First, We Kill All the Lawyers by Seelie Kay

Release Date: November 27, 2020

Publisher: Extasy Books

Romantic Suspense, Contemporary Romance, four flames

An Interview with Seelie Kay:

Q.  Why do you write romance?

Because I am fascinated by the games people play to find and secure a lasting relationship, which is not always love. There’s the chase, the courtship, the falling, the surrender. That’s what I try to capture in my stories.

Q.  Do you prefer a certain type of romantic hero?

I adore smart, dashing gentlemen who aren’t afraid to live on the edge. They can be a bad boy, a billionaire, a prince, or a secret agent. That hint of danger just hooks me! However, I they have to be paired with strong, independent women who aren’t afraid to fight for what they want, even love.

Q.  Why did you write “First, We Kill All the Lawyers?”

I have wanted to write a vampire tale for some time, but had difficulty coming up with something consistent with current tropes. Finally, I decided it was time to break all the rules. After all, vampires have been around for centuries. Surely, they have evolved by now. And no doubt, they have many of the same societal problems that humans do. However, I also wanted the vampire to be a lawyer. The title came from my experience as a lawyer. I can’t tell you how many times someone would quote Dick the Butcher, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” (Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 2, Act IV, Scene 2.) They would laugh heartily, like they had just told a wonderful joke, but for me, it was great inspiration for a story. What if someone was killing lawyers?

Q.   Obviously your former profession as a lawyer impacts your writing!

My friends say I am obsessed with justice and I guess that’s true. After 30 years, the law and the legal world are so firmly embedded in my brain that I can’t flush them out. That has become the lens through which I view the world and that naturally guides my characters and plots. Injustice infuriates me, but it also leads me to great stories! Even in this book, I find a way to explore social and criminal justice issues.

Blurb:

Someone is killing lawyers, but a particular vampire lawyer won’t stay dead.

Donovan Trait is a marked man. Flamboyant, stunningly handsome, and notoriously insatiable, his attitude and style belie his skills in the courtroom. No one survives a cross-examination at Donovan’s hands. His knowledge of the law and trial practice has accumulated over the years… and years, of experience. More than three hundred years. You see, when Donovan isn’t seducing judges and juries, he’s a creature of the night. And now that someone has decided that it’s time to kill all lawyers, his lust for attention has set him in the murderer’s sights. The problem is, vampires don’t die. Not easily, anyway. That’s good news for Donovan, not so much for his very human lady love, also a target of the serial killer. Will several unsuccessful attempts on his life expose Donovan’s true nature? Will the killer learn the secret that will guarantee a permanent death? Or will Donovan finally manage to put an end to the killer’s murderous spree and live happily ever after, with his lady love?

Excerpt:

Donovan’s cell phone pinged. He pulled himself into a small alleyway, away from the stampede trudging back to their workplaces after lunch, and leaned back against a building to read a text. His face screwed up in confusion. The text read, The first thing we do, let’s kill all lawyers! Starting with you!

“What the bloody hell?” he muttered. “Is this some kind of joke?” Donovan’s eyes surveyed his surroundings. He gazed right, then left. It did not appear that someone had made him the focus of their attention. Everyone was scurrying about, like mice in pursuit of a big cheese. “Must be Finley,” he said. “Finley is always plying me with lawyer jokes. He thinks he’s funny.”

Donovan shrugged. Not funny at all. He left the alleyway and re-entered the mass migration on the sidewalk. He approached the crosswalk at Michigan and Superior and emitted a snort of frustration as the light changed and the crosswalk filled with cars. He was bumped hard by someone behind him. Donovan was forced to step into the street to regain his balance. A cab rushed by and narrowly missed clipping his side. Donovan jumped back onto the sidewalk.

A woman screamed and Donovan jerked his head around, trying to see what all the fuss was about. The woman was pointing at him. Donovan frowned and turned away. God save me from simpering females who saw the last issue of City Magazine. Donovan had appeared on the cover after being named as one of Chicago’s most eligible bachelors. Since then, he had learned that the female population was comprised of women of questionable morals and distressing behavior. He was growing weary of the attention. While his colleagues thought it a wise marketing strategy, it had brought him nothing but unwanted female attention. He had become prey.

Vampires were predators. They stalked their victims. Sometimes, they pursued them with a vengeance. That was why he had joined the legal profession. His predilections were well-suited to that particular world. Now, his role had apparently shifted and he was not pleased.

Someone tapped Donovan on the shoulder. “Sir? Are you alright? You’re bleeding. It appears someone stuck a knife into your side.”

Donovan’s mouth gaped and he turned toward the man who had spoken. Then he looked at where the man pointed. There was indeed a knife sticking out of his left side and a stream of his blood was flowing onto the sidewalk. He had a very high threshold of pain. He hadn’t felt the knife thrust into his side. If it wasn’t so appalling, he would be embarrassed. Donovan opened his mouth to reply. Then the pain in his side exploded and his vision dulled. Slowly he slid onto the sidewalk as if he planned to sit on the curb.

Then everything went black.

Book Trailer:  https://youtu.be/qd90v4Oae1E

Buy links:

Extasy Books: https://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-3125-9-first-we-kill-all-the-lawyers/

Amazon:  Coming

Barnes & Noble:  Coming

Kobo:  Coming

About Seelie Kay:

Seelie Kay is a nom de plume for a writer, editor, and author with more than 30 years of experience in law, journalism, marketing, and public relations. When she writes about love and lust in the legal world, something kinky is bound to happen!  In possession of a wicked pen and an overly inquisitive mind, Ms. Kay is the author of 18 works of fiction, including the Kinky Briefs series, the Feisty Lawyers series, The Garage Dweller, A Touchdown to Remember, The President’s Wife, The White House Wedding, and The President’s Daughter.

When not spinning her kinky tales, Ms. Kay ghostwrites nonfiction for lawyers and other professionals. She resides in a bucolic exurb outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she shares a home with her son and enjoys opera, gourmet cooking, organic gardening, and an occasional bottle of red wine.

Ms. Kay is an MS warrior and ruthlessly battles the disease on a daily basis. Her message to those diagnosed with MS:  Never give up. You define MS, it does not define you!

Author links:

Website:  https://www.seeliekay.com

Blog:  https://www.seeliekay.blogspot.com

Twitter: @SeelieKay https://twitter.com/SeelieKay

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/seelie.kay.77

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/seeliekay51/

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Seelie-Kay/e/B074RDRWNZ/

Prior Books:

Kinky Briefs, http://www.extasybooks.com/kinky-briefs/

Kinky Briefs, Too, http://www.extasybooks.com/kinky-briefs-too/

Kinky Briefs, Thrice, https://www.extasybooks.com/kinky-briefs-thrice/

Kinky Briefs, Quatro, http://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-1734-5-kinky-briefs-quatro/

Kinky Briefs, Cinque, http://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-2023-9-kinky-briefs-cinque/

The Garage Dweller, http://www.extasybooks.com/the-garage-dweller/

A Touchdown to Remember, http://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-1504-4-a-touchdown-to-remember/

The President’s Wife, http://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-1795-6-the-presidents-wife/

Snatching Dianna, http://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-2263-9-snatching-diana/

The President’s Daughter, http://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-2032-1-the-presidents-daughter

Infamy, https://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-2291-2-infamy/

Seizing Hope, https://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-2349-0-seizing-hope/

Cult, https://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-2538-8-cult/

Hope, https://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-2658-3-hope/

The White House Wedding, https://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-2796-2-the-white-house-wedding/

Martimus, https://www.extasybooks.com/978-1-4874-2862-4-martimus/

Coming soon:

The Last Christmas, date of release:  December 11, 2020.

