danburn does? But I guess we don’t get to pick our relatives.

I just want to get rid of all this and then start anew. I was just going to do that when you showed up.” “I’d gladly help you.” Kip didn’t want to be beholden to anyone, but of all the people he knew, Griff would be the most helpful and the kindest of anyone. “I can start on the upper levels and you at the bottom. We can meet in the middle and then start on the lawns around the place.” Kip told him that he was grateful for his help and made his way to the lower level. Kip felt the pull of his dragon and let him consume him. His dragon was much like Danburn in that he was several hundred times larger than his other self, but he wasn’t nearly as strong as the king was. Spraying flames all over the sub flooring of his ancestral home, Kip watched as everything that had been left behind by his family was burned away. Good riddance to it all. He thought about what he’d had to endure by living here as a young dragon. Not just the hatred of his parents, but that of the town here as well. Few knew that he had
spent his life living no more than a few leagues from Danburn, but even fewer knew that the inhabitants of the castle here were his parents and his siblings. And he liked it that way. None of them had been happy that he’d been born and that he’d lived. He had an older brother and a sister that had had their lives pretty perfect, according to them, when he’d come into the world to upset their lives.

Kip had no idea how they’d come to that conclusion, but they had made his life a living hell from the moment he’d been hatched. And had nearly killed him on several occasions. But now they were all gone, and he hoped that they’d stay that way. He’d not heard from them nor seen them in more years than he could count, which by his estimation wasn’t nearly long enough. Not to say that they were dead—Kip knew that it was only a matter of time before they’d return now that he was the sole owner of the family castle. What they didn’t know was that he’d become much more powerful than any of them, even all together, due in part to his being on the good side of a dragon who was very powerful, not to mention the king of them all. He was on the second level of the castle when he could see that the heat of the stone was burning things on this level too.

His work was nearly finished here in cleaning things out. The real work, getting it back to its former glory, would take a great deal longer. But he was up for the task. He only hoped that in a few months, he felt the same way. The walls of the castle would not crumble under the heat of his breath, but they would remain hot for a very long time. Since it had been created for a dragon and by one, it would not burn and fall under the heat of one. It was said that if a dragon were to heat a stone with his breath, it would be a decade or more before it would be cool enough to touch. He hoped in his case that it was true, and that it would be just hot enough to keep his family away. But he knew better. Watching it all burn away with a kind of contentment that he’d not had in a while, he looked at Griff when he came toward him as his dragon. The two of them shifted and became themselves, basking in the heat they’d made as well as what they’d been able to do in such a short amount of time.

Not that Kip couldn’t have done it on his own, but having someone with him made his heartbreak better. They looked to be a matched set of dragons, both of them as green as the grasses that had once been around the keep—but that was about as far as the similarity went. And, he thought, that was what had made them such good friends over the decades— opposites attracting. The two of them were perfect in that saying. Kip was one to jump into a situation that might get him into trouble, and most of the time, that was the point. Griff was more cautious, and someone that never took chances that he didn’t have to. Kip supposed it was because of his family, namely his brother. James had been a troublesome person since he’d been born, and was forever taking chances on things that were better left alone. And having Griff around just made it clearer, to anyone who was around them for very long, just how horrific James was.

They were standing outside the castle walls when they sat down to watch the heat dance off the top of the turrets. It really wasn’t much to see, not out here, but the glow
and ebbing of the castle walls from hot to cooler was a beautiful sight to behold. Neither of them said much as the darkness spread over the lands, with only the lights from the stone in front of them to light the way. Kip asked Griff what he’d found out about James. “He’s been around hurting women again. And he had my mate for a time as well. He’d not raped her, thankfully for him, but she’s been hurt. I have her at the house now, as safe as I can make her. But she doesn’t trust that James and I are two different people yet, so I’ve introduced her to the staff and told her that I’d return. James now looks for her, thinking to take all that she has and make it his own before he kills her. Or before he would have tried to kill her.” Kip had heard from others how sadistic James was. And that he never left a woman—or man, for that matter—in one piece if he had the time to make them suffer in horrific ways.

“My mate, she’s a faerie of some considerable age. But her magic has been depleted by trying her best to stay away from James and heal herself. Right now I have Bud working with her to get her wounds healed.” “Does James know that it was you who bought the family home?” Griff nodded with a large grin. “I wish I could have been there when you told him. I can only imagine what he had to say about that. I’m sure that he wasn’t particularly nice about it.” “No, not even close to it. He wants me to give him money. Or gems. I told him that I wouldn’t, thinking, and rightly so, that he’d only be back for more and more.” Griff looked at the castle while he continued. “He killed our father and mother. I don’t know how it happened with Mother, but Dad had his head removed, and James left him for the buzzards to feast on. Had I not come along, I have no idea what might have happened to his body.” Kip told him what he’d heard about James. It wasn’t as if he’d been spying on him, but Griff had asked him to keep an eye out for him and anything that he might know of women he might have harmed.

And there had been plenty over the ensuing years. James was making quite a name for himself when it came to his murderous ways. “There are four women that I know of for sure that he’s killed. For two of them I’ve compensated their families, and the other two, their entire families were killed as well. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but he’s wanted by the council as well. Why they’ve not found him yet is beyond me. It’s not as if he is keeping himself hidden away.” Griff nodded and told him that he’d pay Kip back for the other families. “No need for that, Griff. You would and have done the same for me. Not for a death, but in helping me get back up on my feet.” “You’re my friend, Kip. Forever and a day will you have a friend in me as well. But with James…. The council has contacted Danburn about him. He only came to me yesterday about it. I’m aware of James’s misdeeds, but not all of it, apparently. He’s been on a murderous streak for the last few months. And I’ve been given permission to take care of him, anyway that I feel necessary.” Kip whistled.

“Yes, you can well imagine the ways to rid myself of him too. Except for the promise I made.” “Your mother, do you think he actually killed her? I mean, she was a very powerful dragon on her own. But she was also one of the founding women of the set of bylaws.” Griff said that there was no other explanation for where she might have gone. Her body
had disappeared. “Yes. There is a rumor that she was so heartbroken that she died just to be with her mate. There is a faerie garden that is hers and his as well. I have seen it.” “As have I. The faeries about, they’ve made sure that it hasn’t been discovered by anyone with ill intentions. And yes, that would include James. Some think that he would rob their graves just to be able to take what doesn’t belong to him.” Kip knew that as well. “Did you know that he has made it his business to find where there are faerie gardens and destroy them? He doesn’t even have to know the person there, he just destroys everything about it. I cannot believe at times that we’re from the same parents. The only thing I can figure that’s going to stop James is someone to kill him.

But it can’t be me.” “I know about blood promises, Griff. I myself had to promise that I’d not harm anyone in my family as well.” But his promises were not made between him and his parents, but him and Danburn. And Kip was sure that if it came down to it, Danburn would allow him to do whatever was necessary to end their reign of terror. Starting on the lawns as the sun was coming up around them, they burned most of it away because of the neglect. Kip thought about all the things he’d have to do to bring the house back to its former glory. First and foremost, he was going to find someone to help him with putting a ward on the place, to not only keep the vermin away, but his family as well. Laughing to himself, he thought they were just as much vermin as any other animals that could breach his home. By the time daylight was fully making itself known to them, he and Griff had burned away all of the fallen trees and pulled what the brownies could use to one side. There wasn’t as much as he’d hoped, but it was there for them to use however they wished. Kip owed a great deal to all the creatures of the lands. ~*~ Em woke up and looked around. The man, her mate, had brought her here several hours ago, and now that she was in a place that she could not only rest but heal, she wondered what he’d want in return. Everyone, to her anyway, wanted something for the smallest of deeds they did for you. This man, related to the horrid James, would be no better. The door opened just as she was getting up, and she stared at the woman standing before her.

Em dropped to the floor when she realized that she’d been rude in her greeting. The laughter that came from the beautiful woman had her peeking up to see what had been so funny. “Please don’t do that. It makes me feel silly, and I’m sure that having your bottom up in the air like that isn’t the least bit comfortable to you either. I do envy you being able to do that, however. Feeling like an overgrown elephant doesn’t give me the agility that I once had.” Em looked at her while sitting on her knees. “Come now—you’ve been hurt, and I don’t stand on ceremony when you’re family. And you are, as Griff’s mate.” “I know his name, but I’m not going to be the mate to a sadistic bastard. If it’s all the same to you, now that I’m better healed, I’ll just leave.” The woman, the queen of dragons, sat down on the chair that was by the bed. When asked to have a seat as well, Em wasn’t sure what to do.

“Please, have a seat and we’ll get to know each other.” She had no choice but to sit on the side of the bed, trying her best to keep her head lower than the queen’s. “Don’t do that. Don’t think that you are less than myself when I’d like nothing more than for us to be friends. What’s your name? I forgot to ask Griff when he told us that you were here.” “I’m Emerald of the Water. My family dates back more years than could be counted by any human. You’re the queen of dragons, mate to the king, Danburn.” The woman laughed and told her that was her. But for her to call her Kendrick. “I cannot do that, my lady. Even with you saying that you wish us to be friends, I’ll not breach protocol and be so familiar with you.” “All right. For now, anyway. I’ve come to talk to you about Griff and his brother James. I wasn’t even aware, to be honest, that he had a brother, much less a twin. I’m to understand that they look like the same person. And other than James being so heavy, there’s no way you can tell them apart. However, from what I’ve been able to find out, that is where the resemblance ends. They’re as different as night and day when it comes to temperament and kindness.” “So you say. I spent two days with James, and I can tell you that there is not another person like him, thankfully.

” Em watched the other woman and knew that she was breeding—the size of her belly made her think that she was close, too. She wondered if she knew that she was having a girl, but didn’t say anything—it wasn’t any of her business. “The other man, he said that his name was Griffith. Is this his home? He told me that he was bringing me here to heal, but that’s all I know.” “Yes. This is his home. And he’s away right now helping Kip. Griff asked me to come by and see if you needed anything. And since he knows what you are, he’s asked that I tell you that the lake nearby is there for you to use. Danburn had the lake made so that his dragon could swim in it without any troubles. It’s very deep, from what I’ve been told. But I do know that it will hold his dragon, so you should have no problems with it.” “I will need to submerge myself to heal completely. What sort of tax will I need to pay to be able to use the king’s lake? I have little money with me, and nothing to show for my life here on this earth.” Kendrick told her that it was there for her to use. “For free? I doubt that you believe that either. Everyone wants something.” “Not here we don’t. And especially not family. You’re going to have to learn to trust us, Em. We have nothing but your goodwill in mind when we offer you something. I’m not sure why you’re so hard on us when you’ve only just met us. However, I’d very much appreciate it if you didn’t lump all of us in the same category as you have James.” Her temper was showing, and Em had a feeling that it wasn’t often that she lost it. “Now, we’re going to get you dressed, unless you can do that on your own.” “I can. I have magic to keep myself safe.” Kendrick nodded and stood up. “I don’t want to be here, my lady. James will find me, and I will not subject myself to his kind of…to him at all.”

“I don’t know him, as I have said. But Danburn does, and his hatred of the man is enough for me to dislike him too. I know that James is around, and that he’s not a dragon. But as far as what he’s done, as I said, I don’t know yet. There wasn’t time for me to do a complete search of him and his trouble. But you can trust me to know that before he comes sniffing around here again, I’ll be better prepared for his ass.” Em didn’t want to like this woman, didn’t trust her either. But she had a feeling that she would get to the bottom of anything she set her mind to. “You should meet the staff here. I know that you’ve talked to Bud, but there are many more here that are excited to meet you.” “I have nothing to offer them.” Kendrick asked her what she thought they’d need from her. “I don’t know. A lady of the house? A person who might know how to have a staff? I’ve been on my own longer than you’ve been around.

Not to say that I’m insulting you, never that. But I don’t know how to be a proper lady to a house like this. Nor to a man such as Griff. I’m just a faerie.” “Just a faerie? I don’t know you well yet, but I have a feeling that you are no more just a faerie than I am just a woman.” Kendrick stood up and Em dressed, then did the same. Taking her cues from the other woman, Em dressed in jeans and a large T-shirt. No shoes, however. Em didn’t care for them. “Now, I’ve heard from Griff. He’s on his way back here from helping Kip. Griff also said that he’s not seen James around, so you might be all right to venture out if you wish, but not too far. I guess he no more trusts James than you do.” “He tried to rape me. James did, I mean. He’s not a person that I’d be around at all if I could help it. You should also take it easy. He’ll harm you and your child if given the chance.” Kendrick turned to look at her as they were going down the stairs.

