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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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PaperBack https://amzn.to/2vE4GSa

 

 

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

 

 

Please make sure you put all the  Info in  for a chance at winning A   Signed Mystery PaperBack

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeY7nkIAHQCgnvBKbIjj6Sws3yR4e98oH-xU2NYb_UNRtqEUQ/viewform

 

Winner  of the Hawkins  newsletter is Tamara Kasyan  and  congrats

Tamara  your packaged was mailed out on Friday Aug 3rd 2018.

Please allow 7 to 10 days for delivery..

 

 

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Happy Reading ,

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DARE ME ONCE BY SHELLY ALEXANDER GOODREADS GIVEAWAY

Goodreads Giveaway, Dare Me Once by Author Shelly Alexander

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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.

 

 

 

 

Winchester Brothers

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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.

 

 

 

It’s in His Heart by Author Shelly Alexander Goodreads Deal

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She has a secret. He has a scandal. And they both have an attraction they can’t deny.

Ella Dennings is furious. Soaking wet, muddy, and furious. All she wants is to enjoy a quiet summer retreat in her Red River Valley cabin. Maybe she can finish healing after the death of her husband, Bradley. Maybe she can even finish writing that third book in her anonymously written bestselling series. But when she arrives at the cabin in a raging rainstorm, who does she find holed up there but Cooper Wells, Bradley’s sexy best friend—a man capable of seducing women within seconds—and a man Ella has never liked.

Coop’s got his own baggage. He’s engulfed in a nasty legal battle, and after selling his home to cover his legal fees, he’s got nowhere to go but the cabin. He and Ella will just have to coexist under one roof…but is their heated animosity boiling over into attraction? And when Ella’s racy new book rocks the sleepy town, will her secret identity spell scandal for both of them?

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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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Boyd: McCullough’s Jamboree Release Blitz & Giveaway

 

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.

 

 

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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?

 

 

Recommended for 18+ Erotic Shapeshifter Romance. Book 1 of the McCullough’s Jamboree Jaguar Shifter Series. This full length novel can be read as a stand-alone. McCullough’s Jamboree 1. Colin 2. Parker 3. Dustin 4. Larson 5. Boyd (Coming Soon) 6. Hawkins (Coming Soon) 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.

 

 

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Stoking the Flames II: Tales of Legend, Lore and Everlasting Love  Now Live 

 

 

Find everlasting love in the clouds. Go back in time. Spring into the future. Soar on the wings of magic.
Discover Legends of Fate, Destiny, True Mates, and Forever Love that’s written in the Stars.

Take flight with fifteen amazingly talented bestselling authors as they bring these special Dragons to life. In each life-changing journey you will see that the heart gets what the heart wants, happily ever after is so much more than simple words at the end of a Fairy Tale, and Dragons prevail no matter the time, place, or obstacle.

This is Stoking the Flames II – spread your wings and soar with our Dragons. Once you’ve touched the clouds, felt the wind in your hair, and held the power in your hands, you will forever fly high.

 

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Lauren didn’t like not having answers. She supposed that was an understatement, but things just weren’t adding up for her. As she began writing down what she knew and what she didn’t, the sticky notes began taking on a bizarre color scheme that only she could figure out. When Colin came into the office with her, she stood and started sticking them on the wall with the pictures that she’d hung up. “Are these the people that you’ve been searching for?” She told him that the world was searching for them, it seemed. “Yes, well, whoever they are, they’re wanted in four countries, you told me, and that wasn’t even counting the countries that they’ve not been found out in.” “Yes, well, I’m working on that one too. There are several deaths that I can have tagged to them, but nothing to stick so far.” She hung up the notes and then stepped back. “Things aren’t adding up in their usual fucking order like I like them to do.”