Book Release: Harmony’s Embrace by Amber Daulton

Harmony’s Embrace

Series: Deerbourne Inn

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Release Date: November 16th, 2020

ASIN: B08L73TB9C

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Length: 40k

Heat Rating: 3 Flames

Blurb

Reuniting with the man who broke her heart has never felt so right.

Divorced dad Birley Haynes is too busy raising his children and running his family’s music academy to start a relationship. Then Harmony Holdich, his high school sweetheart, returns home to Willow Springs, Vermont for Christmas and falls into his bed. She brings light and fun back into his life, but he can’t brush aside the threatening incidents around his workplace.

Harmony hadn’t expected a complication like Birley, especially so soon after the death of her unfaithful husband. With her life a mess, she plans to move across the country and start over. All she can offer him is a fling, but her heart yearns for more.

When the threats rise, how will Birley keep his children safe and convince Harmony to give love another chance?

Excerpt (PG-13)

Dear God. His heart slammed harder. He’d died and gone to Heaven.

Harmony stretched her arms above her head and danced in the middle of the living room. Her hips pulsated with the beat of the music. Twisty locks of her hair bounced around her shoulders. She winked, then glided her hands across her breasts and stomach, daring his gaze to follow.

Birley licked his lips. The organ pressing against his zipper throbbed. Sweat slicked his nape. He dropped his scarf beside her purse, jacket, and beanie on the coffee table.

“Dance with me?”

Her husky entreaty ricocheted through him like a ping-pong ball. How could he deny her? He gripped her waist. She slid her arms around him. They swayed, their bodies a scant inch apart. She nuzzled his neck, her breath fanning his skin. His hair prickled. The air crackled around them. He shuddered and held her tighter.

“I’ve missed this.”

His chest heaved. He struggled to fill his lungs with air. “Dancing?”

“Dancing with you.” Harmony stroked his clean-shaven jaw. “I’m sorry things didn’t work out with you and Susannah, but I wouldn’t trade this moment for anything.”

Oh, God. He kissed her and swept his tongue past her parting lips. Delicious. The taste of chocolate and wine clung to her breath. He nibbled and licked the smooth slope of her neck.

“Birley, yes.” She ducked her head and claimed his mouth with hers. Then she feathered kisses across his face. “I need your hands, your mouth, your scent all over me. Take me, Birley. Hard, soft, I don’t care.”

Fuck. Her breathy plea wrapped around his heart and shot blood to his groin. She eased back, drawing him with her. The wall halted her retreat, and he trapped her between it and his body. Their tongues dueled and teeth clanked. Heat sizzled through his veins and pulsed through every organ. Her body writhed against his. Was she trying to drive him mad? He snapped open the fasteners of her pants and slid his finger beneath the waistband of her insulated leggings. Silk brushed his skin, then he slipped into her warmth.

Add to Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55691564-harmony-s-embrace

Check it out on BookBubhttps://www.bookbub.com/books/harmony-s-embrace-deerbourne-inn-by-amber-daulton

Purchase Links

Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/Harmonys-Embrace-Deerbourne-Amber-Daulton-ebook/dp/B08L73TB9C/

Barnes and Noble – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/harmonys-embrace-amber-daulton/1137951572

Apple/iBooks – https://books.apple.com/us/book/harmonys-embrace/id1539081673

Universal link – https://books2read.com/u/bPX6kR

Now Taking Sign Ups for my Newsletter, Amber Daulton Romance

https://emailoctopus.com/lists/9d60a166-f2ea-11ea-a3d0-06b4694bee2a/forms/subscribe

About the Author

Amber Daulton is the author of the romantic-suspense series Arresting Onyx and several standalone novellas. Her books are published through The Wild Rose Press, Books to Go Now, and Daulton Publishing, and are available in ebook, print on demand, audio, and foreign language formats.

She lives in North Carolina with her husband and demanding cats.

Social Media Links

Website – https://amberdaulton.wordpress.com/

Facebook Author Page – https://www.facebook.com/amber.daulton.author

Twitter – https://twitter.com/AmberDaulton1

Pinterest – https://pinterest.com/amberdaulton5/

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6624921.Amber_Daulton

Amazon Author Page – https://amzn.to/14JoZff

Book Bub – https://www.bookbub.com/authors/amber-daulton

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/amberdaultonauthor1/

The Well: A Ghost Story (@KA_Raines)

Happy Halloween! I hope you all like ghost stories!

Warnings: This story depicts some domestic violence and cursing, but nothing too graphic.

The Well

I hadn’t slept well since learning that my mother had passed three days ago. We were never close. Actually, I hadn’t seen her since my wedding seven years ago, but that somehow didn’t make things easier. She’d had a difficult childhood, and so she’d raised me sternly, the only way she’d known how to bring up a child. I suppose death made it easier to be forgiving.

Seven years. I contemplated the number. That’s how long I’d been married. Chris and I were engaged for a year. Picked out this house after we’d been married for two when Chris deemed it was time for us to start trying for children. I’d learned that going along with his plans was simply easier than arguing. At any rate, it’s a lovely but modest four-bedroom. One bedroom is my office, one’s a guest room, and one’s the nursery.

It was the room I liked the most. It was my haven—the place where my demons didn’t seem to follow me. I spent hours there, rocking in my new glider chair, swollen feet propped on the ottoman. I read aloud. Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go! was my favorite. I liked to think that the baby could hear me and was soothed by my voice. Chris thought I was a bit nuts, of course, but I’d been reading up on it. There was a lot of evidence suggesting infants are positively affected by voices and tones outside the womb.

I met Chris at a Christmas party a decade ago. He was an orthopedist and more than a bit close-minded. He didn’t put much faith in anything, really. His job was to mend bones, but I happened to know that he was rather adept at breaking them as well.

“There you are.” I looked up Chris’s appearance in the doorway. One hand drifted protectively to my swollen belly as I lowered the book. “Ready to go?”

I forced a smile. I’d become adept at forcing smiles. Placing the book aside, I looked one last time at the crib and pretty ivory farmhouse bedding I’d selected. Reluctantly, I followed my husband down the stairs and out the door. He placed a hand on my back possessively, not protectively—I’d learned the difference years ago—and guided me into the passenger seat. Chris always drove. Like everything regarding my husband, it was easier not to make a fuss about it.

