Category Archives: Giveaway

Jason: The Sons of Crosby Release Blitz & Giveaway

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


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

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Karmen Davis
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contact  my PA  for info  she will have the tracking numbers

Happy Reading ,
Prologue
The woman in his arms was weak. Crosby wasn’t sure that she was going to make it, not the way she’d been burned. As soon as he laid her on the soft earth, she opened her eyes and looked up at him. Crosby felt his heart skip several beats. My goodness, she sure was a pretty little thing. “The others?” He told her that his sons were getting out as many as they could. “Thank you. The house, it just exploded into flames. We had no time to get out.” “We caught him.” She frowned but let her eyes flitter to a close. Asking her if she was all right enough for him to leave her for a moment, she nodded. Crosby went to the house to help his boys. They had no way of knowing how many faeries were in the house. A few of them had died, whether from smoke inhalation or fire. They pulled out as many as they could, dead or alive, and laid them on the ground. Soon there’d be nothing left of the building, but he didn’t want to leave anyone behind if he could help it. The faeries, even the smaller ones, were worth any kind of pain they might get from the hot flames to save them. “They’re all out, so far as we can tell. We’ve made an area over there for the dead. The ones that can be saved are being helped by the others.” Jason, his oldest, dropped to his knees. “I don’t think we missed anyone, but it’s burning too hot for us to go back in. I’m sorry, Dad.” “We did the best we could, son. You have to believe that. That house, it went up fast. I’m thinking that the man who did this, he knew what he was about.” He glanced over at the woman he’d brought out. She was resting, which he was glad for. And her body seemed to be healing slowly. “I think she’d be the one in charge. If she’s awake, ask her how many were in the place, please.” Jason stood up just as the rest of them were coming out of the falling down building. Just as the last of his boys came out, the entire thing fell down behind them. Grayson jumped back when his shirt caught on one of the embers. Luckily, Elliot was able to help him out.  Crosby dropped to the ground and counted his blessings after counting his sons. He didn’t want them hurt either. This had been a hell of a night so far. They’d been simply walking along the path, none of them in any kind of hurry, but they’d heard the blast and then the screams. Even as far away as they’d been, nearly two miles, he’d heard them in pain. The man, running from the scene and smelling like death, was caught and taken back. His confession was also his death warrant. Jason had snapped his neck and left him where he lay. Jason returned with the woman walking slowly next to him. She looked a good deal better than she had when he’d found her, and she was wearing Jason’s shirt. Sitting down between the two of them, she thanked him again for his service. He told her it was his pleasure and waved away her offer of a reward. “It wasn’t anything for us to come to your aid, my lady. We were just out and about when we smelled the smoke. The explosion brought us from our business. The house,
well, it was over almost as soon as we got here.” She nodded. “I’m sorry about your family, miss. There was no cause for this.” “You said that he’d been caught. Is he…did you kill him?” Crosby told her that he was dead, yes. “Thank you for that. Had he been able to get away, I fear that he would do more of the same to my kind. I wish to repay you.” “No, that won’t be necessary. I know what you are and what they were, but we’ve no desire to take anything else from you. You have lost enough, my lady.” She nodded and Crosby introduced her to his sons. “This is Jason, my oldest. Then in order of birth to youngest, it’s Chase, Elliot, Grayson, Ryan, and the youngest is Sean. This is the Lady Kilian, the faerie queen.” He was proud of his boys, all of them men now but still his little boys. As they shook her hand he spoke of them, just little things that he was happy to share with her. How they’d been taking lessons from the neighbor lady to learn how to sew and knit. Things that men should know how to do in the event of an emergency. How Sean could do some doctoring if necessary, even on a human. All notes of the pride that Crosby felt for his sons. When she turned to him, he could see that she had completely healed and was feeling like herself again. She looked at the dead and injured. “The man who did this, he was out to kill all of us.” Crosby said that was about right. “Had you not come here when you did, he would have succeeded. By killing me, without someone to take the place of the queen, all faeries would have perished. And you know as well as I, that would be the death of a great deal of magic.”  “We only came to help out the people living here, miss. We would have done the same for anyone.” She smiled at him. “You’re very beautiful, my lady. I’m glad that we could save you and the others. I’m sorry that there wasn’t more time for us. We’ll help with the dead, should you wish. As I said, it won’t be any trouble at all.” “You have given the world around us a great gift, Crosby. As well as your sons. Because of your bravery, only a few died rather than all of us.” Crosby nodded but felt embarrassed. “I have given a gift to your sons, and now I shall do the same for you. ‘Tis only a touch to give to you, but I should like more.” He didn’t know what to expect from her. But when she wrapped her arms around him, Crosby felt his entire body shake with it. She was giving him something, something that he did not deserve but was going to get anyway. And when his sons fell to the ground when he was released, he watched as she staggered to the boys then dropped herself. Christ, whatever she’d done to them, they’d be lucky to make it home before the sun rose. It would be just about his luck to save faeries from a fire only to be burned up by the sun rising. “You will be fine, Crosby. All of you will.” He was still too sick to wonder what she was talking about as he laid back on the grass. His head was still spinning, and he was slightly sick to his belly. “I will leave you to rest now so that I might take care of the wounded and our dead.” Crosby looked at his sons, each of them laying there as if they were dead. He knew that they weren’t, he could hear each of their hearts beating. As the sun crested over the mountain, he tried to stand. Getting to his boys was much harder than he thought it
should be after a simple thank you gift. Every inch he crawled toward them, it felt as if he was taken several feet back. Christ, he was going to die right there. “Dad?” He nodded at Jason as he got to his knees too. “I’m sick. I mean, I feel like I need to puke and my legs are weak. What did she do to us?” “She said it was a gift. For saving her and the others. Doesn’t feel that way, but that’s what she told me.” Jason cursed as he stood up on his wobbly legs. “We have to get to shelter. Can you get the others going?” “I’m not hurt.” He looked at Sean, who was standing with his arms wide. He wanted to tell him to grab up one of the others and go, but he looked at him, with the sunlight streaming behind him, and didn’t see any blisters. His skin wasn’t peeling back. And he looked…. Well, he looked happy. “The sun isn’t hurting me. I bet it’s not going to hurt any of us. And it feels fantastic.” Crosby looked at his own hands. They were covered in soot but not from his own flesh. Wiping them on his pants, he noticed that he wasn’t blistered either. His skin was just like it was when he was indoors, hiding from the very thing that would end their lives. Looking at the sun, he felt the warmth of it on his face and none of the terror that usually came with being outside. He’d not felt this good, this warm, for as long as he could remember. “She gave us the gift of sunlight.” Crosby nodded at Jason. “Do you think that it’s only for today? I mean, if it is, then I want to stay out here all through it. I have never felt the sun before.” No, neither had he. Once, long ago, he’d felt it for a fleeting moment when his wife had died. It had been in his heart to join her, but the boys had needed him. And the promise that he’d made to her before her passing had made him go into hiding again. He missed Rena every day. He’d lost his wife to man. Not a human, but just as bad. There were a few good humans—he wasn’t stupid enough to think that they’d all come from the same mold— but when they were bad, they were murderous. The creature had torn her throat out, for no other reason than that he could. Crosby had felt her death like his own heart had stopped beating along with her. They did stay in the sun all day. He’d been worried for a bit when Elliot had started to burn. But it turned out to be nothing more than too much sun. A strange feeling for a vampire, even as old as he was. Crosby was able to get them to rest a bit, knowing deep in his heart that this was going to make it harder for them to go back to the darkness. But it was so much fun for them. They’d even made their way to the little pond behind their lair. Swimming with the sun beating down on them burned their tender skin a little more. He’d been sore for about a minute, then it wore off. He was going to tan, he thought, the funniest thing he’d ever thought of. But relaxing in the sun-warmed water was a heavenly feeling, one that he’d never forget. By nightfall they were all exhausted. There hadn’t been any need for them to rest during the day, and he thought they’d have to pay for it later, but he could have no more
told them no than he could have told himself. Being in the sunlight, while fleeting, was the most fun he’d had in a very long time. Crosby loved his children. All six of them. They had kept him going these last decades without their mother. He was tired, however. Not just today and how special it had been for them all, but he was tired of living. They no longer needed him, they had proven that to him over and over. Tomorrow night, he decided, he’d talk to them and tell him of his plans. It was well past time for him to join their beloved mother.

LIAM HARRISON AMBUSH Release Day & Giveaway

Emma Hudson wanted to get this over with. Her father had left her in a jam, and the sooner she dropped off his duplicate trucker log books to the Harrisons, the sooner she could get back to work and try to clear her name. Trucking was all she knew, and she was tired of it.

Liam Harrison watched the pretty little thing climb into her truck to get the books, but when she slipped and fell back into his arms with a life-threatening cut on her arm, he knew two things: she was his mate, and she would die if he didn’t convert her right now.

And when a string of rest stop murders brings an old vampire friend back into the family’s fold, he informs them Emma was next. It was time to park the truck.

They all knew that Emma’s father would come sniffing around to try to swindle her out of more money, it was just a matter of time. But how far would he go to get what he wanted?

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Riordan Harrison can’t believe it. Everyone is pissed at him and he doesn’t see what the fuss is all about. All he did was tell the woman that she was his mate. He couldn’t help it that his tiger caused him to pin the woman to the counter and she proceeded to throw him to the ground and cover him with sticky pastries. Now, no one will talk to him, including his secretary. He hasn’t claimed the woman yet, and it is all seeming like it’s more trouble than it’s worth.

Storm Browning, Stormy to her friends, is a wounded war hero. She’s done her duty and just wants to live a quiet life―run her little bakery without any hitches. The majority of the men she commanded in the war had been shifters so she wasn’t surprised when the big oaf sniffed her out claiming that she was his mate. But that doesn’t mean she has to agree with it. What else could she do? He had to go. He’d hightail it and run anyway when he saw her scars―they all did. She couldn’t emotionally handle that, not again at any rate.

But if Riordan is going to get back on everyone’s good side, he’ll have to make peace with the woman. Even though he thinks he’s innocent, he’ll go for a visit and maybe apologize, but after he gets there things go from bad to worse. Stormy is targeted for assassination and he’s in the line of fire….
Cormac Harrison, Mac to his family and friends, has a good thing going. He has a brand new home, a successful business, and is truly happy with the direction his life is heading. Andi Collins can’t seem to catch a break. The last time she’d encountered her father, she’d ended up in the hospital. Now, Stormy Harrison, is giving her a break and helping her get back on her feet. So when this big handsome man tells her that she’s his mate she’s scared to death. Mate. She’d heard the term before. And what it meant. She would belong to him. Not just him, but whoever he wanted to sell her to. Andi reached for the door handle, thinking that rolling from a moving car would be better than being passed around like a napkin at a banquet hall. “Don’t do that.” He reached for her hand just as she touched the handle. “Please, just listen to me and I’ll explain.” “I don’t need you to explain. I know what mate means. My friends at school, they told me what happens when you become a mate to men. And what they didn’t tell me, my father and aunt explained the rest. Mates use you, and then when they’ve had enough, they pass you around to all the other men they know. I won’t have it.” The car suddenly stopped. Her seatbelt cut into her neck, and she nearly hit her head on the dash it stopped so abruptly.
Nikki Neal was damn good at her job. As an undercover cop, she had just about enough information to put the local crime boss away, but she needed more to make it stick. But when someone blew her cover, Nikki found herself on the wrong end of several guns.

Aedan Harrison was on the fast track to winning the Governor’s seat for the state of Ohio. He had his whole life, or at least his immediate future, planned out. What he didn’t need was a mate he hadn’t made plans for throwing a monkey wrench into the mix. 

The last thing Nikki needed was an overbearing jackass ordering her about, and telling her how much he didn’t need her in his life right now. Well, she didn’t need him either. She had work to do and needed to get herself and her grandda to safety.

It didn’t take long for Aedan’s family to convince him in the error of his ways, and when he saw what he’d done he felt like an ass. All he wanted to do was make it right, but could he grovel enough for her to accept him?
Brooke Rickson had been working the pottery wheel and pulling clay with her great-grandfather almost as long as she could remember. Her work was famous even though no one really knew who she was. She preferred it that way and had become a recluse since her great-grandfather died. He had left her everything.