“Hawk was just here. He said to tell you that he’d be back in a couple of days. It’s too much for him. I have no idea what that is supposed to mean either.” She told him. “How can we be driving him insane when he doesn’t hang around us all that much now? I mean, he was in here for about two minutes before he took off again. How am I supposed to be driving him crazy?” “You’re around. And don’t ask me questions if all you’re going to do is try and prove to me why I’m not right. We both know that I am, and the sooner you get that in your thick skull, the better off you’re going to be.” They both laughed. “What do you see when you look at this?” He had helped her a few times when she’d had something staring her right in the face over the last few months. Mostly it was because he was fresh eyes and wasn’t tainted by her jadedness. And she knew that she was. Lauren didn’t trust anyone, and didn’t like people twice as much as her trust level was. Colin got up and looked over the board. “The blue notes, what are they?” She told him they were facts. “And the yellow ones? I’m assuming you have this color coded. It’ll help me to figure it out if I know it all.” “Yellow is for unknown factors. Such as I don’t know how the fuck they’re being funded. The blue ones are place markers. As you can see I’ve only put numbers on them. The questions are eluding me as well.” He nodded, and he continued to look over her board of pictures and notes. “The red ones are names that I know that they’ve killed. And as you can see, some of them are straddled between two names. So I’m not entirely sure what I’m looking at here.” “Is it the same person that might have killed the ones you
have straddled between two names?” She looked at the board and asked him what he meant. “The people that you have under two names. You think they might have been killed by two different people. Maybe it’s just one person that looks like two to throw you off. I mean, are you sure that they’re not one and the same murderer?” “Why do you ask that? I’m not saying that you’re wrong, but I never thought of that yet.” She looked at the traits of both men and women on her list. They were similar, but not terribly so. But when Colin pointed out that the names were nearly the same, she then noticed a few other things about them as well. “This one stays in the same type of hotel. High end and lots of room service. They always go out for drinks with their intended victim before taking them back to the room to murder them.” She took down the second picture but laid it aside. She didn’t know which one the right person was, but it was getting easier to see them now. “These two people always wear a wig that is made not from manmade hair, but of different animals. The only reason we know this is because the latest victim pulled out a lot of their hair when he was trying to defend himself. He had a lot of defensive wounds.” “These two have the same initials as well.” She nodded and put the picture with the other one. “Don’t you think these are the same picture?” “I thought that as well, but I’ve concluded that they’re not. Unless they’ve had some work done since the first one was taken.” She showed him the nose and how it was shaped, and the lips. “I guess they could have had collagen put in, but I don’t know how that affects the body as well as say, a doctor
would. I’ve called Boyd over to look at them.” Lauren was a mess working on this one. It was something that she’d pulled from the cold files at the police station. She wasn’t working for Jarvis as much right now—he was trying to close his end of being president right now. He still had two years to go, but he wasn’t running for reelection, so she wasn’t sure what she was supposed to do now and when he was finished. She told Colin what she was thinking. “I thought you were a lifer.” She said that she’d be a dead one if she didn’t have something to do soon. “Yeah, I figured that was why you asked for the files to be sent over. If you want, I can show you how to use a sander and you can help us out.” “No thanks. I have all my fingers just where I want them.” She moved a few of the folders and sat down. “I’ve talked to Boyd about Sandy, and he said that she’s not his mate. They get along well but decided that they’re not going to be involved. I had no idea that he’d lost his mate years ago.” “I didn’t know either until he told us at dinner a couple of weeks ago. He said that she was a student at the college when he was. But he’d had his head so buried in studying that he didn’t notice her until it was too late.” She asked him if there was a chance that he could have been wrong about the other woman. “No, I don’t think so. He knew it was her. Had the overwhelming need to be with her but knew that he had to study too. Then when he came out of his study session one night, she’d been killed by a hit and run driver. Mom took it very hard too, I think.” Bea had too. And so had Rich. He must have told their son he was sorry a thousand times at dinner, then had to go
out on the deck to get himself under control. Rich wanted his kids to be happy, and thought that having a mate, each of them, was the only way they were going to be. Anastasia had come to her last night and answered a few questions about mates, things that she hadn’t wanted to ask Colin about. Like could they get a second chance sometimes. “Yes, anyone can. But I have a feeling that our young Boyd doesn’t care to look for it.” Lauren had asked her why. “He’s so set in his ways, don’t you think? I mean, it’s like he’s found her, she’s gone, and that’s all she wrote. The guy could be a poster child for anal retentive men.” “I don’t think he’s that bad, but I do see your point.” Lauren thought of his office as compared to her own. “He puts me to shame every time he has to come here. He tisks at me like an old woman and tells me that I should have more respect for my things. I just put my gun on the table and tell him I do, for the ones that could save my life.” When Colin left her to go back to his job of working with his brother and dad, she sat down at her desk and looked around her office. There wasn’t much more she could do on this, but she knew that sooner rather than later, she’d figure it out. Since she was working on several other things now, she thought about Christmas which was in two weeks. There were decorations all over the house right now. A great many of them were where they should have been, gracing the staircase or hanging on the tree, but other things were still in boxes and hadn’t been put up. Lauren was excited to have a family Christmas. It would be her first one in a very long time. The tree alone had her coming downstairs in the middle