As the BMW pulled out, ushering me to my mother’s funeral, I glanced up at my lovely white-slatted home and the nursery window one last time. Maybe it was the lack of sleep, but there appeared to be a figure hovering beyond the white lace curtains. I pressed my hand against the cold glass of the car window and blinked to clear my vision, but then we were pulling away, ambling down the bleak path on this likewise bleak day.

*  *  *

The funeral drained me physically and emotionally. At almost nine months pregnant, I couldn’t handle being on my feet for long stretches. My back and feet ached. The child in my womb—my baby girl—felt like she was squishing all of my internal organs, which made it difficult to breathe. I couldn’t handle relatives—mostly distant, virtual strangers—offering their condolences while Chris stood idly by, playing the part of the supportive husband.

The wake was held at my mother’s house, which she’d left to me—and which I planned on selling. I never thought I’d set foot in here again. It was a modest three-bedroom in a ramshackle neighborhood. Poor but well-kept. It was one of those old houses with a floorplan with no hallways; the rooms simply boxed in the main parlor. My father left when I was just a little girl, and my mother busted her butt as a nightshift nursing assistant to make sure there was food on the table. She was meticulous, organized, and highly religious. When I rebelled as a teenager, she hadn’t known how to handle me.

I’m not sure what propelled me to open the door to her room, which was the one to the right of the parlor. The same old patchwork quilt, faded with age, was spread neatly across the double mattress. A single cross adorned the wall above the wrought-iron bed frame, the only piece of décor on the yellowing walls. Her bible was open on the old oak dresser, and I briefly wondered if it shouldn’t have been buried with her. I experienced a pang of guilt that I hadn’t been the one to decide the funeral arrangements. I realized, quite suddenly, that I had no idea who had since I’d found out about her death. Her church friends who were hosting the wake? The nice neighbor lady I’d just met?

 She might not have been an ideal mother, but it struck me at that moment that I was a terrible daughter.

 A movement in my peripheral caught my attention, and that’s when I noticed the young girl sitting at my mother’s vanity. Dressed in black funeral attire and with a head of long, light brown hair, she couldn’t have been older than six or seven. I think I’d noticed her at the funeral. Had to be the child of one of my cousins.

When she smiled at me in the mirror, I attempted to return it, but I knew it didn’t reach my eyes. “Hi, sweetie, you really shouldn’t be in here,” I said as gently as I could manage. I was a bit taken aback that I hadn’t immediately noticed the child’s presence in my mother’s room. She must have been sitting unusually still.

Nonplussed, the girl hopped to her feet and straightened her black dress. She smiled at me as she passed, leaving me alone with my mother’s things. Once she was gone, I approached the vanity that the child had just vacated. There was an ornate box I recognized from my childhood. I recalled sneaking in here and going through it more than once, and as such, I knew it contained photos, jewelry, and other knickknacks that my mother had saved over the years. I hesitated for only a moment before taking the box. I’d have to go through my mother’s things at some point before selling the house. Or maybe I’d just hire someone to clear it all out. This was all I really wanted of my mother’s.

* * *

Even though it was barely after six o’clock by the time we left my mother’s house, it was so dark out that it might as well be midnight due to the shortened days. The temperature had also dropped considerably. As soon as we got in the car, I could smell the alcohol on Chris. Since it hadn’t been served at the wake, he must have brought it.

I bit my tongue as he pulled onto the darkened county road that cut the shortest path home. I knew better than to say anything. However, as the bends became sharper, and he narrowly avoided driving us into a copse of trees—he was going way too fast—I could no longer hold my tongue. “Chris, honey, would it be all right I drove for a change? I’d really like to. I’m just restless from the funeral.” I held my breath.

“Why don’t you just take a nap, dear? I’m sure you’re exhausted.” He only ever called me dear in a sarcastic, deprecating tone.

As he took his eyes off the road to look at me, a car came around the next bend, and Chris had to swerve to avoid hitting it; he honked, let out a string of curses, and rolled down his window to flip off the other driver, even though Chris was the one who’d impeded the other lane.

My heart was pounding in my chest at the near-miss. My arm curled instinctively around my belly. “Chris, please,” I whispered. I hated the desperation in my voice. I hated the tears in my eyes. More than anything, I hated that this is what I had become—a simpering woman, afraid of her own husband and who had abandoned her mother.

The backhand came so quickly I didn’t realize it until the pain exploded behind my eye in a rippling haze and split my lip open.

“Goddammit, Elsie!” he roared as I cowered against the door in fear and pain, one hand shielding my face, fearful of another attack while my other stayed curled around my belly. “Look what you made me do! And you could go into labor anytime! How the hell are we supposed to explain your face, huh? Don’t you think?”

Yes, I thought. I thought I might vomit from the pain or pass out, but just as that entered my mind, I noticed something on the road. Sitting upright, I wiped the tears from my eyes, and which promptly widened at the sight of a person, a small child in the headlights—

“Chris, stop!”

He cursed loudly as he slammed on the breaks.

I waited for the impact that never came, simultaneously thankful for my insistence on safety as the belt kept me firmly in place when the car squealed to a halt.

“Where’d she go? Where’d she go?” Chris was mumbling.

I shook my head. I was trembling as I unlatched the belt and clamored out of the car.

“Else? Where the hell are you goin’? Get your ass back in here.”

I ignored him as I walked around the car and stood in the twin beams. I was sure I’d seen a small child in the road. Chris had seen her, too.

I shivered as I glanced at the trees bordering the road. The air was calm, windless, and the cloud cover rendered it an unusually dark night. The effect was disconcerting. Ominous. “Hello?” I called toward the trees.

Not even the chirp of an insect returned my call. I hugged myself tighter and walked to the side of the road.

“Elsie. Elsie! The hell do you think you’re doing?”

“Just checking,” I called back.

He continued to call for me, but I ignored him as I stepped off the road and into the undergrowth. I’m not sure what propelled me to do so. I couldn’t explain it if you asked, but something beckoned me further into the forest like a siren’s call. Behind me, I could hear Chris finally exit the vehicle—his footsteps and cursing were loud in the preternaturally still night air—as I moved deeper between the trees, ignoring the scrapes of my skin on brambles and bark. I had left my jacket back in the car, and the chill bit my flesh, but I ignored it.

“Elsie, when I catch up to you, you’re gonna wish you’d listened!” Chris called from somewhere behind me, but for once, I wasn’t scared of him. I moved purposefully forward, propelled by that unseen force. Occasionally, I caught snatches of girlish whispers and giggles in the dark. And it was dark. And it was cold. And I was pregnant and alone. And I was being stalked by a predator who called himself my husband. Yet I wasn’t afraid because I somehow knew my life was about to change for the better.

I broke through the trees and emerged in a clearing. The clouds had parted enough that the child standing in the center was sufficiently illuminated in pale moonlight; it was as if she’d been waiting for me. It was the child from the wake. The one who’d been in my mother’s room. I approached her and stopped within touching distance. She was solid, but I wondered whether she was some otherworldly apparition. How had she come to be in this forest? Why had she been in the road?