Mac Harrison loved rare pottery, and when he landed two tickets to the big art show he was thrilled. He could get his prized Rickson pottery piece appraised and get to see new work at the same time. He brought his brother, Darcy, along for the ride.

When Darcy caught Brooke’s scent, he knew he’d found his mate. Unfortunately, the beautiful recluse made no bones about telling him that she was alone and liked it that way, and that no man was barging in and taking over her orderly life. She was living her life just the way she wanted it and that didn’t include taking orders from a man—any man. He could get that thought right out of his head….


Please enter by clicking the link below for a chance at a Signed Mystery PaperBack 
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Mystery Paperback Winners so far 2017
Karmen Davis
Loan Smith
Karmen Davis
Barnadette Jorden Robinson
Karmen Davis
For  winners if you have not gotten your signed  mystery paperback please
contact  my PA  for info  she will have the tracking numbers
Happy Reading ,
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Liam loved the house. He walked through it once more, just to be sure that he wasn’t feeling something that wasn’t there. Nope, he thought to himself, he loved this place. Trying hard not to show how much he did, he walked around the big empty living room once more to calm himself and his inner cat. There wasn’t any point in giving away his happiness before making an offer. “This room alone is nearly as big as the house that I live in.” The realtor smiled at him. “What do you think, Mr. Harrison…is this a place you can put down roots?” “I’m not sure.” He thought that he sounded like he was bored and had to take a deep breath before continuing. “The kitchen needs to be redone. I mean, from the studs. There are going to be issues with the furnace and with the air conditioning as well before too much longer. Also, I think I saw rat droppings in the garage.” Which he knew wouldn’t be a problem once he moved in. He’d bet by now, there wasn’t one within ten miles of the place. Him being a tiger tended to take care of that sort of thing. He asked her what the selling price was again, knowing full well what it was. “The house hasn’t been lived in for about four months…I believe that’s the time frame. And before that, I do believe that they had the place exterminated. If you’re seeing droppings, I’m not sure where they came from. But the bank is very motivated to sell. They’re asking four hundred, but I think I can get them to go a little lower, but not too much. I do know that the house needs work. Like I said, it’s been empty for a few months while things were settled.” Liam nodded. He knew just exactly why it had been sitting, and that it had been a good deal longer than a few months. “I can go in at a lower price, but I believe they have multiple offers so I’d not expect too much.” “All right then. Thank you for your time.” She took his hand when it was offered and Liam made his way to the door.  “Wait. I don’t understand. Did you want me to make an offer?” He told her no. “No? I thought you were interested in this house.” “I am, but not at four hundred thousand dollars. As I said, it needs a great deal of work. And there are no other offers on the table, I know that as well as you do. I also did my research on this place, and I know the real reason that it’s sat here for the last seventeen years. The previous owner had paid up the taxes for the last fifteen years and there wasn’t anything you could do about it until recently. Four hundred thousand is well over fair market, and double what the house was selling for last year when your firm took over for the bank in trying to sell it.” He moved toward the door again and turned as he opened the door. “I’ll just wait and get it from the bank next month when it goes up for auction. Thanks anyway.” Liam was out the door before she could find her tongue. But that didn’t stop her from following him and yelling out a lower price. He thought that three hundred was too much as well, and got into his truck and left. He wanted the house, but he wanted it on his terms.
Are you done with the house? He told Storm that he was. Good. I think you should stop by our house. There is a large vehicle, and that’s an understatement, in the drive, and the person in it is asking for you. Not nicely, I might add. Hudson is her name. Why is she…? You know what, I don’t care. She’s the woman that I was telling you about on the deal with Whites. She said she had some information on her father maybe picking up the loads that they’re missing. Any luck finding Mr. Hudson, by the way? Storm told him she was still looking. He really fucked her over. Not the only one either, from what I’ve been able to find out. But he did royally fuck her over with her job. She had a good rep, as you said, and he’s really taken her for a ride. Lost her house, car, as well as her savings trying to keep herself out of jail. I’d like to find this fucker myself. Liam said that he would as well. She’s currently at her truck, walking around it. I don’t know why, but I kind of think that she’s had enough of the open road for a while. She looks beaten. Liam made a left to go to his brother’s home, and smiled when he thought of the temper of the woman, Hudson. When he’d spoken to her last night—well, earlier that morning—he’d been sleep confused, but hearing her voice and what she had to say had him getting up and going back to his computer. He was going to find her father if he had to do it on his own. The rig was parked in the long drive to his brother’s house. The woman was circling the back end, the place where the big trailer was attached. He watched her for several minutes as she moved around it like a little monkey, checking the lines and lights as she went. When she jumped down, she stared at him as he did her. Christ, she was beautiful. “Liam?” He nodded at her question. “I was close enough to bring them to you, and I’m not so trusting of the postal service on something like this. I need them back, so you know. I might need them should Daddy dearest come back for some more of my ass.” “He won’t.” Liam had no idea why he said that. He didn’t know either of them. But as she made her way to the front of her truck and climbed in, he made his way there, with Riordan and Storm coming with him. “She’s got his log books. But she needs them back.” “She should put them in a safe. If he knows she has them, he’ll come for them.” Liam wasn’t sure he’d not already tried and told Riordan that. “Watch her.” Hudson came tumbling back and he leapt to catch her. He had no idea what had taken her down, but as he caught her in his arms, two things occurred to him. One, she was bleeding, and the second thing was that she was his mate. “Christ, that fucking hurt.” He held her for as long as she allowed him to, then sat her down on her feet. “I’ve been meaning to have that fixed. Fuck, that hurt.” “Let me see. I’ve called Ennis, he’s on his way.” Liam wasn’t a doctor, but he knew this wound looked bad. Not just bad, but there was a lot of blood streaming from it. Liam wanted to lick it, to taste her, but he was afraid to. She looked like she could take him on and come out on top. “It’s going to need some stitches, as well as cleaned up. When was your last tetanus shot?” “Last year. I cut myself on the same fucking place on my other hand. Stupid of me for not getting it fixed then.” He looked at her wrist and saw the long scar. It went from her elbow to her palm. This one wasn’t quite that long, but it was deep. “I don’t feel so well.”
“You’re cut deep. I have to heal you.” He heard Riordan caution him, but he was losing her and had to do something. As soon as she fainted, he shifted. The roaring in his head was making him sick. They were losing their mate and neither of them were happy about it. His cat whimpered but knew what to do. As soon as he licked the wound closed, tasting her blood as he did so, he seemed to realize at the same moment that she was too weak, that they’d waited too long. Growling at the couple that were too close to them, his cat bit deeply into her belly, tearing it open as he did so.  “Hurry, Liam. You’re going to lose her if you don’t.” He knew that and snarled at Storm, and she laughed. “Just trying to help. I’m assuming that she’s your mate.” Yes. And I don’t want to hear you making fun of me just yet. He was pissy and wasn’t sure why, but he bit into her leg. Holding his mouth deep in the wound, he looked up at his brother. Riordan was afraid for him, and Liam didn’t feel any better about this. I have a feeling she’s not going to be thrilled when she wakes and finds out what I’ve done. “More than likely not. But it was that or she was dead. I can hear her heart picking up, can you?” He told him that he could. “Just a few more minutes now and you should be able to release her. I’ll take her inside and put her in the bedroom that you use when here.” Thank you. Riordan nodded and called to someone on the porch to bring out some blankets. Riordan, she’s got some pretty horrific memories in here. Mostly about her father. He took her for everything. And left her with living in this truck. “I know. I read the report Stormy found. When you release her, go in the house and shower and change. Once you are settled, I’ll bring you what we’ve been able to find out. Also, Marcy Cochran called about the house. She wants you to make a reasonable offer.” Liam let the young woman go, but he wasn’t ready to leave her yet. Her heartrate had picked up and he could see the wound at her wrist was nearly healed, as were the ones he’d given her. It had been a big chance, doing this with her blood flowing so quickly, but he couldn’t let her die no matter what kind of mood she was going to be in when she found out.  Riordan picked her up and carried her into the house, and he followed. When she was on the bed, her skin warmer now that she was a cat, he left her to Stormy, who said she’d clean her up for him.  Going into the bathroom, he looked in the mirror after becoming a man again and stared at the person there. He had a mate. And there was a very good chance that she was going to kill him when she found out. Smiling, Liam reached into the stall and turned the water on. Christ, he was way too happy, he thought, for someone that had just converted a person without their knowledge.  By the time he was dressed and sitting in the chair by her, he’d figured out a few things. She wasn’t happy with what she did as a driver, mostly because she had no relief from it. Also, her father had hurt more than her finances when he ran off. She hadn’t trusted him, not entirely, but the fact that he’d taken advantage of her so profoundly had nearly taken her under.  He looked up when Stormy came in the room with a file.
“The courts went by the books on this. There is no fault according to them. She had to sell her house as well as her car, which wasn’t a new one but all she had, when the trucking dealership wanted all their money. The truck is still missing, it appears.” He asked if her father had it. “I’m thinking not. I don’t know why, but I think he sold it for the money, and someone else is driving it that knows about trackers and such. Might be wrong, but I think that’s it. We have the LoJack information, and since we can’t find it that way, we’ve come to the conclusion that it’s been taken out. Also, you know it is against the law.”  If she thought that, then it was more than likely true. “I told Ennis not to worry about rushing now. I told him what happened, but not that she is my mate.” “He knows. So do your parents.” He asked her how that had happened. “Riordan was covered in blood when they showed up, Hudson’s blood, and your mom sort of freaked out. He had to tell them.” “I guess. I’m trying to figure out what to tell her when she wakes up.” The woman on the bed stirred and he watched, sure that she was going to wake a great deal sooner than anyone would have expected. “I have to help her out. Of all of this.” “Liam, can I ask you a personal question?” He just looked at her. “Okay, some of it I know. Like where you have some of your money invested. How much the books say you’re worth. But what is it you do? I mean, I know you work for the family business when they need you, but that can’t be all that you do, is it?” “I’m a businessman.” She snorted at him. “Okay, I’m a very good businessman. I invest low and sell high. For everything. I’m good at bargaining on things as well. Like the house. I’m going to get it, but not at the asking price. Then, if Emma doesn’t care for it, I’ll sell it for a great deal more than I purchased it for.” “Why would me liking your house have anything to do with whether or not you sell it?” He grinned and said hi to her. “It’s Hudson. No one calls me by my first name.” She lifted her arm and looked at it. There wasn’t a wound anymore, and no scars on the rest of her body. He’d not seen her yet, her body, but he’d bet that it was lovely. He started to tell her, just talk to her gently about it, but Stormy laughed before speaking. “You were dying. The cut to your wrist had severed your artery, and you were bleeding out. Had Liam not been here for you, you’d be dead.” Emma asked him what he’d done, but Stormy continued. “He’s a shifter, Bengal tiger as a matter of fact. We all are. He converted you to what we are.” Emma stared at him for several seconds, then looked over at Storm. There was a lot going on in her head right now. None of it very nice, nor all that orderly. She went from terror of her dying to being converted. He was just glad that she knew enough about paranormals to have an idea of what was happening.  “I’m a tiger.” Storm nodded. “And you thought that my being a tiger was a better way to go than to be dead.”  “Yes, I did.” She turned and looked at him. “You’re not freaking out, so I can only assume that you know about our kind.” “I do. I don’t have a lot of contact with them…not because I avoid them, but…. You did this because we’re mates. You saved me because of some kind of DNA thing that
makes you have to save me.” He said that he would have anyway. “No, you wouldn’t have. Don’t lie to me.” “I can’t.” She nodded and sat up, but he could see that she was slightly dizzy. “You lost a great deal of blood, so you might want to take it easy for a few hours. You should try and drink a lot and have a light—” “Don’t order me around.” He leaned back in the chair and looked at her. “I’m not…. I know you really didn’t, but I’m starting to freak a little here. I’m a fucking tiger.” ~~~ Hudson laid on the bed thinking about her life and what had just happened. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.” “Me either.” She turned to her back and looked at him. “I’m not going to apologize for converting you. I could, I guess, but you’re alive, and that’s the most important thing right now. I don’t know anything about you other than what I’ve read in the information that Storm got for us when you called me. And you know even less than that about me. What would you like to know? If anything.” “What was your name again?” He told her. “All right, Liam. I’m Emma Hudson, but I rarely go by my first name. I have no idea why, but that’s what they started calling me in middle school and that stuck. I drive cross country. Not as much as I used to, but sometimes I need the money more than I do anything. I had a home, but I had to sell it to pay for the rig that my father stole. Which he did, no matter what the courts say.” “Storm, my sister-in-law—and so you know, you met her when you came here—she doesn’t think he has it anymore.” She nodded, thinking that Storm had some good connections. “Your load you have now, you mentioned that it was a back run. Does that have to go out today?” “Not today, but soon. I have to have it about six hours from here by noon tomorrow.” He leaned back in his chair. “What about me being a cat? I mean, I can sort of feel something inside of me. What does that mean?” “She’s letting you know that she’s there for you. I can sense that you’re nervous, and so can she.” Hudson sat up but laid back down when her head spun. “You’re going to be a little weak for a few more hours, like I said. Ennis, he’s my brother and a doctor, he said that if you were to eat something hearty, you’d feel a lot better. But he wanted you to eat it slowly, in case it doesn’t stay down well.” “I’ve not had a home cooked meal in years.” She laughed. “I’m sorry. That was rude of me. But the thought of something not mass produced or from a microwave sounds amazing.”  “I think we can fix you up.” He stood up and his size made her recoil. “I’d never hurt you. Not on purpose, if I can help it.” “My dad, he’s a big man. Not that he ever hit me, but he was cruel in other ways.” He nodded and put out his hand. Hudson stared at it as she continued. “I know a few shifters, and I’ve heard that their mates are the center of their world. That the sex is amazing and that they can never harm them. They told me that any female, human or otherwise, is to be protected and cherished.”
“Yes. We feel that way as well. I’d very much like it if you were to go with me to the house that I’m thinking of buying. If it doesn’t suit you, then that’s fine as well. I have a place that I live in, it’s an apartment, if you’ll come stay with me for a time.” He cursed and she laughed. “There’s this big deal of a wedding next weekend. My brother Aedan is getting married. They’ve been living together for a little while, but this wedding is going to be epic, I guess.” “Why?” He told her how he was the governor of the state and that he was looking into becoming the president someday. “Wow. Your family, they have big plans.” “They do. We all do.” She nodded. “What is bothering you, Emma? Is it something that I can fix? Or do for you?” “I’m assuming that you all have money.” He nodded but didn’t say how much, which she thought was a good thing. “My father will get wind of this. Not that I’m a cat, but that I’m with someone with money, and he’ll come sniffing around. He’s not stupid, but he can play a person and get what he wants. No matter the cost to them.” “He can do that if he wants. But he won’t get away with it this time. I can promise you that. Nor will he hurt you, mentally, physically, or financially.” Hudson wasn’t sure, but she was almost afraid for her dad. “Will you take my hand? Please?” “What will that mean for us?” He said that it would only be him taking her to the kitchen for food for now. “I feel something for you. I’m not sure what it is, but I trust you. I want to be with you. Is that the cat in me?” “Yes, for now anyway. I hope that later, you as a woman will feel something for me as well. We mate for life, and quickly.” She still wasn’t sure about this, none of it. “I want to take this slowly. I think it would benefit us both if we started out fresh, like we’re dating. I know that we’ve gone beyond that, with me converting you and having this connection, but even my cat is okay with us doing it this way.” “I’m afraid.” He said that he was as well. “What if he comes here? What if my dad comes here and makes demands? He will. I know it.” “How about we don’t borrow trouble for now? We don’t have to think about him until he gets here. And once we know where he is, we can keep an eye on his movements and be ready when it looks as if he’s coming here.” She nodded and put her hand in his. “Thank you. And for now, I think we should go and have ourselves a nice lunch, then get you ready to go on your trip. I’d like to go with you, but I won’t be able to this trip. I have some things that are going on that need my attention.”  “I thought we were going to be inseparable.” They moved to the door, but he kept his arm around her when she was dizzy again. “I feel weird.” “Your cat again, and the loss of blood. Anyway, we usually are, inseparable I mean. But with us trying to work things out, I think that I’ll not want to hunt you down every two minutes and strip you naked.” She looked at him, trying her best to see if he was joking or not. When he laughed too, Hudson still wasn’t sure. But the smells coming from the kitchen had her thinking food rather than jokes. As soon as she sat down with both Storm and Riordan, a platter, not a plate, of food was put in front of her. Hudson thought that she would never eat it all, but once she tasted the first bite, she knew that she’d be lucky if she didn’t eat the platter too.
There was a thick roast beef sandwich on a wonderfully fresh roll with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and onions. A bowl of french fries covered in a tomato sauce that was spicy as well as sweet. A large glass of the best tea that she’d ever drank. She was just finishing off the last fry when June, the cook, asked her if she wanted peach or cherry pie. Hudson nodded. “Well, good for you. I have ice cream too should you want that. I’ve not been to the creamery yet, so it won’t be homemade.” Hudson told her that she loved her. “Thank you, child. I’m so glad to be cooking for the household again. The mister and missus have been away more than at home of late, and I’ve missed it.” “You can cook for me whenever I’m home.” Her face heated up. “I’m sorry. I don’t know where I’m going to be living or what the plan is. But this is the best meal I’ve had in ages. And fresh pie too? Well, I could easily kiss you for it.” After she ate both pieces of pie without the ice cream—she didn’t want to seem too piggish—her and Liam went to her truck. It was locked up, but as soon as she opened the door, she could see that someone had cleaned up after her. She asked Liam about it. “I had a friend of mine come over and fix the bent metal. He also put a new handle on for you. Then his wife—she’s the new alpha bitch for the wolf pack that roams our land—she cleaned up the rest for you. I think she was quite impressed with how much storage you have in there.” She told Liam it was necessary when she was gone. “I don’t imagine that it helped that you lost your house.” “He took me for a great many things. But my house was the most painful.” Climbing into the truck, she watched him walk around to the other side and get in. He commented on how roomy it was. “Yes. My dad complained a great deal about how crowded it was for him. And you’re much bigger. But he would have complained about it even if it had his recliner and a big screen television in front of him.” She showed him around the compartment that she had lived in. The way she had to pull her bed down to use it. There wasn’t a lot of room when he was in it with her. For one, he was taller than her by a foot, and he was just too close. Or, she thought, not close enough. There was something extremely appealing about having this man near enough for her to not only touch, but to know that she could. Hudson thought that she was going insane.

