[Book Review] I See You by Clare Mackintosh @claremackint0sh @BerkleyPub #Mystery #Thriller

I See You by Clare Mackintosh

**I’d like to thank the publishers for my copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

Publication Date: February 21, 2017

Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group

Synopsis 

The author of the smash bestseller, I Let You Go, propels readers into a dark and claustrophobic thriller, in which a normal, everyday woman becomes trapped in the confines of her normal, everyday world…

 Every morning and evening, Zoe Walker takes the same route to the train station, waits at a certain place on the platform, finds her favorite spot in the car, never suspecting that someone is watching her…

 It all starts with a classified ad. During her commute home one night, while glancing through her local paper, Zoe sees her own face staring back at her, a grainy photo along with a phone number and listing for a website called findtheone.com. 

Other women begin appearing in the same ad, a different one every day, and Zoe realizes they’ve become the victims of increasingly violent crimes—including rape and murder. With the help of a determined cop, she uncovers the ad’s twisted purpose…a discovery that turns her paranoia into full-blown panic. For now Zoe is sure that someone close to her has set her up as the next target. 

 And now that man on the train—the one smiling at Zoe from across the car—could be more than just a friendly stranger. He could be someone who has deliberately chosen her and is ready to make his next move…

My Thoughts

After hearing rave reviews for Mackintosh’s debut novel I Let You Go (which I haven’t read yet), I was excited at the opportunity to read this one.  As soon as I read the description, I knew this was right up my alley.

The story dives right in with Zoe flipping through the London Gazette on her train ride home, and seeing an ad for an online dating service with her photo.  Not knowing what to make of it, she brings it home to show her boyfriend Simon and two adult kids: Justin & Katie, who brush it off as someone playing a joke.

Pros: 

– I loved getting to know Kelly.  She’s a good cop who’s smart, doesn’t like to follow the rules but is justified by trying doing the right thing.

– Eventhough Zoe was my least favourite character, the author did a good job at making her relatable.  

– I loved the narration from the “stalker’s” point of view.  It gave me the creeps.

I see you, but you don’t see me.  You’re engrossed in your book; a paperback cover with a girl in a red dress.   I can’t see the title but it doesn’t matter; they’re all the same.  If it isn’t boy meets girl, it’s boy stalks girl.  Boy kills girl.

– The story had a good who dunnit factor. Even when I thought I had it all figured out and the mystery was solved, there were still a couple of twists. 

-The ending was a slam dunk for me.  It was one I didn’t see coming.

Cons:

Some of the details of Zoe’s life were bordering on boring and slowed the story down.  However, just when I was about to give up, Mackintosh managed to recapture my attention.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and will be reading I Let You Go very soon!

My Rating ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Have you read this book? What did you think? Have you read her debut novel (I Let You Go)?

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[Book Review] Captain No Beard: An Imaginary Tale of a Pirates Life @caroleproman @awaywegomedia_ @NavIndieworld #ChildrensFiction #ChildrensBooks #CaptainNoBeard

Captain No Beard: An Imaginary Tale of a Pirates Life by Carole P. Roman

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Publication Date: April 12, 2012

Publisher: Michael/Okon

Synopsis

Captain No Beard and his pirate ship The Flying Dragon set sail for a voyage of the imagination with his fearless crew of four: First Mate Hallie, Mongo the Monkey, Linus the loudmouthed lion, and Fribbit the floppy frog. Normally a young boy named Alexander, his cousin Hallie, and three stuffed animals, once they board his bed their world is transformed into a magical vessel, sailing the seven seas on dangerous and exciting adventures!

My Thoughts

Ahoy there..Shiver Me Timbers!

If you have a child who loves pirates, then they will enjoy this book like mine did.  It reminds me of how my older two children play, when they play make-belief and dress up like pirates.  I love how Roman was able to capture the imagination of a child.

The illustrations in this book were fantastic!  Very colourful and fun.  Perfect for both boys and girls.

I highly recommend this for me mateys 😉

My Rating: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Do you or your kids like pirates? 


[Cover Reveal] Match Made @AmelieSDuncan #Romance 

Match Made: Bad Boys and Show Girls
Amélie S. Duncan
(Love and Play, #2)

Publication date: April 10th 2017
Genres: Adult, Romance, Sports

In order to win his heart, she’ll have to play the game…

All over Broadway, my name is up in lights. From New York to London, the words ‘Gemma Sinclair’ are synonymous with up-and-coming fame, and a super-fast rise to success.

Yeah, well, super isn’t how I feel…

Between my deadbeat addict of an ex-boyfriend and the stress of my parents relying on me back home—sometimes I feel like the ground beneath my feet is slipping away.

Until I crossed paths with Knox Callahan, the hot and sexy as hell veteran player for the New York Football Club—and a total player when it comes to women. A year after our disastrous first date, I’m still in no position to have anything to do with a guy like him.

But then right at my lowest, here he comes, riding back into my life and offering me something I’ve been desperately longing for—support. And truth.

And, well, the truth is—now I can’t for the life of me remember why I didn’t want to be a part of his team…

Author’s Note: This is a standalone from the Love and Play Series. It’s HEA, No cheating friends-to-lovers contemporary romance with some sports, a loving alpha dominant male, strong female lead, and a little smut between the steam

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

Love and Play #1:


Author Bio:

Amélie S. Duncan writes contemporary, erotic romances with a dark edge. Her inspiration comes from many sources including her life experiences and travels. She lives on the West Coast of the United States with her husband.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter


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[#BlogTour & Giveaway] Purgatory Reign by LM Preston @LM_Preston #YALit #ParanormalRomance#Mystery

PURGATORY REIGN

Purgatory Reign

Book One

LM Preston

Genre: YA, Romance, Paranormal,

Adventure, Mystery

Publisher: Phenomenal One Press

Date of Publication:  02/16/2013

ISBN: 9780985025144

ASIN: B01N6ZTBNX

Number of pages: 307

Word Count:  79K

Cover Artist: Emma Michaels

Tagline: Something evil this way comes, unfortunately for it Peter Saints awaits.

Book Description:

Peter Saints’ life stinks. But things are about to get much worse. First, his parents are murdered in front of him. Then another victim dies in his arms. Visions plague Peter with warnings that something wants him for a sinister cause. It desires the one thing that Peter refuses to give, his blood.

Peter carries within him the one gift or curse that could unlock a secret to destroy the human race. On the run with Angel, a scruffy kid, Peter starts to unravel the mystery. It is the one treasure the heavens sought to hide from the world.

Unfortunately, when Peter finds the answer he hopes that will save the girl he loves, he opens the door to a great evil that happens to be salivating to meet him.

