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Noah By Kathi S Barton Release Day & Giveaway

Noah Farley had been living in the States for a long time, and he was homesick. When Devon invited him to come home for a visit, he packed up everything he had and wasn’t planning on returning to his home in the city anytime soon, if ever. His dragon needed room to roam, and the city left his options too limited.

Bea Frost had made the buy of a lifetime, a castle in the country, and she made plans with her granddaughter Bryce, and daughter-in-law Laura, to move into it. Both Bea and Bryce were witches, and moving away from their current location, away from the Witches Council, would be like a breath of fresh air.

Noah’s family had lost the castle to back taxes before they had died. Its loss didn’t leave him much to go home to, but he was curious as to who had purchased the property. When he met Bryce, he was both surprised and pleased to find out that she was his mate. Bryce, however, didn’t care for dragons and wasn’t shy about letting him know that either.

The Witches Council consisted of three warlocks, Black, White, and Gray. When appointed, the mix was supposed to balance them out, but instead, the men had become evil and corrupt. Bryce had become too powerful, more powerful than the council combined, and the WC considered her a threat. Killing her human mother or new mate would be just the ticket to bring her to heal…

 

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Kelly Dalton was packed and ready to go on the trip of a lifetime. She was excited to spend a month in Europe sightseeing. Her budget would be tight, and she’d have to make the trip alone because her sister drained her checking account, but despite the lack of funds, Kelly was ready for the new adventure—anything to get away from her family.

Devon Wakefield was the tenth Marquess to the house of Wilkshire and a dragon shifter. Since the death of his father, he had been lord of the castle since he was ten. His life lacked only one thing—a mate—but he was in no hurry to find one.

Kelly was sorry to see her vacation end. One more stroll around the beautiful countryside then she’d have to go back home—to what she didn’t know. Her sister, Rachel, was so angry that Kelly didn’t pay for her trip that she set fire to Kelly’s apartment. There was nothing really to go back to, but she’d deal with that when she returned. In the meantime, she would enjoy her last couple of days in England. However, Kelly was unprepared for the sudden rain shower, and in the rushing water, she lost her footing. Everything went black…

Distraught because Kelly was missing, the innkeeper called Devon to find her. When Devon found the injured young woman, he realized that he’d found his mate, and in an effort to ease her recovery he wanted to do something nice for her—he brought her family to England….

 

 

 

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Noah Farley stood as still as he could. Bringing attention to himself right now would get a great many people in trouble, especially him. Not that they wouldn’t be anyway. Having him on site was just as bad to the police as having a tarot reader, or even a magician, there with them when a crime needed to be solved. Not many believed in him. Nor did they believe he wasn’t the person they were after nine times out of ten. But Noah got results, and that was important to a lot of people who did believe in him. The man in charge of this investigation was someone that Noah not only didn’t respect but someone that he thought of as a lazy fuck. He thought that of a great many people, but this guy, Detective Peter Boseman, was the dictionary definition of the phrase—at least the word lazy, anyway.

And the men that hung out with him—Noah called them his crew—were one step away from long prison terms or death by the state. Either way, he’d be glad to be rid of them. Boseman looked up at him. “I’m supposing you can see something that we can’t? You look like you just know it all, and think that you’re the best of the best, don’t you? What is it, Farley? You seeing the ghosts of these here dead? What are they telling you about how they were killed?” Noah said nothing, again not moving. “Well, what I find here is this. The man murdered the woman, then killed himself. Over money. She was spending it—just look at them nails and shoes—and he wasn’t having it. He’s wearing old shoes that have been patched up and a dirty coat. Murder/suicide, end of the case. Tell me, Farley, am I dead on?” “No, not even close.”

He waited for someone, this man in front of him, to give him permission to speak again. He didn’t need it. Just last week he’d been asked to become a part of the police force as a full-time consultant to the department. And he would have a higher ranking than any man there, including Agent Boseman. But he’d not taken the job—wasn’t even sure that he wanted it. He might take it just to put this man out to pasture…. No, he’d more than likely turn it down. He did this for the department because it gave him something to do. If it were a job, he knew he’d begin to hate it, and that wouldn’t be good for anyone, especially the dead that needed justice—at least their families did. No, so long as he could come and go as he pleased, that was better for everyone—including Boseman again. He would be a dead detective if Noah had to work with him full-time. “Not even close, am I now? Well, why don’t you enlighten us about your powers of observation?” He snickered, and the men with him did the same.

Noah thought that there was some sort of button that Boseman pushed to get reactions from the morons that were with him. “Go on. Tell me what you see that a thirty-year veteran of homicide can’t see. And so’s you know, I don’t care what you see or observe, I know which one of us the captain is going to believe. And it ain’t you.” “I’d not count on that if I were you. First of all, they didn’t know each other to care enough about what kind of money either of them had. The man is someone that I’ve seen over on Welsher from time to time. I believe that he’s homeless and pushes that
cart that’s right over there.

You can see it—it has all his worldly goods in it. The woman is an office worker. The badge that is hanging from her purse there says that she works in finance. She had money to burn because she has no one else in her life. The reason I can see that is, there is no wedding band and her watch is worth more than you make in a year’s time. The shoes are about four hundred, dress and coat another grand. I’d say she was a woman with good taste and liked to look nice. Her name is Shelby Kiddom, by the way. Again, it’s on her name badge.” The faerie that had been with him for decades, William, was in human form and recording the conversation for him for later use. Noah bent down to look at the things around the bodies. He spotted the police department issued gloves used at a crime scene, covered in blood, just under her left breast, and knew that only a cop would have those. Looking up, he knew who the killer was right away. The smirk gave him away. “I’m assuming that some big shot guy like yourself would know all about women’s fashion and such. You wear it, Farley, when you’re not wasting the taxpayers’ money? Or do you have a personal knowledge with this man? You know…?” Boseman did the international sign, one Noah had seen used a million times, for fucking. “Are you a homo, Farley?”

Ignoring his crude comments, Noah continued. “The male, I would say in his mid to late sixties, came upon the woman to offer aid. She was already dead by then, and the man that had killed her, not a husband, was just waiting for a flow of traffic of people so he could blend in. There is no blood splatter on this man, and there would be if he’d been the one to cut her throat. The male just happened upon him as Shelby was bleeding out. She had her throat slit from behind, but the killer would have had blood all over him. The homeless man has a single gunshot to the head—from behind as well.” “And you got all that from looking at two dead bodies? I won’t believe it. Nobody will.” He looked around at his crew, the only thing that Noah would call the cops with him. “He must be one of them there clara-boinks. You know, the ones that can see the dead?” The button must have been pushed again because they all laughed like they had before. Short and loud. One of them even sounded like a jackass braying. All in a day’s work for Noah, he thought, putting up with idiots. Stretching his neck as he stood up, he smiled at Boseman. “It’s clairvoyant, and that’s not primarily what I am. I’m a profiler, for lack of a better term.” Boseman laughed harder. “Yes, well, if you ever get off your fat fucking ass and look into this, you’ll find that the man who killed them both is standing with you right now. It’s a cop.”

Noah and William walked away. When he heard the shots being fired, he didn’t turn back but did pull out his cell phone. Telling dispatch that there was an officer down and giving them the address, he kept walking to his car. William, a faerie, changed into his other self and landed on his shoulder. “We can only hope that the man killed Boseman too,” William said that he’d not. “Figures. I need to get away for a while. I know that I was only just asked to take a full-time position at the station, but I can’t do this right now. I need time to grieve. I know that my family has been gone for some time, but I still ache from their passing. I understand why they did it, but my heart still hurts from it.” “As I have said to you many times, your lordship.” William was the only person who knew that not only was Noah a dragon and someone who could solve a crime quickly, but he was also—he had also been—the king of a castle. “If you remember, sir, his lordship Devon invited you to his home for the summer months. He has taken a wife, and she is breeding his child now.”