“It was more than that, a great deal more, but I knew that as soon as he was finished with me, he’d murder me. That day wasn’t one of the days when I’d gladly have that happen.” “You wish to die other days?” Em saw no reason to lie to her, not that she could anyway, so she nodded at her. “I see. And this day, is it a good day or one that I have to watch out for you?” “I don’t appreciate you making fun of me. I don’t want to be around most days. It’s difficult to be what I am and have to deal with the shit that comes along all the time.” Kendrick said nothing. “I need to get out of here. I don’t want to be here any longer than I have to be.” “I’m sorry that you thought I was making fun. I wasn’t. I can understand completely how down you can be. I was for most of my life before meeting Danburn. I had a sister and a mother that were as bad, I think, as James is. My mother shot me in the head and left me for dead, and then couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t help her and Louise when I was put in foster care to heal.” Em felt terrible for being so short with her and said as much.

“It’s all right. How would you have known? But you have to trust me when I tell you that we’re all here for you. All of us.” “To what point? I mean, what will you want from me in exchange? I have nothing, as I have said, but my magic. And while it’s considerable, it’s not much in comparison to what dragons might have. Especially dragons that are the king and queen of their
kind.” Em went down the rest of the stairs and turned to look at the younger woman. “I afraid that whatever Griff might want from me, I won’t submit to him. I’m my own person, and he’ll have to deal with that.” “I have no idea what this conversation is about, but you’ll never have to submit to anything that you don’t wish to. I’m not my brother.” Em turned to look at the man as he stood in the doorway to the other part of the house.

“My name is Griffith Alexander Farley, the fourth Earl of Alexander’s Folly. The Duke of Winebarger and Baron of Windemere Castle. I’m a dragon of good standing, and have always been. I’m not my brother.” “So you say. But how would I know that?” She felt rather than saw Kendrick leave them. But Em was going to make a point and it wasn’t going to be nice. “You have a lot of titles. You seem to be very proud of them. However, you’ll find that I could care less what you have attached to your name. I only care what you think you’re going to be doing to me.” “Do to you? Why, nothing that you don’t want. As I have said to you repeatedly, I’m not James. He’s a sadistic fuck that I have hated most of my life. He killed my parents without regard to what they were to us, simply because he could. He has murdered and taken anything that he wanted since we were children. He thought that as the first born, by only mere minutes before me, that he should have anything and everything that he wanted. And if he didn’t get it in a conventual way, he’d take it, killing whatever got into his way when he did.

” He took several steps toward her, and Em lifted her chin and didn’t move. “I’ve spoken to him about you. Or he has told me that you’re his mate and that you’ve escaped. He has no idea that you’re here, and this household will make sure that he doesn’t.” “You’re the second born? And you’re a dragon? How did that happen? He should have been given your parents’ all. No matter what he is.” Griff told her that he didn’t know, but perhaps the fates knew what sort of person James would turn out to be. “Perhaps. But I still don’t trust you. And more than likely never will. I’m very sorry for that. But I want you to know from the start my feelings on this. I might be your mate and I may have to stay here, but you’ll never own my heart. Nor my body, even if you use it.” He pulled her body to his. His grip was tight, but not painful. It was like he was possessing her in some way. When he said her name, gently, like a caress, she put her hands to his chest to push him away. But touching him, she could feel his heat, his magic, as it blanketed over her like the sun did when she had a chance to be out in it in the early morning. “I have no wish, none at all, to take anything that you aren’t willing to part with. That would include your body.” She struggled and he held her tighter. Em could feel his erection and stopped moving. “My body is reacting to how lovely you are. That you belong to us, my dragon and me. But there isn’t any way that I’d take from you, not with your heart as broken as it is. I promise you this, Em. You’re as safe with me as you would be with your own mother, if she is as kind as you are.”

He let her go and took a step back. Em was slightly unsteady on her feet, but held onto the table that was just behind her. Watching him, she could see the struggle he was having too. Whether it was from wanting to take her, his anger, or something else, she couldn’t tell. But when he turned and made his way back the way he’d come, Em held tighter to the table so that she’d not fall on her face. “Christ.” That about summed it up, she thought. She was mated to a dragon—a very strong and old one. And his brother was out there, trying his best to take her and then kill her. Em sat down on the floor and called out to her own faerie. Sunny came to her immediately. She needed the strength that the small faerie would give her, and closed her eyes when her magic healed all her wounds but the deeper cut on her leg. It was painful, but not nearly as much as her heart was broken right now. She thought about leaving—just disappearing into the outside and hoping no one would find her. But she also knew that once she left there, Griff would find her. And while she didn’t think that he’d hurt her for leaving, she just didn’t know. He was, as she thought, a dragon with considerable strength, and not one to fuck with. Getting up, she made her way in the direction that Griff had taken. It led her right to the kitchen, the heart and soul of any home that a dragon had. Sitting down when she was asked, a large platter of greens and flowers was set in front of her.

Griff was having a sandwich as large as her arm, and a salad as well. Picking up the fork to fortify herself with her meal, she kept a careful eye on her host. Em didn’t smell poisons or any other kind of mixture to make her ill, but she was very cautious as to what she put in her mouth. The salad was good, just the right mixture of different greens with a beautiful array of edible flowers. It wasn’t until she was finished that she realized that he was staring at her. Pushing her plate away, she stared right back. “I’ve some news if you’d like it.” Em asked him what it was about.

“You and James. Mostly him and what he’s saying about you. He is spreading the word that you’re his mate and that the two of you had a tiff—his words, not mine. No one is saying anything. Not that they knew you were here, but Danburn is making sure that everyone knows that James is trouble and they shouldn’t interact with him. Also, he’s asked that everyone go around in pairs or more so as not to be a target before he can be caught. I’m to understand from some of his other victims’ families that it matters little to him whether you’re male or female.” “That’s right. If he’s around, why is no one catching him? It would seem to me that this is an easy catch. Or am I wrong about that?” He said that she wasn’t. “Then why is he still on the streets?” “He’s not a dragon.” She started to ask him what the hell that meant when it occurred to her. “I can see by your face that you get it. There is not one group that wants to take responsibility for his actions. The dragon council knows that he is the son of a dragon, but he’s not one. The paranormal council won’t touch him for the same reasons. Everyone wants him put away, but no one wants to do it. I call that lazy, but then that’s just me.”

“And what happens when he kills again? Will someone step in then?” Griff shrugged. “You don’t care if he kills again, or you don’t care who takes him away? I know that he’s your brother. Is that the reason why he’s still out there terrorizing people?” “I care very much if he kills again. But I cannot, for personal reasons, do anything about it. And I washed my hands of James long ago. Just after our mother was presumed dead by his hand. Would I like to have him killed? Yes, with all my heart.” Em asked him what had happened to his mother. “My mother was fed iron every day for several weeks. He admitted that, in addition to admitting that he killed our father. James removed our father’s head one afternoon when our father refused to turn the family fortune over to him. As you can well imagine, he’s not welcome around here or anywhere that he might put his hat.” Em started to tell him that she’d gladly kill James when Griff suddenly stood up. She did as well and waited for him to tell her what was going on. As he rushed to the door, he told her not to leave the house, that James was nearby. Sitting back down, she had to wonder what James had done now.

 

 

 

Colton By Kathi S Barton Release Day & Giveaway

 

 

 

Hailey Whitehead was on the trip back home and everything was going as planned until a brief stop for lunch changed everything. The guy came into the diner waiving a gun and shouting orders and Hailey shot him.

Hailey knew what would come next, so when the cops arrived, she was on her knees with her pistol dangling from one finger and her permit to carry in the other hand. What she hadn’t counted on was an overzealous cop cuffing her too tight and leaving her on her own for far too long. By the time Jules Stanton discovered her predicament, she had nearly bled out.

Wyatt had performed the surgery on her wrist and he was worried that she would lose the use of her hand. He asked Dane to help her out with a few drops of her blood, but that didn’t go as planned either. Haylie had an unexpected reaction to Dane’s blood, and when she woke up, not only was she healed, she was no longer entirely human.

She was having the worst week of her life, and the Stantons “helping” her was only making things worse. She just wanted them to leave her alone. Now Colton, another Stanton, was telling her that she was his mate? The last thing she needed was a man ordering her around. Not no, but hell no!

 

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Dane had no idea who she was. She’d been shot and couldn’t even remember who she was hiding from. All she did know was she needed help, and when Julian Stanton found her, he took her to his family.

Brayden Stanton was just tired of everything. It was time to leave Africa and go home to family. He called his dad to tell him that he was fed up with the job and he was on his way home, and he was bringing a fiancée with him. She wasn’t his mate, but he was going to make it work. He realized his mistake the moment he proposed.

Danger comes at every turn. The women in Brayden’s life are surrounded with it. Both are lethal, but one has Braden’s heart from the beginning. The question is, can the family survive it?

 

 

Being a country lawyer was something Christian Stanton had always wanted to do. Taking a client he really didn’t want to represent was not what he had in mind.

Allie had been hired to teach the Stanton men hand to hand self-defense. She loved her job and was quite good at it. She knew about shifters, but had never really worked with them before. And when the big cat shifted into a very naked man proclaiming to be her mate, Allie wanted nothing to do with him.

When it came to Allie, Christian was in big trouble. She was no pushover and the sooner he figured that out the better off he’d be….

 

 

Julian Stanton was eating breakfast and rethinking his life as a PI when a stranger walked into the diner looking for Tess O’Rourke. Julian felt the hackles rise on his neck. He wanted to take his gun out and blow this guy’s head off for no apparent reason other than he didn’t like him. He’d never had an instant dislike for a person before. He didn’t know who Tess was, but he was going to make sure this stranger didn’t find her.

Tess was at her wit’s end. Dexter had once been her best friend, now she couldn’t get far enough away from him. He was everywhere, attacking her at every corner, emptying her bank account, and now he was after her baby daughter, Ruby. Only the Lord knew what he’d do to the baby if he got his hands on her.

Sent by his parents to help, Julian was to be Tess’s escort to the family home for dinner. The hotel was no longer safe since Dexter had found her there too. When she opened the door, she shoved the most precious squalling baby girl into his arms that Julian had ever seen. And when the woman walked by him, her scent hit him like a brick.

The job went from a favor to personal in the blink of an eye, and Julian would protect the girls in his life with his own if necessary.

 

The Stanton Pack
Brayden http://amzn.to/2nzwIdz
Christian http://amzn.to/2gUfYgI
Julian  http://amzn.to/2GIKgMS

 

 

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Hailey had a hundred and fifty or so miles to go today, but she had to rest. Even having help, loading the furniture had exhausted her. But she’d be home after lunch tomorrow. Or at least to the Stanton house. She looked over at David when he yawned. “Not such a glamourous thing, helping people out, is it?” He grinned at her. She had come to like the kid after the four days they’d spent together.

“I’m not sure about you, but I need a nice nap and some food. Not necessarily in that order either. How about you?” “I could eat. You were telling me about the wolf pack that is going to take me in. Do you think they’ll accept me?” She said sure—if not, they’d eat him. When he laughed, she did too. “They won’t, right? Eat me, I mean.” “Not if you don’t act stupid. And you don’t strike me as being nearly as stupid as your father.

” He nodded but didn’t laugh like she’d thought he might. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make fun of your father like that.” “No, It’s all right. I think he’s stupid too. I was just thinking about how much he hates my sister, Ray. Her name is Rachel, but no one calls her that but Grandma.” He looked out the window, and she knew that he might be hurting. “The last time I saw my dad, he held me to his body with a knife to my throat to make Ray give him money. She did, and then had him arrested. The courts said that I could be with her and not my dad. My mom—she’s dead now—she was a lush—Grandma called her that. She was drunk too much to care if I was hurt or not. As you can imagine, I’ve not had a good childhood. And don’t get me started on my aunt—she’s my dad’s sister.

She’s fucking scary, pardon my language.” “That’s rough. My parents split up when I was just a kid. Back then it was just me and my brother, Pete. His real name is Peter, after my dad, but he hates when I call him that.” She laughed. “But I have two half-brothers and a half-sister from my mom. When it got to be too much with me living there too, I went to stay with Dad. Pete had already moved out by then.” None of that was true, she thought. Yes, she had a stepfather and the siblings, but she didn’t care for any of them at all. And she’d not left, she’d been kicked to the curb. But telling people the truth made them act funny around her. “My sister, Ray, she’s really super nice. And she takes good care of me. And Grandma when she was alive.