Purgatory Reign is Book 1 in the series including Deviant Storm, Fierce Tides and Kindle World novella Colliding Souls from Runes World.

Amazon     BN     Smashwords       Kobo      iTunes     BAM

Excerpt

Purgatory Reign:

Peter took a moment to catch his breath. “I left. I left the grounds. But something’s bad has happened. Sh-she…Hanna died!” He coughed and his eyes watered. “Because of me! My fault. It was my fault. You gotta help her! I always screw up. Always.

Please…” Pastor Finn put his hands on Peter’s shoulders and shook him. “Why’d you leave? I told you never to leave here. You’ll put us all in danger. Yourself in danger. I didn’t save your butt for you to screw this up, boy.” He yanked Peter by the shirt and down the stairs. Then dragged him, practically running, all the way to the cellar stairs where he pointed at the small door where Peter had escaped.

“Sixteen years old and you think you are man enough to make it out there?” he grumbled. “This is where you got out?” He sighed. “You don’t understand.”

“It’s my fault!

Did you hear me? I killed someone! You gotta help her.” Peter jerked out of his grasp and grabbed Pastor Finn’s shirt, facing off with him. For once in a long while, he stared down the man eye to eye. He straightened up to his full height. The older man’s gray crew cut and piercing blue eyes were filled with fear. Peter’s hand loosened in shock that it was the first time he remembered that Pastor Finn looked afraid.

“I can’t help the dead.” He pushed Peter’s hands away from him. “But I have to help you. Come with me.” Peter watched him, confused. His teeth clenched at Pastor Finn’s betrayal. “I thought you were different. I have to go back. Bury her, like she deserves.” Peter stumbled backwards.


DEVIANT STORM

Purgatory Reign

Book Two

LM Preston

Genre: YA, Romance, Paranormal,

Adventure, Mystery

Publisher: Phenomenal One Press

Date of Publication:  02/16/2013

ISBN: 9780996919500

ASIN: B016NU9CWC

Number of pages: 252

Word Count:  68K

Formats available: ebook

Cover Artist: Emma Michaels

Tagline: Something evil this way comes, unfortunately for it Peter Saints awaits.

Book Description:

The battle is on. Peter Saints thought he’d killed It. But bad people never stay down. Now the jail of his enemy is weakening. Luck is running out for Peter and the girl he saved by wagering the Earth. Only now, with each second and secret revealed, his enemy gains the answers to destroy Peter and devour the world.

Expect FIERCE TIDES (Book 3 of 3) in Dec. 2017 and COLLIDING SOULS (Character Spin off: April 2017)

Amazon      BN      Smashwords      Kobo      iTunes

Excerpt Deviant Storm:

He screwed up.

So bad, he didn’t think he could fix it. Peter tossed the ball against the wall once more as he drowned out Kyle’s words. He never admitted everything that had happened to him in the Stronghold to Kyle. Didn’t think he could. One thing for sure, time was up. Peter was through waiting to be told what to do by the Elders of at this dump who seemed to have their own agendas. Dealing with the nightmares of what he’d done – possibly killing a man by pulling something beyond evil out of him, plagued Peter every night. Those times when he wasn’t careful, it pressed his thoughts, even when awake.

“We’ll go get her.” Peter’s dark brown eyes landed on Kyle’s questioning blue ones.


About the Author:

LM. Preston was born and raised in Washington, DC. An avid reader, she loved to create poetry and short-stories as a young girl. With a thirst for knowledge she attended college at Bowie State University, and worked in the IT field as a Techie and Educator for over sixteen years. She started writing science fiction under the encouragement of her husband who was a Sci-Fi buff and her four kids. They inspired the beginning of her obsessive desire to write and create stories of young people who overcome unbelievable odds. She loves to write while on the porch watching her kids play or when she is traveling, which is another passion that encouraged her writing.

Website | Blog | Goodreads | Google + |  Twitter | IG | Facebook

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[Book Blitz & Giveaway] Stiff Drink @BlairBabylon #ContemporaryRomance

Stiff Drink
Blair Babylon (Runaway Billionaires: Arthur Duet #1)

Publication date: March 21st 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Genevieve is a lawyer, not a babysitter, and certainly not a dog trainer. She is just about to become a full barrister, a British litigating attorney, when her law mentor dies unexpectedly. She is shuffled off to another barrister, one who’s nothing at all like her kind and decent former mentor, and then she is assigned the office’s worst case: Arthur Finch-Hatten, six-feet and four-inches of ripped, loaded, hot English nobleman who is wasting his life and his inherited estate so audaciously that his younger brother is suing him for control of their family’s earldom. There is a darn good chance that Arthur will lose everything, even his crazed, badly behaved puppy.

Unless he shapes up.

Her new boss hasn’t been able to convince Arthur to mend his ways. His uncle’s lectures haven’t had any effect on his depraved debauchery and lavish lifestyle.

The only way for Genevieve to make partner is to win Arthur’s case, and the only way to win his case and save his earldom is to keep him from spending his days hungover in bed and his nights pouring Cristal on naked, drunk women before flying off in his private jumbo jet to the next party.

Arthur was enough to make any woman need a stiff drink.

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EXCERPT:

When he strolled in, Lord Arthur Finch-Hatton, the Earl of Severn, was still staring straight ahead at the window that overlooked the crowded streets of central London, so Gen’s first look at him was his profile.

Morning sunlight streaming in the window clung to his golden skin. His cheekbones were hard slashes, and his jaw was a sharp right angle above the crisp, white collar of the dress shirt and black business suit he wore. His lush lips curved in a smile, as if looking over London from such a prestigious advantage suited him. The subtle lift of his chin and roll of his broad shoulders suggested that, had history been different, he might have ruled the land that spread beneath the window.

He turned to survey the rest of the room and caught Gen sitting at the table, gaping at him.

Oh, God. She was staring.

He always caught her staring.

She was staring at the black curls of his dark hair that stroked his ears and the back of his neck, and she was staring at the way his very precisely tailored suit skimmed his strong shoulders and the rounded biceps of his arms and then narrowed at his waist and hips, and she was staring at his extravagant height and his long legs and the way his head tilted with amusement as he caught her staring at him again.

Gen’s brain turned to goo.

Damn, Lord Severn was one gorgeous man.

The goo in her mind grew fuzzy tendrils, and cotton candy filled her skull and stopped up her ears.

Her thoughts slowed as she met his eyes.

My God. His eyes.

His eyes weren’t blue or gray or any color that she had ever seen on a real human being before.

His eyes shimmered with an unexpected delight and intelligence.

They narrowed when he smiled that good-natured, natural smile that beckoned to her.