“Yes, I remember.” As they got into the car, William sitting on his own perch on the next seat, Noah continued. “I hate this city. Well, not the city so much as the people here. And I think they get more violent and more stupid with each passing year. I just need to get away from this. I need to be with friends who care not what I can do or what I am.” “The city and the people it consists of are the same things, as I have pointed out to you before.” Noah nodded and laughed. “You do need a vacation if you don’t mind me saying so. But you also need to be your dragon for longer periods than a few minutes when the rain is coming down. Sir, he needs to be himself as badly as, if not more than, you.” He thought about the vacation for the rest of the drive to his home. He was going to do it, but the amount of work that he had to do and to delegate before leaving was going to be a great deal. But still, he thought that everyone would enjoy it, getting away for a time. Noah pulled into the driveway and looked at the home that he shared with about fifty other beings. The house looked like one of the hundreds of other houses in the city and was a cookie cutter of the ones on his street. At least on the outside. Once you were inside, that was where you really saw the difference. It was about ten times larger than the other houses and filled with things that he’d collected over the years. Magic and the beings that lived with him, all faeries, had given him that and more. Companionship for the most part, and that he treasured more than anything else. There were three floors to the home, but it only showed that there was one from the outside. The kitchen was big enough for several of the finest chefs to make a meal and never touch one another. A dining room that was wasted on him could easily feed over a hundred guests. Even his bedroom—about twice the size of the entire house next to his, which was a couple of acres away—was something that his magic had done for them when he and William took up residence. The others, faeries that had been at his castle home, had come to live with him when he lost it due to taxes not being paid on time. When he’d purchased the home, there had been nothing around the area but fields of tobacco and corn. Then as the houses started to pop up, so did the fence that he had around his property. And now it was electrified too. He knew that people thought him to be something of a recluse, which he supposed he was. Noah preferred his own company over anyone else’s, save William.

His staff, the faeries, were there waiting for him as soon as he entered. “There is a call from a Lady Wakefield. She said that she is the marchioness to the House of Wilkshire.” He paused in going up the staircase when Rose cleared her throat. “She giggled, sir. Giggled and said that I was just to call her Kelly, not the mouthful that is her title from being married to Lord Devon. I don’t understand.” He turned to look at his staff and realized that they were just as curious. He thought about what he’d heard about Kelly, as Lady Susanna had called her, and knew that she was just as delightful as she’d told him. Noah sat down on the stairs and laughed. “I’ve been thinking that we’d all go for a visit to the Marquess Devon and his new family. Please, I would like for you all to close up the house. Donate all the foodstuff to the shelter, and pack us whatever we might need to travel to England.” He looked at William as he continued. “I want you to gather up the seeds and other things that you’ve been hoarding, and we’ll take them someplace where they can thrive. We will all leave as soon as arrangements can be made.” “Sir, what about your job?” He didn’t care and told William that. Noah didn’t need the money, not really, and he had to get away. “Shall I tell them that there has been an emergency and that you must travel today?” “Yes, that would be splendid. Also, do me a favor and find me Devon’s number.”

Rose handed him the small sheet of paper with not only the phone number, but also how many times Kelly had called. “It seems, my dear family, that we’re headed home. I only hope that we’ll receive a better welcome than we have before.” The cheer went up and Noah stood up. He never said this, not anymore, but he wondered if things could get any worse. They could and would, he knew, but for now, he’d take it as it came. By nightfall he’d gotten a call from his boss at the station. Noah had told him everything that he’d told Boseman, and that the man in his little posse was the murderer. Noah told him that Boseman had been an ass. Also, he wasn’t one hundred percent sure, but he thought that Boseman had known about it. “Yes, well, that’s the way he operates. Or I should say, the way that he did. I was hoping that with you in charge of him, he’d either quit or he’d have to be fired. I got the recording of the events, and I’m going to ask him, quite firmly, to retire before I have to fire him. I have three men dead because of his stupidity, as well as two more injured. And all because he wouldn’t listen to you when you spoke to him last week. This couple, the ones that were killed needlessly, they’re going to be added to that list. And Roberts, the murderer, he’s dead. You didn’t ask, but I wanted you to know that Roberts been taken off the streets.” Noah had told Boseman, as well as Detective Captain Lin Ming, that there were two dirty cops on the force. Boseman told him he was wrong, Captain Ming told him to look into it. “I’ll talk to you when you return. If there is anything you need, just let me know, Noah. I don’t want to lose a good man like you.” By mid-morning the next day, not only were they on their way, but he’d been able to bring everyone on his staff, all faeries, on his body. It was something else that he’d been given, the ability to bring with him and use as many faeries as he could put upon
his body. They not only were able to travel with him without anyone seeing them, but they lent him a great deal of power, power that was much different than that of his parents. Noah smiled when he thought of when he’d called Devon.

“I’m so glad that you’re coming. Grandmother will be back by the time you arrive, if not at the same time.” He looked over at the marchioness, who had hitched a ride with him on his plane—the last of his inheritance from the castle. “Also, we have been making some improvements here. Some that I’m betting that you will be pleased with. We’re going to be working very hard here to make sure that you never leave us again.” It wouldn’t take much, not with the way he was feeling. It all depended on the welcome he received when he arrived. Would they greet him with open arms, or would they simply turn their backs on him as they had done before? Not Devon, but the town in general. “How is that lovely wife or yours, Devon? She must be sick of you by now. Perhaps I can persuade her to come back with me, and we’ll have a bunch of little dragons.” He was only joking, and he knew that Devon knew it. “I talked to your grandmother while she was visiting my area. She is quite taken with the little slip of a woman.” “She has my mom’s dragon, Noah. Had I not been standing there when it happened, I think I would never have believed it. And, I think that we’re all in a better place too. Knowing that my mom was killed by my father gave us some peace that I didn’t think I’d have after he was dead. It gave me some closure that I didn’t have before.” He knew that from talking to his plane mate. It had given Lady Susanna closure as well. “When you arrive, I’ll have someone meet you at the airport. I’m having one put in for us here, now that I have a wife, so that it will be much easier for us to travel without the world knowing.” Noah knew what he meant—so that someone wouldn’t be able to take Kelly. It had happened before. Someone had gotten it in their head to take one of Devon’s stepmothers. That had ended badly when Devon’s father had refused to pay the ransom, saying that she was unfit as a wife to a marquess anyway. They had taken their anger out on the young woman, and she’d suffered brutally from the beating and the resulting wounds. “I should be there in a couple of days. These days the only thing that I have left is the plane, and that will be gone soon too. Also, I have a great many faeries with me, and they’d like to see if they can work with yours. I have also had William gather some of his seeds from the homestead that you can plant there. If you don’t mind.”

He told him that was fine, and that they’d been looking at places for him to stay when he decided to stay for good. “You and that little wife of yours, you’re plotting? My goodness, Devon, you surely have become a changed man. I think I might stay, for a time anyway. As for homes, I’m not sure about that right now. I’m a little short on funds that I can readily put my hands on at the moment, as you well know.” “I do. And I understand. Whatever you want to do, my home is always open to you.” And he knew that as well. For as many times as people had said that to him over the decades, Noah knew that Devon meant it. “Once you get here, you will never want
to leave again. I am so positive about it that I’m going to throw a dinner party to welcome you. I’ve missed you, Noah. I’m so glad that you’re finally coming for a visit.” “I’ve missed you as well, my friend. I’ll see you soon.” As they flew to their destination, Noah and Susanna talked about the new Devon. Yes, he thought to himself, this was going to be a very good visit. And who knew, perhaps he’d end up staying, as Devon wanted.

~*~ Laura watched her daughter struggle with her temper. The fact that she was trying to hold onto it said that she was trying to change, and not just go from zero to overboard when people made her pissy. However, if Laura had been talking to the man, she would have murdered him by now. The man was as dense as a cinderblock. He’d come to the front door about twenty minutes ago, screaming and accusing almost as soon as the door opened an inch. And when he’d been told that the police were going to be called, he yelled louder, making sure, Laura thought, that the world knew he was upset. She listened to Bryce as she tried in vain to convince the man she didn’t have his daughter. “I said, six times now, that I can’t help you find your daughter. If she told you that she was coming here, then you can bet that I’d tell you if she was. Emma and I are not friendly enough to be going to one another’s homes.” He asked why not. “Because I don’t like her. Not one bit. And you can bank on that too. If she was hoping I’d cover for her, then she’s just as shit out of luck as you are.” “I have it written down right here on this note she left for me two days ago. I want you to read it.” Bryce snatched it from Emma’s father and read the note as one might to a child. “You are a nasty, rude person.” “Precisely. Now, call the police, call the national guard. They’ll have better luck finding her than you will here at my home.”