There was always money in the bank for us to use for food, bills, and stuff. I don’t know what we would have done without her.” Hailey asked him if he was ready to go eat. “I sure am. I think I could about eat a horse.” She was still laughing with him when they entered the restaurant. Her rig was parked in the lot and locked up tight. Also, and she’d not realized this when they started out, some of the pack was with them at all times. While she didn’t mind the extra security, she wondered if it was necessary. Hailey asked them if they wanted to join her and David.
“No, ma’am. We’re just fine. It might be better if we don’t let people know that we’re together. Might keep you and the boy safer.” She didn’t know what that meant about being safer, but nodded when he looked at David. “Thank you, though. It was nice of you.”

David was hungry. But then, even when he wasn’t that hungry, as he said, he could still out eat her. When he polished off the third hamburger and slurped the rest of his shake down, she asked him if he had hollow legs. His grin had her thinking that in a few years, women were going to be all over him. Even now, at sixteen, she thought he might be having some fun with it. “My grandma used to say the same thing about me having hollow legs. I loved her so much. She was kind and knew all sorts of stories that made me laugh.” She could see that he was still hurting from her passing. Hailey let him mourn her. She had no idea how to comfort someone when their relatives passed away. She didn’t have any other than her dad and brother that she’d even shed a tear for. “What do you do? Or are you a trucker all the time?” “I was when I was going to college—grad school. It was a way for me to make some money and pay for school too. Sometimes I’d miss a class or two, but I’d make it up. My mom didn’t have any money for that, after she had her own kids to raise, as she called my step family.” She was the one that looked out the window this time, thinking of the last time she and her mom had spoken. “I kept up my license in the event I’d have to do it again for some money. And so I have it. I work with my dad mostly, in the shop. We’re outfitting a Mustang, the two of us.”

“That’s cool. My grandma had this Model T. She gave it to Colton too. I guess he’s going to drive it back with him when they return. He let me drive it around the yard, then on the road for a little ways. It was amazing. And we laughed so hard. How much more do you have to go and get for them?” The change in subject was something that she was getting used to. He could change it quickly too. Hailey told him that this was the last pickup as far as she understood. “Your grandma’s house is probably torn down by now. The farmer that bought it, he wanted to get it planted soon. Your sister, Ray, what’s the beef between her and your dad?” He said that he didn’t know. That they were forever fighting. “Yeah, he doesn’t strike me as the friendly type.” “Ray told me that you hit him in the face. I wish I could have seen that.” She laughed with him. “He hurts me when he finds me. Then he makes me call Ray-Ray and tell her what he’s done. I don’t know why he’d do that. My sister would come and get me, take me to the hospital, then to a hotel for the night. After a while she got to keep me. My grandma said I could stay with her, she’d enjoy the company. And that she’d never tell Dad that I was there. Don’t you think that’s about the saddest thing in the world? To have to hide from your own dad?” “Yes, but now you’re safe, and that’s all that matters, right?” He said that he guessed so. “All right. Do you want anything else? Or have you filled both legs up now?” He was still laughing when they were headed to the cash register.

Just before they were paying, Hailey looked up to see a man in a hoodie as well as a face mask entering the restaurant. It was fucking the last couple of weeks in June and hotter than hell, she thought. Hailey told David to get behind the counter. As soon as he and the cashier were down and out of sight, the man in the mask started shooting up the ceiling. Hailey stayed by the counter. She wasn’t going to move until David was safe and the man either dead or gone. Whatever he did, she had a feeling he was going to die unless he killed her first, which with her luck was a good possibility. When the robber looked at her, because she was sure that the cash was what he was there for, she smiled at him. He cocked his head and told her to go to the back of the restaurant with the rest of them. “Nah, I don’t think so. I just want to pay my bill here and leave. If you have a problem with that, we can discuss it, but I don’t listen to people just because they say so.” He pointed the gun at her head and she smiled at him again. “Killing me won’t get you fuck, buddy, but a world of hurt.” “You think so? And what makes you so powerful that you can argue with a man with a gun?” She told him. “You want me to believe that you have some wolves in here? Right, lady. Get the fuck to the back of this place with the rest of the fuckers, and then you can go about your fucking way.” “You like that word, don’t you? I met another man that liked to use it. It didn’t do him much good either. I hit him in the face when he tried to give me shit.” He frowned harder, and she smiled at him again. Hailey didn’t so much as look at the two men behind him. But something must have spooked him because he turned. That was all that she needed, a moment to take action. Hailey reached for her own gun and fired three times when he shot at one of the men who had changed to a wolf.

When the gunman fell to the floor, she stood there for several seconds while her heart started to calm. Then she leaned over the counter and told the woman back there to call the police. “Tell them that there was an attempted robbery and that the robber is dead. Shot by one of the patrons.” She said that they wanted her name. “I don’t know. A good citizen? See if they buy that.” Looking at the two wolves, she told them to get the hell out. When they were gone, she went to the back of the restaurant to see if the people there were all right too. None of them had been hurt, but they did thank her many times. Hailey wondered why there seemed to be so few when she’d thought the place was busy, but was too hyped up to care. David came to her then and hugged her tightly. Hailey hadn’t realized how much she needed that. The police arrived with a lot of noise and lights. When they came in the door, she was already on her knees with her gun out on one finger. In her other hand she had her license to carry. But that didn’t stop them from cuffing her and sitting her on the curb in front of the small restaurant. David was allowed to sit by her, but he wasn’t to touch her. She was fine with that, and told him that he needed to call his sister.

“She might see this on the news, and we
don’t want her to worry when there is no reason for it. Use the phone in my truck, and make sure you tell her that you’re fine about a dozen times, all right?” When he left her, with a police escort to her rig, she didn’t move when the ambulance showed up to take the body. She had shot him three times, point blank; Hailey didn’t think he was going to suddenly rise up and shoot anyone else. So taking him to the hospital seemed sort of dumb. But she wasn’t in charge, so she sat there until they came to talk to her. “The other people in the place, they said that you kept him busy so that he’d not notice them leaving the back way.” She said that she’d not known that they were leaving, but had noticed that there had seemed to be more people when they’d entered. “You saved their lives. You know that, don’t you?” “Nah, he was just here to rob the place.” She looked up at the cop who had come out to talk to her.

“He was, right? Only there to rob the place? Come to think of it, he never mentioned the cash register like I thought he would have.” “No, that wasn’t his motive. We found a note on his person that said that he wanted to go out with a bang, and that he was going to out-kill—if you can believe that—what his own father had done to put him in prison. I think he missed his daddy.” That sort of news did nothing to help her hold on to her lunch. “You all right? You’re looking sort of green.” “Such a charmer you are. Fuck no, I’m not all right. I just killed a man.” Another man came to stand by the first cop, and she wondered what fucking branch he was from, dressed in a pair of jeans and a shirt that had seen better days. She frowned when he smiled at her. She wasn’t charmed by him either. So far there had been DEA, FBI, as well as the locals. She had no idea what the fuck was going on. The second man stood over her when the cop left. “My name is Jules Stanton. I was hanging around here with a buddy of mine when he got the call. I’d like to ask you a few more questions if you don’t mind. Just to help out.” She asked him to repeat his name. “My name is Julian Stanton, but I go by Jules. Why?” She peered up at him and laughed. “I don’t suppose you’re a doctor, are you? Never mind—why wouldn’t you be? Are you perhaps related to—let me think of their names. Oh, right—Colton Stanton, Levi Stanton, and a Wyatt Stanton? And there was a woman…Tess. She helped me find the homes that I was dropping stuff off to when I was around there.” “They’re my brothers.” He was quiet for a moment, and she figured that he was checking with them. Hailey knew that they were cougars, but she didn’t know if they were all in the same pride or pack. For all she knew, he might not live in the same area and this man had a different pride all together. “They said that you should have a young boy with you, David Spencer.” “I had him call his sister so that if this got to the news, she’d not freak out. Brother, huh? I’ve never met the other three, but I did your parents.

I had dinner with them three nights ago. I’m Hailey Whitehead. My dad runs the auto repair place in Trinway.” He told her that he’d only just gotten married and they’d been on their honeymoon
until recently. “Figures. I don’t suppose you could have them take this plastic shit off, could you? They’re cutting into my wrists and it fucking hurts.” When he cut her loose, taking a knife from his boot to do it, she saw that she was bleeding pretty good. One of the straps that held her had cut deep into her skin. She was wondering if she should have it looked at when the man noticed it and freaked out. “Holy fuck.

Who put these on you that tight?” Hailey told him to keep his pants on, the first cops on sight were shook up a little. “They should have paid attention to what they were doing and not hurt the person that kept them from having a major clean up here.” “Nothing to it.” Hailey looked at her wrist and was dizzy all of a sudden. It really was bleeding badly, but she just wrapped it up in her shirt tail. “How much longer am I going to be? I have to get some sleep, and then drive out tomorrow on the last leg of the journey to your brothers’ houses.” She was getting dizzier by the second and felt the blood soaking her shirt. Looking down at it, she realized that she might just be in trouble here. When she heard her name being said, she didn’t have the strength to even open her eyes. ~*~ Dane and the rest of the family stood up when Wyatt and his dad came from the operating room. The woman had been rushed here by helicopter, and Jules had asked that they come and care for her. When Wyatt said that she was going to make it, they all let out a breath. Dane hadn’t been this nervous in a long time.

“The strap that they had tied her with cut deeply into her skin. The poor thing was cuffed well after they had cleared her, from my understanding. But it was the clip that did the most damage to her and opened her up to nearly bleed to death. Even after her skin opened up, the clip dug in deeper and cut not just her artery, but also some muscles. She’ll be fine, but I’m worried that she’ll be unable to use her hand as well as I’d like.” Dane asked Wyatt if she could help her. She had all kinds of freaky abilities, but what she was thinking of to help the young woman was just a few drops of her blood. “I wish you would. But not a lot, okay? I don’t want her to be sprouting wings or something when all she had was a very bad cut.” “I’m not making any promises.” Dane walked down the hall with him as they went to recovery. “She saved all those people in the diner, they said, by killing the man that had come in to murder all of them. And look what was done to her. This is not right, on so many levels; you know that, don’t you?” “That’s what Julian told me too. She’s a pistol. When she was being prepped for surgery, she kept telling us that she was going to murder any mother fucker that messed up her tat. It wasn’t until we were almost done that I saw it. She’s going to be pissed off.” Dane laughed and looked at the young woman lying on the hospital bed. “David is safe, isn’t he? She asked about him several times before we got her under.” “I was going to have them take him to the pack house until we can figure out where he’ll stay. Colton said that he’d take him in as long as it was needed. That way the kid can make some extra money by helping him with the new furniture. Have you seen it
yet?” Wyatt told her that he’d not.

“Christ, it looks like the stuff was made just for that house. I mean, it’s really gorgeous.” Stepping closer to the bed, Dane looked at the woman. She was pale, but it didn’t diminish the fact that she was beautiful too. Her hair was as flaming red as she had ever seen, and her freckles—and there were a great many of them—stood out better with her being so washed out. Taking a knife from her boot, Dane made a small cut in her own finger and put it on Hailey’s lips. It was the only bit of color on her except for her hair. Nothing seemed to change about her, and Dane was worried. With the others, as soon as she gave them even a drop, they were different. Dane cut a deeper cut this time and let several drops of her rich blood drip into Hailey’s open mouth as she held it open with her other hand. Wyatt asked her what she was doing. “I don’t think it’s going to work on her.” He asked her why and she told him. “Maybe she’s not human after all. That’s the only reason I can think of that would make her immune to what I am.” “She is. When we were working on her we could smell her better than we could if she wasn’t bleeding out. She’s wholly human.” When nothing else happened, she asked Wyatt if she should give her any more of her blood. “I have no idea what she might do with what you’ve given her now. So go ahead, I guess. What can it hurt? Right?” After giving her about a dozen more drops of her blood, the monitors over Hailey’s bed started screaming.

Dane was shoved out of the way as the crash cart was brought in and they started working on her. She had flatlined. Dane wasn’t sure what she should do now. She had met the girl and liked her a great deal. Tess loved her too, as well as the rest of the family. Dane did not want her to die. When they were readying the paddles to stabilize her, the machines suddenly stopped making any noise, but her heart rate however didn’t seem to level out. She watched the monitors with everyone else. Whatever had happened, it had scared the shit out of all of them. “Is she all right?” Wyatt said that she was for now and put his fingers on her wrist to take her pulse. “Do you think that I did it? Christ, I hope that I didn’t make it worse rather than better.” “Look at her heart rate, Dane.” She did, but didn’t have a clue what she was looking for. “A normal heart rate for a female is sixty to one hundred beats per minute. But since she’s in very good shape and probably lifts weights and runs, it should be about seventy or below at a rested state. Lower if she were training.” Dane understood now and saw that her heart rate was well over two hundred. She looked at Wyatt when he turned the monitor off. Backing away from the bed with him, she was almost afraid to ask him what the fuck was going on with her. She was glad then that no one else had noticed her heartrate or that Wyatt had turned off the machine. He did explain to them that the machine wasn’t working right, and that seemed to satisfy them all. But not her. She was afraid. “She’s changed.” Dane asked him into what.