And most of all, his eyes sparkled silver and were bounded by a dark blue ring.

They changed color depending on the light, from baby blue to silvery-gray and all the shades in-between. Gen saw all the variations as he turned his face from the sunlight toward her.

They were beguiling, magical, unearthly.

That was not damn fair.

Gen had heard about peoples’ knees weakening, but she was already sitting down. Still, her bones turned to soft clay, and she grabbed the sides of her chair because she was in danger of slithering out of it and onto the carpeting under the conference room table.

Lord Severn walked toward her.

It was customary for barristers to stand when greeting a client.

She should stand up. You really should stand up.

Stand up, dammit.

Gen gripped the sides of her chair and pushed with her arms to lift herself to her feet.

Even though too-tall Gen was wearing blunt, two-inch heels, Lord Severn was still inches taller than she was. At least four inches. Which meant he was at least six-four.

Blathering. Her brain was blathering.

His tie was the same azure-silver as his eyes but glimmering silk.

Dizziness spun her head, and she gasped for air because she had forgotten how to breathe.

At her stupid sucking sound, Lord Severn smiled, though it was a sad smile like he regretted that his mere presence was overwhelming her so.

He pulled out a chair on the other side of the table. “I was terribly sorry to hear about Horace Lindsey’s untimely death. He was an excellent barrister and a family friend.”

Even though it was only eleven-thirty in the morning, Lord Severn’s breath carried a faint whiff of whiskey under the mint, like he had just come from a gentleman’s brunch.

Gen’s mind searched for words.

Any words.

Wut arrre werdz.

She gathered her brain together and squeezed something out.

“Yes, it was a great loss to us all,” she managed.


Author Bio:

Blair Babylon often releases ebooks at a special release-day price of 99c.

To never miss a sale, CLICK HERE: http://smarturl.it/Babylon-Email

Blair Babylon is the nom de plume of an award-winning, USA Today-bestselling author who used to publish literary fiction. Because professional reviews of her other fiction usually included the caveat that there was too much deviant sex and too much interesting plot, she decided to abandon all literary pretensions, let her freak flag fly, and write hot, sexy, erotic romance, plus wild, suspenseful thrillers, science fiction, and urban fantasy using the super-secret pen name Blair C. Babylon.

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[Book Blitz & Giveaway] Rogue In Love by zinger Iversen @kris10inger #ContemporaryRomance

Rogue in Love: Thea and Lex
Inger Iversen
Publication date: March 28th 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Missing Teal and Trent from Inevitable: Love & War? Check out Rogue in Love, the beginning of a series of standalones featuring Trent Reed’s new employees!

Ten years ago, Lex made the difficult choice to skip town, abandoning the young girl who’d offered him her innocence and a place in her heart. However, when Lex is called back to Blackwater to say goodbye to his dying confidant, he is confronted by the broken-hearted woman he left behind and given the task of helping her mend the gaping hole his absence created.

When Thea and Lex reunite, sparks fly and secrets are unveiled.

Goodreads | Amazon

EXCERPT:

She paused in front of the door, fist raised and ready to knock, when a thought occurred to her. Lex had mentioned he’d seen Abbott earlier, and all of Blackwater knew damned well that on a Saturday night there was only one place to find Abbot and that was at Blackies.

“Shit,” she whispered fiercely as she backed away from the door. If it had been any other bar, she wouldn’t have given a damn, but Blackies? Known for its cheap hookers and cheap booze, it was the one bar not one respectable Blackwater resident would ever show their face. Sure, Blackwater was full of hoodlums and fools, but even most of them steered clear of Blackies. Turning away from the door, Thea made her way to the kitchen.

She yanked open cabinets, rifling through them until she found an old bottle of whiskey. Hunting high and low for shot glasses, she came up empty.

With an annoyed growl, Thea plopped down at the table and opened the bottle. “Fuck it.” A long swig later and Thea found herself sputtering and coughing up a damned lung. Wheezing, Thea thumped her chest until she was able to breathe again. “Shit, that always looked easier in movies.” Wiping her watering eyes, she lifted the bottle again, and this time she took a careful sip; the liquid formed a burning trail down her throat and pooled in her belly.

What the hell was Lex doing at Blackies? If all he wanted was liquor, then he could have ended up at any other bar, why had it been that one? Braving another gulp, Thea closed her eyes and tried to imagine Lex picking up another woman. The thought seared her blood more than the liquor ever could.

Feeling foolish for one, drinking alone, and two, not having the guts to ask Lex the question himself, Thea bounded up, liquor bottle in hand, and stomped down the hallway. This time, without hesitation, she burst into the bathroom only to see Lex, all naked, tatted, two-hundred and some pounds of him covered in soap with her little pink razor between his fingers, eyeing it as if it were a snake seconds from striking. Thea couldn’t help but stand frozen in place, viewing him through the see through shower curtain. His tanned and toned ass flexed as he turned, confusion marring his now clean, but still hairy face.

Lifting the razor, he asked, “What the fuck am I supposed to do with this?”


Author Bio:

Inger Iversen was born in 1982 to Anne and Kaii Iversen. She lives in Virginia Beach with her overweight lap cat, Max and her tree hugging boyfriend Joshua. She spends 90 percent of her time in Barnes and Noble and the other ten pretending not to want to be in Barnes and Noble.

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[Book Blitz & Giveaway] Untapped by Weston Parker @thewestonparker #Romance #Thriller

Untapped
Weston Parker

Publication date: March 28th 2017
Genres: Adult, Romance, Thriller

Some desires are better left uncovered…

Erik Bertinelli is the son of the vilest mob boss in all of New York’s underbelly. He’s the enforcer, the hitman for the syndicate, and the type of guy who doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty. His hideaway is as unconventional as they come… the New York Public Library.

With a thirst for knowledge and a grand getaway at his fingertips, he loses himself daily in the dusty tales of old. Life is too f*cked up most days of the week. Peace would be beyond welcomed.

Grace Adams desires more than anything to live fully alive, and yet, she’s doing just the opposite of that. She’s a librarian at the New York Public Library and spends her days wishing like hell that she could disappear into one of the romance novels she reads.

With an imagination that would shock her family and friends, she keeps to herself and lives in the colorful parts of her mind – alone. Untapped.

When the same deliciously dangerous alpha male keeps showing up between the bookshelves, her daydreams quickly dive into passion that feels too good to be true. The kind that could burn anyone involved. The kind she would do anything for. Maybe even kill…

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

Grace

“It’s finally starting to get cold.” Thomas glanced over at me and smiled as we jogged side by side. His freckles were fading now that summer was gone, but a faint splattering of them was still there.