Bryce started to close the door in Mr. Sharp’s face. He put his foot in the way so that Bryce couldn’t close it. “Look. I’ve tried very hard, several times, not to punch you in the face. But if you don’t remove your foot from the doorway, I’m going to pull out a knife and cut the part off that is preventing me from closing my door and close it. I’m tired and out of sorts, and you’re not helping one bit.” He jerked his foot back and Bryce slammed the door. As she leaned her back against it, Mr. Sharp started pounding on the door’s other side. The man had a death wish, that was all Laura could think about him. “Do you know where she is?” Bryce nodded and walked away from the door into the kitchen. Laura followed her. Her mother-in-law, Bea, was sitting at the table, a cup of tea stirring in front of her. “Bea, I thought that as long as there was the possibility of someone seeing you, you’d not use your magic in this house.” “Yes. But he wasn’t going to get in. We both know that. Bryce would have cut him to ribbons. Or if he got this far, I would have changed him into a toad. Nasty man that.” Bea picked up her cup of tea and the spoon disappeared. “You know where she is, Bryce, honey?”

“Dead.” No one said anything. If Bryce said she was dead, then she was dead. “I was wondering if we could have chicken and dumplings for dinner. We could use the roasted chicken from last night, since we’d be getting a late start.” Laura looked at Bea, who simply shook her head. Sometimes she was jealous of the two of them, the things that they could share. But on this, Laura was glad for the fact that she wasn’t anymore a witch than the dog was next door. Her daughter was very powerful, and her mother-in-law was a close second. They talked about dinner for a little while more, none of them very hungry, it seemed. As they plotted and planned for tomorrow, Bryce ate some grapes, a bowl of them on the table that hadn’t been there before. Tomorrow Bryce was going into the police station to turn down the job that they’d asked her to take. “I can’t be working around people all the time and not have one of them notice that I’m off my noddle.” Bea smacked Bryce’s hand. “Well, I don’t think that, but you know that they will once I use my magic. And I will. Even if I only have to turn one of them into something that is silent.” “I don’t blame you there. While our kind isn’t burned at the stake anymore, I do think that they’d put you away and never find the key if they knew just how powerful you are. Not that a cell would hold you, but then they’d try something else. Oh, by the way, that man next door thinks that his doggy is dead. I’ve taken care that his little doggy is safe. Poor thing. He was hurting it again and letting it stand in the snow all night.”

Laura asked Bea where he was. “Under the table, now that you’re aware of him. He’s a good dog. I might train him to be my animal. I’ve been sort of lonely without Pet around.” It was a startling revelation that witches had familiars. It was even more surprising that they didn’t necessarily have to be a cat—any animal would do. Case in point, Bryce had a bird. It was a pretty cockatoo that spoke four languages and could curse better than a sailor on leave. His name was Fred. Pet, Bea’s animal, had died. He’d been a pretty little lizard that would chase Laura around the kitchen when he was being playful. It could do more than snap out his tongue at her when she spoke to him, as he too was as powerful as his mistress. They were sure that he’d been poisoned by someone, but who had done it was a mystery. She thought it was a neighbor, but she didn’t ask anymore what they’d do to him if it had been him. Some things were better left unknown, Laura had figured out. Few knew that they were a house of witches. Laura could do some magic, gifted to her by Bea first, then Bryce had given her more. Laura couldn’t do spells, nor could she cast, gathering ingredients like she would for a cake and putting them together for some use. Laura could help with spells, but she wasn’t able to cast them on someone or something. That was fine by her as well. “I was thinking about that trip. The one where we headed back to your old country.” Laura got up and started throwing together a salad. That was something that she knew would be eaten, even if it wasn’t right now. She wouldn’t be going on the trip—that was something that Bea and Bryce did twice a year. “I’ve heard about some
herbs that we can gather and bring back with us. It would be nice to have a fully functioning garden.”

“It would at that. I have that castle too. The one that was up on the market for nonpayment of taxes. We could all stay there.” Laura wanted to see the castle in person—it was supposed to be grand. But she’d stay here, hold down the fort, so to speak, and they’d bring her back all manner of things as gifts. Laura tuned them out. There was nothing she could have added to the conversation other than to find out when they were leaving and when they’d return. As she was putting the bowl filled with the best greens she could find in the fridge, Bryce asked her if she was paying attention. “I was. You two will be leaving and I’ll make sure that the animals are safe here. I’ll need to have someone help me with the mail. I can’t travel all that far without having my hip hurt me a great deal.” She’d fallen two years ago, and her hip hadn’t been the same since. And the doctors told her that it wasn’t broken, just badly bruised. Quacks. “I know you won’t have to pack anything, so tell me what you need for me to do.” “Pack for yourself.” Laura started shaking her head. “Yes, you’re going with us this time. No excuses. I told you the last time you were going with us the next time. So, you pack you what you think you might want to take, and I’ll close up the house. Grandma said she’d take care of everything else. This will be an adventure for all of us, I think.” “Bryce, I’m too much trouble.” Her daughter crossed her arms over her chest and tapped her foot.

“You are not using my way of getting you to mind me. You just go with Bea and I’ll be here when you return. I’m too hurt to want to sit on a plane for hours.” “We’re not. Returning, I mean.” She asked her what she meant. “Grandma said that it’s time that we move on. People are beginning to notice that she’s not aging. Neither am I. And you look like we could be sisters and not mother and daughter. It’s time, Mom. We’ve done it before, and we need to do it again. And even if we weren’t, you’re still going.” The hand on her shoulder buzzed like electric through a cord all the way through her body. Laura stood there for several seconds, the warm feeling of good health still making her slightly light headed. She knew that when she moved around, she’d be not only as good as new, but also not in any more pain. Sitting in the chair that was still warm from when Bea had been sitting in it, she looked at Bryce. “I told you not to ever do that. I’ll not have you wasting your talents on an old woman like me. I do feel better, but you shouldn’t have done that. Honey, I knew that you’d have to move on soon. I just thought that you’d just make me old and leave me behind. I mean, that’s what I’d do.” “You would not. If you don’t pack, I will, and you know that I’ll accidently leave something behind. You can’t think that I’d leave you here, do you?” She shook her head. “Good. Pack only what you can’t replace. Then when we get to this castle, we’ll buy what you need. And if you pack up a box of things too big for your suitcase, tell me and I’ll send it along too.”

“What about Emma’s body? You have to give that man some closure. Not that he deserves it, but you should at least let someone find her.” Bryce said that she couldn’t and got up from the table. Laura sat there for several more minutes. Bryce couldn’t help the ones that had killed themselves. It was a vow that she’d taken when she’d taken her first lesson at the school for witchcraft. Everyone had to give up something, some kind of thing, that they couldn’t help humans with, and she’d said that she’d never help the suicide victims’ bodies to be found. It was something that she didn’t run into often, but this time she knew that it hurt her little girl. It was the only thing that Bryce could think of to give up that wouldn’t be her. Those were the only choices that she’d been given—give up her mother or the victims of suicide. Getting up, Laura started a mental list of things that she was going to take. Most of it was pictures, but there were a few things that she had been given by her late husband. Austin had been a good man, but he was also one that didn’t hide his magic. It was what had gotten him killed by the witch council.

 

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Tyler Winchester Brothers By Kathi S Barton Release Day & Giveaway

Jazzie Scott had been having a bad run on her luck ever since she had gotten mixed up with Ryan Scott. The only thing good to come out of that short marriage was her son Joey. Ryan died right after Joey was born which left her nearly broke and working a thankless job just to survive. Now someone was out to get her. They blew up her house and sent another bomb to the school where she worked. The police were now trying to pin the bombings on her, and she had had about all she could stand when her Uncle Lloyd stepped in to help.

Tyler Winchester had properties all over the world and had recently hired a staff of people to handle them for him. He had to fly to France to take care of a problem when he received a call from one of his employees, Lloyd, that Lloyd’s niece was in trouble. Lloyd was a good worker and Tyler offered to help.