“Who are you?” I settled for asking.

She merely smiled. And promptly vanished, as if she’d never been there. I stared for one stunned moment. Blinked. I couldn’t comprehend it.

Before my mind could attempt to process this event further, however, my lumbering husband broke through the trees, having finally caught up with me. He was winded and sweating. “Goddamit, Else. What the hell’s the matter with you? Look, I’m sorry about hitting you. I won’t drink as much. I’ll try to do better. Shit.”

He stopped in front of me. I smiled; reached up to touch his face, which I had once so adored. “I know. And I forgive you. Dear.”

In a swift motion, I grabbed him and shoved him into the old well directly behind me; it’s where the child had led me, for this specific purpose.

The well was deep, but not so deep that the fall killed him. He was screaming death threats at me as I calmly turned and walked back to the car.

At home that night, feet propped up on the ottoman in my nursery, I opened my mother’s box, using my swollen abdomen as a desk. In it was her rosary, several of my baby teeth, my first lock of hair, and some other odds and ends. There were faded photos from her girlhood. One was taken at her first communion. She wore a black dress with white lace trim and pearl buttons. She had long, light brown hair and a mischievous smile.

I returned the girl’s smile. “Hi, Mom. I’m sorry for being a shitty daughter. Thank you for saving my life.”

© 2020 K.A. Raines

~~~

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed and that you’ll leave a comment & let me know you were here. 🙂

My debut novel, The Infiltrator, available HERE ~ Only $2.99 and always FREE on Kindle Unlimited!

“What an awesome story! …Derrick…he’s a sexy, gruff, foul-mouthed, gun-toting, cigarette-smoking, mentally-unhinged country boy, and he’s absolutely perfect.” 

-Amber Daulton, author of the Arresting Onyx series

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A virus has rendered humanity mostly extinct. Keira Starr is alone, staying alive by staying on the run, sleeping in empty gas stations and the trunks of cars long abandoned on the highway. The world is overrun by “Ghosts,” the mindless, bloodthirsty dead, but they are the least of her problems. She is being hunted by ragtag groups of ruthless men, independent contractors working for a mysterious human trafficking ring. When she is finally captured, she discovers that Derrick Caine, despite his gruff demeanor and appearance, may just have a different agenda altogether.

#MFRWsteam ~ Ball’s in Her Court Now (@KA_Raines)

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Welcome to MFRW’s monthly Steam Hop, a blog hop for steamy romance writers! Click the banner to the left or on the side bar to view the other blogs in the hop!

For my entry, I chose an excerpt from my debut novel, The Infiltrator. To set the scene, Derrick and Keira barely escaped a pack of blood-thirsty Ghosts with their lives. Wet, cold, hungry, and emotionally exhausted, it’s the perfect set-up…

~~~

Keira sat up then—there was just room in the confines of the tent—and looked down as she watched him take a long, deep drag. As usual, she couldn’t read the look in his eyes because they were shielded by a fringe of dark hair, and there was something acutely masculine about the rugged set of his unshaven jaw. He had one arm casually bent behind his head, his bicep straining against the ripped cotton of his stained tee. “I’m going out on a limb here, Derrick,” she finally said. “I don’t have to go anywhere with you, but I am. I just wanna know what I’m walkin’ into.”

His eyes latched onto hers heatedly as he exhaled slowly through his nose, and the almost animalistic way he was looking at her had her clenching her thighs together, instinctively seeking friction as the familiar warmth pooled low in her belly.

“Yeah?” he said at last, his voice that now-familiar throaty growl that made her insides quiver. “Then what’re you still doin’ here? No one’s forcin’ ya. Can’t say I’d blame you for walkin’ away, since you don’t know me—not really, and you sure as shit wouldn’t be the first.” His free hand snaked out then, lightly landing on her hip, somehow timid yet bold all at once. His fingertips scorched her as his thumb just grazed the flesh beneath the hem of her shirt. She watched as his hooded gaze flickered downward, landing on her nipples that strained against the flimsy fabric, before trailing further down to the simple cotton panties she’d taken from a Dollar General north of Texarkana last week.

She forced her breathing into a steady rhythm, feeling, strangely, both annoyed and aroused—annoyed that he had the ability to arouse her with a simple look. No man should have the sort of power over her. “And no one forced you to come after me. I can take care of myself.”

His hand squeezed her hip ever-so-slightly, his gaze slowly dragging back up to meet her eyes once more as his exploring thumb slipped just beneath the waistband of her panties. “Yeah. No shit.” His eyes were dark with lust, and he didn’t seem embarrassed by the massive erection that his boxer-briefs did nothing to hide.

They continued to make eye contact in an unspoken challenge, the tension heavy in the air between them, and Keira knew that he was waiting to see what she would do next. The ball was in her court. If she wanted him, all she had to do was take him.

She was aware that she looked a mess, and she was sure she must smell even worse. Yet she felt emboldened when she shifted and leaned over him in the next instant, not allowing herself to put too much thought into what she was doing as she draped one thigh over his hips, rubbing her center lightly against him. She continued to hold his gaze as she took the mostly-forgotten cigarette from between his lips and brought it to her own, inhaling deeply. She hadn’t smoked since her college years, when she started dating Kevin and he’d deemed it unattractive, and so she savored the nicotine. Her eyes never left Derrick’s as she slowly exhaled the smoke and pressed the cigarette between his fingers.

She felt irrefutably empowered by his ragged breathing, and by the heat of his impressive length that strained insistently against her inner thigh when she dragged her leg back over his and settled at his side once more. She smiled thinly, knowing that she had regained her power. If she wanted to, she could fuck him stupid and slip off quietly next time he slept. She had been on her own for a while now, and she preferred it that way. She didn’t need other people, and she certainly didn’t need him.

Buy HERE ~ Only $2.99 and always FREE on Kindle Unlimited!

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A virus has rendered humanity mostly extinct. Keira Starr is alone, staying alive by staying on the run, sleeping in empty gas stations and the trunks of cars long abandoned on the highway. The world is overrun by “Ghosts,” the mindless, bloodthirsty dead, but they are the least of her problems. She is being hunted by ragtag groups of ruthless men, independent contractors working for a mysterious human trafficking ring. When she is finally captured, she discovers that Derrick Caine, despite his gruff demeanor and appearance, may just have a different agenda altogether.

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#MFRWHooks ~ “She’s Mine.” (@KA_Raines)

For this week’s book hook, I thought I’d share an excerpt from The Infiltrator. In this scene, Keira is evading Seekers, independent contractors working for a human trafficking ring in the wake of the apocalypse. When she’s awakened from her hiding spot in the dead of night, she discovers she’s no longer alone.