of the night and turning it on. The decorations on it, all of them, twinkled around the room like a sparkler on the Fourth. Then there were the packages, more every day, that were under it. She’d not gone snooping in them—she knew what they were…they were for their children. But she was just as excited as any child for this coming holiday. They were going to have Christmas Eve at their own houses, with their own families, then on the big morning they were headed to Colin’s parents’ house, her parents too, to have a long, fun day with them. Then there was food all day, as well as massive amounts of football. She herself had fallen in love with the sport long before she knew that his entire family would schedule a meal around their favorite teams. Looking at the time, she gathered up what she needed and waited for Boyd to come over. He and Mac were closing the clinic after today to take a much-needed vacation. Mac and Dustin were planning a nice getaway after the holiday, and she and Colin were going to spend a couple of days in Washington with Jarvis. She’d never spent a holiday with the president before and thought it might be fun. At least she wouldn’t be working the entire time. Boyd showed up about half an hour later, saying that he’d just delivered his one hundredth baby. The man was a wonder, she’d give him that. One hundred babies brought into the world, and he acted like it was the first time every time. Smiling, she brought him into her office to work and loved that he didn’t disappoint her in pointing out what a slob she was. Boyd could make her laugh quicker than any of the McCullough men. ~~~
After Boyd and Lauren finished up his help to her, they sat at the big desk and looked over the work she was doing now. He couldn’t offer her any help on her notes and pictures, but he did tell her that the two people in the picture were one and the same. He said that she’d have to learn eyes. Not that she didn’t know a great deal about people, but the eyes never lied to you. “I’ve been looking at houses. Dustin is helping me find something reasonable.” Lauren asked him if he was looking for big. “I wasn’t, but there isn’t much of a choice in the smaller houses that I was looking for. He said that bigger is better.” “Yeah, he would. I was noticing the house that they’re working on now. That’s a little bitty thing, at least compared to all the houses that the rest of them own.” Boyd laughed with her. He told her that the house was sold already. “That was fast. I had no idea that it was even on the market yet.” “It’s not, but they were working on it the day before yesterday and a couple came in to look around. Before they knew it, they were picking out carpet colors and paint colors for them. I guess they got a loan yesterday, and now they’re working with them to make it their home.” “That’s good for them, I guess. Why smaller, if you don’t mind me asking?” Boyd had been telling his family that he wouldn’t have a mate coming his way. He had told his family so far, and decided that he might as well tell everyone else too. He mentioned it again to Lauren. “I’m sorry, Boyd. I never thought that you guys could just not take your mate. And you told us that she was killed too. That really sucks. But in talking with Anastasia, she said that there is always a chance that you could find another mate. It has happened before.”
“I know. I thought I had plenty of time. I guess I do now, but I no longer have anyone to spend it with.” He didn’t like feeling sorry for himself, and tried to think of something to talk about. Anything else but a mate. “I should get going. I know you have a lot of work going on here.” “Actually, I’m just helping out on some cold cases for the moment. You and your brothers, you all have contributed something to the cause. I’m just biding my time until something comes along with Jarvis. But I have solved one of them so far.” He asked her about it. “They thought it was a robbery gone bad, but I found receipts in the man’s things that said that he’d sold off all his worldly goods then killed himself. A good job of it too, meaning that he did it in a way that really did point to murder.” “And what does it matter? I’m not belittling your work—I think it’s fantastic. But what does it matter to the system if he’s murdered or killed himself?” She handed him a sheet of paper, and on it were the same names and dates. “I don’t understand this.” “Insurance claims. They want his insurance, and if he was murdered, it would have been doubled. I was asked to figure out if I could find the murderer. Instead, I found that he killed himself. They’ll not get it now.” He told her that he thought that was sort of sad, and cruel too. “Yes, it is. And I agree with you that he fucked over his family. But that’s the truth of the matter, and that’s what I found. Now the case is closed, and no more man hours will be wasted on it.” “Do you think that was his purpose in making it all neat and tidy?” Lauren nodded. “All right, I guess, but he must have had his reasons, that’s all I’m saying.”
“I’m sure that he did.” She shoved the file under the other files on her desk and Boyd stood up. “You want some help house hunting? I’m about done here, and I could use a break. And if you’re really nice to me, which I don’t know why you wouldn’t be, I’ll let you buy me lunch.” “Sounds good to me.” They were out the door and in his car before he realized that he hadn’t been planning on house hunting today. “Dustin hasn’t lined up any houses for me to look at. I have nowhere to go.” “I know. But you seemed sort of down and I needed to get out. We’ll wing it.” Boyd stared at his sister-in-law. “All right, all right, I know I don’t wing it well, but I really did need to get out of the house. So, where do we start? I’m thinking that we hit a realtor and go from there.” The office of the only agent in town wasn’t busy, and he was able to get someone to give him a list rather than follow them around all afternoon. Boyd supposed that it was because of Lauren. She’d said no, they didn’t need the realtor to go with them, and no one disputed her claim that they had this. He was still laughing at the expression on the woman’s face when Lauren told her no. He’d bet few people told her that and got away with it. Much like Lauren. They hit two houses before they stopped for lunch. The first one had too much work that needed to be done on it. And Dustin had already told him that he had five houses that he had to work on before summer, as they were homes for vets. Dustin and their family did that when they could, helped injured vets with homes that would suit their needs. They were eating their lunch as they looked over the map they’d been given. Lauren crossed two of the dozen or so