“This isn’t cold.” I snorted and reached up to tug at my ponytail as we ran past the University. The library rose up in the distance, and I felt a sense of belonging. I’d been working there for a while, and even though I had some difficulty with some of the staff, most of the people there liked me. And it was where I could find Erik.

“Hey. Did I lose you?” My brother reached over and tugged on my sleeve.

“Oh yeah, sorry. There’s this new guy at the library, and I think I’m going to ask him out.” I turned the corner and slowed for a minute as my lungs screamed for air.

“A new guy, hm?” He didn’t look too thrilled. “I don’t like it.”

“You’re my older brother, dimwit.” I stopped by a cement bench and dropped down to fix one of my tennis shoes. “You’re not supposed to like it.”

“When do I get to meet him?” Thomas ran in place as he scanned the lawn in front of us. His smile widened as he lifted his hand and waved. “Kara. Nancy. Hey girls. Looking good.”

“Oh brother.” I stood up and reached up to adjust my hair again as I turned to see who he was waving at. Cheerleaders. Had to be. Their shorts looked more like panties, and they were wearing sports bras. “There should be a dress code out here. That’s just offensive.”

He laughed. “Just because you dress like a Granny doesn’t mean you have the right to be ugly about other girls dressing their age.”

“Oh yeah?” I lifted my eyebrow and ran my hands down my long-sleeve t-shirt. “And you’d be okay with me wearing what they have on?”

“What?” His brow pulled tight. “Hell no. That’s not happening.”

“Right.” I rolled my eyes and started to jog away from him. “What did you want to talk about that we couldn’t talk at home where it was warm and cozy?”

“Mom and Dad were there, Grace.”

“You could have come by my apartment.” I glanced over at him, noticing the dark circles under his eyes now that I was really looking. He’d been a little on edge lately, but he was nearing his last senior semester at NYU. I assumed it had everything to do with that. What other stress could he have in his life? He was president of the largest fraternity on campus and everyone worshiped the ground he walked on.

Everyone but Jenna. I forced myself not to chuckle. My poor brother had been after my best friend for years, and Jenna was oblivious to it. Now he was too late. She was dating a hottie bad boy from the coffee shop where she worked.

“I hate going to your apartment.” He shook his head. “It’s embarrassing enough getting caught in a movie that has a sex scene with your little sister, but to go to her apartment and hear the perverts next door bonking every fifteen minutes is sick. No fucking way. Count me out.”

“They’re in love, Thomas. It’s cute.”

“Fucking all the time is cute?” He lifted his hand as he paled a little. “You know what? Don’t answer that. We’re good just talking out here.”

“Alright. Spill then.” I laughed as he gave me a ‘watch it’ look. My brother was a bit of a prude from what I knew, but we never really talked too much about our love lives. That was gross.

Love life. What a fucking joke. I’d never been tongue kissed by a guy, much less anything else. After my mother had Thomas when she was sixteen, she used a scare tactic to keep me a virgin, and it worked well.

I’d never been around anyone that left me wanting to defy her and my father and spread my legs anyways. Not until Erik Bertinelli. The thought of him left my heart racing, my body tightening. The things I wanted him to do to me were over the top, horrible, embarrassing.


Author Bio:

Romance is a genre that is oftentimes written by women, but my novels give you the chance to see through the eyes of some of the men that perhaps you fantasize about, and the opportunity to read about passion from the other side for a change. Stories told about real relationships, legit problems and past experiences… unless you’re an ex, in which case any resemblance to women living or dead is merely a coincidence. 😉

My name is Weston. I’m a full time firefighter during the day, but I’m not here to put out any fires. I’m here to start them. Hope you enjoy my stories and feel free to reach out at any time. I love to flirt.

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• Signed Paperback Copy of Untapped

• $20 Amazon Giftcard

• Signed Picture of Weston… shirtless

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[#BlogTour] Chaos Unbound by Brian S. Leon @bslauthor @RAPublishing #UrbanFantasy
















Chaos Unbound
The Metis Files
Book Two
Brian S. Leon

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing
Date of Publication: 2/28/17

ISBN: 978-1-940215-83-9
ASIN: B06VSX4BKP
Number of pages: 356
Word Count: 122000
Cover Artist: Streetlight Graphics
Tagline: On the Run. On the Hunt.

Book Description:

The hunter becomes the hunted.
Framed for the murder of a high ranking member of the Unseelie Court of Fae, Steve Dore–also known as Diomedes, Guardian and protector of mankind–goes on the run. He’s determined to uncover the real culprit and clear his name.

But the assassination may be the beginning of a more sinister plot that involves not just the Fae and Humankind, but all the races of the world. And what if the real assassin is a boogeyman even the Fae don’t believe is real?
Excerpt:

Chapter 1
San Diego,
September 2011
Selkies.

Thirty-five miles offshore in the Pacific Ocean, and I’m dodging freakin’
selkies in my fishing boat. It’s like they’re seagulls, and I’m dropping French
fries at the beach. Man do they screw up the fishing. Worse, when they appear,
bad things tend to follow. And it’s just my luck. Of all fae to show up randomly, it had to be these shapeshifters—the kind that could transform into seals and even into sea lions, which scare the crap out of the fish.  
Every pile of floating kelp we’d fished around so far had one of these fairies under it.  Every kelp except the paddy right in front of the boat.

“Captain Dore, look! Another seal,” the woman said, reaching for her camera.

And that selkie made it a perfect five for five. I couldn’t help but hang my head. My clients—a simple Midwestern family of Mom, Dad, and Teenage Son—considered it endearing to see a seal poke its head up from inside the kelp, but I could see their true bulbous heads, seaweed-like hair, and pudgy gray-green humanoid forms. Their giant, shiny-black eyes fixed on me as if they knew exactly who I was.

The creepy shapeshifters were part of the Unseelie Court—fairies that are decidedly unfriendly to humans—and the fact that we kept encountering them was starting to unnerve me. Encountering one in the Pacific was rare. In fact, I couldn’t
recall one off Southern California since an entire tribe of them showed up around Catalina Island in the 1980s. That appearance had led to a spate of unidentified submerged object and alien sightings, not to mention a few mysterious plane crashes around the island and a heap of sunken boats.

“Hey what’s that big fin?” the father asked, pointing at the rapidly approaching triangular object sticking out of the water and heading straight at the paddy from the opposite side.
“Shark,” I said with a sudden smile. “Damn big one, too. Great white, from the looks of it.

Rare for us down here in San Diego.”

“Oh, swim, seal!
Swim!” the mom said as all hell broke loose around the paddy.