“I have no idea, but it concerns me a good bit. I’ve never met her, but I have a feeling that she is going to be very fucking pissed off. And I have no idea what to tell her when she asks, either.” Wyatt looked like
he was concerned, and she was as well. None of the others, not any of them, had reacted like Hailey had. “I’m going to sit with her for a while and send the staff away to get a break. While they’re gone I’m going to check her wrist. I have a feeling that it’s healed.” She didn’t want to stay but Dane had to know. If she had done something to this woman, she was going to be the one to tell her. Watching as the staff left the recovery room, she wondered what her own heart rate was, and nearly screamed when Brayden asked her if she was all right. Yeah, I’m fine, but this woman might want to kill me when she wakes up. After she told him what she’d done, he was quiet for a few moments. I’d feel so fucking much better if you tell me what you’re thinking. I haven’t any idea what to think, to be honest with you. I mean, she could be just about anything, right? Dane told him that she could be everything too. We all are, aren’t we? No, none of you are everything like me. You don’t have the ability to change into something without a heartbeat. You also can’t blend into the colors around you, like become invisible. There are a few other things, too, that none of you can do that I can. I’m afraid I’ve made her exactly like me. Brayden said that he still wasn’t sure what to think, and she told him that she’d talk to him in a little while. Wyatt is going to check her wound out to see if she’s healed now that his staff is gone. Brayden, I know this woman. She is going to be very pissed off when she finds out. We’ll deal with it like we do everything else. By the way, the police came by and they’re picking up her hospital tab. And the man who put the cuff like straps on her has been put on administrative leave without pay.

He nearly killed her, and they aren’t taking that too well. She told him that was what she’d do too. I understand but he can’t afford to be off work for very long. Dad is going to see if he can help out while they investigate and see if Hailey is going to press charges. If she does, then he’s done. Dane couldn’t feel sorry for the man. He had hurt Hailey badly. And even if he had put them on her when everything was going down, that was no excuse. While admitting that he might have put them on her too tightly, it didn’t negate the fact that she’d been hurt badly enough to have almost died. The man should have been paying more attention to his captive. When Wyatt was finally able to cut away the gauze and cast that was holding her arm still, she knew by the look on his face that she was healed. Taking the necessary steps forward to look, she wasn’t surprised to see that not only was she healed, but her tat, a small butterfly, was perfect as well. “Now what?” Wyatt said that he’d make arrangements to get her out of the hospital. No one needed to know about this. “She can come to our house. I’ll take care of her.” “I’d rather she went with my parents. Just because Dad can help her if something goes wrong with this. I haven’t any idea what it might be, but he’s got all that equipment in the lower levels of his house, so he could take care of her if she codes again.” Dane said that she could see that. “All right. I’m going to make arrangements here. You go out and tell them what we’re going to do. If you don’t want to mention the
blood that you gave her to them, tell me now and I’ll not mention it to the family.

Nor to the hospital staff.” “I think we’re going to have to, don’t you?” Wyatt nodded and grinned. “Christ, what the fuck are you finding so funny about this?” “She’s not my mate.” It took Dane a minute to figure out what he was saying. “If she’s one of the others’ mates, I cannot wait for them to tangle with her. The few minutes we did when she was brought in, she sounded just like you.” “Well, that’s a good thing, right?” He burst out laughing as he put on fresh gauze and the cast. She watched him as he methodically put it around her wrist and then taped it. “You think that she’ll be one of the others’ mate, Wyatt? I mean, that would be awesome, but scary too.” “I have no idea, but she’s going to be a handful. Just hearing her barking orders in here when they brought her to us, I could have sworn that she was already a part of our family.” He looked at her with panic in his eyes. “Christ, you don’t think that my mate will be a ball buster, do you?” “I hope so.” When she left him there with terror in his eyes, she was laughing until she got to the others. David was there now, and it looked as if he might have been crying. When Allie hugged him, she knew that the kid was going to be all right. Dane told them everything, including what she’d done to bring her to this point.

 

Hawkins By Kathi S Barton Release Day & Giveaway

Hawkins McCullough didn’t like his life. Army was his life, he lived and breathed it, but he wasn’t “regular” army. His life was filled with one covert mission after another and he was tired of it. He had done so many awful things in the name of “justice” that he felt he didn’t deserve to be happy. He felt broken and unredeemable.

Jamie had always loved children, and this small infant crying out to her broke her heart. These children were on their way to a baby farm and she was determined to stop this from happening. There was no way she would allow these babies to grow up the way she did, as a lab rat, not as long as she had breath left in her.

“I have to go. No, I’m going to go now. I only stuck around here to find the babies.” Lauren stepped in front of her. “Do you have a death wish? I would have thought someone with your obvious training would know not to stand in front of a dangerous bullet.”

“Is that what you are? Dangerous? I’m not so afraid of you. More that I’m afraid of what they did to you.” Jamie put up her hand and morphed it into a gun. Then a sword. And again, she turned her hand into a monster, long claws and all. “Nope, not going to work. You’re his mate, and that means something to this family.”

“Well, it means shit to me.”

Hawk never thought in a million years that he’d be happy to find his mate, nor would he have believed that she’d be more powerful than he was. Jamie was just more….

 

 

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Colin McCullough gets the phone call that all military families dread―his brother Hawkins has been shot. Colin only wants to thank Hawkins’s commanding officer for saving his brother’s life, but he can never seem to get past the guards in the hospital’s hallway to personally thank the man.

Major Lauren Burcher is all Army and head of a special task team usually sent in to clean things up. This time, her team is ambushed by friendlies, and Lauren and her best man Hawkins McCullough barely make it out alive―they were set up. Someone wants them both dead.

Another attempt on Lauren’s life in the hospital fails miserably, and when Colin scoops her up in his arms to place her back in the hospital bed, he finds a gun pointed at his forehead at point blank range. In that moment he realizes this bad-assed scary woman is his mate.

Lauren wants no part of this mate business. Relationships get messy and this jerk is bossy as hell. And Lauren doesn’t take orders…she gives them. But it will take all of them, his family and hers, to keep her and Hawkins alive…

 

 

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

 

Mackenzie’s shift at the hospital had just begun when they told her that a patient friend of hers was back in the ER and asking for her. When she entered the curtained room, the last thing she expected was for a McCullough to be sitting next to her patient. It wasn’t Hawk, thank god, but the man looked enough like him he could have been his twin. Hawkins McCullough was on her shit list, and if this man was related to him, she didn’t want anything to do with him.

It didn’t take long for Dustin McCullough to figure out that this feisty doctor was his mate. And when he found out that his brother had hurt her, it took a great deal of strength to keep his cat from killing him.

Mackenzie was at her wits end. Random attacks to her person and bullets flying had the entire McCullough family in an uproar. And just when they thought they had everything about under control, Hawkins drops a bombshell that had them all stunned.

Can Mackenzie find it in her heart to forgive Hawk before it’s too late?

 

 

Virginia is a bestselling paranormal romance author. She does much better with her stories than with people. When she’s in her “writing zone,” she won’t even eat unless her mother hands her a plate and reminds her to do so. She wouldn’t be making the trip to the McCullough’s if it wasn’t absolutely necessary. Go, see the child, make sure he has a good home. That is the plan. Simple…not.

Larson is having his own issues. Being blamed for the murder of one of his clients, which he didn’t do, has him closing up shop and laying low for a few days. His mom insists that he show up for dinner to meet their visiting guests. Larson would rather stay home, but she’d have his hide if he did.

Larson sees the beauty from across the room and makes his way to her. Before he even reaches her, he catches her scent. She is his mate. Now what is he supposed to do? He has his life just the way he wants it and a mate wasn’t figured into that equation. On the other hand, the way she flushes when she returns his stare has him thinking anything but pure thoughts. Maybe having a mate wouldn’t be so bad after all.

 

 

Boyd lost his mate before he’d really found her. He found her in college, but his studies were important too. He figured he’d have plenty of time to meet her, after his exams. But a tragic car accident robbed him of his future before it had begun…. At least that is what he had always believed.

Reilly was just trying to make ends meet. She wanted to get through the day with her slimy boss keeping his hands to himself. But when she got the call from the hospital that her dad had been in an accident, she had to go. Her boss had other ideas.

The pileup on the freeway had Boyd working overtime. All the injured had been coming into the hospital in droves. He had treated so many patients that he was just exhausted. When he stepped out for a breather, he saw her. She was the sexiest woman he’d ever seen, and when he approached her, her scent had his senses in a whirl and his cat reacted. The word mate flashed through is mind. But that couldn’t be right, it had to be lack of sleep making him think that.

 

 

McCULLOUGH’S JAMBOREE

 

 

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Jamie figured that she’d give someone ten more minutes, then she was leaving. She’d been at the hospital longer than she thought was necessary for fainting. Well, she’d really just passed out from shock, but she’d never done that before. Tossing off the cover that had been on her when she woke, she heard the baby crying so close that she ventured out of the room she’d been in and followed the sound. Her heart broke for how pitiful the tiny person’s voice sounded. There were ten babies in varying ages in the bassinets, all of them under six months old, she’d bet, and all of them asleep but the child that had her finding them. Lifting the little girl from the bassinet, she sat in the nearby rocking chair and started rocking her. “I have been looking for you for so long, I thought that I’d been mistaken about it.” Rocking a little more, the baby quieted down and stared up at her with the most beautiful green eyes that she’d ever seen.

“There is this guy here—you’ll know him as soon as you see him—who is a bully. And he’s a big hulking sort of person. Not like he’s stupid or anything—at least he didn’t sound that way. But he’s big, like that green guy that used to be on television. I know you wouldn’t know who that is, but I’m just making a reference.” The baby’s tiny hand wrapped around her finger and she smiled. Jamie loved babies—all kids really, but babies had a special place in her heart reserved just for them. When the baby’s eyes started to close a little at a time, Jamie decided to talk to her more. “When I was a little girl, I was dropped off at one of those safe places. I’m not sure why anyone would think that it was safe. I spent the next five years there, and let me tell you, it was not a place I’d go back to even on a threat of death. Then I ended up where no one should ever be allowed to stay. It was horrific, and the things they did to me were twice that bad.” Jamie heard the door near where she was sitting open and then close. “Anyway, the place. It wasn’t a baby mill like you were in, at least I don’t think so.

But a real place that unwanted children went. I say unwanted because we were told that every day—that we were there because no one wanted us for one reason or another. But the lab did. They needed me for a lot of things that I didn’t want to do. So that’s where I grew up. I think the place has shut down now. The house was a showstopper, really beautiful if a little out of date, and I loved it. Just not the people there.” She looked up when the curtain was thrown back. There stood her nemesis with a gun pointed at her again. Jamie started to stand and give him a big part of her mind when he slipped the gun back in wherever he’d gotten it from and sat down on the floor in front of her. “I thought I’d just sit here in the event you wanted to hit me again. This way I’m closer to the floor already.” She wanted to stick her tongue out at him, but knew that he’d laugh at her. “You said that your name is James. Why would anyone mistake you for a male? I’m Hawk, or Hawkins if you prefer.”
“I was a great deal younger back then, you idiot. Don’t you have someone else you can harass?

I mean, I was having a nice conversation with this little girl, and you—” “Her name is Lily, Lily Anderson. Her parents are on their way to see her. All the children have names now.” She just looked down at Lily, and her heart hurt to know that someone loved her. “Why do you think that no one loves you?” “You’re reading my mind. Why the hell would you think that isn’t rude?” He just shrugged and leaned back on his elbow, smiling at her. “What are you in here for, besides pulling yet another gun on me?” “I only pulled one out on you. The first time, it wasn’t meant for you but the guy holding you.” She rolled her eyes at him and started rocking again, anything to get the man to leave her alone. “You aren’t afraid of me; that’s a first. Usually people who see me for the first time never hit me in the face. Then you hit me in my balls too.” “Perhaps it’s because you’re nicer to others than you have been me.” Kicking his foot away from the front of the rocker, she glared at him. “I swear to Christ, you have to go away. I don’t like you one bit, and you’re taking up all my air while you’re here.”