Tyler arrived home, in the wee hours of the morning. He had a bad case of jetlag and all he wanted to do was sleep. When he entered his bedroom, the sounds of a baby fussing immediately drew his attention, and when he picked the little guy up, he knew immediately that the babe’s mom was his mate. Her scent had his head spinning.

Jazzie wasn’t too keen on having another man in her life. The last one was enough to make her swear off men for the rest of her life.

 

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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.

 

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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Jazzie could not wait for the last bus to pull away from the building. She looked at the array of gifts on her desk and wanted to sob. They hated her. And if she had only thought that was true before, this sort of set it in stone. Picking up one of the gifts, she looked at the mug. “For the worst teacher of the year.” Jazzie wanted to toss it across the room, see it smash against the concrete wall, and hear the pottery shatter. The rest of the gifts from her class were no different. There was a word of the day calendar that she knew one of the parents had picked up for the kid. It gave a word a day to describe hate. Not just the word, but also a little blurb about how the word could be used about her.

Jazzie also had a pen that when you clicked the button at the side, it would change a line to describe what they’d like to see happen to her. There were other things too, all in the same genre and directed right at her. A total of twenty-three gifts in all. She had to have been given the most gifts of all the teachers. Gathering them up and putting them in a box, she decided that she was going to find a job over the break, quit this stupid job that got her nothing for her work, and move away. She should have known better than to think she could make a difference after the first day of classes, when one of the students had given her a note from their parents. “Don’t even think about giving my son a failing grade. You do, and you’ll regret it for the rest of your short ugly life.” Jazzie still had it. She had framed it, thinking back then that it had been a joke. No, she’d come to find out. Not only wasn’t it a joke, but more of the parents had threatened her the same way. When she was putting the mug in the box, she knocked over the calendar. Its word today was piss-off.

Jazzie had no doubt that these were from the parents, but— She looked at the calendar as it lay open on the floor. Even from where she was sitting, she could see that there was some sort of device in it. Sitting down, trying to think what this might mean, she counted to ten. Then again, and again, trying to make her heartrate slow enough that she wasn’t dizzy. Taking out her cell phone, she put it away. Somewhere she thought she had read that cell phones could be used to make a bomb go off. While Jazzie wasn’t sure that’s what this was, she didn’t want to hurt anyone that might still be here in the building with her. Joey, her son, was safe with the sitter today if something should happen to her. Leaving the calendar where it was, she stepped into the hall and hoped that she was far away from the thing to make a call. She dialed her sister, knowing that she was going to regret it almost as soon as she pressed the button. And of course, it went right to voice mail. Jazzie tried to think who her sister worked for—somebody that had more money than brains, she thought. And then it occurred to her to call her Uncle Lloyd—Jazzie

was sure that he’d know what to do. At this point, she wasn’t even sure that the police would come and help her. And if it wasn’t a bomb, then she’d be laughed out of the town faster than she was planning to leave anyway. When he answered the phone, she sobbed. “Honey? Jazzie? What it is, love? Are you hurt? Joey? Is he okay?” Crying harder, she slid to the floor and asked him to hold on. It took her five minutes to spill out the story and tell him what she’d found. “Have you touched it? The calendar or the device?” “No. I mean, the calendar, it was a gift from one of my students, but I think it’s more from their parents.

They’re all so hateful, Uncle Lloyd. I have never been so hurt by something as I am this. I guess if the sucker is a bomb, then I’d be hurt more. Will you take care of Joey for me? He’s all I have in the world. Ash and Mom, they told me that they were tired of me—” He said her name hard and she shut up. “I’m to ask you who else is in the building with you.” She said that she didn’t know. The buses were all gone. “Good, the kids are gone then. All right. I want you to find a fire alarm and pull it. Then get out. As fast as you can.” “What if it’s not a bomb? Uncle Lloyd, you have no idea what I’ve been putting up with here.” He said her name again, but this time softer, gentler. “I can’t do this anymore. I just want to let it take me away.” “Now you listen here, young lady. You do what I tell you or I will paddle your bottom. You know that I will, too. That sister of yours, Ash, she should have had hers beaten a bit more, but she was too far gone by the time I came around.” He laughed. “However, I think she would have beaten my bottom worse. Now, do as I tell you.

” She went into the room, after getting his permission to get her purse, and then went into the hall to pull the alarm. When it sounded, several of the teachers came into the hall and asked her what the hell she was doing. After telling them that there was a bomb in the building, they simply closed the doors and went back into their rooms. Screaming, she went to the first door that had opened and pounded on it. Before Mrs. Hale could say anything, Jazzie slapped her, then asked her if that hurt. “I’m going to report you to the board. There is no cause for you to go around hitting people. I wish you’d just leave.” “Are you willing to just stay in your room and let a bomb, which was given to me by one of the students, go off and blow you to shit?” Mrs. Hale looked down at Jazzie’s door, then at Jazzie again. “If you think that slap hurt, how to you think it’s going to feel when the fucking building comes down on your head? Did you think of that? Now get your old skinny ass out of here before I have to knock you out and drag you by the hair.” She had no idea where all this violence was coming from, but it got Mrs. Hale moving. And she, in turn, got the rest of them moving as well. By the time the police and fire trucks pulled up, the teachers were standing as far back from the building as they could and still be in the parking lot. She almost forgot that she was still talking to her uncle.

“Remind me to never upset you. Where did that come from?” She smiled; it was the first real one she’d had since coming here. “Now, I want you to have a seat on the ground and let the people that know what they’re doing take care of this.” “What if it’s not a bomb?” She sat on the cold ground and waited for him to finish talking to someone with him. “Uncle Lloyd, I’m so sorry. I forgot you might be working.” “It’s all right, love. And it was a bomb. A friend of mine, he sent someone there and to your home. You were going to die if you’d not knocked over that gift.” If he continued talking, she had no idea what he was saying. Her mind kept looping around and around. “You were going to die. You were going to die.” When she woke up, she was in the back of an ambulance and a man was sitting next to her. Sitting up a little, she looked at him when he asked her to please stay still, someone was coming to get her. Not sure who that would be, she just assumed it was her uncle. “How long have I been here? And why does my head hurt so badly?”

She put her hand to her forehead and came away with blood when she felt it was wet. “Did one of the parents hit me?” “Ms. Scott, my name is Danny. And I’d like to advise you to not say another word.” She asked him why. “Your phone was ringing and I answered it. Lloyd said for me to tell you when you woke that he was coming and that you were to keep your mouth shut. He’s a very intense person, isn’t he?” “Yes. When there is someone hurt that he— There was a device in my office. Was it a bomb?” He helped her to sit up a little, but she had to wait until her head stopped spinning until she could look in the direction that he’d pointed. “Oh no. Oh my goodness. My son? Oh, my son?” “Your uncle, he told me that he was going to get him.” She asked him why he trusted him with the message. “I guess the guy that he works for, Tyler Winchester, told him that his brother knew me.

Dom and I went to school together. Now there is a nice man.” “I’ve had enough of nice men.” She didn’t know why she said that, and looked at what was left of the building. “I should have asked this before, but was anyone hurt?” “No, thanks to you. Mrs. Hale said that you got a little violent on her to get her out. She is telling everyone that you saved all their lives.” Jazzie told him that no one liked her. “Ah, I find that hard to believe. I mean, you seem like a nice person to me.” “I got the bomb from one of my students. Also, I had a lot of other things in my office.” He nodded and told her to lay back and close her eyes. Almost as soon as she did that, she heard a voice she didn’t know. “She awake yet?” Danny told the man that she had hit her head pretty hard. “Yes, well, I need for her to explain a few things to me. Like, why is it that her room was targeted? How did the bomb get into the school? Don’t tell her that her own home is gone. I’d like to see her reaction when I tell her. There is something fishy going on here.”

“Yes, I think so too.” Danny’s voice had turned hard then, and the cop, or so she thought it was, asked him what was up his ass. “Nothing. But from what I’ve heard, she saved a lot of teachers by getting them out of the building. And I know for a fact that the teachers here were taught what to look for in devices, as well as what to do. All the teachers in the district had to take it or they couldn’t teach this term.” “Yeah, well, she could have made it, brought it in on her own, then had second thoughts. Tell me when she wakes up. I have a lot of questions for her.” Danny told her he was gone but she didn’t move. “My house is gone too.” He said that he was sorry that she had to find out like that. “I have nothing left. Nothing for my son, nothing to put on him.