“Wow, really,” the kid said. “It’s like a real National Geographic moment.” He whipped out his phone to video the event. I was the only one on the boat rooting for the shark. If they’d known what that shark was really chasing, they probably would have thought it was more like a National Enquirer moment.

Knowing the selkie-shark conflict would ruin the fishing within a mile of that paddy, I pushed farther out, always on the lookout for signs of life other than selkies.
As long as we could avoid them, we found lots of small football-sized yellowfin
tuna while we trolled, and I’d even managed to convince the anglers to release
the little guys, in hopes of finding bigger ones. The small fish kept me blissfully busy until we made it back to the dock at around four in the afternoon—so busy, in fact, that I forgot about how screwy the presence of selkies was until I realized my buddy Ned was storming down the dock toward my boat as I pulled in.

As usual, Ned was dressed in a Hawaiian shirt with colors usually reserved for Las Vegas neon. The fact that he resembled a derelict version of Santa Claus usually drew people’s attention. It was either that or the fact that he always smelled like beer-soaked seaweed washed up on a beach. It could be worse given that Ned was in fact the Titan God of the Sea, Nereus, in self-imposed exile.

As I secured the boat to the dock, my cellphone, stashed inside my captain’s bag within the console, chirped the unique ring my buddy Geek had helped me assign to Sarah Wright. I felt guilty for avoiding her over the past two weeks. Despite
scrambling to reach the annoying device before the call went to voice mail, I
wasn’t quick enough. I tossed the phone on the console, thoroughly disgusted
with my wishy-washy-ness regarding our relationship—or whatever we had. I was
pretty sure we both wanted to take things to the next level, but I was conflicted about what that would mean for both of us since my situation wasn’t exactly normal.

I’ll call her back as soon as I can. I sighed, watching my three clients stumble off the boat, trying to adjust to sea legs on land after a full day on the water. They
chatted excitedly about sharks and sea lions as they went. Ned stood down the
dock, waiting, staring intently at me with his hands on his hips and one flip-flop-clad foot tapping away. The trio barely managed to get past him before he charged the boat.

“Diomedes, dude, glad to see you made it back okay.” Ned’s shoulders dropped a bit as he exhaled heavily. “Now get yer ass off the damn boat and back onto land.” He dipped his head slightly and glared over his sunglasses at me, his brow deeply furrowed. I stopped taking

rods out of the rod racks under the gunwales and stared back at him. Something had him on edge, and that was saying something. Normally, he made people on Prozac appear edgy. In over a thousand years, I’d never seen him like this
before.

“Now, dude. Now!” he said, raising his voice and gesticulating wildly.

The myriad of seagulls and pelicans gathered around the boat awaiting leftover bait and fish carcasses took off in a sudden deafening and chaotic commotion.

“Whoa. Relax, Ned. What’s got your panties in a bunch?” I said, getting back to my after-charter chores. “Sheesh. Besides, I think the dad left a few beers if you want them.”

Normally, Ned’s first question to me would have involved the possible presence of abandoned beer. Instead, he fixed me with a withering stare. His hands were back on his hips, and his foot again tapped on the dock. When we’d first met a few thousand years before, he’d naturally emanated an aura of power. Though he’d since willingly given up most of his other-dimensional essence, the preternatural

blue glow was now visible.

“Dude, which part of ‘now’ ain’t you understandin’?” He spoke through a clenched jaw and pointed at the dock forcefully, like a parent demanding a child’s immediate presence. Over his sunglasses, his eyes darted everywhere, keeping watch around
us.

“Okay, okay,” I said, eyeing my fish-slimed gear and all the sardine scales and scuff marks marring the deck. “Who’s gonna clean all this up? You know if I let it sit, it’ll be even harder to clean later.”

“I’ll take care of it,” Ned replied. “Just get yer ass off the water. Right. Now.”
“Fine.” I kicked at my rods like a petulant child. “Let me get my damn gear bag, and I’ll leave.”
I grabbed my captain’s bag and stormed down the dock in a huff, glaring at Ned. I didn’t even bother to take off my grungy gray rubber fishing bibs. He avoided making eye contact as I passed him, which only pissed me off more. Instead, his eyes continued to dart around the marina. Whatever.

I got to my truck, threw my gear bag in the bed, then stripped off the rubber bibs. While hopping around on one leg like an idiot, trying to get the bibs off over my
deck boots, I worked myself up from a huff to a tizzy. Who the hell did he think he was ordering me around like that? Athena? Throwing my bibs into the bed with the rest, I glanced over my shoulder, toward the dock.
Just as I was about to get into my truck, a more pressing question hit me: Why? Ned actually yelled at me. In over two millennia, I had never even witnessed him raise his voice. What’d I do to him?
I instantly felt like I owed him an apology, without even knowing what I’d done. I headed back down to the dock.
As I approached the top of the gangway, Ned was in a heated discussion with something in the water on the other side of the dock from my boat. I couldn’t get a clear view of who or what Ned was talking with, or hear what was being said. 

The only things evident were the loud and freakish sea lion-like barks and Ned’s wild and very uncharacteristic gesticulations. Instinctively, I searched for
something to use as a weapon—a boat hook was leaning against the fence next to
the gate down to the dock.
Then a putty-colored round female head covered in thick yellow-green hair popped up just above the dock and peered directly at me. Ned noticed me, as well, and all at once, the creature disappeared below the water’s surface creating a wake
that tossed the floating dock and rocked the boats tied up nearby. She was definitely one of the selkies I had encountered earlier offshore.

I stopped dead in my tracks. Ned shook his head and stomped toward me, which couldn’t have been easy in flip-flops. His eyes were ablaze—literally. His awakened aura pulsed from white to blue like a lightning storm.
I shrugged and raised my eyebrows as his gaze fell on me. The temperature began to drop, and the water around the dock changed from a drab green to black and turned rough, as if it were about to boil. The disturbance bounced the moored boats against their bumpers and the dock, and the rigging on the sailboats began to clang.
Even the remaining birds evacuated—only noiselessly.
“Boy, who did you piss off this time?” he said at me more than to me in a voice that reverberated through my skull. It wasn’t loud, but it was insistent in its
tone.
“I… um… I, ah…
what?” I asked, vapor trailing from my mouth in the cool air.
I couldn’t recall having done anything to anybody since chasing down that witch, Medea, a few months back, and as far as I knew, everyone I could have pissed off doing
that was dead.
Ned continued up the ramp from the dock toward me, somehow appearing larger than normal. His face, especially his eyes, darkened. “Don’t play games with me. You got selkies chasin’ yer ass all over the Pacific, and they had to travel around the world to get here to do it. Nytrocyon herself is here to find you.” He pointed back down toward my boat. “She says Mab wants you. Says you killed Lord Indronivay.”
“Nytrocyon, ruler of the selkies? Seriously?” My teeth started to chatter, and my jaw muscles clenched in the frigid air. “Wait… she said I killed who? Lord
Indronivay, Mab’s warmaster? Are you kidding me? Why the hell would I have
killed that uptight belligerent asshole?”