Cooper: The Manning Dragons Release Day & Giveaway

Cooper Manning and his five brothers were true dragons. Centuries ago, when the humans had turned on their kind, their father sacrificed himself to save his sons by casting a powerful spell which allowed them to walk among the humans. Even centuries later, Cooper couldn’t seem to let go of the past and despised most humans.

Carson Langley was exhausted. After being forced to work thirty-six hours straight, she unwittingly complained to the new plant owner, now she knew she was fired. There was nothing left to do but go home and cry about it later.

Cooper was sent by his brother to retrieve the helpful woman and bring her back to the plant, and he wasn’t happy about it either. It didn’t help that when she answered the door she shared his sour mood, and when he touched her hand, the magic that surged between them meant only one thing–she was his other half, and she was human…. Cooper was seeing red.
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One of my fellow dragon sisters has a upcoming release
Coming May 23rd 2017
Domlen the dragon that will have you begging for more! 
*****Can be read as a Standalone!*****
Mature Audience Only! Explicit sex scenes and language.

Domlen Draglen does not follow any rules except his own. He does not want to be like his brothers, but his need to find the lady his mother predicts to be his mate has become his focus. He wants to find her and prove his mother wrong so he can go back to his normal life. The only problem is the mouthy, curvy she-wolf interests him, but she’s not his type or is she?

Tempest Shellin wants to prove that she can be essential to her pack. When the drop dead sexy dragon shows up for her, she didn’t know if she should laugh or cry. To save her pack she agrees to his rules, but soon finds out Domlen doesn’t play fair. 

Will this Domineering dragon and mouthy she-wolf find love or will they allow traditions to keep the apart.