“You’re not human.” Jamie felt every part of her body tense up. Then she looked for a way to escape. “I’m not sure what you are, but you’re not going anywhere now.” “Why is that? And let me remind you that I’ve hurt you twice now. If I want to leave, then I will. You won’t be able to stop me.” He looked at the exit door and she did as well. There were men standing in front of it, and she could tell they were armed. “You’re holding me prisoner? What the fuck for?” “They’re here for the children. And for me.” She asked him if he was going to be arrested. “You’re very defensive; anyone ever tell you that before? No, they’re not here to arrest me. They work for me. I’m considered a big deal by some people.” “Whatever.” She stood up, and he was suddenly standing too. Like he’d just willed it or something. “You’re a cat. Jaguar, I’m guessing. I could have told you that before you were shooting at me, but I was distracted. By you telling Ben to shoot me.” “That was before I knew you.” She pointed out that he didn’t know her now. “True. But I’m hoping that we can remedy that soon.” She was missing something in what he was saying, but she was too stressed to figure it out. Putting Lily back in her crib, she moved to leave the same way that she’d come in, by the back door. When she opened it up, there were three men standing there with the woman from the house. Miss Laughs a Lot. The two in uniform aimed their guns at her and she backed up a couple of steps. And right into the arms of Hawk. She struggled to get away from him, thinking that she’d be safer with the guns pointed at her, when Miss Laughs a Lot told them to stand down. No one moved. “Did you hear me, soldiers? I said to stand down.” Neither man moved, but they were looking at the man behind her. “Hawk, you’re going to lose these two idiots if you don’t make them behave around me. My word is my bond.” “Stand down.”

Both put their guns to their sides when Hawk said for them to do it with a great deal of authority in his voice. The other man laughed. Miss Laughs a Lot
didn’t seem to find it funny. Getting out of Hawk’s embrace was a good deal easier now. “They work for me and only me. This was a good test for them. Thanks, Burcher.” “It wasn’t a trial for anything, you fucking bastard. I don’t care for being ignored. Perhaps they don’t know me.” She turned to both men and they were nodding like their heads had somehow come loose from their necks. “So, you do know me. That doesn’t explain to me why when I give you an order, you don’t obey.” “They’re not dogs. Christ, you got your panties in a twist because they didn’t listen to the great Burcher, or whatever the fuck your name is? You on some power trip, or are you always a fucking cunt?” Every one of the men backed up from her and Burcher.

“You might get a lot more done if you ask politely when you want something to go your way. Like, and this is just an example, ‘Would you mind putting your guns down? I don’t want any more bloodshed—’” Jamie was lifted from the floor by Burcher. She was holding her there like she didn’t weigh a thing. Hawkins reached out to touch Lauren when the third man got right up and in his face. Jamie did the only thing she could think of before she passed out from lack of air. She shifted. Her beast roared when she told her to calm the fuck down. The people were afraid of her, that she could see, but she really didn’t care. Right now, she needed to get out of there before they spoke to someone about her. The presence of another being felt calming. Even the beast inside of her seemed to know that someone less than but like her was coming. Before the door opened, she as her beast, a great black bear—bigger than any normal—moved away from it. Whatever was coming, it wasn’t angry, but it was concerned. As soon as he walked through the door, she knew him for what he was. Not a name, but she and him had been created at the lab. When he came toward her, talking softly the whole time, Jamie whimpered. He wasn’t close to as powerful as she was, but she knew he had a great deal more than she did in knowledge of what he could do. She’d love to learn from him, but that would be dangerous. Nor could she hurt him. “Hello. I thought that all the others were found. I had no idea that you were there.” She let the bear go and stood before him. He was taller than her by a few inches, but nothing near what Hawkins was. “May I take your hand in mine?” “No. Don’t touch me.” He nodded and put his hands behind his back.

“I saw you there. In the room when I’d look around at night.” “Jon?” He looked at Hawk when he said his name. Then Jon looked at the others with a smile. The service men were guarding the door again, and didn’t look as if they gave a shit about what was going on around them. “Is she like you? Someone from the lab?” “No. She’s very different than I am. Just as dangerous, but no less hurt by the men there.” She watched Hawk when he moved to come closer to her. “I wouldn’t, Hawk. Not yet at any rate.” “She’s my mate, Jon.” No one said a word, but seemed to focus all their eyes on her. She lifted her chin and decided it was well past time for her to get the fuck out of there. “What do you mean, she’s very different than—?”

“And she’s standing right the fuck here. You are the rudest man I’ve ever had the misfortune to meet. I’m leaving here.” Jon asked her to wait. “For what? For them to call someone and tell them where I am? Thanks, but no thanks. I’ve been down that road more times than I’d like to think about. “Tell them what you are.” She looked at Jon then at Hawk. Jamie knew what a mate was, but there was no way that anyone would want her after what she’d been through. “You’d be very surprised at what these people can do for you.” “I was dropped off at the home for wayward kids when I was an infant. During my first five years, I was a troubled child.” Hawk snorted. “Fuck you. What would you have done if you became a monster that didn’t have any idea where she was? I was a bear shifter and didn’t have any idea how to control her.” She looked at the floor, anywhere but at Hawk.

“I wasn’t one of the lab rats like you were. I wasn’t a human when I was taken there at the age of five—I was a shifter, so I guess that qualified for me to be discarded when they were done with me. Taken from the home I had been in since birth. After a while they got tired of me not doing what they wanted, and I was put away to be destroyed. When I slipped out of the cage they had me in, I wandered around the building to keep up with what they were doing.” “They messed with you with drugs too, then.” She nodded at the man near Lauren. “I’m Colin McCullough. Lauren is my wife. And Hawkins is my brother. He’s Army.” “Yeah, I got that part.” Jamie ignored Hawk. She looked at Jon and spoke only to him. “They did the first experiments on me, before you were given anything. The trouble was, no one took into consideration that I hadn’t been human, so they would affect me differently than you. Second, I was a way for them to figure out if whatever they were set to give you would maybe kill you. And if it didn’t me, then they’d give it to you.” “You were five when they did this to you?” She told Jon how they’d find her every month or so then use her again. “They knew where you were at all times, I’m thinking. The men there only gave you the illusion that you were free to roam.” ~*~ Hawkins watched her. He knew as surely as he was standing there she was going to bolt. And he’d bet any kind of money that he’d not be able to find her unless she allowed it. Marking her wouldn’t do him much good either. She was just as strong, if not stronger than Jon, Hawkins would bet. “I have to go. No, I’m going to go now. I only stuck around here to find the babies.” Lauren stepped in front of her. “Do you have a death wish? I would have thought someone with your obvious training would know not to stand in front of a dangerous bullet.” “Is that what you are? Dangerous? I’m not so afraid of you. More that I’m afraid of what they did to you.” Jamie put up her hand and morphed it into a gun. Then a sword. And again she turned her hand into a monster, long claws and all. “Nope, not going to work. You’re his mate, and that means something to this family.”

“Well, it means shit to me.” Jamie looked at him before speaking again. “I’m nothing you want to fuck with or fuck. I am dangerous, and I’m not as stupid as some people may think I am. I will hurt you if you try again to detain me.” “I’m asking you to please not leave me.” She shook her head and looked at the doors again. He knew her plan to leave was rapidly coming to fruition. “I’m asking you to take a chance here. No one will be able to touch you again. I will swear this on my life.” “And you? Will you claim me? I’m guessing that’s what you think is going to happen. And you might be immortal, but removing your head will be easy enough for me.” He nodded and told her that he knew that she was stronger than him. “Hell, I’m stronger than even Jon is. Don’t you get it? I’m nothing more than a taste tester from long ago. If I lived, then they would inject the shit into him. Sometimes more than once.” “I don’t care about any of that. I was bemoaning the fact that someday my mate would come to me. Basically because of what I do. I’m not such a cup of tea either.”

He moved closer all the time, hoping that if he could touch her once, his cat would feel much better. “You know what I am. A jaguar first and foremost. My cat is pissy with me, because he too knows who you are to us.” “Again, I don’t care.” She looked at the exit then back at him just before he was able to touch her. Hawk felt himself being tossed back. Hitting the wall behind him, he braced himself for whatever came next. He was sure, too, that there would be more put upon him. Hawkins watched her while she calmed herself. She’d not lost total control, he knew that, but had punched him with magic just enough to keep him away from her. Sitting up, he sat there while the rest of them left. Even his men walked out the door. “You did that? Made them leave us?” She nodded. “And can you make me leave too? Or is it the mate thing that prevents you from making me do anything I don’t want? By the way, you’re not supposed to be able to hurt me. I guess we can chalk that up to being a falsehood.” “I can’t make you leave. Had I been able to, then you’d be gone. And no, it doesn’t have anything to do with you thinking I’m your mate.” She looked down at her arm where he’d touched her, and he could see the marks on her arm. Standing up and going to her, he asked her if she was all right. Then he pulled her arm over to have a better look at what had happened. She was burned. Like his fingers brushing over her, and that had been all it was, had caused her to be blistered and in pain. “Why did you touch me? I told you, several times, not to touch.” He let her arm go but didn’t back away this time. “I don’t want to be here.” “No, I got that.” He laughed a little, and saw a tease of a smile on her mouth. Then she became hard again. “Why did you burn when I touched you? And why not the second time that I held up your arm?” “You were intending to detain me. For lack of a better word, my programming knew that and lashed out at you. The second time you weren’t as aggressive.

I didn’t
need to harm you again.”

Hawkins nodded and touched his fingers to her cheek. “That doesn’t mean that I won’t fucking hurt you. Go away. And then I will. You’ll be much happier without me around, trust me. I know this for a fact.” “There have been others that you hurt?” Instead of answering him, she walked to the window and looked out. “I can help you. You can tell, I’m assuming, that I’m a bit more than a cat. I’m in no way as powerful as the two of you, you and Jon, but I can hold my own.” “They won’t care what you are. If you have loved ones or even if you’re an immortal. They’ll take you apart right there along with me once they figure it out.” He shivered, thinking of all the shit she’d had done to her. “I’m trying my best to save you, and you’re too dense to understand that forgetting about me will be the best thing that happens to you.” “Doubtful. I mean, I was afraid of when I found my mate. Not afraid, but concerned that I’d been too long in the military and might not be good for a woman. Hell, I’m barely good to my family on a daily basis. I can see you have no trouble putting me in my place and making sure that I understand when you’re pissed off.” She didn’t laugh like he had hoped she would. “I’m not a gentle man. I don’t know how to be romantic. I haven’t the first clue how dating works anymore. When I was seventeen I signed on to become something more. What I hadn’t counted on was Burcher finding me and recruiting me for her team.” “I’m assuming that was her last name before becoming McCullough. I’d toss her into a deep hole or cage and lock the door, but that’s just me.” He told her what her name was before. “Colonel Lauren Burcher? I knew that she was something more than just a woman. She’s a bitch.”

“Yeah, she might say the same about you. But she’d be happy with it instead of pissed off like you are.” She looked like she didn’t understand, and he’d bet she didn’t want to. “I was called Mac in the service. My family is the only people that call me Hawkins. Or sometimes Hawk when I’m not in too much trouble with them.” She didn’t say the obvious next line of “that must happen a lot then.” Hawkins realized that she was going to forever do the unexpected and not care a bit if it offended or even pissed someone off. She was a great deal like Lauren, but Jamie would be meaner when pressed, he guessed. “Why don’t you come home with me?” She turned and looked at him then. “I have a nice house. My brother helped me buy it when I was in the service.” “You still are. In the service, I mean.” He nodded, not saying anything. “I’m not going home with you. I have one that I like well enough. But you’re to stay away from me. I don’t want to get involved with you at all.” “I’m afraid it’s too late for that.” He pulled her body to him, and was surprised that he didn’t hurt her again. Pressing his mouth to hers, hoping that she’d allow him a taste of her, he moaned when she finally did. Her body fit his. When he pulled her closer, letting her feel what she was doing to him, he thought he would happily die right now the way she’d wrapped her arms
around him.

Before he could pull her up from the floor, find a hard place to lay her while he feasted on her body, she pulled her mouth away from his. “I’m sorry.” He started to tell her that she had nothing to be sorry about when she disappeared. Hawk was left holding air, and was no closer to finding anything out than he had been before. And Hawk wanted to know everything. Reaching to Burcher, he asked her if she’d do him a favor. If you’re going to ask me if I can find out something about your girl, I’m already on it. Your mate is a piece of work, by the way. She isn’t the least bit impressed with me, nor does she care that I could snap her like a twig. Hawk wisely said nothing. He was reasonably sure that Jamie could not just snap Lauren, but get rid of the body without any trouble.