I’d never even met him, but his reputation as a jerk was legendary. Even as a Guardian and protector of humanity, I knew him only through stories that suggested he was a giant at nearly eight feet tall and was about as friendly as a shark with a toothache. All I really knew about him was that he personally ran every major war and military campaign Queen Mab of the Unseelie Court had waged for tens of thousands of years. Hell, the guy might have charged into battle against Queen Titania of the Seelie Court on the back of a triceratops.

“You’re sayin’ Nytrocyon is lying?” Ned’s voice boomed through my head, shaking me back to
attention.
I shrugged again. “Now why the hell would I do something like that? Honestly?”
Ned’s shoulders dropped slightly, and his pulsing aura faded. Though his face brightened and his bushy beard and mustache split, revealing his white teeth in a broad smile, the rest of him remained rigid. “Good. I didn’t think you were dumb enough to attack a member of one of the fairy royal courts. That’d be grounds for war.
Only problem is then, dude”—he slowly slipped back into his normal relaxed and
carefree persona—“you gotta ask yerself one question: why does she think you
did?”




















About the Author:
Brian S. Leon is truly a jack of all trades and a master of none. He writes just to do something with all the useless degrees and skills he’s accumulated over the years. Most of them have no practical application in civilized society, anyway. His interests include mythology and fishing, in pursuit of which he has explored jungles and museums, oceans and seas all over the world.

His credentials include an undergraduate degree from the University of Miami and a master’s degree from San Diego State University, plus extensive postgraduate work in evolutionary biology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he studied animals most people aren’t even aware exist and theories no one really cares about anyway.
Over his varied career, Brian’s articles have been published in academic journals and popular magazines that most normal people would never read. They can be found in The American Society of Primatologists, the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Proceedings of the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the like.

His more mainstream work came as an editor for Marlin and FlyFishing in Salt Waters magazines, where he published articles about fishing and fishing techniques around the world. He won a Charlie Award in 2004 from the Florida Magazine Association for Best Editorial, and several of his photographs have appeared on a number of magazine covers—almost an achievement of note, if they weren’t all fishing magazines.

Always a picky reader, Mr. Leon enjoys stories by classical masters like Homer and Jules Verne as well as modern writers like J.R.R. Tolkien, David Morrell and Jim Butcher. These books, in combination with an inordinate amount of free time, inspired him to come up with tales of his own.
Brian currently resides in San Diego, California.



Twitter: @bslauthor


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[Book Blitz & Giveaway] Hunted @LisaHughey #Romance #Suspense

Hunted
Lisa Hughey
(ALIAS, #2)

Publication date: February 28th 2017
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense

Hunted: There’s only one thing worse than seeing your unrequited crush every day at the office…and that’s getting trapped with him in a snowy mountain cabin.

Maria Torres has been through hell and back. A former kidnapping victim, she’s used to being famous for all the wrong reasons and having people handle her with kid gloves. And it seems that the man of her dreams, Dwayne Lameko, is no different.

So when an ALIAS client requests her presence on an op, Maria believes she’s ready to spread her wings and prove all her co-workers wrong…especially Dwayne. But when danger follows them into the wilderness, Maria has no choice but to prove to herself and Dwayne that she’s strong enough to handle anything…even his love.

Maria Torres was first introduced in the Family Stone series, Still the One. She finally gets her happily ever after.

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EXCERPT:

He was sorry? She stepped to her left, trying again to go around him and get away from his dominating presence. “I don’t need your pity.”

He stepped to his right, blocking her way again. He loomed over her, but she didn’t feel threatened. Caged, anxious to get away from him? Yes.

But not scared. She knew in her soul he wouldn’t hurt her.

“You really think pity is what I feel?” He tipped his head, bringing their faces closer together. So close she was again aware of the flecks of brown and green and gold in his dark eyes.

“No. Yes. I don’t know.” She’d been lost for eight years. Social cues bewildered her. She had no idea what he was thinking. She only knew she needed to get away from him.

But he appeared oddly hurt.

His broad shoulders blocked the fading light from the window, casting the kitchen in shadows and mystery.

“I would never hurt you.”

Not physically. “I know.”

As if he couldn’t help himself, he cupped her shoulders in his big palms. Maria’s breath caught. Held.

He was touching her again. Third time today.

#

Dwayne frowned. Maria had tensed beneath his hands.

On the ride from the airport, the scent of her shampoo had swirled in his senses. When she’d stroked the leather seat of the of the Range Rover, he’d started to get an erection, imagining her stroking him in more intimate places. But that was never going to happen.

His stomach churned with regret. “Then why are you still so upset?”

Her body language was all wrong. She was stiff, uncomfortable, and he didn’t know why. Her shoulders were delicate beneath his much larger palms. “No one touches me.”

Shit. He lifted his hands away from her body, fast. “Sorry.” Jesus, he’d apologized to her more in the past hour than he’d apologized to anyone in years. He was a “live and let live” guy with solid core values and a confidence in his moral compass.

“No. No.” She straightened her shoulders, stared defiantly. “No one touches me.”

His heart clenched. No one touched her? He thought about his family. They were always touching. Affectionate. He recalled her stiffness in his mother’s arms.

“Why?”

“They’re afraid.”

Dwayne snorted. She was five feet of nothing with soft curves and a sweet smile. “Of what?”

She shrugged. Looked out the kitchen window over the sink. “I’m a freak,” she said softly. “Nature or nurture. Except I didn’t have any nurture for…a while.”

“I’m sorry.”

She stomped her foot. “Don’t be sorry. Talk to me.”

How could she throw him so far off his stride? “I am.”

“Not like you talk to other…people.”

Other people?

“Women. Dwayne.” Once she let go, she let go. “Other women. You flirt, you tease. But with me, you just….”

Avoid. Of course he did. He wanted her far too much.

What the hell had Jillian been thinking to pair them together on this op? He took an instinctive step back.

“Am I so repellent then?”

What? “It’s not you.”

She laughed harshly. “C’mon, Dwayne. I might have been in forced solitary confinement for eight years but even I know that’s bullshit.”

He blinked. He’d never heard her swear before.

“It’s not bullshit,” he began defensively.

She snorted, that little sound of derision goading him. “Right.” Her sarcasm hit him in the gut. When she didn’t argue any more, didn’t fight back, underscoring the truth that she didn’t believe him, something snapped.