houses off the list right away. She said they were too far from the family for him to think about purchasing them. “Perhaps I don’t want to live close to all of you.” She snorted at him. “You know, you’re not as pleasant to be around as you might think. I mean, I’ve had wild cats with more friendliness than you display all the time.” “Yes, but I can save your ass if you need it, and you know that I will tell you the truth, even if you don’t want to hear it. But I can also lie right to your face and you’d never know.” He asked her how she thought that was a good thing. “It is. Like the shirt you have on. I could have said to you, Christ, Boyd, that’s a shirt an old man would wear. And you’d change. But I held my tongue.” Boyd looked down at his polo and then back at her. “What’s wrong with this shirt? You have one on that is just the same. Only mine is blue and yours is black. By the way, do you own any other color than black?” “No, I don’t. And you could use some color in your life too. I’m too set in my ways to change my style. But you, you should wear colors.” He pointed out that blue was a color. “Nah, it’s a mood. Blue is a mood. You should wear green or yellow. You’d look good in yellow.” He didn’t even know what to say to her. There were times when he had no idea if she was giving him a hard time or not. Like her being able to lie to him and he wouldn’t know if she was telling him a lie or the truth. So instead of engaging with her, he ate his burger and fries. Before he was finishing off his malt, she had marked two more off the list and had circled four of them. Paying for lunch, he looked around the diner. It was a
place he’d been coming to since he’d been a kid. And it really hadn’t changed all that much. In two weeks the new owner, Reese, would close it down and have the entire place updated, expanded, as well as adding an ice cream area for the local kids. This was all done on the sly—she wouldn’t know it was hers until Christmas morning. Jon and Parker had bought it for her. “You think they’ll keep the bar stools?” Lauren asked him why he’d want them. “I don’t know. It’s something that the six of us would sit on when my parents would bring us here for a treat. There used to be a soda fountain machine in here until it died with the old ways. I guess I’m a little nostalgic for my childhood.” Lauren popped him in the back of the head. “Get over it. You need to focus on the here and now, my dear brother. And when you get a house, I expect to get full credit for you buying it. Even if you have to lie about it.” They were still laughing as they made their way to the next house. He didn’t care for the neighborhood, but he was willing to give it a chance. But the closer they got to the place, the more uncomfortable he felt—like dread or the feeling of impending pain. When he sat in the car, just staring up at the house, Lauren asked him what was wrong. “I don’t know. I can feel something here.” She asked if it was just what he’d been thinking, and he turned to her. “You feel it too then?” “Yes. Like I’m going to open that door and sixty men with guns and knives are going to come out and fuck up my wonderful day. I hate having to kill someone before dinner. It gives me heartburn.” He asked her what she thought it did to
the people she killed. “I never thought of that, not that I care, but I never thought of that. Thanks.” Instead of moving on to the next house, they got out to see what was making them feel like that. As soon as they stepped up on the porch, the smell of fresh blood flooded his nose. He looked over at Lauren when she cursed. She pulled out her gun and he stood there as she took her booted foot and slammed it against the doorway. The stronger smell hit his nostrils first. Blood and a great deal of it. Then he could feel something akin to sorrow. Boyd stayed by the door when he was told to and waited for her to tell him to move. But before he could reach out to his brothers, not even sure what they were going to be needed for, he saw the movement near the stairs and nearly ran toward it when Lauren stopped him. “Do you know what stay here means?” He said that he did and pointed to what had moved. “It had better be something more than a dead rat or I’m kicking your ass all the way to the car. This is not how a person finds them a house.” Not only wasn’t it a dead rat, though he had seen it move so that ruled it out right away, but it was a body. A man’s body that was still breathing, though barely so. As he told Lauren to go and get his medical bag out of his car, he started assessing the man for injuries. The blood was everywhere, and he seemed to be bleeding from every part of his body. “What’s your name?” The man moaned and pointed to the stairs. Looking up, Boyd could see that he might have come through the railing. He didn’t tell him his name, and Boyd began searching for any kind of identification on him. “What the fuck are you doing?” He told her that he was
looking for alert bracelets or even a necklace that said maybe he had something else wrong with him. “Another thing I wouldn’t have thought of. But then, I don’t know that many people that I’d care enough about to check on that.” He knew that she was kidding around. There were plenty of people in her life that she loved enough to check for things like this. And Boyd was pretty sure that he was one of them. When he found that the man was on a blood thinner, he tried his best to find the biggest source of blood loss. Even small cuts could make him bleed more than usual. About the time he got the IV in, the paramedics showed up. Boyd knew that even though they’d gotten to him fast enough, he still might die from his injuries. He had a feeling that the man was lucky they’d not driven off and had stuck around to inspect the house. Boyd rode to the hospital with the man while Lauren talked to the police. The house, it seemed, wasn’t going to be one that he’d buy anytime soon, if ever.