A time when all creatures roamed the earth as only their true selves. Where magic was celebrated. And where dragons darkened the skies every day.
“I’m afraid there is no hope for us.” No one made a sound as their leader continued. “Since the humans found out about us and what we can do, we have been doomed. I’m so terribly sorry.” Coop looked around the room. There were so few of them now that he could easily count them. When he’d been younger, thousands of years ago, there wouldn’t have been enough space for all of them to share this room. Now they were down to a quarter of them sharing the space because so many, his own wife included, had been murdered so needlessly. Coop was saddened by it all. Turning to leave the large cave, he was stopped by his brother, Xavier.  “The boys, they are well?” He nodded and smiled. Coop felt it all the way to his heart, a place that had been dead for so long, it seemed. “You have the spell? You are going to use it on them? I so wish I had thought of this before my own family was taken from me, Coop. You are a brave man and a good father.” “Thank you. And I shall use it tonight. It is the only way to save them.” Xavier nodded, his own heart heavy with the losses they’d suffered. “You know that I would have shared should I have had it sooner. I’m so sorry, brother. All of my heart, it’s sorry for you.” “I know that. I do. But they’re all gone now. My other half, my children. Killed for things that are not fair to our kind.” Coop knew that all too well. “Aria was a good woman, Coop. A good woman and mother to your sons. She will be missed forever.” “Aye, in my heart and those of my sons.” Xavier stood there for several seconds and Coop told him he must go. “They’re awaiting word on what is to happen with us all.” “One more thing, if you please. It won’t take but a second. I have left them all that I have. It is where you keep them hidden away, the boys. Deep within the cave, it’s all there.” Coop asked him what he meant. “I cannot go on, brother. I cannot. There is too much grief in my heart for me to live. I have left my things for your children there. They might survive this, with the magic that you’ve given them. And if so, they’ll need more than you have to help them.” “Xavier, please, you mustn’t do this. They’ll miss you as much as I.” Xavier nodded and said that it had begun. “You can come and stay with us. You’ll live with us in the caves.” “Nay. I cannot. I must go. Just tell them that I love them. With all of my heart.” There would be no stopping him once his heart was made up, Coop knew this, but it made his heart no less full for it. “Goodbye, my brother. Take care that you are not caught by the humans.” Coop made his way back to his hidden cave and sat before the fire. The boys, he knew, were resting, their bodies getting stronger daily with their age. Soon they would be as big as him, dragons of worth and size.
When his eldest son came to him, his eyes full of fear, Coop knew that it was well past time that he did what he’d been practicing. The magic that would keep them safe. Gathering his sons, six of them in varying shades of blues and greens, he asked them to have a seat, that he had a story to tell them. It wasn’t a story, not truly, but a tale that would hopefully keep them safe. “A witch told me once of a great magic that only few can do. It takes a loving heart and a strong dragon to make it work. I have asked her and she has told me how to make it so. This magic, it will keep you all safe from the humans.” They nodded, each of them knowing that it was a human blade that had taken the life of their dear mother. “I will perform this upon you, each of you at the same time, and give you some magic that you will use when you need it. This magic, strong and powerful, will let you roam with the humans, and they’ll not know that your true self is just below your flesh.” “You mean we’ll be humans as well?” He nodded, then shook his head at Cooper, his oldest. “I don’t understand, Father. Will you explain?” “Yes. The magic that I will give you will let you change into your true self when you are alone. But when you are out in the world, you will need to be a human. A man.” Cooper looked at his brothers, then back at him as he continued. “With this magic, I will also give you a gift. Something that you will need to keep yourself safe should they find out. A stronger armor than any other dragon before you, as well as the same immortality that you have now, as man or dragon.” Hudson stared at him for long moments. He was the thinker, and if he could think of a reason for this not to work, he would voice it loudly. He was much like his mother in that. She would be the first to say when she did or did not like something. And the first to say that the plan was perfect. He only hoped that she would have approved of this. “I think you are very smart, Father. To try and keep us safe. But I can only think that this will not work on you. Or is that your plan?” The boy was much too smart, Coop thought. “If you change us, who will change you?” “There will be no one to change me, son. I will…. It is my wish to join your mother in this earth.” He watched them, seeing if they understood the love that he’d lost when she’d been murdered. “Giving you this magic, it will be something I can tell her that I’ve done for her sons. You know as well as I that she loved you more than anything on this earth, including herself.” “She died saving us.” Coop nodded at Lincoln. “I’m not happy that you’re going to die, Father, but I understand wanting to be with Mother. I miss her more every day.” “As do I.” He looked at his sons, all of them growing into dragons of worth. “I must have an agreement from you all. If even one of you does not want this, then it will not work. I would say that you should think on this hard. For once I have given this to you, there will be no going back.” “I wish to have it.” He knew that Cooper would be the first. Not that he didn’t love his father, but Cooper would see things in a way that most would not. To not have this done would mean a certain death for them all. Dragons were too valuable dead not to be hunted for all time. “I will do whatever it takes to make sure that you are proud of me as well.”
“I am already, Cooper. Forever.”  The others nodded too. They were ready for this, as much as he was dreading it. Because once he started the process to change his sons into men, then he would begin to die. It would take all that he was to change them. Standing up, spreading his wings out behind him, Coop told them about the things that their uncle had left them. They knew where the family jewels were, the things that their mother had left them as well. Once they were standing, their bodies strong and healthy, he felt his heart swell and break for what he was about to do. “I, Cooper Manning, of the Manning Dragons of the earth, give to my sons, Cooper, Hudson, Lincoln, Lucas, Tristan, and Xavier, all that I am. Each of you will take a part of the earth with you when you are converted. The part of you that is unique in all ways will be strengthened and enhanced. You will be immortal, forever, and those that you take to your heart will be as well.” His sons bowed before him when he told them to. He said the words over them that would change them to men. Coop could feel his body shutting down, his heart beating a little less. But he had one more thing he wished to bless them with, and held himself upright to give it from his own dying heart. “One day, true love will come to you. And you will have more than you’ve ever known. It will fill you in ways that you cannot ever imagine. Love will be yours for all times. For only then will you become a true dragon, a Manning dragon.” ~~~ Cooper sat with his brothers while their father lay dying. Coop’s heart was weak from what he’d done, and it was tearing him apart. Father was weak, yes, but he continued to tell them tales of their mother, of their adventures when they were only small dragons. They were going to be alone soon…their father was so close to joining their mother that it hurt Cooper in ways that he hadn’t expected.  “What shall we do with his body?” Cooper looked at Tristan and asked him what he meant. “He will not be able to lie here. If the humans were to find him, they’ll surely cut him up into pieces. I don’t want that for him. We were never able to bury Mother in the proper way after what they did to her.” “We could burn his body.” Cooper wondered how that would work when Hudson continued. “His scales will be worthless to them should they come upon his body. The magic that he held within him also will be useless to them. He will be nothing more than a carcass that they’ll leave alone.” Burn his body. It was something to think about. But he didn’t want to, not while he was still breathing, his body still alive. When he laid his head upon his father’s chest, hearing his heart beating slower and slower, Cooper wondered what his father would think if he knew that the magic that he’d given them hadn’t worked. That they were all still dragons. “He gave his life to keep us safe. But it did not work.” No one said anything to him as they each watched their father. “Dragons such as we are, we’ll be hunted and killed by the humans. There is nothing we can do but wait for them.”
“We will survive if we stay here.” Cooper told Xavier that they’d have to leave here eventually. “To feed and to fly, yes. But perhaps we could do that only at night. To keep to the skies and not let them see us.” “They know we are about and will have spies out looking for our lairs. We will have to kill any man that comes for us, and still we will not be safe. We are, after all, dragons that have a great deal of magic.”  Coop stopped breathing. Cooper didn’t hear his father’s heart, and knew that it was at an end. He was quiet for a bit longer, waiting, hoping for just one more beat, one more sound that would mean he was still alive. But there was nothing. Their father was dead. Sitting up, he told his brothers that Coop had passed from this world into the next. None of them had ever seen a dragon die before. Their mother had been dead when they found her. Each dragon that they’d come upon when they were out had been dead long before they found them, their bodies stripped of every part of them so that they resembled less of a dragon and more like a pile of bones that had been cut up.  Dragon’s scales were used for roofs for humans’ homes, and for shields. The very meat of them was roasted and stored away so that it could be used for medicines and potions. Their hearts were cut up and dried, then ground into a powder for the humans to use to keep them from sickness, as well as magic to have a grand garden and trees heavy with fruit. The only part that would be left was the bones, and sometimes even those were carried off and used for something. Cooper hated all humans. “We will do as suggested by Hudson. It is the only assured way that we can—”  Before he could finish, he felt the stirring of the earth. It shook so hard that it knocked each of them off their feet. As they lay there, terrified that someone was coming for them, their father appeared before them.  His body was still aground. But instead of dark in death, he was brilliant in light. Faeries, thousands upon thousands of faeries, seemed to be covering him. Before Cooper could tell them to stop, to leave him alone, Father spoke. “I love you, my sons.” Each of them nodded, and their fear was almost something Cooper could touch. “I will now and forever join my true love, your mother. I must warn you, when you find your other half, and you will, you’ll have to be careful of the Slayers. They’ll know what you’ve found by the magic you both will share. My sons, you will leave this place and take your place among men. Becoming someone that I will be proud of.” “Father, the magic didn’t work. We’re still dragons.” Cooper felt shameful to say a thing to his father. To tell him that his sacrifice had not worked. “We will be hunted and killed.” “Nay, you only need to think of being your other half. Becoming a man is that simple. The same when you wish to be your true self.” Cooper wasn’t sure what that meant, but his father continued before he could ask. “Go now, before men come here. The magic to hide me will draw them here. Be safe, my sons, and know that I love you more than I do any other creature on this earth.” Cooper stood then. The faeries were still working, taking the body of his father apart. But as he watched, he could see that they weren’t doing that at all, but preserving his
body. Faerie ropes were all around him…strings of magic wrapped around him like a cocoon that made him invisible to all. As Cooper stood there, his brothers beside him, he knew that, like him, they mourned the loss of yet another parent. “You are the eldest?” He nodded to the faerie when she asked. “We have a gift for you. For all of you, but you will receive the most. Your father was a great man, your mother a queen among her people. We wish to bestow upon you all that your father had.” “My brothers, they will need it as well. I should like to share.” She smiled at him and bowed. “What have you done with his body?” “He is being prepared to be moved. We will make a grand garden upon him. Flowers will be there for all to see, but only few will know that a dragon is there with his other half, his love.” He nodded. It was as it should be. “You will take this gift? You will share, but as I said, you will get more than the others.” “I don’t care. Please, just do what you must so that we can hide.” She nodded again and touched her fingers, small tiny ones, to his forehead. Then she did the same to the others before coming back to him. “It is done? You have shared it with us?” “I have, Lord Cooper. But you must leave here now. There are humans coming. The magic that we used to do this thing has given them cause to come here.” He nodded and looked at the ground where their father had been. “He is safe. Just as your mother is now. Go, before they find you here and murder you as well.” He thanked her for her help and left. The exit from this part of the cave was hidden so well that only they knew about it. As they made their way into the night, he thought of the human inside of him, and the pain of it took his breath away. In seconds he was down on his knees. Whatever was happening, he was surely going to die. “You’re a man.” He looked up at his brothers as they began to change into men themselves. “We’ll be safe now, all of us. We’ll be humans for them until we can find a place where we can be ourselves.” “I don’t think that’s ever going to happen again.” Hudson nodded and held his head tightly as he did so. “We will need to train ourselves in their ways. Become what they are. But never monsters.” “No, never that.” They made their way to a building…any would do for now. Hudson, like Cooper, was staggering a little, but they were getting stronger as they moved. He turned to look at Cooper as they were settling in the empty shell of a house. “We will need to buy things, houses and such.” “Yes. But tomorrow. I am too tired to think beyond how much we have lost.” Hudson and the others agreed. “When the humans are gone from our cave, we’ll go and find what Father was telling us about earlier, about the wealth that will keep us safe.” “I only hope there is a great deal of it. I don’t know how to work, nor to become a part of their world, do you?” Cooper told Xavier, the youngest brother, that they’d soon learn. “I hope so. I hope so.” He did as well. It was going to be hard enough for them to learn to eat and dress like them, much less get around. Cooper hoped that this worked. For he was as afraid as he’d ever been in his life.

Sterling: Calhoun Men Release Day & Giveaway

Marty liked her life just fine. She was alone in the world, and waiting on tables would get her by until she finished college, but the girl she was training wasn’t working out. And the girl got her fired–now what was she supposed to do? She needed that job to survive.

Sterling Calhoun’s encounter with the she-devil was over, but the nightmares still lingered. The only thing that helped him deal with the nightmarish pain were his paintings. And through is Grandda he met Marty, his mate, but Sterling hadn’t been himself for a very long time…. 

Marty knew a few shifters, so she knew what it meant when Sterling told her she was his mate. Oh, hell no, this guy had to be nuts, the “mates” she knew were a strange lot, and she didn’t want any part of it….
I BOOKS  Coming Soon 
Johanna, better known as Joe, had been a day walker for her only friend, Noah, for centuries. An immortal with eight hundred years under her belt, she had become proficient in several languages and occupations. When her friend Noah talked about meeting the sun, she had every intention of following in his path. 

Joe had only gone to the Calhoun’s office to catch a ride to the estate. When she entered, it took her breath away to see the younger man on the floor and no one doing a damn thing to help him. 

Trent Calhoun had forgotten how to have fun. Diving into his work was what kept him happy. At 33 he had no life, so when he had a heart attack, his doctor said to change his ways or else.

When the gorgeous woman stumbled into his hospital room, Trent thought his dad was up to his old tricks again―that was until he caught her scent…. Now, because of his wolf, he’s face to face with an angry vampire….
Noelle was in somewhat of a pickle. She had researched the Calhoun firm―Elijah Calhoun in particular―before she made the appointment, but she was having second and third thoughts about hiring the firm after she got there. All her research indicated she could trust them, but big men scared the hell out of her, and the place was full of them.

Elijah had been running a tad late for work, so his brother Trent took his first appointment. Elijah never dreamed that the woman he had an appointment with was his future mate…and she needed his protection.

Noelle’s stepfather wasn’t their only problem. Elijah’s brother Sterling’s nightmares had gotten worse and somehow the creature that had marked him was controlling his actions as well…no one was safe….
Chloe Davis was giving up. She thought for sure the owners of the computer shop she worked for were responsible for her father’s death, but in all the time she’d worked there she’d not been able to find enough evidence to prove it, so as far as she was concerned she was out of there. Her boss, George, on the other hand had other ideas. As far as he was concerned she wasn’t going anywhere…by force if necessary.

Scott Calhoun was just trying to help his grandfather get the young woman to safety, the last thing he expected was for her to be his mate. And he wasn’t happy about it either. Scott was a Dom, and he liked his sex hard and rough and his women submissive…this woman was a spitfire, and he was pretty sure he’d scare her off with his demands…. As far as he was concerned he was a deviant, not mate material. 