There isn’t much when I do a regular search, but I’m digging. Where is she, by the way? Gone. She was here, then gone. I need to talk to Jon too. Maybe he can shed some light on things. Lauren said she doubted it. Yeah, that’s what I’m thinking too. I might have to return to Washington, but I’ll be in contact with you while I’m gone. I’m assuming that Mom and Dad know that I’ve found my mate? Yes, but it wasn’t me. I was really pissed about that too. Colin told them before I was able to. She paused for too long, but he knew better than to hurry her along. Hawk, your mate is really in the shit. She’s not just wanted by some very unsavory people, but there is a warrant out for her arrest as well. Murder and robbery. But they know her as an entirely different name. Holly Tree. Even I can tell that’s a fake, and I’m not looking very hard. I’ll need what you can find. I don’t have a clue where she is, or even if she needs a place to stay. But she’s my mate, and for what it’s worth, I’m sorry I ever doubted that I wanted one. She said that she’d have it couriered to him. Thanks. I owe you one. Never, Mac. Never that. I owe you so much, I don’t think being immortal is ever going to be long enough to pay you back for most of it. He said nothing. I’m printing it up now and making arrangements to have it brought to you. Should be there by this evening. Hawk could disappear too. He didn’t care for doing it, because when he reappeared, he had to be careful where he was landing, so to speak. But this time he had no choice. He should have been in Washington yesterday. He only had a few more missions to go before he was done with everything military. For the first time in his life, he wasn’t dreading it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Love is a risk worth taking in this sizzling romance about secrets and second chances…

Scarlett Devereaux’s life on the Gulf Coast went from riches to rags so scandalously fast that she barely had time to kiss her Jimmy Choos goodbye. Now, with a new alias (Lily Barns), a new budget (tighter than a pair of Spanx), and a new job on the vacation island of Angel Fire Falls, she’s daring to reinvent herself.

Single dad Trace Remington is devoted first and foremost to raising his young son, who has Asperger’s. With flying his floatplane and salvaging his family’s island resort too, he has time for little else. His brothers think he needs a break from his all-work-no-play lifestyle, so they goad him into action. In response to their dare, Trace asks a sexy tourist for her number, only to discover afterward that she’s the resort’s brilliant new hospitality manager.

The sparks of flirtation soon ignite into a flame too hot to ignore. But Lily and Trace both have pasts that threaten to tear them apart. Now, they’ll need to admit their secrets to each other…or risk ending their relationship before it really begins.

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Shelly Alexander’s first published novel was a 2014 Golden Heart® finalist. She is an Amazon #1 bestselling author in numerous categories, including contemporary romance, contemporary women’s fiction, and romantic comedy. Shelly grew up traveling the world, earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing, and worked in business for twenty-five years. With four older brothers and three sons of her own, she decided to escape her male-dominated world by reading romance novels…and has been hooked ever since. Now, Shelly spends her days writing novels that are sometimes sweet, sometimes sizzling, and always sassy. She lives in the beautiful Southwest with her husband and toy poodle named Mozart. Visit her at www.shellyalexander.net

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Xander Winchester Brothers By Kathi S Barton Release Blitz & Giveaway

 

Addie’s mission had been sabotaged and she’d been shot multiple times. She wouldn’t die from her wounds because she was an immortal, but she did hurt, and she needed time to heal. The Winchesters had taken her into their home while she was passed out from her injuries. Now that she was awake, she needed to leave. She was being hunted and they would all be in danger if she stayed. Xander Winchester had just received the best news. The publisher loved his book so much that they were not only publishing his book, they were offering a movie deal to boot. He couldn’t wait to tell his family at dinner tonight. The scent from the woman hit Xander hard. Her beauty was something that he’d never seen before. Even as he took a step toward her, his mind was telling him to tread carefully, while his body and wolf were telling him to go forth and conquer. He had a feeling that listening to that part of him would get him killed quicker than stepping in front of a bus. Or an entire line of them. Xander should have known better. Should have taken to heart what his mind was telling him….

 

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Caleb Winchester didn’t care for his boss, in fact he despised him. He hadn’t meant to quit that day—the words ‘I quit’ spilled from his mouth without thinking—but once said he had no regrets. He was a good ad executive, he could find another job.

Quinn Dorsey and her father, Alexander, had seen Caleb’s work and that was the artist they needed for their dog food labels. When the agency couldn’t deliver the ad campaign they ordered, and then lied about Caleb working on the project, they went looking for the man himself.

Caleb hadn’t expected his customers to seek him out, but when Alexander shows up at Caleb’s house with his daughter, Quinn, Caleb is floored—she’s his mate and she’s been marked by another alpha.

Caleb’s not going to let an alpha beat him out of his mate. This lunatic has been marking females left and right, but if Caleb claims her, he risks not only his life, but the life of his mate and family as well….

 

 

Gabriel Winchester was finally opening his own practice. After finishing the final details, and meeting his first patient, he sat back in his unfinished office and closed his eyes, just to rest them, he told himself. When he opened them, a burly stranger was there, and he wasn’t that friendly. The man was looking for a Rayne McFarland and “I don’t know who she is” wasn’t an acceptable answer, so Gabriel called his brothers through their link for help.

Rayne was on the run from her father, and knew when he caught up with her she’d be dead. Rayne could speak to the deceased and they warned her every time her father’s henchmen were near. What she didn’t count on was falling in the woods and injuring herself.

When his brother, Owen, brought the unconscious woman into his office, Gabriel’s wolf knew immediately who she was to them. Ready or not, Gabriel had a mate, and while he knew he could handle the threat to her, he wasn’t sure he could live with her ability to talk to the dead.

 

 

Clare Macintosh didn’t know what was going on. Her brother, Conrad, had been called in for a meeting and they’d already been waiting over an hour. They were leaving, they had waited long enough.

Owen Winchester had called for the meeting with Conrad. He had no idea the young man was handicapped, but what he had to show him would make his life easier, or at least he hoped so. The trunks Owen had found in the barn of his new home belonged to him. Conrad was the only living relative he could find of the previous owner. Owen was a bit surprised to find Conrad had a sister and she was his mate to boot.

All Clare wanted to do was take her brother and hide. Her parents, Con and Ava Macintosh, weren’t nice people, and neither were the people they stole from. Even though Clare had distanced herself from them, it wouldn’t stop their associates from seeking revenge. She didn’t need the handsome stranger pushing his way into her life.

 

 

 

 

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Prologue
Tyler saw his big brother coming toward him. Xander hadn’t seen him yet, which was okay with him. Xander would probably just walk away and go someplace else where Tyler wasn’t. Not just with Tyler, but everybody. He’d been like that since Wendy had died. She’d been his mate. “You gonna talk to me?” Xander stopped and said that he didn’t want to talk to anyone. “No, I guess you made that kind of clear. I’m worried about you. Everybody is.” “I’m all right. It’s a big blow to my heart, even though I didn’t know her at all.” She’d been killed when someone raided the store she’d been in with her momma, killing them both as well as several other people there. “When we were at the funeral, Dad had to help me away, do you remember that? I sort of feel like that all the time now. Broken.” “Yes, we all do.

Dad said that she didn’t suffer any. I don’t understand people, Xander. To kill anyone, that’s so sad, but to do it for nothing more than because they didn’t have the right kind of honey for his cereal is just plain stupid.” Xander sat down next to him. “I could smell her, even with all those chemicals. But I knew right then what she was to me.” “I don’t know what I’d do if that happened to me. Dad said you wasn’t taking it hard then, but you seem to be now.” Xander nodded. “I guess you had time to think on it, huh?” “Yeah. Mom and Dad, they got it right, you know that? They tell each other all the time that they love each other. I was gonna do that too.” Tyler didn’t know why people would even like a girl, much less love one, but he did agree that his parents were mushy like that. “I’ll never get to have a kid of my own either. Not that I want one right now, but I thought that someday I’d want one. A whole bunch of them that I could play with, like Dad did us.” “I don’t ever want to have any sons, Xander. Boys are all I have right now in brothers.

” Xander ruffled up his hair, like he always did. “Someday I guess I might want sons, but you guys are always being bossy and stuff. I hate that.” “We’re just trying to make sure that you do things right, little brother.” Tyler nodded and thought of all the things that had been going on of late. “You know, Mr. Cartwright, he told me that someday, I was going to think back on him and wonder why he’d been wanting to be a part of our family. I told him that I knew why. My momma baked the best pies in the world.” “She does at that. But I don’t think he does it for that reason. He’s lonely and sad sometimes, have you noticed that? Anyway, I think that he comes over not for the food, but because we’re nice to him. And he’s nice to us.” Xander laid back on the ground. “I’m about done being mopey, as Mom called me. I just had it hit me what all I was going to miss. But, I guess that’s the way the fates wanted it. Come on, let’s go and get
us some dinner. Mom said we’re having the catfish that you and Mr. Cartwright caught yesterday.” Tyler didn’t care all that much for catfish, but he knew better than to turn down meat.

They didn’t have it often—sometimes they’d go a whole week without any. But when they did have it, they ate it like it was gold filled. Being wolves, they needed it. But there was usually plenty of other stuff to go with it, and Mom always had some hot bread to fill up the voids when there were any. There might not be tonight. He’d caught ten catfish yesterday and Mr. Cartwright had caught himself a dozen, then handed them over to Tyler to give to his momma to cook up. Xander walked alongside of him, shortening his steps so that he could keep up. Tyler had all these dreams of somedays. That’s what he called his list, Somedays. Someday he was going to have it all too. Someday he was going to have a nice car. Not new—they weren’t worth the payments, Dad said. Someday he was going to own him a house. Really close to his parents, he decided just then. Someday he was going to be rich too.

Just so he could make it easier on his mom and dad. Someday, he thought lastly, he was going to meet him a nice girl, even though he didn’t like them, and have him a bunch of kids. Someday. Not now, but someday. “Do you suppose that the fates—or whatever it is that sets us up like this—you suppose that they take in account that your mate might have something happen to him or her?” There were times, like at this moment, that Tyler thought his older brother was too young for his brain. “You know what I mean, don’t you?” “Yes, I understand you. But I honestly don’t know, Xander. I mean, they know everybody’s fate. You know, that’s their name, right? I would think that they’d know that from the minute they set you up.” He didn’t think that was nice, so Tyler tried to fix it. “But I’m only a kid and you’re almost a big adult. Well, you are big. Like bigheaded. Big footed. What sized shoe do you wear now?

Or do you just go on out to the field and kick two cows in the bottom and wear them?” Tyler wasn’t stupid nor was he very fast, but they took off running as soon as his brother growled. Laughing too hard to go far, he felt his brother’s big wolf take him down and lick him all over his face. They were having so much fun, he’d forgotten why Xander had come to find him in the first place. It was dinner time. It was always nice having Mr. Cartwright over. He always brought a treat, as he called it. Sometimes it was the stuff to make ice cream. Other times it was just a big cake that had been on sale or something. Tyler thought the man was just being nice. He’d been in the store a lot with his momma and hadn’t ever seen a sale on those sized cakes. But he ate whatever it was because it was always good. “Mr. Cartwright won’t be joining us tonight, sons.” He asked his dad why not. “Well, today was the date that his wife passed on, and he goes and sits with her for a spell.” Tyler glanced at Xander but said nothing. “Why don’t we gather up some of those flowers that are gonna die anyway and take them over to her grave for him?” Caleb always had the best ideas. Tyler wished he
had one or two like he did.

“We don’t have to stay, just show him that we care that he’s hurting.” “Wonderful idea, Caleb.” Tyler wanted to kick his brother under the table, but he’d not do that again. He would make him pay later. Almost as if he knew what he was thinking, Caleb stabbed him with his eyes. Caleb was the oldest, and sometimes when he was being big brother, he’d just beat him to a pulp for the fun of it. Not really. Tyler would sort of make him mad, just to see him running after him. Caleb was the best big brother there was. They took the flowers to Mrs. Cartwright’s grave and were invited to stay by Mr. Cartwright. But Mom said they had supper on and wouldn’t be bothering him. Mr. Cartwright kissed his fingers and laid them on top of the pretty headstone that Dad had helped carve, and said he’d join them. “The time for mourning is done. I have to…. It’ll be easier with you guys around, but I have to stop acting like I’m gonna come out here and she’s going to be waiting on me.” Dad told him that they’d be powerful sorry if he went with her. Tyler had no idea what that meant, but he wisely kept his mouth shut. Grownups were touchy about death, love, and such. That night when he and Dominic were in their room, he asked him what he thought about what Xander had said—about there being someone else out there for him. Then he told him what he’d told his brother. “I think that’s what Mom would call you being insensitive, moron.