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On the fourth night at the cottage, she was jerked rudely awake by a scuffling from above. Her sleep-deprived mind struggled to push back the panic that crept in and settled around her like a dark cloud. One hand closed around the revolver—the one with which she’d first planned to murder her husband—on her stomach as she bolted upright. She trembled beneath her threadbare blanket, nerves frayed as she rose from her pallet, tiptoeing through the pitch black to the bottom of the staircase. She held the revolver with a steady grip while listening to the noises of the cottage above. She was exhausted from only sleeping in two-to-three-hour stretches, but her senses were now fully alert as she detected another distinct shuffling noise followed by the timbre of male voices. Three at least, possibly more.

Her eyes flashed to the single window above the crates stacked in the corner as she considered her possibilities. The frame was narrow, but Keira had been thin even before the world ended. She could simply kill the men in the house above. It was the first suitable shelter she had encountered for miles, and it was an unusually cold night for this early in the season. Even with a roof over her head, the threat of hypothermia was very real, especially since the rain had started again. The ground would be frozen over by morning. Not wasting any more time, she marched to the window and stuffed her meager belongings behind a crate. The men clearly hadn’t yet discovered the cellar door off the small kitchen, but it was only a matter of minutes. Keira would wait outside by the cover of darkness and observe them through the windows, gauge how many she was dealing. She would likely wait until they were sleeping, slit the watchman’s throat, and then slip back inside and silently kill the others. She had long ago learned to do what she had to, and she didn’t stop to think about it. If it was a cruel world before, it had become something unspeakable now.

Keira clamored through the window and pressed herself against the cold stone of the house, eyes darting frantically about. It was dark, the rain still coming down in icy sheets, shocking her system, and rendering objects in her line of vision little more than shapeless masses.

“Weapons on the ground, and hands where I can see ‘em.”

The voice came from in front of her and slightly to the left, little more than a low growl that caused an involuntary shiver down her spine.

Her eyes shot in the speaker’s direction and her hands instinctively tightened on the switchblade in her left hand and the gun in her right. Her heart stuttered as panic seized it in an icy grip. Yet outwardly she remained calm. She’d dealt with Seekers more than once, but she’d take the Ghosts any day.

“Easy there.” He was stalking toward her slowly, and the large blur grew distinct, shaping into a lean, powerful frame and broad shoulders. A weapon—a rifle—was aimed at her center mass. “Don’t wanna hurt ya.” He was mere feet away now. Keira couldn’t see his eyes beneath a mop of shaggy dark hair, plastered to his face by the downpour.

“Whatcha got there, Derrick? That a woman?”

Her pulse fluttered in genuine fear at the second voice; there was something in it that chilled her blood, something unmistakably hard—and well-suited for this world.

“Nah, man,” the first man snarled as the second jogged out of the tree line, aiming some sort of bow at her. The rifleman’s free hand came up, stopping his companion forcefully in his tracks as he attempted to move forward and get a better look at Keira. “She’s mine.”

Buy HERE ~ Only $2.99 and always FREE on Kindle Unlimited!

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A virus has rendered humanity mostly extinct. Keira Starr is alone, staying alive by staying on the run, sleeping in empty gas stations and the trunks of cars long abandoned on the highway. The world is overrun by “Ghosts,” the mindless, bloodthirsty dead, but they are the least of her problems. She is being hunted by ragtag groups of ruthless men, independent contractors working for a mysterious human trafficking ring. When she is finally captured, she discovers that Derrick Caine, despite his gruff demeanor and appearance, may just have a different agenda altogether.

M/F, erotic romance, dystopian, post-apocalyptic, sci-fi/fantasy

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Cover Reveal ~ Arresting Jeremiah by Amber Daulton (@AmberDaulton1)

Title: Arresting Jeremiah
Author: Amber Daulton
Series: Arresting Onyx (book 2)
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Cover Reveal: September 23rd, 2020
Release Date: October 14th, 2020
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Length: 98k
Heat Rating: 5 Flames

Tags: woman in jeopardy, man in jeopardy, single mom, family, violent ex, investigations, police procedural, criminals, gangs, drugs, urban romance, HEA, no cliffhangers, standalone, series

Blurb

Injured Parole Officer Jeremiah “Jim” Borden never expected Calista Barlow, the sassy blonde waitress he’s craved for months, to ring his doorbell. She slips into his heart—and his bed—but he’s obsessed with a gangland investigation that threatens his career and maybe even his life.

Calista doesn’t trust easily, not with a daughter to protect and the stalker who keeps calling her. After her violent ex-boyfriend returns, she finds solace in Jim’s arms.

Jim may have to forego his need for answers to protect the ready-made family he adores, but how will he and Calista escape an unseen enemy that is always one step ahead of them?

Tagline – When threats escalate, will Jim and Calista succumb, or fight for a love they can’t deny?

PreOrder Links

Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Apple ~ Kobo ~ Google Play ~ Universal Link

Add to Goodreads

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Excerpt

He hated to upset Calista all over again, but he had to know. “What were you thinking when you tried on the necklace?”

Air whizzed through her teeth. Silence stretched between them as they walked toward the diner. She sighed, her voice soft. “No offense, but I don’t know or trust you enough to let you in that much. I’ve made some mistakes—things I don’t want to talk about. Give me some time.”

Trust? He couldn’t blame her for that. If he demanded to know her secrets, he had to tear down the barbwire he’d erected around his.

No. That couldn’t happen. His life depended on his silence. Did her private thoughts and memories hinge on life and death too? His stomach twisted. Nothing bad would happen to her, not if he was around to stop it.

“What can you tell me?” Hell, only an asshole would ask something like that without opening up in return.

“The necklace reminded me of something I once wanted more than anything. Not the pearls itself, but what it represented. I couldn’t have it because I wasn’t good enough.” She pulled from his grasp and wrapped her arms around her middle.

“I’m sorry I forced you to try on the necklace. I thought you liked it. All women deserve something that makes them feel pretty.” The stench of oil filled his nose, and he sneezed. He glanced at the noisy passing cars and pulled Calista farther back along the sidewalk, away from a puddle in the road, before a vehicle splashed them. “I understand about lack of trust and the need for secrecy. I hope someday you can tell me what happened, but I do know one thing, even if you never tell me. You were good enough. You always have been and will always be.”

Her blue-green eyes widened. She traced her fingertips over his smooth jaw, leaving sparks in her wake.

“You’re so kind. I almost believe it when you say it. God, I wish I’d met you years ago, Jeremiah.”

“Why do you call me Jeremiah? Everyone else calls me Jim.”

“It feels more personal, as though you belong only to me. I may have to share Jim with the rest of the world, but Jeremiah—the strong, kind man I’ve admired over the past several months—is all mine.”

Her admission branded him like a fire poker to his skin. If he were alone, he’d beat his chest and roar. No woman had ever wanted to claim him. No one but her ever called him Jeremiah.

He coughed, clearing his throat. “Friday is only two days away, but I can’t wait that long. Let’s get in my car and go to a park, somewhere private, to talk.”