“I’m attracted to you.” The confession burst out of him with an alarming speed.

Her mouth opened and closed like she was a fish out of water. “What?” she said faintly. A deep burgundy flush spread up her neck and over her face, her eyes sparkling with temper. He’d clearly rendered her speechless.

“You heard me the first time.”


Author Bio:

USA Today Bestselling Author Lisa Hughey has been writing romance since the fourth grade, which was also about the time she began her love affair with spies. Harriet and Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys later gave way to James Bond and Lara Croft and Jason Bourne.

Exploring the complex nature of a profession that requires subterfuge and lies fascinates her. She loves combining her two passions into fiction. As evidenced by her Black Cipher Files series.

Archangel Rafe was her first foray into the paranormal but after spending time in the Angelic Realm, it won’t be her last. At their heart, the Seven novels are about the dynamics of family relationships. But the really hot Archangels don’t hurt.

And recently she’s been immersed in the Stone Family novellas, four stories about a blended family of brothers and sister who have a lot more in common than they realize. But of course she couldn’t just write about family and romance. There are complex plots, bad guys, and suspense too.

Lisa loves to hear from readers and has various places you can connect with her, although, shh, Twitter is her favorite.

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

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[Book Blitz & Giveaway] Glitter and Gold: A Canary Club Anthology by Sherry D. Ficklin @authorsherry@CleanTeenPub #YALit #HistoricalFiction

Of Glitter and Gold: A Canary Club Anthology 

Sherry D. Ficklin
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: March 27th 2017
Genres: Historical, Young Adult

Set during the flamboyant anything-goes era of 1920’s America, these three tales are filled with intriguing characters and rich imagery from the time period—with flappers, jazz music, gangsters, and lavish wealth. Escape to a different decade today with the compelling stories of the Canary Club Anthology.

Novelette 1- Gilded Cage

Masie, the flaxen-haired daughter of notorious bootlegger Dutch Schultz, returns home from boarding school to find her family in crisis. Her mother is dangerously unstable, her father’s empire is on the brink of ruin, and the boy she once loved has become a ruthless killer for hire. To keep her family’s dangerous secrets, Masie is forced into a lie that will change the course of her future—and leave her trapped in a gilded cage of her own making.

Novelette 2- All That Glitters

A dame with brains, moxie, and killer curves, June West isn’t your average flapper. She’s managed to endear herself to the son of one of the most powerful gangsters in New York, earning herself a spot in the limelight that she’s always longed for. With the infamous playboy at her side, June has become accustomed to living the high life. Lavish parties, expensive clothes, sparkling jewels—nothing is beyond her reach. But when her carefully woven web of lies finally catches up with her, she must make an impossible choice… come clean about her past and risk losing everything, or find a way to bury her demons—once and for all.

Novelette 3 – Nothing Gold

Dickey has been down on his luck since the day he was born. Flat broke and sick of being looked down on, he meets young socialite Lillian at a wild party. The connection is like a strike of lightning. From a wealthy New York family, this debutante is everything he’s been told he can never have—and the only thing he wants. Determined to win her, he knows the only way to get her parents approval is with cold hard cash. So when a shot at the biggest score of his life comes around, he just can’t refuse…

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NOTHING GOLD EXCERPT:

It’s easier than I imagined to sneak into the party. The music is so loud and the crowd so enormous that no one sees me wind my way through the shrubs on the outskirts. The massive estate is far enough away from the city that I had to hitch a ride to get here, and I’ll have to time my exit just right to make the train back to Manhattan.

Brushing off my secondhand suit coat, I enter the party via the back patio. A wide pool is filled with people, most still in their fancy evening wear. My eyes slide past them, searching for the one person at this shindig that I know. I scan past butlers with white gloves holding silver trays covered in champagne glasses, past gleeful dames in short skirts with blood-red lips, and past gents in their glad rags I can tell with one glance cost more dough than I make in a year working at the mill.

When I finally see him, his pinstripe suit, matching fedora, and red pocket square, he’s standing atop the massive staircase on the ledge overlooking the party. Deacon Brewer, the reason I’m here tonight. His hands are stuffed in the pockets of his trousers as he chats up a fella I don’t recognize, along with the dame hanging off his arm. Plastering on an easy grin, I wind my way through the people, helping myself to a glass of bubbly as I head for the stairs. The stone steps are covered in gold confetti, the whole place practically dripping with it. Long, red velvet drapes hang from arched windows, and leafless branches painted gold and draped with crystal beads sit in tall vases in every corner. Nothing has been left un-gilded.

I shake my head at the audacity. Might as well have a neon sign—someone, please rob the joint.

Deacon sees me coming and dismisses himself from his conversation, welcoming me with an open hand.

“Dickey Lewis, glad you could make it, boy,” he offers warmly.

As if I had a choice.

“Of course, Mr. Brewer,” I respond with more warmth than I feel. Truth is that I’m in deep to Deacon after a few bad bets at his club last month, and he opted to make me work it off rather than take it outta my hide. I suppose that makes him clever, but I can’t help the gnawing feeling that this is a debt I may never fully repay. “What’s the score?” I ask, lowering my voice.

Draping an arm across my shoulders, he walks me through the glass doors and into the house. Still crammed with people drinking, dancing, and generally wrecking the joint, he pulls a cigar from his vest pocket with his free hand.

“Upstairs in the den is a lovely Monet, behind which is a very large safe. Cash, some baubles, and a bankbook are inside. I don’t care about the rest; you take what you need. But the bankbook needs to find its way into my hands tomorrow morning by eight am.”

I take a deep breath, rolling my tongue over my teeth before answering, “How am I supposed to get into the safe?”

He barks a deep laugh, slapping me on the back. “Guess you’ll have to get a little creative. Just get in, get out, and don’t let nobody see ya, got it?”

All I can do is nod and watch him swagger away. Sure, I’ve boosted loot before, but always simple jobs, smash and grabs. Nothing like this. What have I gotten myself into this time?

Still, whatever else is in there is mine for the taking, I tell myself. Could be a big pay day, judging by the looks of the place.

I wander casually through the house, trying to look as if I belong while also counting the number of cops and guards watching the area. It’s not as many as I expected. I grab a dark-haired dame by the waist, offering her a charming smile and asking for a dance. We Charleston together for two songs, finally stopping to imbibe more champagne. When I ‘accidently’ stumble into her, she spills the contents of her glass on my jacket, fumbling a wide-eyed apology.

Waving her off with a smile, I hand her my glass, “You take this, and I’ll go find a place to wash up.”

“You could always take a dip in the pool, honey,” she says, batting her eyelashes.