My savings is gone because I had to bury my husband, the lying cheating fucking prick.” When her uncle arrived, he sat with her while the police finally got around to asking her questions. Before she could utter the first word, even if she knew how to answer the one where he asked her if she had done it, an attorney came into the room and demanded that she be allowed to go to the hospital. Wendall Forthright not only had her on her way to the hospital in a few minutes, but he met her there too, bringing her uncle along. Joey was there as well, and as soon as she saw her little man, Jazzie felt better.

Her head was pounding so he kept trying to kiss her boo-boo, and that too made her feel human again. Sixteen stitches and a trip to where her uncle worked later, Jazzie found herself tucked into a nice warm bed, with her son in a crib right next to her. The meds that the doctor had given her for the trip had put her under. Her last thoughts were that it was a really nice hotel that someone put her and her son in. She only hoped that no one expected her to pay for it. She was pretty sure that not only was she out of work, but that she might be going to jail as well. ~*~ Tyler was on his way to France when the call came in about Lloyd’s niece and her son. He told him to bring them both to his home, put them in a room, and not to tell anyone where she was. His family was all right, but not anyone else. He’d gotten called about one of the houses that he owned. He’d sent Lloyd, Ash and her mother, as well as a friend of the family’s—Laveen Richardson’s—mother, Jannie. They went there to find out what had been going on.

And right after Lloyd had returned, thinking things were squared away, the house was vandalized. Tyler had to go there because there was no signed contract between him and Ash yet. So he was off again. The contract had been drawn up to have her sign when she returned from this trip. The other homes, all that she’d taken care of, seemed to be doing very well now. In the few weeks that she’d been there, he’d not gotten a single call from anyone. Again, Tyler wished that he’d hired someone much sooner. His cell was ringing just as he unbuckled and got ready to do some paperwork on the plane. It was his dad. Smiling, he waited for him to finish talking to Mom before he spoke to him.

“I’m telling you right now, if that girl ain’t your mate, I’m going to claim her as my own.” Tyler asked him what was going on. “That little man of hers—that’s what she calls him, her little man—he’s been having the best time with us. Or I should say, we’re having it with him. His poor momma. She’s the one that Lloyd told you about that had to bury her husband last year.” “He said that when the accident occurred, he and his lover were killed.” Dad told him that was the one. “Why are you having so much fun with the little boy? I mean, don’t you have enough grandchildren to play with there?” “I do. But a man like me, he can always have him a few more. You need to get yourself busy on that for us.” Tyler knew the moment that Mom hit Dad in the back of the head. “Durn it, woman, a man can beg, can’t he? I mean, the boy is all set for one. Got him a house right next door to us, and money in the bank.

Heck fire, he could take her all over the world and not have to visit one of them there fancy hotels once. Why not push him a little?” “Because, you old fool, he is not even in the States, and you’re adopting children for him. What is wrong with…are you still talking to him? What about his phone bills? Did you think of that when you were hanging on there like a monkey from the tree?” Tyler waited. He had explained to his parents, several times, that with a cell phone, it didn’t matter. His dad explained that to Mom while he waited for them to remember that someone had called him. “Tell him I love him, but I have to go and fetch some diapers for little Joey.” “That’s his name, in the event you didn’t know it.” He told Dad that he didn’t and thanked him.

“That man of yours, Lloyd, he’s fit to be tied. They’re blaming that bombing on her, I guess. Durn fools. Even her house—everything that she had was in it, and they’re treating her like she’d went and done it. There weren’t a soul hurt either, on account’a she went and made them leave. I tell you what.” Dad had been saying that for years, “I tell you what.” No one knew what he was going to tell you. He never explained, and rather than get into a discussion that would more than likely not give them the answer, they all just let him say it. Even Mom— she’d walk away from him when he’d spouted off that little tidbit.

“I’ll be home in about a week. Just make sure that she has whatever she needs. Lloyd means a great deal to me, and I don’t want him upset.” Dad told him that they were getting together supplies right now. “Good. How is he doing? Is he all right?” “Yes, seems to be. He does fuss a bit more. And that little boy, he sure does love him his uncle. Took me pert near a whole day to figure out that he ain’t really their uncle. He was just a really good friend to her daddy. And when he passed on, Lloyd took over helping them out.” Dad laughed, and he smiled again. “I tell you something, son. That girl has a temper on her too. Just yesterday, right after she got herself up and going, Addie came in and started ordering her around. None too gentle like either. But she didn’t want her up and around, and the girl just took her to task like she wasn’t armed and dangerous like you see them people on television. I tell you, she’d have peeled paper off the wall had they been in the living room.”

Why the living room? Tyler had no clue, but he didn’t ask. He knew that would be another long and drawn out explanation that would never answer the question. Tyler loved his parents with all his heart, but his dad could make a merry-go-round ill with the way he went around and around to get to the point. Dad told him that he had to go. Now that his momma was gone, he had to teach little Joey how to walk. Tyler asked him what Joey’s momma would say about that, and he just laughed, like asking parents about their kids’ habits was funny to him. Well, Tyler hoped that if his house guest wasn’t happy with it, she’d peel his wall paper off too. By the time he got everything straightened out in France—it only took him about an hour to get the paperwork fixed up—Tyler thought that he’d stay for a few days, just to relax. He also wanted to pick up a few things for Christmas while he was there, as well as bring home a few bottles of wine for gifts. Cartwright Winery was well known all over the world, and he wasn’t going to change the name because of that.

But he thought it’d be fun to have Winchester Winery on the label at some point. Maybe he’d ask Caleb what sort of designs he could come up with, incorporating Cartwright in the name at some place. Tyler thought that was a good idea. The next day when he got up, he was still on home’s timeframe, only a five-hour difference. Tyler made his way to the water just to watch the waves come in. It was too chilly to walk in the water, but that didn’t matter to him—Tyler was happy having the area all to himself. The house had its own beach front, and he loved it there. When he was ready to face the world, even if it was late in the afternoon for him, he decided to go to the local bakery and find something that might tempt him. He’d been eating fast food for a while now, since Mr. Cartwright had passed, and he was hungry for some home cooking. Having a meal at his mom’s once a week wasn’t nearly enough for him and his taste buds. He was just looking over the menu when something occurred to him. Laying the menu down slowly, Tyler tried to think who he should talk to.

When Addie touched his mind, her laughter had him peg her for the culprit right away. Yes, it was me. I heard that you were having a terrible time when you traveled because you didn’t understand the languages. I fixed it for you. He asked her how she’d done that. If I told you, then I’d have to murder you. And while I like you a great deal…. Nah, it wasn’t that hard. I just thought of the barrier that you were dealing with and touched you. In fact, I’ve given it to all the people in this family. Penny loves it, by the way. Yes, I’m sure she does, but she’s twelve. You might have told me. She asked him why she’d do something silly like that. Because, I don’t want to freak out in a foreign country. You are freaking out, Tyler. He took several deep breaths and let them out slowly. While I’m talking to you, there are a few things that I’d like to discuss. The woman in your house—do you know what she’s being accused of? Dad told me that they think she might have done it. Addie said that she hadn’t. I didn’t think so. Dad is a pretty good judge of character, and he didn’t believe it either. Why do you ask?

The police are hounding her. Well, they’re looking for her to hound her. My boss is well aware of where she is, and he’s having me look into it. By the way, she’s not Dom’s mate. That leaves you, I guess. Tyler asked her why she’d think that. Don’t know for sure. But the others, they have this unbelievable need to protect her. Dad, your dad, said that’s a good sign. I think you might like her, even if she’s not. I’m a little deep in shit here to wonder if I have a mate or not. She told him that he was done, but wasting time. Are you always this annoying? I’ll have you know that this is the first time in a while that I feel like I’m on top of things. And while I do think that your gift is great, it was still a surprise to be able to read the menu here.