But when Chloe and Scott come together, they both find more than they expected…Scott has finally met his match. Now, if everyone would stop trying to kill them, they might live long enough to enjoy each other.
CALHOUN MEN SERIES –
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Alta set a plate full of food in front of him, and Sterling stared at it before looking up at her. She’d been with him for nearly four months now, and he was sure that he was about as fattened up as he was going to get. She smiled at him and told him to eat. “I’m thinking you’re either fattening me up for a huge dinner, or you think I’m still skinny. First, I’m not Santa, and second…. Well, second, I’m not that hungry anymore.” She patted him on the cheek and walked away as he started putting butter on his pancakes. “Did I tell you that I’m supposed to host Christmas this year? I haven’t any idea why I got volunteered. I guess I should pay more attention when they’re all talking.” “They do love to talk, your family.” He nodded as she handed him a platter of bacon and sausage. “Randal is coming. I think he should be here any second.” The back door opened and there stood his brother covered in snow. He was brushing it off his head as he was telling Alta that he could eat again. When he sat across from him, stealing one of his pieces of bacon, Alta gave him pancakes as well. “Mom sent me over. And Grandma wants to know if you have enough decorations for Christmas.” He said he had some. “I’m also supposed to tell you that once you’re ready to start with the decorations, you’re to call Mom. She said don’t forget. Wanna go shopping with me?” “No. I have work to do, and Noelle has a list of things she needs me to pick up as well. I guess she’s been making some pretty good deals with a few vampires that Noah knows.” Randal finished his breakfast before he did, which didn’t surprise Sterl. He didn’t have live-in help and no one cooked for him. “Why did Mom send you here?” “Mostly to make sure that you’re eating well and that you’re not lazing around the house. I haven’t any idea why she thinks that, but she told me to see about you. And I think she’s still pissed at Grandda. He should have known better than to be late for dinner on Friday.” They both laughed. “Did I tell you that I’m interviewing for help at the house?” “I’ve got someone coming to your house this afternoon, Mr. Randal. You can hire him or not, but you should know that he’s a better cook than I am.” Sterl didn’t ask, but was glad that Randal did about what the person was. “Witch, and Myra said for you to call her when you have a moment. She wants to talk to you about something.” “I can do that.” While they discussed how to get in touch with the witch, Sterl zoned out. He really did have a list of things to do today, and most of it had nothing to do with the things he had to pick up for Noelle. They were business partners. Mostly he worked upstairs in her antique shop, but when she wanted someone to come along with her on buying trips, or to lift heavy things, he went to take care that she didn’t lift much. Noelle was having twins in the early spring and everyone watched over her.  The thing on his list that he had tried to avoid for several weeks now was the meeting with his grandma. She told him if he bailed on her today that she’d tell everyone his 
secret. He was sure that most of them knew that he painted, but the rest of his secret was something he was afraid of them finding out.  He was afraid that Joe knew already, and that she was in on this whole thing with him having a gallery opening. Sterl wasn’t ready for that. He had been working a great deal, painting whatever popped into his head, but he’d not shown anyone his work except his grandma. And only then because she’d barged in and simply pulled out his canvases and looked for herself. “You need this as much as I do.” He told Grandma that he didn’t need it. “Yes, you do. You need for people to sit up and take notice of you. You’re very talented, and I for one cannot wait to see what others say about you.” “They’re not going to care. And if they do, I can’t imagine that their words would be kind.” She smacked him on the back of his head. “Grandma, you know that I’m telling you the truth. I’ve had no formal training other than a few classes at the YMCA when I was a kid. I like painting because it’s relaxing to me. I don’t want someone to tell me it’s crap.” “No one had better tell you it’s crap.” He laughed at her tone. “All right, I did walk right into that one, but they’re going to love you as much as I do. And if you find yourself a mate, I’m sure she’ll love it as well.” And now, today as a matter of fact, he was going with Grandma to talk to a person who owned a gallery willing to show his work. This man, Sullivan, was a friend of the family, she’d told him, so he was sure this was happening because of that and not his talent. Or the lack of it. Sterl wasn’t looking forward to this any more than he was decorating his house for Christmas. His heart, he thought, just wasn’t into it. After Randal left, he went up to change. He was wearing a suit for this meeting, but bringing some jeans to wear afterwards when he went to pick up some furniture. He was going out the door when Myra was suddenly standing in front of him. “It’s today.” He nodded, then realized that he had no idea what she was talking about. “Remember when I told you that someone was coming, a male?”  “Yes. You said they were going to come to mean a great deal to me. I’ve been thinking about what you said, and I’m not sure about this.” She asked him why not. “I have no idea, but I’m still a little skittish around people, and I’m not sure that I could handle someone else in my life right now when I don’t even have my own set.” “Sometimes life gives you little bumps to keep you on your toes.” He told her that he wasn’t ready for bumps, little or large. “You’ll be fine. Also, I wanted to tell you about the gallery opening that you’re going to have. It’s going to be epic, and the Bentleys want to go to it when you’re all set up.” He started to ask her how she’d found out, but decided that he didn’t want to know. Instead, he grabbed his coat and made his way to his car. Sterl was slightly afraid of Myra and the Bentleys, but didn’t say anything. When Myra was seated in his car when he started it up, he looked over at her. “I don’t know what’s going to happen with the gallery.” She said that she did. “Well, don’t tell me. I’m not sure I want any disappointment right now.” 
“Why do you believe you’ll be disappointed? Never mind. I can see it in your heart. You’re very talented, young man. And as your grandmother says, it’s time you let the world know it.” He backed out of the garage and pulled into the busy street in front of his house. “Will you at least promise me that when you have it set up you’ll let me know?” “Since I’m sure that you know the answer to that, I’m not going to say. I’m supposed to meet my grandma in an hour. Are you going as well?” She told him that she was too busy today, but would sometime soon. “Good. And if you have a few minutes, my house could use some decorations for Christmas.” He regretted it the moment it left his mouth, but she disappeared with a grin. He was sure his house would be as outlandish as Myra was. She was the brightest and most colorful woman he knew. And she even changed the color of her hair and shoes to match whatever she had on her body. He was going to come home to a house in plaid, he knew it. His grandma was waiting for him at the diner, and as he made his way there, he thought about what he was about to do, which was be publicly humiliated. His grandma would tell him that he was being silly—or worse, selfish—if he wasn’t willing to give it a shot, but Sterl had taken a good hard look at his work and knew people were going to be disturbed by it. He’d been hurt. Badly. Not just from the accident that had killed some of his friends, but the she-devil that had done it to them all. This thing, a true she-devil, had decided that, for whatever reason, he was going to father the monsters she was going to use to take over the world. She had invaded his dreams, his mind, as well as his health to get what she wanted. It had taken his family all working together with a pair of witches, Chris Bentley and Myra, as well as a demon, to set him free of her and get her out of his life. And painting had helped him do that. He joined his grandma at the table and she laughed at him. Sterl loved his grandma, all of his family really, but this woman could make him feel like he was king of the world with just a smile. But today, he wasn’t sure that he had it in him.  “I’m not really thrilled about this. First of all, they’re going to laugh at us, and secondly, I’m not sure this is going to get me anywhere but in a loony bin.” She told him he was going to be fine. “You keep saying that, and I’m not any closer to believing you than I was before you got this idea in your head.” “Darling, have I ever steered you wrong before?” He shook his head. “Then you just have to believe me that this is going to be good for you. You might even have to give me credit with your family over this. Especially your grandda. He’s been an old poop lately.” “I’ll give you credit either way. And Grandda is always a poop when he wants to be. He’s never going to believe that he’s wrong about anything.” She slapped her hand gently on his. “When do we have to meet this person?” “In two hours. I thought we’d leave now and then have plenty of time. You have your work in the car?” He assured her that he’d wrapped up what she’d told him to bring. “Good. You’ll see, Sterling, this will be just perfect. Why, I’d bet by the end of this meeting, he’ll be begging for more of your work. And I’d not be surprised if he wants to 
set things up right away. His family has been in this business for a very long time, and they know quality work when they see it.” He was driving them there slowly, even though the snow had stopped now, it was still slick. He hated to drive in this type of weather, or any for that matter, but they were going to get this over with. Then there was the fact that several times along the way he thought about pulling over and throwing up. This was a bad idea, and he wasn’t sure that anyone would think his work was anything but crap. But he gripped his steering wheel and drove to what he was considering the last stand.  ~~~ Isaac was excited to have his meeting. He knew that he was supposed to be doing a favor for a very nice person. Jasmine Calhoun had been a friend of his mother and grandmother for a very long time. And was now becoming one of his. He looked at his watch again and saw that the meeting was just over an hour away, and decided to go and find his brother.  Robert, even as his twin, was as different from him as they could get. While Isaac was tall and thin, Rob was five or so inches shorter and heavier. Not fat, not yet anyway, but not slim either. Laziness attributed to most of his weight gain, and drugs the rest of it. Isaac thought his divorce was making him drink more. Their mother had always thought it was Isaac’s fault because he’d been successful and Rob hadn’t. The logic of his mom had been out there, but he’d hired Rob to help when pressed by his parents just before they both were killed a few months ago in an accident. Robert had been born second. And his birth, according to his parents, had just about ended his mom’s life. Not true. Isaac had done some investigating and found that neither delivery had been that bad, and that their mom had sailed through both like a trooper. The only thing that had happened was their father, Robert also, had passed out when told there was a second child. Robert, his brother, was sleeping on the floor behind his desk, naked, when Isaac went into his office. He’d been there when Isaac had left last night and covered him up with a blanket from his office. Shaking his head, he woke his brother with a kick to his feet. It was nearing one o’clock, and it looked as if he’d not moved since he left him on the floor last night at six. “What the fuck, Isaac? Can’t a person take a little breather without you waking them up? Go away and leave me alone. I have a pounding headache and you’re not helping.” He told him no, that when at work he expected him to do just that, work. “Well, I’ve gotten a lot done if you want to know the truth. I’ve been really busy until about ten minutes ago.” “Oh yeah? Well, then you’re better than most. You’ve been there on the floor since last night. Might have been longer, but I went home and you were there. What the hell have you been doing if not sleeping?” Robert only glared at him as he sat up. There were two empty bottles under him, large ones of some sort of liquor. “Robert, I told you no drinking while here. You can do whatever you want at home, but no alcohol here at work. Damn it, this is a job, not a playroom for you to enjoy yourself in.” 
“You have no idea what I’m suffering with, Isaac. You should cut me some slack. Mary left me and took my children.” He told him to get up and clean himself up. “I will. Christ, you’re a hard ass. Why I ever thought working for you would be a piece of cake I have no idea.” Isaac didn’t say what was right on the tip of his tongue. He could have pointed out that if he’d been less of a drunk, or perhaps gotten a paying job instead of stealing, she might have stayed. Or that his children never saw him because he was either too drunk to move or at a bar. The fact that he was unhappy at not seeing them now was senseless. Then there was the added fact that the divorce had been finalized almost a year and a half ago, not recently as Robert tended to let people think. “I have a meeting at two, so you need to get cleaned up and sober before they arrive. I want you to be in it with me so that you can see how it works.” Robert said he didn’t think he wanted to. “Rob, I gave you a job against my better judgement. And so far, you’ve done nothing toward making me think I’ve made even a reasonable investment. Either start working or I will fire you.” “Yeah? And what do you think Mom would say to that? You hired me because she told you to. You won’t be able to fire me for the same reason. You owe me. I’ve not had as easy a life as you have. And my family left me. Mom is gone now, but you know as well as I that a death promise is the worst kind to break.” He laid back down as he continued. “I’m going to take a nap then go to lunch. I don’t even know if I’ll return.”  Isaac Sullivan wasn’t a violent man. He rarely lost his temper even a little, but right now he thought he could have easily beaten the living shit out of Robert and not felt a single bit of regret. As he stood up, he snatched the blanket off his brother and smiled when he started cursing at him. Going to his own office, he sat at his desk and pulled up the camera that he had installed in Rob’s office right before hiring him. At the advice of his attorney, he’d done what he’d been told to keep his brother in line. It hadn’t worked so far, and for whatever reason, Isaac was sure that it never would. The camera, Blake had told him, would go a long way in making sure that when he did end up firing Robert, not if but when, that he’d have enough evidence on him to make it stick. Just as he was ready to turn it off, he saw the rewind button and went back to noon yesterday. More than twenty-four hours before. Rob was at his desk, but he wasn’t alone. He had two women in the room with him, one of them naked on his desk, the other down on her knees in front of him. It was sickening to see Robert naked, but he watched as not only did the sex get violent, but one of the women had been hurt when Rob hit her hard enough to have her lying still nearly an hour later. Isaac thought he had to watch it then, if for no other reason than to make sure that Robert hadn’t dragged the dead woman off somewhere and left her to rot. He didn’t watch his brother, but the woman. She wasn’t moving, and it wasn’t until Robert had finished that the other woman had gone to help her up. Both women staggered out of the room and into the elevator. He wondered why no one had commented on it, and was surprised to watch the guards turn their backs on the two as they left the building.  
It took him nearly ten minutes to figure out what was going on. It wasn’t that they were covering for Rob, but more than likely figured since he was his brother there would be nothing done about it. Isaac decided that he was going to have a little talk with his security team and end this shit once and for all. Going down in the elevator, he also decided to fire his brother today. To hell with his mom and the death promises she’d made him agree to. If Robert wasn’t such an ass, he might have glossed over everything. But Robert was, and was going to cause them a great deal of trouble at the rate he was going.  After five minutes of talking with his team, Isaac knew that what he had guessed was correct. Nor was it the first time that his brother had done this. He’d been bringing in not just women, but all sorts of people during and after hours at his own pleasure. After assuring the security team that they’d not lose their jobs, he asked if they had all the records of when he’d brought women in. It had occurred a total of seven times in the five weeks that Robert had been employed there. And that wasn’t counting the night shift, which was supposed to do the same thing. Fuck. “All right. This is what I want you to do. He’s in his office. I’d like for you to go up there and help him leave.” Bill, his top guard, just quirked a brow at him. “I don’t care if you have to drag him out by his feet, I want him out of here now. And I’ll call my attorney to tell him what I’ve done. Oh, you should take precautions when touching him. He’s naked. Christ, why did I ever do this? Anyway, get him out of here now.” “He’s not going to be happy. From what I’ve observed, he’s pretty much made this place his play house.” Isaac nodded and told him he was sorry. “No need for you to be sorry, sir. It’s us that should be. He told us when he started here that you’d given him the keys to the place, and that if he didn’t get his way, we’d be fired. We all have families, and this is a good job despite having to deal with him. I’m just sorry that we believed him.” “I didn’t know. I want you to know that, I didn’t know.” Bill told him again that he should have told him from the start. “It’s fine. We’ll get him out of here and moved on. I don’t think it’ll be as easy as that, but I want him gone.” After talking to his attorney, he decided that he was going to be all right. That nothing could come back and bite him in the ass. However, the moment that the elevators opened, Isaac could hear his brother cursing, and the men helping him laughing.  “Isaac, I certainly hope you have a good reason for this. This is no way to treat your brother and your partner. Tell them to let me go.” He said that he did have a good reason, and that they were not partners in anything. “Well, I can’t imagine what it would be. And I told you that we should sign off on us being fifty-fifty in this place. Now I’m not so sure that I want to. Tell these men to unhand me and I’ll not call my attorney. You know as well as I do that this isn’t going to look good in the papers. You’re supposed to have this great reputation, right? How do you think this is going to look?” “I do have one. But you do not. And I don’t care for the way you’ve mistreated me and this gallery, so I think, in that regard, I can finally do something about it. You’re fired, Rob. And it’s no less than you deserve after all the things that you’ve done, not to mention 
not done since you’ve been here.” Robert asked him if he was talking about the missing cash. “No. I was talking about the hookers that you brought in. What missing money?” “What did you expect me to do? Live off what you were paying me? Fuck that shit. I sold a few of the paintings that were here, as well as got into the safe. It wasn’t like you would miss anything. And I was right, you didn’t.” Robert laughed and jerked from the guard. “I’m willing to forget this whole thing if you just give me a little more each week, say about another grand, and I’ll think about not calling the police or my attorney. You know I will, Isaac. I’m not kidding around this time. This is just stupid.” “I don’t care. And you don’t have an attorney, Robert. The one that I have, I pay. What will you do for money if you do find one to sue me? They require you to shell out some cash when you’re asking them to do something for you.” He looked at the men standing with Robert. “Take him out, please, and don’t forget to get his badge as well as any company keys he has on him. Bill, will you please inform the parking garage that Robert no longer works here, and not to allow him to park on the premises? Thank you. And good luck, Robert. I have a feeling that you’re going to need it.”  He was handed the badge as well as Rob’s parking permit and a key ring that had more keys on it than he’d given him. Such as one to the front door, as well as the conference rooms. When asked, Rob said he’d stolen his keys and made copies of them. Isaac asked him where he’d gotten them. “I’m your brother. Surely you didn’t think I should be begging to be let in and out of this place. For Christ’s sake, Isaac, you should treat me better than you do.” He asked him why. “I’m telling you right now, Isaac, if you do this, you’re going to regret it for a very long time. I’m not one to fuck with. I have friends in very high places, you know.” “You’re fired, Robert. And I’m not frightened of you. I’m also going to inform you that you’ll have to find yourself transportation, as the limo service will no longer be there for you. Also, any and all paintings that you’ve taken from here and sold will have to be paid for, by you.” Robert said he wasn’t paying. “We’ll see about that.” As he was taken out the door, three men dragging him across the floor, Isaac leaned back against the wall and tried to think why his brother was like this. He knew that it was his mom for the most part, but Dad hadn’t helped either. When Bill told him it was done, he thanked him again. “No need for that. But if you think this is done, then you’d be mistaken.” Isaac said he was aware of that and wanted him to take precautions. “I can do that. I’ll have some extra guards at the parking garage as well as in the lobby. Also, if you don’t mind, I’ll have the locks changed out. I have no doubt that he would have made more than one copy.” “You’re more than likely right. Also, I’d like for you to detain anyone that comes here looking for Robert. I have a feeling that we’ve not heard the last of them either.” Bill asked him if his brother really told on him like he was five. “Yes. And has done it our entire life, even when it wasn’t possible for me to have done whatever misdeed he blamed on me. But promising my mom that I’d make sure that Robert had a job when I knew that I shouldn’t was one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made.”  
Looking at his watch, he realized that his appointment was in twenty minutes. Isaac wasn’t nearly as excited as he had been, but also, he was relieved that his brother wasn’t going to be there to fuck things up. He’d known it was a mistake taking Robert on, but he thought that at thirty-seven, he might have grown up a bit.  The Calhouns arrived right on time. He liked Mrs. Calhoun anyway, and found that he truly enjoyed the company of the younger man. As he showed them around the gallery, he had only one thought in his head. This man was going to be famous if his work was half as good as his grandmother had told Isaac. He pointed out places where he thought his work would be best displayed. Isaac also mentioned the preopening that he wanted to have, as well as the fliers to be printed, and who was catering the event. Sterling said nothing, but he could see the gleam of excitement in his eyes. The man was as shy about his work as Jasmine had told him. “Now, you’ve seen the place. I’d very much like to see some of your work. When can we arrange it?” Sterling, Sterl he said to call him, told him that he had a few of his pieces in his car. Sending out the security team to bring them in, Isaac was impressed. “I have seen a few pictures of your work. Your grandmother was most accommodating. And if it’s half as good as I think it’ll be, you’re going to have a wonderful gallery presence.” “Grandma told me that there was no point in waiting, that I should just show you from the start. And while I’m happy for the opportunity to do this, please don’t feel obligated in taking it because you’re friends with her.” Isaac assured him that he wouldn’t do that. “You most likely won’t care for them. I started painting again at a low point in my life, and I think that my work shows it. It’s very dark. A lot of it is nightmarish in the way I’ve painted it, and a great many people might be upset by it.” As soon as the first painting was uncovered, Isaac could see the pain. Almost feel it in his own heart. The paintings were dark, haunting, and revealed a great deal about the artist. He hadn’t had an easy time in his life, and he was good. Very good.  Isaac walked around the six paintings four times. Each time he looked at each of them, he saw a little more. Felt a little harder the pain of the man. There was a great deal of feeling in them, none of it good. But the work on them, the art, was outstanding. More than that, it was perfection. As he stood in front of the last one again, he asked Sterl if he had any more. “Yes. Ten more. All with the same darkness. I’m not there any longer, but I still feel the need to put it to canvas. I don’t know that I’ll ever feel a need to paint landscapes.” Isaac told him that he hoped he never painted those. “You don’t care for them, do you? It’s all right. I understand that—” “Sterl, I think you’re amazing. I’d like to run a gallery opening with all your work.” Sterl was shaking his head. “I’m serious. These are…words fail me on how good these are. And the darkness of them will appeal to a great many people on all kinds of levels. Yes, we’re going to do well, you and I.” 