” He asked him how. “Because that was the time when a little fib would have made him feel better. You know, like when Mom asks us if she looks tired and she does, but we all tell her that she’s right pretty.” “But that’s not the kind of question that Xander asked me. He wanted to know the truth.” Or he had thought he did. “I did try and tell him that I was only just a kid. And him being an almost adult.” “There. See? You did it twice. You called him almost an adult. He’s not an adult and saying almost only makes it sound like you don’t think he’s going to ever be. I swear, there are some times, Tyler, that I think you were born under a rock or something.” He pointed out to his brother he was being insensitive too. “Yeah? Well, think how that made you feel.” For the rest of the night he did think about how it made him feel. Nothing. They were always calling him a moron, or something like that. Instead of thinking of it as a bad thing, Tyler thought of it as a learning curve. Yeah, he did learn that he was a might on the insensitive side. But his brothers were older than him, except Dominic, and the two of them needed to grow some. Not that he was sure what they were supposed to grow, but he’d heard that at the high school a few weeks back and was glad now that he’d found a way to use it. But, like the rest of them, he’d never say something like that, or curse in front of their mom. She was scary when she was upset about something.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elliot The sons of crosby by Kathi S Barton Release Day & Giveaway

 

 

Elliot knew the little boy, Cody, was in trouble. When he found the boy hiding out in his greenhouse, he could see that he was starving and battered. The boy’s little dog didn’t look like he was faring any better. When the boy’s father, Duncan, busted down the door of the greenhouse, Elliot had had enough.

Hannah didn’t have much use for her idiot brother, Duncan. And when she heard her brother had murdered his wife, and her nephew Cody was on the run from his father, she wasn’t surprised. She was surprised, however, and elated to find out her sister, Julia, was alive. Julia’s slimy ex-husband, Nathan, had Hannah believing Julia was dead.

Elliot was sent to bring Hannah back. Nathan had learned that Julia had left town and taking Hannah would be his leverage to make Julia do as he wanted. Elliot knew Nathan was on his way, and they had to hurry to keep Nathan from finding her. What he wasn’t expecting to find was his mate.

Hannah had had enough of men telling her what to do and finding out Elliot was a vampire didn’t make the situation any easier. He would take it slow and tread softly, or she would stake him, simple as that.

Finding out Nathan and Duncan had banned together spelled trouble for everyone. Even though Hannah was now immortal, Elliot still worried about her because she could still be hurt, and no one touched his mate if they wanted to live.

 

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Spencer Graham had been trying to get a hold of Jason Crosby for weeks, but he didn’t seem to answer emails, mail or the telephone. She had an idea that would make them a great deal of money, but she needed him to invest in her project before it was too late. So, barging into his home at 4 a. m. was the only solution as far as she was concerned. She didn’t, however, expect him to answer the door naked and proposition her as soon as she walked in the door. Spencer did the only thing that came natural to her, she knocked him on his ass….

Jason Crosby was nearly two thousand years old, and in all his days as a vampire, he’d never seen anyone quite like her, not that he thought that was a good thing. He didn’t. She was his mate, and he was only going the tolerate her because he had to….

 

 

 

 

Chase Crosby didn’t know what he wanted right now. He was trying to get a grip on who his new mate was. He was told she was an ice dragon, but that wasn’t right either, she was a protector of the ice dragons. He had so many questions, and all he could do was sit there while she was locked away in his freezer to recover from her injuries.

Emerald was a warrior, and she had no idea what she was going to do with a mate. Even though the vampire appealed to her, she was worried the people chasing her would hurt him or his family to get to her, and she couldn’t allow that.

A Homeland Security Agent had gone rogue and he was after Emerald. He didn’t know exactly who or what she was, but he was going to prove she’d been around for centuries, and it didn’t matter who he had to go through to get to her.

 

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Cody watched his meal go around and around in the microwave. He didn’t remember the last time he’d had a hot meal before coming here to stay, much less enough to fill his belly. Looking at the little table that Elliot had brought for him to use, he thought of all the times he’d sat at his own table, his mom sneaking bits of meat to him so that he’d have some too. Watching his dad have a full meal while he was made to watch him had made Cody all the hungrier. His mom was dead, and he knew not only who had done it, but also how. Cody tried really hard not to think about that day and the things he’d had to do afterwards. But there were times, like today, that they would come to his head and he’d not be able to think of anything else. The sound of a great crash had him turning off the microwave and grabbing the little phone that had been left for him to use. He had no idea what had caused the sound, but he’d rather be hidden than not. No telling when his dad might think to look in here for him. The greenhouse, he knew, wasn’t all that secure. “Boy, where the fuck are you?” His best friend and dog Buster came to hide with him when he heard his dad’s voice. Buster had been hurt by him too. “I’m talking to you, shit for brains, and you’d better answer me.” Cody opened the phone and looked at the numbers there. He was crying now, and he wasn’t sure he was going to be able to press the right buttons. For some reason, he knew that he’d only have a single chance at calling for help, and he pressed one of the buttons. “What the fuck do you want? Its five in the morning, moron.” He didn’t know the woman’s voice that answered, but he didn’t care. “Did you hear me, fucktard?” “I’m at the greenhouse. He’s here.” The woman changed her voice after that, and he could hear her talking to someone else. Cody was afraid that he had a wrong number and tried again to tell her how scared he was. “He’s here, and I don’t wanna die.” “You’re not. Just stay hidden, Chase and I are coming.” He didn’t know who that was but figured that if the number was in the phone, it was someone that would really help him. So long as it wasn’t put in it wrong, he guessed. “We’ll be there before you know it.” He surely hoped so. As it was right now, his dad was screaming for him to come in and he could hear him breaking stuff. Mr. Elliot was sure going to be mad when he got here. Cody would have to tell him that he could help him clean it up. If he got to live that long. “You’re trespassing, you fucking idiot. Didn’t anyone ever tell you that when you have to break a fucking door to get in, you’re probably not going to be all that welcome?” Cody knew it was the woman on the phone. She sure did cuss a lot. “The police have been called, mother fucker, and you’re going down.” “My kid is in here and somebody is going to pay. I saw that mutt of his yesterday, then he disappeared. I’m guessing that somebody in here is going to jail and not me.”

The woman laughed, and then he heard the strong voice of a man. Cody wasn’t sure what he was saying, but he wasn’t any happier with his dad than the woman was. “I don’t give two shits about this being private property. My fucking shit for brains kid is in here, and I want his fucking ass home. Now get him before I have to hurt you two while I’m at it.” This time he heard the man. “Yes, you go ahead and try that, then we’ll see who gets hurt. Besides, aside from the fact that you’re an idiot, what the hell do you think gives you the right to assume that you can break in here to have a look around? As you’ve been told, several times, this is private property.” If his dad spoke, Cody didn’t hear him. Just then, Elliot appeared and put his hand over Cody’s mouth. “We have a plan.” Cody nodded and stood up when Elliot asked him to. “I promise you with all that I am, he will never harm you. But I want you to go out there and show yourself. My brother and sister-in-law will be out there to help you.” “He’ll kill me.” Elliot reminded him that his dad was only human, and they were all vampires. “Okay, I can see that. But if you guys kill him, and I would if I was one, then I got nobody at all. I mean, he’s a terrible man and the worse father of all, but he’s all I got now. Maybe I should just—” “Don’t say that, all right? You’ll have me. And my family. Do you have any other relatives?” He told him about an aunt that lived in New York. “Good. We’ll contact her when your dad is in jail. Then when he’s there, we can help your mom out of being wrapped up under your porch.” Cody thought he’d rather stay under the bed for the rest of his life than go out there where his father was. His dad was a mean person, and Cody hadn’t had to do much wrong to have his dad wallop him but good. But he did trust this man. The week that he’d been here, with Elliot’s knowledge, he’d got to meet a nice woman, had food all the time, and he was clean. Brandy had seen to that for him too. She took him to her house for the afternoon so that he could get a shower and something that didn’t come from a zapper, as she called the microwave. Also, she did his laundry and gave him cookies and fruit so that he could eat that instead of the things that were bad for him. And she gave him the best hugs a little boy like him could have ever needed. Getting up, he took a long breath in and let it out slowly. He had very little reason to trust anyone. There were people, he knew, that were nice, but in his small experience, they were all mean and hit hard. But not Elliot. He was the nicest man he knew. Cody also knew that his dad would call him a pussy, or some other bad name, just because he could. And he also knew that Elliot or any of Elliot’s family could kill his dad without much effort. “He will never touch you. I promise you, Cody. Never.” He believed that Elliot would try to make that happen, but he also knew his dad. Nodding once to the man who meant the world to him, Cody made his way out into the greenhouse and looked at the damage that his dad had done to get to him.

Why? What reason did he have to break up so many things that didn’t belong to him? He knew why—because he could. That’s what he told Cody all the time. He said that if people didn’t want their shit broken, they should take better care about putting it out where he could break it. Like it was their fault or something. “There you are, you shit for brains. You’re going to get your ass blistered for this.” It wasn’t just a threat either. His dad had burned him before on his butt by sitting him on a hot pan he’d heated up on the stove. “You got chores that I expect you to do, too. I don’t care how bad you’re going to be hurting. Your mom, she ran off, and you’re going to take up her slack when I—” Cody wasn’t sure what made him feel so brave. It could have been the two people that were in front of him with his dad, or the man behind him that put his hand on his shoulder when his dad started to speak. But he knew, for now, this might be his only chance to get his mom some peace. “She ain’t run off and you know it.” His dad turned a dark red, like he was planning to explode or something. “You tied us to the chair and you put tape over my mouth. Then you put a big plastic bag over her head and made it real tight. I could see her face, I could hear her screams. Then you made me wrap her up in a tarp and put her under the front porch when you killed her. You said she’d be there until you could have me dig a hole to put her in when the dirt was unfrozen. Why would you do that to my mom? What right do you have to just kill someone like that? Huh?” The woman, she told him her name was Emerald, knelt down in front of him. He didn’t want her to turn her back on his dad and told her that. She only smiled at him, and Cody had a feeling that he should warn his dad not to mess with her. She was scary even with her pretty smile. “Is your mom truly under your porch?” Wiping at the tears that he shed when he thought of how much he missed her, Cody nodded. “And you know for a fact that your dad is the one that killed her? And that he made you witness it?” “He tied us both up and told us that he was going to teach us a lesson.” His dad growled, like he did right before he came after Cody for something. But Emerald told him to just look at her. “Dad killed her, and he was gonna kill me too, but I run off with Buster. After I had to wrap her up. It hurt me so hard to have to of done that to my own mom. You know?” Cody watched as the woman stood up in front of him. He’d never in all his life felt like he wasn’t going to be hurt by anyone until then. Mr. Elliot was behind him, the woman stood in front. And for some reason, he thought that he’d be more afraid of her than the men if he was his dad. But he was beyond stupid, Cody only just realized, and he’d get himself killed if he didn’t smarten up. Cody also knew that his dad thought he was smart already, and that would be the end of him. The sirens started blaring about the time his dad was backing away from Chase. He was a big man too, and Cody was sure that he worked out all the time. Not like his dad said he did, working out by beating him and his mom, but in a real job. Chase seemed to grow bigger when his dad told him to get out of his way.