“Talk? Is that code for necking like teenagers?”

“I’m game if you are, but I don’t want to be rushed. We’ll have time for kissing and touching later.”

She pecked his cheek. “We better go before the rain starts again.”

He grasped her hand and they hurried back to the diner.

Official Book Trailer for Arresting Jeremiah

YouTube – https://youtu.be/jIsVXB1B_Pg

Great news! Arresting Mason, book one in the Arresting Onyx series, is on sale for .99 cents. Limited Time Only!

Find it here: https://books2read.com/u/m2vvY7

Release Tour Sign Ups

I’m working with the wonderful Maia from Silver Dagger Tours to host the release of Arresting Jeremiah. Readers, authors, and bloggers alike—we would love to have you on board for the month-long tour, beginning on October 14th.

There is also the option to review before the book goes LIVE!

Find out more here: https://www.silverdaggertours.com/tour-sign-ups/arresting-jeremiah-tour-sign-ups

About the Author

Amber Daulton is the author of the romantic-suspense series Arresting Onyx and several standalone novellas. Her books are published through The Wild Rose Press, Books to Go Now, and Daulton Publishing, and are available in ebook, print on demand, audio, and foreign language formats.

She lives in North Carolina with her husband and demanding cats.

Social Media Links

#MFRWHooks ~ Knight in Shining Leather (K.A. Raines)

Hi, everyone! I’m currently working on a couple of WIPs, but I’d like to share an excerpt from a romantic suspense novel I’m hard at work on. I’m super excited because it’s quite different from my debut novel. While it deals with serious subject matter, the heroine is spunky and quirky, and there’s going to be plenty of banter + sexual tension (my two favorite things). This work is as-yet untitled, but I’m looking at a released of early next year (if all goes according to plan).

It was nearing midnight as I walked to my car—or, rather, gracelessly plodded through the icy sludge accumulated on the sidewalk, impacted at certain intervals to the point of being dangerously slickened. Especially in these fucking shoes. And where the hell had I parked my damned car, anyway? I was sure I’d left it on the corner, in front of the crappy little all-night cafe where some of the others would fruitlessly attempt to sober up before heading home to their families.

“Elle—hey, wait up—!”

I rolled my eyes and kept walking. I wanted to snap, “It’s Detective Roshan,” but it felt petty, so I ignored him, finally spotting my car crammed between an SUV and a truck so needlessly large it seemed its asshat owner couldn’t not be compensating. Perfect. Just how the hell was I supposed to get out of that spot without ramming one of those monstrosities? “What do you want, Agent West?” I conceded with a sigh as he caught up. Agent Jackass, my mind supplied. A beer didn’t make up for that.

“Easy, there.” He let out what I’m sure he felt was a disarming laugh. “Just wanted to make sure you made it to your car okay.”

I stopped in my tracks, torn between annoyance and…well, annoyance. When I finally turned to face him, I was unprepared for how close he was. It was my stupid, impractical, and absurdly overpriced shoes combined with the beer—so, maybe I’m a lightweight—and most decidedly not his closeness that caused me to stumble and nearly land on my ass on the icy pavement.

When he reached out and grabbed my elbow to steady me, I attempted to yank it back, and all that managed to accomplish was somehow I now had a face-full of very hard chest. A very hard chest that smelled like leather and cologne. Not altogether unappealing, I had to admit. I stiffened as his arms tightened around my waist; I’d say instinctively, but I had a feeling he knew exactly was he was doing. I was just about to demand that he release me when I saw it, just behind his right shoulder as it passed and made a left-hand turn at the intersection: a 1980’s-style station wagon, the kind with the wooden side panels, completely not discreet. I had almost thought it was a joke when two separate eyewitnesses had reported seeing a similar vehicle at two of the murders. It was such a movie stereotype it was laughable—but apparently, no. No joke. This killer either took how-to notes from lame daytime TV or he wanted to get caught.            

At any rate, if it hadn’t been for the alcohol still coursing through my veins—and the fact that I was still flustered from West’s attention, which I hate admitting—I might have noticed that this couldn’t be a coincidence. But I was a big, fat fucking idiot. A slightly intoxicated big, fat fucking idiot.

Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear what you think!

-Kari

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#AuthorInterview – “The Infiltrator” by K.A. Raines

Amber Daulton

Let’s welcome K.A. Raines to the hotseat for a juicy interview!

What attracted you to the romance genre?

I’ve always enjoyed writing AND reading in a multitude of genres, but I always felt that romance gave a story its pulse. As a child, the romantic subplot is usually what cemented my enjoyment of a book or movie – even if the movie I was watching was science fiction or action/adventure. I also love some good sexual tension build-up, and I think this shows in my writing. I keep the romance (and sexy times) central while not allowing it to swallow the story. Although, I’m planning a series of erotica short stories that might have little in the way of plot, but we’ll see.

“When I started writing books, I wish I had known…”

How to go without sleep. Although, motherhood actually prepared me for this one. And so did bootcamp…

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#MFRWHooks – Derrick Gets Keira Wet (Excerpt)

When Derrick began to undress, Keira forgot to breathe. “What are you doin’?” she asked, laughing to cover up her sudden nervousness when his shirt fell next to his boots, and he reached for his belt buckle. She tried not to stare, truly, she did, but her hungry eyes drank in every scar that was revealed, every scattered tattoo, the coarse but sparse hairs on his chest that led a distinct trail down washboard abs.

Ordinarily, he was so painfully reserved that she was aghast that he was actually stripping in front of her. But, then, she’d witnessed his contradictory bold streak more than once.

“Goin’ for a swim,” he replied, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, and she was a supreme dumbass. “What? You said it feels amazin’.” He pushed his jeans down his narrow hips and stepped out of them, leaving him clad only in boxer shorts. His legs were lean and strong like the rest of him, and she couldn’t help but admire them.

“Yeah, but—Derrick!” She laughed when he ran at the dock’s edge, tucking his legs into the classic cannonball position as he jumped and disappeared beneath the surface with a mighty splash. She was still laughing as she wiped the water from her eyes. Sure, it felt nice on her feet, but she couldn’t imagine actually swimming in it.

Her eyes skimmed the surface of the water as she waited for him to resurface, but, as the seconds ticked by and he had yet to make an appearance, she began to get nervous. She stood, dropping her pack and bow at her feet, preparing to go in after him as panic began to set in, when a sudden pounding noise below her caught her attention. Looking at her feet, she saw him gazing up at her through the slats. “You comin’ in, or what?” he asked as he swam to the side of the dock, his hands catching the edges to anchor himself in place.

She shook her head. “Asshole. You scared me.” Even as she said the words, however, she was struck by how carefree he seemed in that moment.

“Never said I weren’t. Don’t mean you can’t come in, though.”