Also, you’ll be thrilled to know that I’m Christmas shopping. He was the only one that hadn’t bought a single gift. If not for the others arranging to get their parents a family gift, he’d not have had that done either. The list was finished; he knew just what to get each person. It was the execution of the deal that he wasn’t up on. When Addie told him that her target was coming out, Tyler just let her go. He had better things to do, too, that didn’t involve asking his hitman sister-in-law who her target might be. She was a hitman for the CIA and the president. He stayed out of her way when she was working. At dinner time he was back at the house, having made a dent in his list. Owen had asked him to pick up the tea cups that were at the shop that Birdie had ordered long before her death, and he said that he would. While there, he found the perfect gift for his mom. The cup had the most beautiful design on it.

Roses and violets were all around the outside, as well as the inside bottom. But what really sold him was the fact that it had her name on it, in the vines. The owner of the shop had been so happy to have Birdie’s cups picked up that he’d done that for free. Tyler was going to be able to pick it up before he left. Dinner was a variety of dishes that he wanted to try, and he thanked his cook there for thinking of him. After dinner, exhausted after all the walking he’d done and the lack of sleep he’d been having lately, Tyler went to bed almost as soon as the sun was down. Tomorrow he had one more place to shop, then he’d be heading home. To what he had no idea, but he was going to be ready for it.

 

 

 

 

 

Malevolent Magic, A new Cozy Mystery Book by Author Mildred Abbott Release Blitz

Release Blitz
Malevolent Magic 🂡🎄
A Cozy Corgi Mystery

 

 

Cozy Corgi Mystery, Book 9 is NOW LIVE!

 

Get your copy of Malevolent Magic for ONLY 99c

 

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Christmas week sparkles with holiday decorations, sweet potato pie, lively tourists, and murder…

 

 

 

Estes Park is a wonderland of twinkling lights and softly falling snow, and Winifred Page wants nothing more than to snuggle up in the mystery room with Watson at her feet—after all, Katie’s pastries are tempting pieces of heaven, especially beside a warm fire. But Christmas is fast approaching, and Fred is out on a cold morning visiting neighboring stores and planning a celebration at the Cozy Corgi Bookshop and Bakery. 

 

 

 

Fred is welcoming the holiday spirit and appreciating the friendships, love, and support she’s found during her first year in her new hometown. But the night’s festivities become a scene for local drama, and by morning a trip to the magic shop to collect a present has Fred and Watson stumbling upon a murder scene. In an unexpected twist, Fred is asked to investigate, but the suspect list keeps growing, and every one of them would give Ebenezer Scrooge a run for his money. 

 

 

 

With Fred still coming to grips with a recent betrayal, shifting through all the curmudgeons to crack the case may take more holiday magic than she and Watson possess.

 

 

 

(This culinary cozy mystery includes a recipe for delectable sweet potato pie.)

 

 
Add to your TBR shelf on Goodreads
Chapter One

The Scroogiest of Ebenezer Scrooges wouldn’t have a ghost of a chance remaining immune to the holiday spirit once they entered the toy store. With Christmas a little over two and a half weeks away, I began counting the days for it all to be over. Though I most definitely would not consider myself a Scrooge, in my defense, Halloween had barely sighed its dying breath before Estes Park began stringing lights and hanging tinsel. Those aspects only increased the charm of the Colorado mountain town, making it a beautiful Christmas village, but there are limited versions of Christmas carols a person can bear on endless loops after so many weeks.

Still, surrounded by the massive assortment of old-fashioned Christmas toys carved from wood or made of hand-painted metal that filled Bushy Evergreen’s Workshop, the high-pitched voices of Alvin and the Chipmunks singing “The Christmas Song” nearly got me back into the mood—I was practically in the middle of Santa’s toy factory, for crying out loud. The six-year-old girl who lived inside me couldn’t help but be swept away by the wonderment and magic of it all.

A whimper at my feet drew my attention away from a carved elk with the nose painted bright red to resemble his more famous reindeer cousin. Watson grimaced up at me through slitted eyes as if he was in pain. It seemed he held no enjoyment of Alvin and the Chipmunks. If he could, I had no doubt Watson would’ve curled his fox-like corgi ears to block out the noise.

I smiled at him and shook my head. “You are the definition of a drama queen.”

He only continued to scowl. Maybe I was wrong. Watson was probably the Scroogiest of Ebenezer Scrooges, and he wasn’t a convert.

We rounded the corner, past a pyramid of stuffed animals, and came into view of the counter, which was outlined in twinkling multicolored lights. Old Duncan Diamond, the carver of the wooden toys, and his son, Dolan, were huddled together in front of a computer screen. Both seemed heavy in concentration. So much so that at Watson’s and my movement, Dolan glanced at us and then instantly returned to the computer before flinching and looking back up once more, clearly startled. He darted his gaze from me to Watson, then toward the front door and back. “Goodness! You two snuck in.”

Duncan gave a little flinch of his own at Dolan’s voice but smiled instantly when he saw us. “Didn’t even hear the door chime.” There was a flicker of sadness in his eyes, and I knew he was thinking of the year before, the loss and betrayal that had happened where Watson and I stood, but the look was gone in an instant and his smile returned. “To what do we owe the pleasure of a visit from Winifred Page and her corgi sidekick? I know your nephews and nieces are much too old for any of the toys I offer here at this point.”

“Nice to see you both.” I didn’t try to argue and finished my path to the counter, letting a little slack loose in Watson’s leash so he could wander around if he wanted. “And there are two things, actually.” I dug into my purse and pulled out a notepad. “Katie and I had an idea, and I’m making a quick jaunt around town to see if other store owners are interested.”

Dolan gave an exaggerated shiver. “It’s the coldest day we’ve had in weeks. If you’re walking all over downtown in this weather, you’re tougher than me.” He shrugged good-naturedly. “Although, we already knew that.”

Before I could respond, Duncan patted his son on the back. “But you’re sweet, kind, and pure of heart.” He refocused on me. “So what’s this scheme you and the baker sent from the gods have come up with?”

The first time I met him, Duncan Diamond seemed so old and sad. Now, despite heavy wrinkles on his face, he was lighter, happier. That helped me remember the point of Christmas spirit even more than the beauty of the toy shop. “We thought we’d use the final rush of tourists for some good. We’re putting together a coupon book for all the shops. The booklet will cost twenty-five dollars and will have discounts for all participating stores inside. All the profits will be split between the toy drive at the hospital, the women’s shelter, and the animal rescue.” Though Bushy Evergreen’s Workshop was at least the tenth store I’d visited the past couple of hours, I felt heat rise to my cheeks. I hated asking for things, even when they weren’t for me. “There’s no pressure at all, but anything you’d be willing—”

“What do you think, Dad?” Dolan didn’t even hesitate as he looked at Duncan. “Fifteen percent off all purchases, and a free stuffed animal for those over fifty dollars?”

Once more Duncan patted his son on the back. “See? Sweet, kind, pure of heart.” Duncan nodded at me. “Put us down.”

There was the sound of a door slamming in the back, and Dolan’s rather plain face lit up into a thing of beauty as his wife emerged from more rows of toys, snow falling from her long raven hair while she unwrapped the bundle in her arms. She smiled brightly when she noticed us. “Fred, Watson. So good to see you!”

Dolan hurried to help her finish unwrapping the bundle, revealing a chubby baby girl with a mop of bright red curls who giggled as her daddy kissed her cheeks.

Daphne let out a sigh of relief and straightened, her back popping audibly. “Darby is barely five months old, but I swear it feels like I’m lugging around a preschooler.” She started to laugh and then worry filled her beautiful eyes. “Is everything okay? Has someone been murdered?”

When I moved to Estes Park a little more than a year ago, I figured I’d be known around town as the owner of the Cozy Corgi Bookshop. And I was, but even more than a reputation for book-nerd status, my appearance had become associated with finding dead bodies. “No. Just here begging for money.”

She relaxed in relief and began sloughing off the layers of scarf and jacket. “Thank goodness.”

“You’re hardly begging for money, Winifred.” Duncan walked from behind the counter and scratched Watson between his ears. “But you did say you came for two reasons. What’s the other? We’ll help you in any way we can.”

“Always.” Daphne nodded her agreement with her father-in-law and looked at me in a sense of hero-worship, as she had on the rare occasions we ran into each other. Hardly something I felt I deserved.