Jake Forbidden Release Day & Giveaway

Forbidden: M/M LBGT Erotica Paranormal Romance


Jake Winslow’s marriage to the money grubbing shrew is over. Cutting off her funds, and the simple use of the word “no” sends her packing. When he comes home from work and finds his house empty of everything, including food, he feels–liberated. 

Jake’s grandmother, Jenna, calls her friend and attorney, Forrest Stout, to handle Jake’s messy divorce. She can’t stand Jake’s soon-to-be ex-wife and is leaving nothing to chance. Only the best for her grandson, and the best is Forrest.

Forrest is a Were Tiger, and he knows “who” he is. He is an oddity in his paranormal world because he is gay. His kind mate for life, and after a recent disastrous attempt to find companionship, he has given up hope of ever finding his life mate.

From the moment Forrest meets Jake for the first time, he knows that Jake is his life mate, and he wants to run in the opposite direction because Jake isn’t gay. To claim and lose a mate would spell disaster for him. How can he ask a straight man–that he wants with every fiber of his being–to conform to his way of life? He can’t….

Ex-lovers, and ex-wives can be a dangerous combination. Especially when neither are right in the head….



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His wife had left him. Jake wasn’t sure how he felt about it, but she was gone, that was a sure thing. And she’d taken everything; not just her things, but every stick of furniture in the house. He definitely wasn’t unhappy about that. Jake thought his wife had horrific taste in all manners of style. Jake figured that he should have seen it coming; he’d been seeing little signs that she wasn’t happy with him. Hell, he wasn’t happy with himself. But he had been trying his best to make her happy. Okay, maybe not happy, but at least make her life with him tolerable. Carol wasn’t really the nicest person in the world, nor did she tolerate fools easily. Well, not at all, and he thought she had it in her head that he was the biggest fool of them all. Jake Winslow had married his high school…Jake wasn’t sure she was his girlfriend or his sweetheart, but he did marry her when he’d been fresh out of high school. She’d told him, several times during his senior year, that if he didn’t marry her by the time he left for college, she’d not be around when he returned. Jake was never sure why he did it—he certainly didn’t love her—but she was the only woman he’d had sex with. He supposed he’d been led by his dick, as most men were. His parents had made him marry her. Jake wasn’t sure why that thought had entered his head after all these years, but he knew as surely as he was standing in his empty house that they’d made him. He hadn’t wanted to, not at all. If she’d not been there when he returned, then she’d just be gone. Pressure from his father and whining from his mother had made him do it. He was sure of that. So, fresh from his graduation he asked her to marry him, and of course she’d said yes. And the week before he left for college, they were married…right there on her parents’ front lawn. His parents had decided not to come to the quick wedding…something about contracts and money to be made. Money; he knew this was a huge factor in his father’s life. Jake had wished so many times over the last ten years that he’d just gone off to college and never returned. He might have but for the one person in his life that he loved more than he did himself—his grandma, Jenna Beck Winslow. As he made his way around the house, empty of even any foodstuffs, he thought of the things he’d have to do now. File for divorce, he supposed. Since she’d left him, he figured he’d be safe in betting that she’d gotten all she wanted from him. There really wasn’t much left for her to take anyway. He’d taken care of most of his property and stocks when she refused to sign a pre-nup as his grandma had suggested. The rest; well, he’d hidden that away as well. This house was in his grandma’s name. As were the deeds to the two buildings that he had downtown, other holdings in deals, as well as a few other things that Grandma and he held together. He’d done most of the hiding of assets several years ago, right after Carol had nearly gotten them in trouble with the IRS for not filing their taxes as she said she’d been doing. It had taken him nearly four months of working a lot of overtime and taking cases he didn’t like to pay back his grandma the money she’d generously lent him. 
  