She chewed the inside of her lip. Fuck it. Before she could talk herself out of it, she quickly stripped off her jacket before pulling her shirt over her head and shimmying out of her jeans. She didn’t look at him as she undressed, but she could feel the heat of his gaze as he soaked her up. She supposed she couldn’t begrudge him that, since she hadn’t bothered looking away as he undressed; she felt thankful, at least, that she’d worn a bra today. “This is all a ploy to get me naked, isn’t it?”

“Woman, if I wanted ta git you naked… I wouldn’t need a ploy.”

She shook her head and bit her lip, ignoring the heat that bloomed in her cheeks and between her legs in tandem. Once naked save for her plain white panty-and-bra set, Keira ran at the edge of the dock much as Derrick had, but, instead of doing a cannonball like he had, she dived in, her hands sluicing through the water as a shocking blast of iciness encased her. Remembering his words about Ghosts possibly being trapped on the floor of the lake, she kept close to the surface, flipping and kicking toward the murky sunlight before her head broke through.

She was still gasping from the shock of it and shivering mightily as she treaded water, eyes flashing toward the dock. Swiping the water from her eyes, she didn’t immediately see him, but she was no longer worried. On the contrary, she felt the stirrings of excitement, the adrenaline coursing through her veins as she swam for the dock, pulling one arm in front of the other. In high school, she had been on the school’s swim team. Not exactly Olympics material, but she’d always considered herself a strong swimmer, and it had been so long that the chilly water felt invigorating as she propelled herself fluidly forward.

She gasped in shock when a hand suddenly clamped around her ankle, dragging her beneath the surface once more, but she knew it wasn’t a Ghost: The grip was too strong, deliberate, the palm too fleshy. Nevertheless, she screamed, trying not to swallow a mouthful of water as she was yanked backwards and crashed into a warm body. Her arms wrapped around his neck as she clung to him instinctively, trying to stifle her automatic surge of panic when her head broke the surface for the second time.

Derrick was laughing as she coughed and sputtered. “You asshole,” she gasped, one hand pounding weakly against his chest.

“Seems t’be the theme o’the day,” he murmured once he finally stopped chuckling. “Calm down, woman—I gotcha.”

“I wouldn’t need calming if you hadn’t tried to drown me,” she grumbled, spitting her hair out of her face as she gazed up at him. Only at that moment did she realize how close he was, that she was literally wrapped around him. Her legs were straddling his narrow hips, her breasts smashed against his chest, and she flushed to realize that he was staring at her mouth.

“Wasn’t tryna drown ya—just gitcha a lil’ wet.” A sudden surge of warmth bloomed low in her belly at his words, and at the same moment he flushed, as if realizing what he’d said—but neither moved to disengage. On the contrary, they froze in unison while Keira forgot to breathe; they might have sunk to the bottom of the lake if Derrick hadn’t had have the presence of mind to keep treading water for them both.

She stared up at him, noting the clear hesitation on his face and feeling certain that it must mirror her own. Deciding to take the leap—and not allowing herself to think about it—she tilted her head up in clear invitation, stopping just shy of his mouth. She nearly cried in relief when he tilted downward just enough bridge the gap, his lips just brushing hers, so lightly she might have imagined it had her nerve endings not been on fire.

She held still with considerable effort, letting him take the lead as she sensed that any sudden movement on her part might halt him in his tracks. So slowly she barely registered the movement, he applied gentle pressure, his lips sliding over hers experimentally as Keira hummed her encouragement. His hand slid up her back, threading into her hair while his other braced against the side of her cheek, as if holding her in place, while he continued his gentle explorations.

When he hesitantly licked the seam of her lips, barely a prod of his tongue, she parted them, allowing him inside. As his tongue brushed against hers, he groaned into her mouth, and she tightened her grip on him with her legs in response, her own hands trailing down his bare chest, delighting in the feel of his warm flesh, in stark contrast to the icy lake water.

The kiss might have gained momentum from there; the passion had threatened to erupt between them for days, yet this felt different, even as the kiss itself lost its chasteness and became ever bolder. Still, this was decidedly sweeter than anything that had passed between them before, and she could tell that Derrick was deliberately holding back, not allowing this to develop into anything frenzied even as she sucked his tongue between her lips, the gesture absurdly erotic. His facial hair scratched the delicate skin of her cheek, the contrast somehow only serving to heighten the sensuality of the moment.

He broke the kiss with a grunt, his forehead landing against hers. “Keira,” he breathed, his voice ragged as he caught his breath. His erection was hot and heavy against her belly through the thin cotton of his shorts, but she followed his lead, sliding her fingertips up his smooth, broad shoulders once more, down his biceps, and trailing over his forearms until their fingers were intertwined.

“Yeah?” She opened her eyes to peer up at him through her lashes. She wanted him—she’d given up trying to fight it—but she would go at his pace.

“Nothin’.” He pecked her lips—once, twice, three times.

“No—what?” she said with a laugh, their fingers still intertwined at their sides, pulling back slightly to get a better look at his face. Her legs were still loosely wrapped around his waist, and she made no move to disengage.

“It’s just…” He ducked his head, and she realized that he was blushing furiously. “That was nice.” If possible, his face turned an even brighter hue. “I know. I’m fuckin’ lame. Never shoulda opened my damn mouth.”

She smiled up at him broadly, heart swelling to the brim with a sudden, intense affection for the man. She pulled one of his hands up between their bodies and pressed her lips to their clasped knuckles. “It was, wasn’t it? And you’re not lame, Caine. Not even close.”

Buy HERE ~ NOW $0.99 until 9/14 and always free on KU!

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A virus has rendered humanity mostly extinct. Keira Starr is alone, staying alive by staying on the run, sleeping in empty gas stations and the trunks of cars long abandoned on the highway. The world is overrun by “Ghosts,” the mindless, bloodthirsty dead, but they are the least of her problems. She is being hunted by ragtag groups of ruthless men, independent contractors working for a mysterious human trafficking ring. When she is finally captured, she discovers that Derrick Caine, despite his gruff demeanor and appearance, may just have a different agenda altogether.

M/F, erotic romance, dystopian, post-apocalyptic, sci-fi/fantasy

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#MFRWSteam Hop – The Infiltrator

The Infiltrator by K.A. Raines

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Thanks for stopping by! This is my first #MFRWSteam Hop, so I hope you’ll leave a comment if you stop by! For my entry, I’m leaving a steamy 18+ excerpt from my debut erotic romance/dystopian novel, The Infiltrator. I hope you enjoy!

M/F, erotic romance, dystopian, post-apocalyptic, sci-fi/fantasy

mfrw-steam-bnr-400

He was breathing hard and fast through his nose, eyes dangerous as they bore into hers. Only in that moment did she realize that his powerful arms were braced against the wall on either side of her head, his body solid steal where it trapped hers against the bulkhead. His scent—masculine, earthy—invaded her senses, leaving her dizzy. His breath was hot on her face and smelled like a curious mixture of peaches and tobacco. He hadn’t shaved since coming back, and coarse facial hair, peppered with gray, covered his throat and square jaw. She had the most insane urge to lick him as she’d done that night in the kitchen, to feel the rough texture beneath her tongue. She wanted to press her lips against the hollow of his throat, the patch of skin just visible above his collar.