“Well, Katie and I had a second idea as well. Next Thursday evening, we thought we’d throw a party at the Cozy Corgi, just for residents of the town, before the Christmas tourism starts the next day. Nothing lavish, just Katie’s baking and a time to chat and hang out. We thought we might make it a Christmas tradition.”

“I’ve never had one sampling of Katie’s baking that isn’t lavish.” Duncan gave a final pat on Watson’s head and stood. “And it’s a marvelous idea. For such a small town as we are, and everyone knowing everyone else’s business, we should do more things where tourists and sales aren’t the primary focus. We will be there.”

By the time we left Bushy Evergreen’s, though it wasn’t quite five yet, dusk had fallen. The thousands of lights strung up with the silver tinsel that swept from streetlamp to streetlamp covered Elkhorn Avenue in a canopy of Christmas. Not for the first time, with the snow falling softly, I couldn’t help but feel like we’d built our lives inside of a Christmas snow globe.

Estes Park was always beautiful, but with the Christmas lights and decorations, it was even more lovely than usual. I changed my mind—I didn’t want it to be over in a couple of weeks, even if it meant the end to the background of carols everywhere we went.

Some of my Christmas cheer gave way to a rush of anxiety as I glanced across the street toward the frozen waterwheel, also outlined in twinkling white lights. Right behind it, nestled among the few stores along the wooden pathway that led up from the main sidewalk, the window of the magic shop got my attention. Even from across the street, it was easy to see that they took Christmas seriously. There were so many lights, it glowed like a beacon. Alakazam was the reason I’d chosen to only do one side of the street first. I wanted to put off going into the magic shop for as long as possible. But with it staring at me from across the street, I could practically feel it taunting me.

That was a problem for the following day. Without a look back, Watson and I returned the way we’d come. I’d show Katie all the shops who’d signed up for the Christmas coupon book. Maybe over a dirty chai…

As we neared the Cozy Corgi, my mother, laden with boxes in front of her face, slipped and slid as she attempted to open the door to my step-sisters’ New Age shop. “Mom, hold on. Let me help.” I picked up my speed.

With a startled squeak, Mom flinched, her left foot kicked out, making contact with the front door of Chakras, and the boxes tumbled, their contents spreading over the sidewalk in glistening arrays of red, green, and silver.

I arrived just in time to grip her by the arm before she joined her fallen necklaces. “Sorry! I was trying to help, not scare you to death.”

She laughed and fluttered a hand in front of her chest. “That’s all right dear. I think the jewelry and I were both destined to end up down there, so it’s good you came along. I should’ve knocked on the door and waited for Zelda or Verona to let me in, but I was being stubborn.” She smiled up at me tenderly and then refocused at her feet, pulling out of my grip to bend toward Watson. “And hello to you too, handsome.”

Watson pressed into her touch, a simple acknowledgment that she was part of his pack.

I knelt to begin picking up the strands of crystals, stones, and beads. “I’m afraid these are a tangled mess.”

With a chuckle, she gave a final pat to Watson and began to help. “Can’t blame you for that either, Fred. Barry helped me carry them from the house and dropped them as well. He offered to help untangle them, but I figured the twins and I could do it once I got here. It looks like that was the correct call. Otherwise I’d have to do it all over again.” She grabbed the jewelry by the fistful and stuffed it back into boxes, only making the tangled situation worse. “It serves me right. I chose to make the collection out of barite, zincite, and quartz more for their green, red, and clear colors than for the correct blend of physical and metaphysical attributes. It’s what I get for putting commercialism of the holiday season over—”

“Good grief, you three, you’re making an absolute mess.” Zelda stood above us in the doorway.

“Actually, I would say barite’s qualities of assisting with regeneration and relaxation are perfect for the holiday season.” Verona, Zelda’s identical twin, except for her long blonde hair compared to Zelda’s brunette, peered over her shoulder. “Although, blending it with zincite’s influence over creativity and sexuality is an interesting choice.”

As the twins assisted by scooping up strands of gems, they began to bicker over the positive and negative attributes of Mom’s Christmas jewelry collection. Within a matter of moments, we were inside Chakras and had deposited the tangled mess of jewelry in a huge heap on top of the counter.

Mom let out an exhausted groan. “Goodness. This is going to take hours.”

“Actually…” Verona cast a conniving glance toward Zelda. “Just this morning, the kids were asking for new cell phones for Christmas. Both of them.”

Zelda cocked an eyebrow. “Interesting timing. So were mine. Apparently they’ve been talking.”

“Of course they have. Power in numbers.” Verona gestured toward the daunting mass of jewelry. “I bet our four little elves could tackle this in no time in hopes we might be more amenable.”

“Brilliant.” Zelda grinned and patted Mom’s shoulder. “Don’t give it a second thought. All will be handled. And from the looks of things, they’re absolutely beautiful. And regardless of their… interesting combination of attributes, I guarantee you there will be plenty of shoppers who will require such a focus of energy.”

A year before, I never would have dreamed I’d be standing in the middle of my step-sisters’ New Age shop talking about the powers of crystals as if it was the most normal thing in the world. It was bizarre, and… rather wonderful. I hadn’t been in Chakras for over a week. The store was always beautiful with its mishmash of outlandish and unique merchandise and decor, but Verona and Zelda had gone all out for their first year being open for the holidays. Christmas lights covered every single available surface. But there were new additions hanging from the ceiling that nearly took my breath away. Large round spheres, the size of beach balls hung in differing heights from the ceiling. They glowed in a shifting silvery, grayish white, their shards making them look like an explosion of snowy stars. Without thinking I started to reach out to touch one.

“I wouldn’t do that, Fred.” Verona’s tone had the hint of exasperation. “These are Jonah and Noah’s latest creations. They’re made from the same material they used for last year’s garlands.”

I yanked my hand back and turned to stare at the twins. “Are you serious? Your husbands made more deadly Christmas decorations?”

“Just for Chakras.” Zelda shrugged, unconcerned. “They’re not going to mass market them or sell them or anything like that. There won’t be any more lawsuits.”

“Besides.” Verona sounded a little more exasperated than her twin. “They keep going back and forth on what they’re going to do with their shop. I don’t think they’re ever going to get it opened.” She gestured toward the gleaming orbs. “These gave them a couple days of focus, which they needed.”

“They are lovely.” Mom eyed them skeptically. “Although… You may want to hang them a little higher. I can’t reach them, but there’s plenty of people Fred’s height or taller who will be tempted.”

“Oh! That reminds me!” Zelda turned to me, her long brown hair fanning out in an arc. “Verona and I were talking about the little coupon book thingy you and Katie are doing. In addition to the discount on all incense items, we thought we would also throw in a free energy consultation, no purchase required.”

“Thank you. That would be lovely.” I glanced back at my inventor brothers-in-law’s beautiful but deadly creations. “You might want to include a free box of Band-Aids or something as well.”

“Oh, Fred.” Mom swatted at me but couldn’t hold back a giggle at the twins’ sour expressions.

 

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NOW YOU CAN ALSO PRE-ORDER BOOK#10 !!
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Reading the Cozy Corgi series is pretty much all you need to know about Mildred. In real life, she’s obsessed with everything she writes about: Corgis, Books, Cozy Mountain Towns, and Baked Goods. She’s not obsessed with murder, however. At least not at her own hands (nor paid for… no contract killing here). But since childhood, starting with Nancy Drew, trying to figure out who-dun-it has played a formative role in her personality. Having Fred and Watson stroll into her mind was a touch of kismet.
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PASSION BY JEANNETTE WINTERS RELEASE BLITZ

Release Blitz, For Passion by Author Jeannette Winters

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For Passion is Now Live!!

Is Elle the secret ingredient that has been missing from Josh’s life or a distraction that might get them both killed?

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Josh Turchetta left the US Marine Corps for one reason, to join his family in saving the lives of those who otherwise would’ve been lost. Work hard, play hard, is his motto and lifestyle.

Ellie Laroux enjoyed baking and refused to let her exotic cupcake shop fail. Her personal life was on hold as she focused on keeping her business out of the red.