Paying Grandma back had been the one argument he’d won with Carol. After that, he changed a lot of things. As he stood in the kitchen, he thought of the last fight that they’d had in this room not three nights ago. He’d been working late, again, and had come in this room to fix something to tide him over until breakfast. Carol had come in and started on him about money. “The checking account is empty.” He didn’t even bother looking at her. He knew it was. He’d emptied it when he’d noticed her spending had gotten out of hand. “I need you to put something in the account so that I can go to the mall tomorrow. Borrow it from that old woman again if you have to, but there has to be money in the account when I need to buy something. I’ve been invited to go to the mall with some of the girls from the country club. You know how important it is to me to keep up appearances, and besides, some of my favorite stores are running a sale. That requires money in the bank, because, in case you didn’t notice, the credit cards aren’t working either.” “I’m not borrowing money from my grandma again. She’s been kind enough to us. And the credit cards aren’t working because I canceled them. All of them.” She asked him why he’d do that. “Because, as I have told you several times over the last six months, there isn’t that kind of money coming in to cover even the minimum payment the way you spend money. You have to stop using them for every little thing you want. I’ve told you that. And since you can’t even do that, then I’ve taken control of them out of your hands.” He didn’t say for now, because Jake knew that she’d only continue to spend the money as if there were no limits. Charging things like ugly furniture that no one sat on. Dresses that would still have the tags on them when she donated them to some cause that the other sheep were into. And she’d go to restaurants and pay for everyone’s meals even though she didn’t like them any better than she did him. No, Jake had thought, she wasn’t getting any more ways to spend money.  She had growled at him, something he’d only just noticed that he thought was juvenile. “I don’t know why you’re doing this to me, but I want you to know that I do not care for it. You make enough money for me to spend a few bucks now and again, Jake. Fix this.” He told her he had. Just not the way she wanted. “I don’t care what you do, but I’m going to the mall in the morning and I’m going to use those cards. I would suggest that if you don’t want me going to jail, because I will throw the fit of all fits, then you’d better make this right.” He’d finished making his sandwich and sat down at the table. Even before he could pick up his dinner of cold roast beef on a hotdog bun, all he could find, she swiped it from the table and onto the floor. He hadn’t wanted to get into it with her, but she had left him no choice. Jake knew that shouting at her would get him nothing but a headache. Carol was ten times more stubborn than any other person he knew. He’d looked at her as she stood before him with a self-satisfied smirk on her face. “Why are you like this? Why do you treat me as if I’m nothing more than a way for you to have the things you want?” She said nothing but stared at him, tapping her foot as she’d done so many times in the past. Well, he wasn’t going to give in this time, no 
  
matter what she said or did. “I’m not going to put money in the bank so you can spend it on foolish things. Nor am I going to reinstate the credit cards so that you can run the limit to the max again. I got them paid off now, and there is no reason for you to—” “If you paid them off, then there no reason whatsoever that I can’t have them back, Jake. There are plenty of things I can buy now. The entire house could use a once over. Things are stale here. Give the cards to me and I will buy you something nice for that nasty office you work in.” He just stared at her after telling her to leave his office alone. “Jake, I’m not kidding you. If you don’t give me those cards, I’m going to leave you. Then what will you do? I should have the things I want. I did marry you.” “I married you as well, Carol. And you’re going to put us in the poor house with your total disregard to money and how it’s made. I purchased you this overpriced house that I didn’t want and the car that you seldom drive. You promised me then that you’d curb your spending. I can’t keep working like this so that you can toss our money away like you have no respect for how hard I work for it.” She simply put out her hand as if he was just going to turn them over. “I’m done. I’m not going to do this with you again.” When she left him there, he stood to clean up his mess. He wasn’t surprised when he heard the door to the bedroom slam, nor did he react when he heard her screaming. It was her way, he supposed, to make sure that everyone, including the neighbors, knew when she was displeased. They were probably used to it by now; he certainly was. Jake, as he had done for a while now, had gone to one of the spare bedrooms to sleep. He even went so far as to lock the door, and then put the dresser in front of it. He didn’t think that she’d harm him, but he didn’t want to take the chance that she’d come in and try to take whatever she found in his wallet. The cards, like a great many things he didn’t want her to have, were in the safe at his grandma’s home. And now here he was in his home with no wife, no tables and chairs, and probably not a single thing he could sleep on. Moving to the living room now he saw that she’d left him a nice note. The walls of this room were smeared with what he could only surmise was her last calling card. The note was written in spray paint all over the walls and over the fireplace. He, in a sort of disjointed way, thought about the amount of effort she’d taken to do this when he couldn’t even get her to clean up after herself in the bath. Dear deadbeat, I have found that I can no longer live under the rules that you’ve put me under. Good riddance.  Jake grinned and wished this other man, if there was another one, all the luck in the world. He was going to need it, and a fat bank account. Jake was sure that even if the man had an endless supply of money it would never be enough for Carol. He pulled out his cell phone and called the only woman he’d ever loved. His mom hadn’t ever meant as much to him as his grandma did, and he doubted if she ever would. “Carol left me.” She told him good. “Yeah, I figured you’d say that. She took everything too. I’m pretty sure if there was a mouse in the house, he’d be starved by morning. I don’t have a pot to even piss in now, and oddly enough, I don’t really care. And when I was in my bedroom a little while ago, I noticed that she fixed my suits for me too. They’re cut to shreds.” 
  
“She was a dreadful child, and she didn’t improve when she became an adult. I blame that on her parents, because they’re not much better. Frightful people.” He laughed as he sat on the stairs. “Why don’t you come here tonight? You and I will get drunk, eat some dinner, and have a good laugh over her. I don’t suppose she left you for another man, did she? That poor bastard.” “I don’t know. I think if there were a man out there that could keep up with her spending, he’d be sorry before now. Carol was mad about the credit cards.” He looked at the wall and repeated what Carol had written there. “And on a good note, I no longer have to cover up the couch when I want to sit on it…if I had a couch. I have never in all my life known a woman who had a negative sense of style like Carol has. And if there is another man, I’m betting he’ll have no idea what he’s getting himself into until it’s too late.” “Oh well, not your problem any longer, I’m thrilled to say. The girl needed to have left you a long time ago.” He agreed with his grandma. “Come over here and we’ll celebrate. I’ll have Bonny freshen your room up and we’ll have some fun. Lord knows you deserve it after ten years of hell.” “I’m exhausted, Grandma, and don’t think I have the energy to drive.” She asked him what he was going to sleep on, the floor? “I have no idea, but I’m just too tired to go out tonight. I’ll come over tomorrow and we’ll plot. I know I have to file for divorce now; I’m done with her. And hire someone good to take the case. I think her parents will want me to give her everything despite how much she already took.” “I’ll talk to my attorney. He never cared for Carol anyway after all the stories I’ve told him. He’d more than likely do it for free.” Jake laughed. “Come over, darling. I want to see you.” “I really can’t. I’m not sure I have the energy to even drive there. I’ll just find some blankets—I think there are a couple in my car—and spread them out on the floor. I’m too tired to care if I have a lot of comforts or not.” He walked to the door to go to his car even as he continued. “Tomorrow is Saturday. I’ll come over in the morning and have breakfast with you. One thing that’s good about this is that I don’t have to work myself to death to pay for her shit.” Jake looked around and shuddered. The couch in this room had been a bright green paisley. The chair a solid green that was almost blue green in color. The pillows had been plaid. He had avoided looking at the drapes, a deep blood red color that was a combination of squares and some sort of squidgy design that had made him seasick. Every room in the house was like that, brightly overdone and full of so many patterns that he never could figure out what she’d been going for. “I’m so glad that you’re looking at this as a positive thing. She was a mess and we both knew it. All right, go to sleep and I’ll see you first thing in the morning. I’ll have Cook make your favorites. Even bacon.” He laughed when she did. His grandma loved bacon more than he did. “I love you, Jake. Take care tonight.” “I will.”  As he spread out the blanket he’d unearthed from the trunk of his car, he thought of what order things had to go in now that he was alone. The house would have to go. But 
  
even as he lay down on the floor with the fireplace roaring out at him, he knew that he’d keep it. It was his after all, and Carol would be jealous that he had it.  As he lay there, thinking of his life thus far, all he could feel was relieved. He was free. For the first time in his adult life, Jake was free. Rolling to his back, he could see his life as it had played out before him. From the first moment he’d seen Carol, he knew that she wasn’t for him. There was just something so…. While he didn’t think she was evil, he’d never felt particularly safe around her. Then after Jake had done a little investigating, he knew better than to piss her off. Carol had set her sights on him for a reason that he just couldn’t understand. His family had money, that was true, but he didn’t have anything that he could claim as his own. At least not back then. He’d not even gotten a new car for graduation as she had. The car he drove was a beater that his grandma had helped him get for running around campus, and he used a four-year-old computer. Plus, he had received a scholarship to one of the most prestigious colleges in the country. Jake had worked really hard for that. After he and Carol had been married for about a month, she started coming to him about money. She needed this or that. As a student paying rent for a house while he was in college, there wasn’t enough money in the account for him to buy books and her things. She’d never let him live down the fact that he’d made her suffer by not having any money all the time. But when he’d been taken in by a very good firm, Jake thought he’d more than made up for her suffering. Jake didn’t understand most of the things that she purchased, either. Who needed ten pair of shoes when you could only wear one at a time? And why did she need a new coat for every season? What was wrong with the one that she had in her closet? Most of the time he went without one just so she’d be happy. But she was never happy, nor was she ever satisfied, he’d just realized. No matter what he did or sacrificed for her, it was never enough.  After he’d gotten out of school there were plenty of offers for him to look over. He’d been looking for stability, a good income, and a place he could like going to work for daily. A good firm that he could be proud to work for, and one that, someday, he’d be able to be a partner with. Carol had had a different outlook on his job prospects. She wanted location. An address that said she had money, or at least the appearance of it. There were questions that she had about where they’d live. How they’d live was questioned too, things such as servants, lawn service, and even limo rides. Where the closest mall was. Was there a country club membership involved? Would she be a part of the firm’s family as well, such as receiving invites to the partners’ homes? And she expected parties and shopping sprees. “I don’t think we should care about that so much just yet.” Carol had asked him what she should be caring about then. “Well, schools for our children. Where we might find the safest neighborhoods. And how quickly I can climb the corporate ladder. Mostly I think we should pay off some of our debt that we got while I was in college, and then save for a smaller house at first.” “No, I don’t want that at all. The bills? Those are your problem, not mine. You could have worked while going to college, and if you had, you’d not owe so much. Jake, if I’m 
  
going to be a lawyer’s wife, then I can expect things to go my way for a change. I catered to your needs enough while you were off studying.” She made it sound as if he’d not been working hard at his classes and had fucked around. Jake wondered even then if she realized how much things went her way now. “We’ll find us a house that I want, then you can work from there if you’d like. But I deserve a nice home, bigger than my daddy’s.” He was never sure how she was going to make that work. Nine firms wanted him to come and work for them, two of them in another state. But Carol had not only found her a house she could tolerate—her words to him when they moved in—but she also got a house much larger than they needed. She called it their starter house, whatever the hell that meant. Lucky for them, or at least him, it wasn’t far from his grandma’s, and he could go see her whenever he wished. Jake realized that he wasn’t going to get any sleep with his mind so busy, so he pulled out the laptop from his briefcase and turned it on. As he searched for things to fill his home, he found himself looking on sites for furniture that his wife might have wanted. So, with a huge smile, he put in searches for things that he might like. By the time the sun was coming up, not only had Jake filled two rooms of the house, but he’d found that he was having fun. By the time he made his way to his grandma’s house, he was actually giddy with contentment. ~~~ Carol smiled when she thought of her husband. In a few days she’d call him, find out how much he was suffering, and then tell him that she’d take him back. But under her terms. There would be no more of his cutting off her spending. It was her right to spend as much money as she wished, and he should have realized that before now. Sitting on the large bed that had come with the hotel she’d set up for herself, Carol knew it was just a matter of time before he’d come to his senses. Jake was a nice man, but nice men finished last. Carol was going to have to teach him that lesson sooner or later. “Carol, do you think this is the smartest move you can make right now with Jake? I mean, he is due for his annual bonus, you told me. Had you waited for that, you could have set yourself up nicely instead of borrowing from me to finance this idea you have.” Carol told her mother that it was in the bag. “If you say so. I think he might like you being gone. Your father and I certainly are glad to have you gone from our house.” “What a thing to say to me, Mother. You have always been so mean to me. Why is that? I think you’re just jealous, aren’t you? But about Jake, I’m betting he’s already missing me. I can just see him now, wandering around the house sobbing for me. Wondering what it is he’s going to have to do to get me back. Well, it’s going to be different, that’s for sure.” She wasn’t sure about the sobbing part, but she knew that he’d take her back in a heartbeat. The man wouldn’t be where he was right now without her. “Jake will do just what I tell him to do. I know that he’s had some rough times of late what with all those charge card bills that he had to pay off, but I’m sure by now that he’s thinking what a mistake he made in cutting me off. I have him wrapped around my little finger.” 
  