Beside her, a gentleman points up a secondary set of stairs near the front door. “Washroom is up there, I think.”

I mutter a thanks and a promise to return, then make my way up the stairs, continuing to stumble around as if drunk, occasionally opening a door to find a couple necking or a room full of folks smoking the Indian hop in long pipes.

Finally, the thumping of the music fading below me, I make my way to the library. Beyond that, I find the only locked door on the entire floor. Digging into my pocket, I pull out my lock kit, a simple flattened iron jimmy and a hooked pick. Sliding both in the lock, I slide them back and forth, listening for the mechanism inside to release. It doesn’t take long and the door springs open, allowing me to step inside and close it quickly behind me. It’s dark except for the glow of a single lamp atop a massive oak desk, behind which is a tall arched window overlooking the front of the estate. From this spot, I can see the cars lined up along the circular drive, partygoers coming and going in wild abandon. Pulling the pocket watch from my vest, I wipe my fingers across the cracked glass face, checking the time. Only thirty minutes until the train. If I miss it, it’ll be two hours before the next one. Not the end of the world, unless someone notices the lift before I’m gone. That’s a long time to stick around with a pocket fulla stolen goods.

I glance around me, the blood chilling in my veins. Every wall except the one with the window is covered in framed paintings. And I have no idea which one is a Monet.

Scrambling, I begin lifting each, checking the wall behind for any sign of the safe. Finally, on the opposite wall from where I started, I find it. Carefully lifting the heavy canvas free, I set it on the floor and turn my attention to the wall safe. It’s not large, about the size of a bread box with a spinning combination dial in the center. Unsure what else to do, I pull the pocket knife free from my trousers and flick it open, trying to wedge it between the door and the frame. As soon as I do, I know it’s going to be futile. The thing is heavy steel; no way my knife is gonna bust it open. Putting it away, I begin spinning the dial at random, praying I’ll get lucky.

I’m so flustered I don’t hear the door open or the footsteps from behind me until it’s too late.

“It’s my birthday,” a voice offers, making me spin, hands balled into fists to fight my way free from the room.

The dame is tall, her garnet-red hair rolled into bouncy curls and pinned in a messy heap at the back of her neck. Her dress is green, almost the same color as her eyes, and it hugs her slender frame as if it were a second skin. Even the long strings of pearls twined around her neck seems completely natural, not just a decoration but an extension of her. I take a breath, blinking, momentarily stunned. She drapes one hand on her hip, her entire body listing to the side as she points to the safe.

“The combination,” she repeats. “It’s my birthday.”

Finally recovering my voice, I stammer. “I was, uh, just…”

The corners of her mouth turn upward. “Breaking into my father’s safe?”

I don’t know what to say. I feel her in the room, the way one might feel the air change right before a storm, a heaviness that settles in, leaving my soul with a sense of foreboding. My instincts battle inside me. Do I grab her and tie her to a chair, or do I flee? The weight of her gaze makes it impossible to think clearly.

“Relax,” she says, raising a glass I hadn’t noticed her holding to her lips and taking a slow drink. “I’m not calling the guards if that’s what you’re worried about.”

“Oh? You’re just gonna let me crack this safe and walk away with whatever’s inside?”

She shrugs. “It’s not my money. What do I care?”

I lick my lips, sizing her up. A spoiled little rich girl who wants to stick it to Daddy. I’ve seen a few of those in my day. I can work with this—if I can get my head back on straight. It’s not like me to get so flustered by a dame, not even a high-quality one like this.

“Besides…” She sets the glass on the desk and saunters toward me. “It’s not like we don’t have enough.”

I catch a hint of her perfume in the air when she brushes by me, lavender and something else I can’t quite place. Taking the dial in her hand, she spins the knob until the door finally clicks, then she steps back, giving me a go-ahead gesture.

I hesitate, flicking glances at the bare skin where her neck meets her shoulder, at the creamy whiteness of her skin, before settling my eyes on her face. “What’s your name, doll?”

She looks down, sheepishly at first, but then raises just her eyes to look at me with an expression of bold defiance. “I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours.”

I swallow, considering her offer. She’s already gotten a good look at me, enough to rat me out to the cops. The look on her face is one of challenge, I realize. She’s daring me to trust her.

“Dickey,” I say, pulling the flat cap off my head and holding it over my heart as I bow to her. “Dickey Lewis, at your service, Miss?”

“Lillian Rose Duke,” she answers. “But my friends call me Lilly.”

Replacing my hat, I grab the safe handle and twist, pulling open the heavy door. Grabbing a large wooden box first, I hold it out to her. Moving back, I grab two stacks of fresh bills and stuff them in the pockets of my suitcoat. Finding the bankbook last, I tuck it into the back of my pants before pulling my shirt and jacket over it.

I spin to Lilly, watching as she upends the box, spilling jewelry onto the desk in a pile. She picks through it, finally just scooping it all into her hand and sauntering over to me. Getting so close I feel the warmth of her, she grabs the lapel of my jacket, sliding the gold and stones into the inside pocket.

“Give these to your girl, Dickey Lewis.”

She releases my lapel, but doesn’t step away. Instead, she leans forward. Thinking she’s going to kiss me, I straighten in anticipation, but she just trails her fingers along my collar until she’s cupping the back of my neck.

“I ain’t got no girl,” I admit, my heart pounding behind my ribs.

“Well, isn’t that a shame?” she says, her lips a hair’s breadth from mine.

Unable to resist, I close the final distance between us, clutching her by the waist as I urge her lips to mine. I’ve never tasted gold before, but I imagine this is what it would be like—champagne, honey, and nerves of steel. When she finally pulls away, I’m gasping. Tugging tugs the white linen handkerchief from my pocket, she wipes my face, then hers, of her smeared lipstick before returning the hankie to its place.

“I hope to see you around, Dickey Lewis.”

With that, she spins on her heel and heads for the door, listening for a moment before pulling it open and stepping out. The room is instantly colder, the air thinner. I can finally breathe, can think.

As I slink from the party and disappear into the shadows, making my way down the street to the train station, I can’t force the sight of her from my mind, or the taste of her from my lips.

Even if it takes every penny in my pocket and every breath in my body, I will see Lillian Rose Duke again.


Author Bio:

Sherry D. Ficklin is a full time writer from Colorado where she lives with her husband, four kids, two dogs, and a fluctuating number of chickens and house guests. A former military brat, she loves to travel and meet new people. She can often be found browsing her local bookstore with a large white hot chocolate in one hand and a towering stack of books in the other. That is, unless she’s on deadline at which time she, like the Loch Ness monster, is only seen in blurry photographs.

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