In a flash, her life changes when she learns of her brother’s harsh, sudden death. She will not stop until his killers are brought to justice, even if it means losing her business and possibly her life.

Josh is assigned to watch Ellie from a distance. Ellie’s stubborn like her late brother and her tactics are drawing unwanted attention. How can he protect someone who is continuously waving a red flag calling out the enemy?

He finds her tenacity, determination, and passion irresistible. Is she the secret ingredient that has been missing from his life or a distraction that might get them both killed?

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Jeannette Winters is a romance author mixing heart, intrigue, and the steamy pleasure of a Billionaire romance.

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Jeannette grew up in a large family, number ten out of eleven children, eight of them being older brothers. She quickly developed a great sense of humor, mostly from necessity. One of her greatest joys is sitting on the porch where they were all raised and hearing the stories from years gone by. Quietly laughing to herself, she notices how they embellish the stories more and more each year.

Storytelling was passed down from her grandfather and mother. Jeannette caught the bug at a very young age. If she didn’t have her head in a book, then she was off somewhere with a notebook, jotting down stories of what she would write if one day she became an author. Although the notebook may have vanished, the stories are still vivid and waiting for the right time to be told.

Despite having an amazing family, there have also been some sorrows in her life, including the loss of loved ones. Over the years, Jeannette has spent countless hours volunteering for different organizations and acting as a caregiver to those most dear to her. As a result, supporting the elderly became of utmost importance.

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SINFUL GAMES BY SHELLY ALEXANDER RELEASE BLITZ

Release Blitz, Sinful Games by Author Shelly Alexander

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Prologue
“She made the first move, so I’m all in and ready to play.”
– Oscar (Oz) Strong
Sometimes life gets f&%#ed up. Is it my fault?
Usually.
I might be a literal genius in biochemistry. I might have made the right choice when I let two of my college chess team buddies talk me into putting my brain and my multiple degrees to work in an unexpected way that has made us ridiculously wealthy. I may be the founding partner who developed our full line of wildly successful, supercharged, pheromone colognes. I might have even been damned smart, coming up with the idea to take our multimillion-dollar company public.
But that doesn’t mean I make the most intelligent decisions when it comes to my personal life.
For instance, I let my parents push me into marriage right after I finished at Columbia.
I should’ve reminded dear old Mom and Dad that their geekster, brainiac son has spent a lot of time at the gym packing on muscle and has learned how to treat a lady, both in and out of bed…so I’m smart enough to pick my own woman.
But naw.
I married a girl because my parents liked her family’s name. A girl who didn’t love me but instead loved my trust fund.
Now that I think about it, smart people really can be obtuse to the point of idiocy. Which is why falling for my new assistant is not only my biggest f&%# up, but it’s also a mistake that could put both of my business partners and our company’s future at risk.
It’s stupid, I know. But then she goes and makes the first move, and fierce competitor that I am, I can’t help but rise to the challenge.
I’m all in and ready to play by her rules. I just don’t realize until it’s too late that the only rule to the game she wants to play is seductive, steamy, sexy…and so positively sinful.
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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.

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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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MASTERMIND BY AUTHOR LIZABETH SCOTT RELEASE BLITZ & Rafflecopter giveaway

Release Blitz, Mastermind – The Duke’s Secret Life by Author Lizabeth Scott

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HARLOW
Down and out,
Nobody to call, no place to stay.
I did what I had to,
I needed to survive.

Squatting in an old apartment complex wasn’t my best move,
But moving in with the sexy and sensitive owner of the building couldn’t be any worse.
After all, he just wants to help,
And I can’t resist the kindness of this particular stranger.

He’s proper and serious,
Unlike anyone I’ve ever met.
He saved me,
And now it’s my turn to save him,
From himself.

DUKE
I’ve never known anyone like her,
Gorgeous, smart, and slightly naïve,
But her sense of humor has me begging for more.
I’m drawn to her in ways I can’t even explain.

Insisting she move in was my best decision,
And now, I’m getting to know Harlow in every way,
Feeling like she may be the Duchess to my Duke.

But, I need to come clean about me,
Let her know the truth about me,
About my life.
Can a woman like her handle the secret I’ve been hiding?

Each book in this small-town hot romance series can be read as a standalone, but for a richer reading experience, the following order is recommended:
Heartbreaker – April & Elias
Troublemaker – Rachael & Kyle
Mastermind – Harlow & Duke
Hothead – Baylee & Smith

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Lizabeth spent years doing extensive research in preparation for writing her own stories by reading every romance book she could get her hands on. At least that’s how she justifies her HUGE collection of romance books to Mr. Scott.

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Liz grew up on a dairy farm in western North Carolina where she wrote her first story at the age of thirteen. She married her high school sweetheart and they have 2 kids and 1 simply adorable grand with another on the way. With her children now settled and on their own Liz pulled her dreams of writing back out and that little spark that sizzled for years caught fire and is now roaring back to life.

Liz loves to read and write stories about quirky, endearing heroines and the strong, handsome heroes who love them to distraction. She promises you a few laughs along the way with some steamy and charming moments thrown in but always a happy ever after.

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THE WRITE APPEAL BY AUTHORS JEANNETTE WINTERS & LENA RELEASE BLITZ

Release Blitz, The Write Appeal, Muse and Mayhem Book 1 by Authors Jeannette Winters & Lena Lane

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Two sisters, Two Love Stories, One Book!

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Two Love Stories, One Book!

Pepper and Prudence Pereira might be fraternal twins, but they have only one thing in common, their passion for writing; one intrigue the other romance.

Attending a readers/writers convention in Las Vegas seemed like the perfect location for much-needed quality sister time. Their fun ends abruptly when drama begins and the police get involved. All the authors are informed that no one can leave Vegas until they are cleared. Now caught up in a tangled web of lies and deception, Pru and Pepper know there is only one way out, find the truth themselves.

In their search, their paths continue to cross with Gerard Hamel and Maxwell Whittaker. They insist they only want to help, yet both seem to have a hidden agenda.

The stakes are high, and the sisters must decide. Will trusting these men land them behind bars, or will they find the only thing held captive is their hearts? Can love be found in the midst of a tragedy?

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Meet the Authors

Jeannette Winters is a romance author mixing heart, intrigue, and the steamy pleasure of a Billionaire romance.

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Jeannette grew up in a large family, number ten out of eleven children, eight of them being older brothers. She quickly developed a great sense of humor, mostly from necessity. One of her greatest joys is sitting on the porch where they were all raised and hearing the stories from years gone by. Quietly laughing to herself, she notices how they embellish the stories more and more each year.

Storytelling was passed down from her grandfather and mother. Jeannette caught the bug at a very young age. If she didn’t have her head in a book, then she was off somewhere with a notebook, jotting down stories of what she would write if one day she became an author. Although the notebook may have vanished, the stories are still vivid and waiting for the right time to be told.

Despite having an amazing family, there have also been some sorrows in her life, including the loss of loved ones. Over the years, Jeannette has spent countless hours volunteering for different organizations and acting as a caregiver to those most dear to her. As a result, supporting the elderly became of utmost importance.

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Lena has been writing since high school–though that first story will remain in the dark corners of her closet to protect everyone. After all, she writes romance, not horror. Just kidding! It’s not really that bad, but her idea of romance and love has certainly changed through time, not to mention her writing skills.

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Growing up in a traditional and strict family, Lena was protected–or maybe overprotected. Books became her escape, her only avenue to see the world beyond the walls of her shelter. It wasn’t long before she realized that romance was the way to go. No matter how difficult the characters’ circumstances were, by the time the book ended, everything was perfect. In romance, there is always a guaranteed happy ending.

Reality was unwelcomed and Lena devoured books like people eat chips. As soon as one was done, she was on the hunt for another. When reality intruded in her life–like work (ugh!)– and reading other people’s work was impossible, she started daydreaming, creating her own stories. Now, she wants to share those daydreams and passion with the rest of the world.

After getting her own happy ending, Lena lives in a small town in Massachusetts with her husband, two girls, two dogs, and three cats, and if her eldest daughter has anything to do about it, maybe a bird in the future… She really hopes not, though. Birds are really, really loud.

Her stories have been described as cute and sweet with just enough humor to give the reader an occasional giggle.

Happy reading!

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