“Why?” she finally asked, her gaze meeting his unwaveringly. Her fingers itched to reach up and touch his face, but she didn’t dare.

“What?” He seemed taken aback by the question, clearly unsure of what she was asking.

“Why do you care?” she breathed. “I’m not your responsibility, Derrick. So…why? It’s a fair question.”

His arms dropped to his sides, and he took several paces back then, putting distance between their bodies once more. He didn’t open his mouth to offer an explanation, but his intense gaze never wavered from hers.

“You wanted to talk,” she said softly. “So, talk.”

“Ain’t some heartless bastard that’d stand aside, let you be brutalized,” he finally muttered. “That what you think o’me?”

“No, I don’t think you’re a heartless bastard. Quite the opposite, actually. But you didn’t answer the question.”

Derrick was chewing his thumbnail, and he finally broke eye contact, looking down at his boots. “Don’t know what the fuck you want me t’say.”

“Tell me why you brought me here.”

“’Cause you was alone.”

“That why you kissed me, too? Because I was alone?”

He bristled. “Jesus, woman. You wanna know why I kissed you? ’Cause I wanted to fuck you,” he ground out harshly. “That’s all. I wanna fuck you, and I don’t want you t’die. Don’t make me no goddamn saint—and it sure as fuck don’t mean I wanna put a ring on your damn finger or whatever the fuck it is yer implyin’.”

“I know you’re not a saint,” she said evenly, “and I’m not implying anything. But you didn’t fuck me, when you could have. I wanted it. So, why didn’t you, Derrick?”

He stared at her for several heartbeats before turning suddenly, clearly on the verge of storming away. She sighed wearily. “Derrick, wait.” She launched forward, reaching unthinkingly to grab his shirt to stop him—but he jerked away so brusquely that the top three buttons popped off his shirt, ripping it partially open. He was staring at her, breathing heavily through his nose and frozen in inaction as he watched her watching him. Abruptly, the room felt absurdly hot, and she was having difficulty keeping her eyes on his face.

“What happened to you?” she breathed. “Who did you lose?” She knew she was pushing him, that she should stop before she went too far, but it felt like observing a train wreck, watching from a distance as the engine rushed ahead at full steam, and, even foreseeing the impending disaster on the tracks, being powerless to stop it. “You risk your life tryin’ to save women and children. Who was she? Your wife?” She didn’t even know why she cared. She didn’t want to care. Derrick Caine was a virtual stranger to her, yet she knew she was already in way too deep.

He growled suddenly, a low, guttural sound that jarred her out of her trance when she rather unexpectedly found her space invaded by him for the third time in the past several minutes. Yet the charge in the air had shifted subtly; he no longer seemed angry, exactly, but there was something decidedly predatory in his eyes.

“The fuck you want from me?” His voice in her ear was a dangerous rumble that elicited chills up her spine and ignited a fire that bloomed hotly in her womb, a delicious contrast. Quite suddenly, all she wanted was to relieve the dull throb between her legs that his voice and presence evoked; she wanted him so badly that she physically couldn’t endure not to have him soon.

You. Just you. “I could ask the same of you,” she settled for, and she couldn’t stop the tremor in her voice. She was overwhelmed by him—by his nearness, by the heat emanating from his body, drawing her in. She tentatively raised a trembling hand, reaching up to touch a raised scar on his chest, just above his left pectoral. His chest continued to visibly rise and fall, and he was breathing hard through his nose in an obvious effort to calm himself, fists clenched in tight balls at his sides. His breathing hitched when she barely touched him, a feather-light caress, her fingertips just skimming the jagged edge of his scar. She had known all along that he was in pain. So much unbearable pain—yet he would never admit it to anyone, least of all her.

“He’s selective about who he chooses to let in,” Lexie had told her. “He’s more vulnerable than he lets on…”

His hand snaked out suddenly, catching her wrist and effectively stopping the downward trail of her fingertips. She shuddered, an irrepressible moan escaping her lips. “Don’t,” he growled, voice somehow even more gravelly than usual. She got the distinct impression, however, that he didn’t really want her to stop, as evidenced by the sizable bulge pressed enticingly against her belly through his jeans. And she’d barely even touched him.

“Please,” she whispered, and his breathing noticeably hitched when she licked her lips.

“You don’t want this. You don’t want me.” His voice was no longer angry, but there was something distinctly aggressive about the way he ground his hips against her belly as he released her wrist, hands landing roughly on her hips.

“I know what I want, Derrick. I’m a big girl.”

He growled, a sound of frustration as he stepped back slightly, and her entire being mourned the loss of contact. “You don’t know what the fuck you’re talkin’ about.”

“Oh, I don’t, do I?” She was unable to suppress the frustration in her own voice as she took a half-step forward, closing the gap between their bodies once more.

“You want me to fuck you, Keira?” His voice was an aggressive bark as he abruptly grabbed her in one swift motion and pinned her against the wall. His head was suddenly tilted downward, his breath hot against her ear as he bit her lobe—hard. “I can do that,” he added, the aggression ebbing somewhat, replaced by a heated urgency as he hiked her leg over his hip and ground against her center. Keira gasped, her hands encircling the back of his head, and their foreheads met. Their lips were mere centimeters apart, his shallow breaths hot on her face, and she thought that he was going to kiss her again…

“…But this…”

Keira’s arousal-hazed mind struggled to remember what he was talking about as he thrust his hips against her core, hard, his large hands splayed on her ass, pulling her in and grinding her against him.

“…This is all I can give you,” he continued in a low rumble. “’Cause I ain’t got nothin’ else left to give.”

“Maybe I don’t either.” It was a lie, the same lie that she’d been telling herself. She did, but it was just a matter of whether she was willing. At that moment, however, all she cared about was that he didn’t stop. She was so close already, and they were still both fully clothed.

He let out a sound that was a cross between a grunt and a growl as he released her rather abruptly, allowing her leg to slide back to the floor—and Keira let out a whimper of frustration—but then she realized that he was on his knees before her, attempting to clumsily yank her pants down her hips without undoing the button. “Wanna taste you,” he grunted, his words and voice triggering a surge of warmth that bloomed between her legs anew. She groaned and bit her lip in anticipation, forgetting that they were in a public area even if it was secluded, and not really giving a damn at that moment, as she helped him shove her pants and underwear down her hips in one fell swoop.

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3d Hardcover on transparentA virus has rendered humanity mostly extinct. Keira Starr is alone, staying alive by staying on the run, sleeping in empty gas stations and the trunks of cars long abandoned on the highway. The world is overrun by “Ghosts,” the mindless, bloodthirsty dead, but they are the least of her problems. She is being hunted by ragtag groups of ruthless men, independent contractors working for a mysterious human trafficking ring. When she is finally captured, she discovers that Derrick Caine, despite his gruff demeanor and appearance, may just have a different agenda altogether.

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