“I wouldn’t leave here if I were you.” His dad asked Chase why not, he’d done nothing wrong. “You see, that’s where you’re wrong. We’ve had someone watching your home since young Cody showed up cold and hungry here. If not for the quick thinking of my brother, I’m sure that you would have had him joining his mom under the porch, too. Wouldn’t you have?” “I don’t know what you’re talking about. And if you want him, he’s yours. Got no use for him anyway. All he does is whine about shit and don’t carry his weight around the house.” Chase just looked at his dad and laughed. “You got no reason to be acting like you’re better than I am. I just came here for my boy. Whatever he’s told you, it’s a lie. He’s a liar and a thief too. I changed my mind. I’ll take him now and we’ll forget the whole thing. That way I don’t have to hurt you too.” Two police officers came into the greenhouse and asked Elliot if they still needed them. Cody wasn’t sure what that meant, but Elliot told them that he was going to let them take care of this. He thought that Cody had had enough death in one lifetime. The officers nodded and walked up to his dad. “Mr. Wayne, you’re under arrest for attempted murder as well as child endangerment. Those are all we can hold you on for now, at least until we can get out to your house and have a look around.” Cody’s dad said he’d not tried to murder anyone, yet. The officer nodded and pulled out his handcuffs. “You’ll come along easily, Mr. Wayne, or I swear to you I’m going to leave you here for the Crosbys to deal with. And trust me when I tell you, I’d not screw around with any of them. They’re the sort that takes care of their own, and protects them in ways a human can’t. They deal with threats quickly and without any kind of fanfare.” Cody looked up at Elliot when the hand on his shoulder tightened. His eyes were all bloody looking, and he could see his teeth—fangs, Cody guessed they were called— showing on his lower lip. Then when he shook himself, like Buster did when he came in out of the cold, he looked down at him with a wink and a smile. “My stepmom, Brandy, is here. You know her, she’s come to get you sometimes.” He nodded. “I want you to go with her to her and my dad’s house. You can trust them as much as you do me; you know that, don’t you?” “Yes, she’s a nice lady. I like her. But you’re not going to be hurt, are you, Mr. Elliot? You’re a nice man, but my dad, he’s not so nice, and he is mean when he doesn’t get his way.” Elliot knelt down to his level, and Cody had the overwhelming urge to hug the man. And when he did, wrapping his arms around his neck, Cody cried. “Don’t get hurt. Please? You’re my only friend in the whole wide world but for Buster. And he don’t count much—he’s a dog.” Cody was carried to the door and handed to Ms. Brandy. She bundled him up in a blanket and took him right to the car. Mr. Franklin was in there too, and he asked him if he’d gotten any breakfast with this boloney going on. “No, sir. I was heating me up one of them breakfast logs that Elliot calls them when I heard my dad.” He nodded and said they’d gotten none either, but they was up for it. “I don’t have any money to go out with you. I’m sorry. Mr. Elliot said he’d pay me today, and I guess he forgot.”

“He’ll get around to it, you can bet on that. But you don’t have to worry none about paying, son. We got you covered. Any man that can stand up to a bully like you did your dad, then he deserves a big man breakfast too. Took guts to do what you did, and now they’re going to be able to find your poor momma and help her too.” He didn’t think they’d be able to save his mom, but he nodded at him. Ms. Brandy told him that they’d get her to a place she could be buried. Cody understood that. He surely wouldn’t want to have these people mad at him, he realized. They were good as a family, as best as he’d ever seen, but they sure could be mean when they thought someone was hurting someone. And Cody was sure that they would fight for him too. For the first time in his young life, he felt loved and safe. His mom had loved him, but she was gone now. ~~~ Elliot was barely holding onto his beast right now. The woman, Rose Wayne, was just where Cody had said she’d be—wrapped up in a tarp that wasn’t even in that good of shape, and still with the plastic bag over her head. He wondered what sort of monster could do that to his wife. Not to mention, make his son watch. Elliot sat on the back of his truck and waited for the police to finish up. It was that or go to the jail and kill the man responsible for this. “You going inside with me?” He nodded at Joey Williams, the chief of police. “All right. But you keep your hands to yourself until I say you can touch. I know what you’re going in there for, and I have to tell you, Elliot, I’d not do it again if I didn’t have to. The place is a mess.” “He might want some pictures of his mom. Wherever Cody goes after this, he’ll still remember her.” Joey told him again not to touch anything. He looked at his friend, and thought it was odd that he was being so firm about this no touching thing. “Is there something that you’re trying hard not to tell me?” “The boy, how long has he been hiding out in the greenhouse?” Elliot didn’t answer him. That would be considered kidnapping if his dad had a good attorney, and it was common knowledge that he’d known he was there. “The reason I ask is, there is another body under the porch. It’s pretty far back under there, and we might not have seen it had it not been for the tarp being shiny. I don’t think we want Cody’s dad to know we found him for now. He’s not related to this family, but a little fella all the same. He looks like he might have been killed in the last couple of weeks.” “If he was put there in the last week or so, Cody might not have seen him. He has been with me, as you know. And the only reason that he came out of hiding even then was he was starving. I’m betting that he’s been gone for some time, at least a couple of weeks or more.” Joey nodded and sat beside him on the truck. “Who is it?” “One of mine. Pack. He’s been missing for a couple of weeks too. I’m not sure what happened to have him ending up under the porch, but I’m thinking that Duncan might have thought he was killing his son. And it was too late when he figured it out once he’d already started on the— Just don’t touch anything, all right?” He asked him why he’d think that about the death of the boy. “Emerald did some looking around in Duncan’s head for me. He’s got some nasty shit up there, she told me, and he might not

make it to the cell I have all planned out for him. She wasn’t all that nice about her search either.” “She is rarely nice, so you know. I love her to pieces, but she scares the living shit out of me most of the time.” Joey laughed when he did. “He has to stand trial for this, Joey. You know that as well as I do. If he comes up missing and people find out that I’d been harboring his son, it might not go over well for either of us.” “I told her that. She’s got them little dragons of hers watching him. I’m to understand from your dad that they’re not all cute and cuddly at all either.” He said that they weren’t. “I don’t suppose, while I’m thinking about it, your family had anything to do with the baby vamps out on Sixty, did they? If you won’t answer me I understand, but thanks if you did.” Elliot nodded. He still had trouble thinking about how the young vampires had been dealt with. The little dragons weren’t all that cute and cuddly, not by long shot. They were big and dangerous. Deadly too. When Joey asked him if he was ready, he nodded and made his way to the little house. As soon as he was on the porch, where the bodies had been found, he could smell it. He looked at Joey when they both stopped before entering the house. “I’m going to ask you again not to touch anything.” Elliot nodded. “I have to preserve the crime scene with this one. By the books. If your fingerprints show up here, I’m going to have to have you arrested as well, just so we don’t fuck this one up. We’re even recording everything from the time we got here. I sure hope to Christ that we got it all. And as much as you scare me, being a vamp and all, I don’t want to have to explain to Emerald that your arrest is only temporary, until we get it sorted out.” “What am I walking in on, Joey?” Joey looked out beyond the house to the tree line. Elliot did the same. “The family?” “Yes. They’ve been here since I called them to let them know that we’d found Tim, their son. The child did not go easy, so you know, and it happened in the house.” Elliot nodded. “Is there anyone else that this kid has to go to? I mean, he’s going into the system if there isn’t anyone to take care of him.” “He mentioned an aunt in New York.” Elliot looked back at the house before continuing. “Joey, are you all right? I promise I won’t touch anything if you’d rather not go in again.” “I have to. That’s the only reason I am. And with you there—well, I feel like I need someone else to witness this. Just to say that it’s as bad as I thought it was the first time. And Elliot, it’s as bad as it gets in there.” Elliot nodded. “I’m truly sorry about this.” The scent of blood hit him. It wasn’t fresh either. As soon as his eyes adjusted to the darkness of the house, he looked around. For the first time in his entire life, something sickened him to the point that he thought he was going to throw up. Christ, the kid had fought hard, he realized. He had no idea how the young pup had died, but he surely did try his best to come out the winner in his fight for life. The furniture around the first room was broken and shattered against the wall. Blood was splattered all over the walls and curtains, as well as anything around the room that was out in the open. Elliot looked at the place where

he was sure that the boy had been murdered, and stood there for several seconds just looking at the wide dark brown stain. He looked at Joey when he said his name. “You all right?” He nodded, then shook his head. “Yeah, just the way I felt the first time, and now too. What sort of sick fuck is this man? To do this not just to a kid that turned out to not be his, but to his wife too. I cannot wait to see him go down for this.” The rest of the house was the same. Blood marred every surface in each of the four rooms. The bathroom, where they both thought that Duncan had cleaned himself up after the deed, had been left to look like a massacre had taken place. The shower stall was stained in blood. The soap that lay on the small shelf looked like a block of red blood. Two towels were lying on the floor. They looked as if he’d not used much water to clean himself up, but just used dry towels instead of using water first. He could see him doing that—thinking that he’d just wipe it off, then seeing that it hadn’t worked, cursing as he got into the shower. Duncan’s torn and bloodied clothing lay in a heap on the floor next to the tub. Even it, Elliot thought, looked as if someone had bled all over the surface of the tiles on the floor and walls. “He realized about halfway through that it wasn’t his son, I would guess by the looks of things. He was violent at first, as you can see, but he got more so as it went on. I don’t know how he got Tim in here—drugs, I’m thinking. Or he hit him on the head and wrapped him up to bring him in the house. But once he realized that he had the wrong boy, he tried to cover his tracks by killing him. The kid didn’t give up either. At least that’s what I’m seeing. How about you?” Elliot said he could see that. “I didn’t know why he didn’t call out to his parents in this. They would have gladly come for him. But when I talked to them about finding Tim, they told me that he’d only been seven years old, and he wasn’t old enough to call on his wolf yet. It’s a real shame I can’t let them take care of this for us all.” They wandered through the house. It was sitting on a slab, so there wasn’t a basement that would have held more blood and secrets. Secrets that Elliot had decided he wasn’t keen on seeing, if there were any. As it was, Elliot wasn’t sure that he’d sleep well tonight. Not after this. There were no pictures of Cody’s mom. Nor were there any of the young boy. No things hanging on the refrigerator that Cody might have made. There wasn’t a single thing in the house that made him think that a kid lived there except for the blankets in the corner of a room and a small pile of dirty clothes. Elliot felt his beast stir under his skin at the monstrous acts of some people. Emerald contacted him just as he was coming out of the house. There are two things that you should know, one of which is going to piss you off more than you are now. The second—well, let’s just say that I’m not sure I’ll want any kids I have to go to the local school after this. He asked her if the school had known about the abuse. Not only did they know about it, but also that he’d not been eating well. Something about not being able to talk to the parents. I don’t know what their policy is on such things, but you can bet they know mine right now.

Honey, I don’t know if you are aware of this or not, but everyone knows what you’re thinking because you have no trouble putting it out there. She thanked him. You’re welcome. And what is the second bit of news? So far, so you know, I don’t know if this was the really bad or the really-really bad news. The first one is the bad. I thought I’d start with that. The second one is, I’ve been able to locate the aunt. She’s one of two of Duncan’s sisters, by the way. I did some looking into soon-tobe-dead Duncan’s head, and found out enough information about them to know that he hated them both, so they must be nice. Elliot laughed. The one is not able to come here and see about the boy, nor to make arrangements for her sister-in-law’s funeral. She said that she thought her sister was dead. I think Duncan has been playing them both against each other. I’ve given her the information to contact her. Also, all arrangements have been made, including sending the plane for her and help with her children. Her name is Julia Harney, and she said that she won’t see her brother. She’ll arrive here in a couple of days. So, the bad news—or perhaps good, if you want to take him for your own son—is that she’s coming to see Cody, but she’s not taking him in. Told me right off that she had four kids of her own and didn’t need one more mouth to feed. Not mean like—she just sounded like she was overwhelmed with life and just can’t take any more. Single mom and all, she’s barely making it on her own. What happens to him if he’s not taken in by family? Emerald told him she was looking to see if there was a grandmother or such, but she didn’t hold out much hope of anyone taking him. So, he’s going to be a ward of the state. After all he’s been through, now he’ll have to be in the system. That fucking sucks. You could adopt him. He had actually thought about it, in an offhanded sort of way. I’m sure that you won’t have any trouble taking him in. And once he’s there, it’s just a matter of getting the right paperwork done and filed. And you know as well as I do, he’s better off with a vampire than he would be some of the bloodsucking fucks that are out there waiting on someone else to abuse. And I’m referring to some of the foster care homes that, you know as well as I do, only make it worse for a kid. Yes. Over the years I’ve come to realize that there are few that can be counted on to do what they’re supposed to do with a child. But I’ll look into having him come live with me. Even if it’s only temporary for now. She told him where he was, that he was being examined by the hospital. He’s not hurting as much as he was. And he’s had a few good meals in him, so that’s going to be good for him as well. It’s going to make a big difference to a lot of people, this kid being safe, and his fucktard of a dad put away. By the way, have you thought about your mate? He asked her what she meant. I don’t know, but it’s been my experience that a mate will come out of nowhere for you guys. What if this woman with her children is the one for you? She was still laughing when he closed the connection. Some days he thought about strangling her. But he knew, just as soon as he was close enough to do something like that, he’d not have to worry about his brother hurting him. Emerald would hurt him in ways that he’d never thought of. No, he’d not hurt her, but he could think about it. Smiling for the first time since coming to this house, he felt better knowing that Cody was going to be safe for a while.