Her mother huffed at her. Carol wondered why she’d come to see her when all she had to do was give Carol some money and her credit card. But she hadn’t. Her mother was very untrusting too. Carol glared at her mother, wondering how on earth she’d had such a horrible person in her life all these years. Carol thought they’d all be better off if she would just die. Or be killed. That would be a better pay off in the insurance for her daddy. “In the meantime, I’m paying for this room and the storage units you had to have to store all that crap in. Why on earth you had to take everything is beyond me. Or for that matter, why you’d want to. It’s the ugliest shit I’ve ever seen. If I were Jake, I’d be pissed about you buying it in the first place. Were you trying to prove some point by going out and finding things that no human would possibly want in their garage, much less their home?” Carol waved her mom off. There was no accounting for some people’s tastes, she thought. “Carol, he might not care a fig that you’ve left, have you thought of that? You said yourself that he’s been cutting you off more and more all the time. Perhaps he’s finally gotten sick of you spending all that money. You nearly ruined him once; perhaps he’ll be thrilled to death that you’ve finally left and taken those things with you.” “Mother, you just don’t understand our relationship. Once he sees the error of his ways, he’ll be running back to me. You’ll see. I’ll call him on Monday and then you’ll see that I’m right. He might even be calling me before then. Jake isn’t all that smart, and he won’t be able to fend for himself in that big empty house without me there to guide him.” Actually, Carol was surprised that he’d not called her last night or this morning. Surely he’d seen what she’d done to him. At the very least, he would’ve seen the note she’d taken the time to leave him. “I had to take a stand in this. It’s the only way that he’s going to learn anything.” “He’s not stupid, Carol. Jake is a smart man, and I think you’re overestimating this hold you think you might have over him. As I said, he’s more than likely dancing a jig around the room and buying things that he likes and not you.” She asked her mother what she was talking about. “You think that you have him by the balls. I’m pretty sure, since he’s cut you off so nicely, that he has taken them back and will use them. I don’t think you realize what a bitch you’ve been to him.” “Mother, if you can’t be nice to me in my time of need, then perhaps you should just go home. I’m settled now. But the next time I want you to bring me money and a credit card, just have one of the servants do it. Or Daddy.” Her mom huffed again. “Why are you always treating me like I’m the bad guy? Jake just needs to learn that I’m the best thing that has ever happened to him. Once he does, then things will start to go back to the way I want them. No more cutting me off just because he said. I’m a grown woman, and have needs that he doesn’t understand.”  “Carol, I think he understands you more than even you do. As I’ve said time and time again, the man could have done much better than you.” Her mother had always been so jealous of her, of her beauty, her husband. Even the way she decorated. “I’m going home. But as I told you when you called, I can only pay for you to stay here for two nights. I don’t know why you have to have the best of everything. Had you gone cheaper, you could have had—” 
  
“I do not do cheap. I’m an attorney’s wife. I should have better.” Her mom said something as she was moving out the door but Carol decided to ignore her. “If I need to stay more than you paid for, I’ll let you know. I still don’t know why you’ve put a limit on my trying to get my marriage to work.” Two nights away from her would be just what Jake needed to get his head on straight. The nerve of the man thinking he could just cut her off after everything she’d done for him. And the sooner he figured out that he needed her around, the better he’d be. Laying back on the bed, she thought of the things she was going to do once she was back to the house.  “I’m going to sell off every stick of furniture that was in there and start over. The house needs a fresh look anyway.” She’d thought about just setting it on the side of the road when she’d left him, but was afraid that he’d just lug it back in after she was gone. He’d do that too, embarrass her like that. “Then I’m going to have the pool enlarged, and we’re going to have a staff too.” She didn’t swim, didn’t even know how, but her parents didn’t have a pool so she wanted one. And the staff would make her day so much better. Just being able to say that to someone… “I have to talk to the staff,” or “The staff has been so much trouble lately.” It excited her to no end to think of someone asking her about how many she had.  They’d had staff at first…well, someone to cook for them. There had been cleaning personnel as well. A woman and her daughter had come in twice a week to dust and run the vacuum. But after the first large purchase that she’d made to redo the living room, he’d cut even that off.  The cook; Carol couldn’t even remember why they’d left, but Jake had gone on for over an hour about how she was to treat people that worked for them. Carol thought that staff, no matter what they did for her, needed to cater to her needs more than she did theirs. Thoughtless people. They needed to learn their place, and they would when she was back in charge. The phone ringing startled her. As she picked it up, thinking it was her mother, she snapped at her to leave her alone. The silence at the other end made her pause. When she asked who was there, she was greeted with male laughter. “I’m Forrest Stout. You must be Carol Lane Winslow.” She said that she was just Carol Winslow. “For now. I’m calling on behalf of Jake Winslow. He would like to set up a meeting with you in the near future.” “You tell him when he cuts me off, I cut him off. And what do you mean, for now?” The man laughed again and she positively abhorred him. “Who are you anyway? One of his buddies from work? Never mind. You tell Jake that I will come home when he has his priorities right. If you’d like to take him my demands, I can read them off to you. There won’t be any more cutting me off. I demand that—” “No, I won’t be taking him anything of the kind. But as for being his friend, I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Jake, but I think, just because he left you, I could be his best friend. I have, however, spoken to his grandmother. Jenna and I go way back.” Carol didn’t care. She didn’t care for the elderly Winslow any more than she did Jake’s parents. 
  
“What time can you meet with us, Carol? I’d like to get this over with for him so that he can move on with his life.” “I’m not going to meet with him at all until I get some reassurance that what I want is taken care of. You tell him that.” He said that he would. “Aren’t you even going to ask me what I want? And I don’t appreciate you cutting me off. I don’t know who you think you’re talking to but—” “No, I’m reasonably sure neither of us want to know what you might want. And I’m also sure I’ve got you figured out. Oh, and while I have you on the phone, you should know that the locks have been changed on the house and the garage that you shared with Jake. Also, the things that you have in storage, they’re being removed even as we speak and moved to the address that you put on the receipt. I’m sure your parents are going to just be thrilled. You have a nice day.” She was still standing there holding the dead receiver when she thought of what he’d said to her. Why would Jake change the locks? Was he afraid of someone robbing them? There wasn’t shit in the house. That, to her, was locking the barn door after the horse got out. Or something like that. Her dad said that all the time, and she was happy to think that she knew that one. Also, what did he want a meeting for? Why not just have her come back to the house? She put the receiver in the cradle of the phone and sat on the bed. She wondered too what he’d said about the storage and how that would make her parents happy. Her mother wasn’t getting her things. “What are you up to, Jake?” She thought about calling him, asking him straight up what he was doing, but that would interfere with her plans. He was going to beg her to come home, and her calling him wasn’t on her list. “You aren’t playing by my rules, Jake, and that will only make this harder on you.” She went to the lovely desk that hadn’t been in the room when she’d gotten there. A few well-placed calls, everyone understanding that she was a lawyer’s wife, had not only gotten her the desk, but also free usage of the mini-bar.  The Jake list, as she’d begun to call it, was pretty good if she did say so herself. There were some things marked off on it already. And things were going along just the way she wanted them, also in the order that she wanted them. Carol was looking at number six that was as yet still unmarked. He should have called her by now. Again, he wasn’t doing things the way she wanted them. Number one had been having the house emptied. It had been difficult for her to find a mover that would do it all in one day. But her daddy had come through for her on that. He’d hired two firms to come in and take over. Of course she’d lied to Daddy, telling him that there were bugs in the house and that her lovely things were going to be ruined if they didn’t get them out of the house, and he’d done it.  Her mother had shown up at her door while she was working on number two. Leave Jake a note. “What are you up to, Carol? You can’t have Jake’s permission to do this to his home.” She turned to her mom and glared. “You’re going to regret this.” “No I’m not, I have a plan. And since this is my house, I don’t need his permission, nor do I care if he has an opinion concerning my actions. This is all his fault anyway.” 
  
She’d been thrilled to death to show her mother her list, and all she did was tell her she was ill-advised if she thought this was going to work. “Of course it’ll work. I always get what I want.” “You’ve never gone this far before. I’m pretty sure that he’s not going to do what you want this time, no matter how many lists you have and whatever order you put them in. It’s bad enough that you’ve treated this man so poorly all these years, but to do this, to destroy his home…. Carol, I never thought I’d say this to my own child, but you’re not right in the head.” Number three had been harder to get than she thought it would. Her mom didn’t like to part with money any more than Jake did. But in the end Mother had put her up in a hotel. It was her plan to go live with her parents for a few days, but her mother had said no and had more than likely convinced Daddy that it was not a good idea. She was going to have a long talk with him once she was back in her home and with Jake. Mother was starting to get on her nerves, and she was sure her daddy would fix it.  Number four had been put in motion the moment she was set up in the hotel. Make sure that her friends knew where she was and why. Well, her version of why she was out of her home. She’d told them that she and Jake had had a terrible fight and she’d left him until he could cool down. That hadn’t gone as well as she’d planned either, now that she thought about it.  Not a single one of her friends had been sympathetic to her. She’d expected them to rally around her, bad mouth Jake and his treatment of her, but not one of them had. Two had said they were too busy to talk and had hung up. Mercedes, the one that she’d thought the most of, who also had the most money of all her friends, had told her she’d be lucky if Jake didn’t divorce her on the spot. And that she’d not blame him one single bit. The others hadn’t taken any of her calls. Carol thought that since it was late in the year a lot of them had gone out of town. That had to be the reason. Then there was number five. Five had been a spur of the moment add-on to her list. And possibly the worst thing she might have done. At least to the standpoint that it had gotten her the most grief. People weren’t as receptive to her story as she’d hoped they’d be. Going to the newspaper to tell them that Jake had hit her had been a huge undertaking. It had required her to pinch her mouth until it was puffy, and to wear dark glasses when it wasn’t too terribly bright outside. Twice she’d walked into a wall, and once had tripped over the curb.  And for all that, she’d been humiliated once she’d entered the big building. Three of the people that had agreed to talk to her told her she was full of shit, and one of them had even told her she was lucky that he’d not hurt her worse. Carol tried to tell them that they didn’t know Jake as she did, and was left in tears after they made fun of her.  Now here she was on number six, and she’d hit a wall. There had been no calls from Jake so that she could execute that part of her plan. She was going to tell him, no matter what he said, that she wasn’t going to live like he’d wanted her to. She was going to tell him that she needed money to make her life better. That there had to be changes, too, in how they lived. Not only would there be a staff for her to order around, but she wanted 
  
a gardener as well as a limo driver. Each of her bullet points were left unchecked because her husband hadn’t called.  “Damn it, Jake, what are you up to? And what is taking you so long to do what I need for you to do?” As she paced the room, she tried to think of reasons that he’d not called. His phone was dead? Not likely. He was the only person she knew that could go days on a single charge. He just never used his phone like normal people did. Did he forget her daddy’s number? No, she’d made sure that it was programed into his phone the moment he’d gotten it. There wasn’t any reason she could think of that he’d not have been able to call. That man that had called, Stout, he alleged he’d talked to Jake. She knew that had to mean that his phone was still working and it was charged. They didn’t own a house phone, again because Jake said it would be a waste of money, so that couldn’t be it. Then she wondered if he was working late again.  Jake did work on Saturdays a great deal. She thought it had been because he was going to ask for an increase on the limits on his cards, but then he’d gone and canceled them all. But even working on Saturday didn’t negate the fact that he should have called her. Nothing was as important as him calling and begging her to come home. His calling was the thing that was going to get her what she’d wanted. Carol decided that she was going to make him suffer more for this, and smiled as she added that to her list.   

Brayden The Stanton Pack Release Day & Giveaway

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

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

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

Amazon UK  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Brayden-Stanton-Pack-Erotic-Paranormal-Shifter-ebook/dp/B06W9M3ZLH/ref=sr_1_3_twi_kin_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1488742876&sr=8-3&keywords=Kathi+s+barton

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PaperBack  https://www.amazon.com/Brayden-Stanton-Pack-Erotic-Paranormal-Shifter/dp/1629896438/ref=sr_1_2_twi_pap_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1488753624&sr=8-2&keywords=Brayden+by+kathi+s+barton

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Chapter 1  
She sat up, then promptly leaned over and threw up twice. The first time she’d woken up, her head had hurt so badly she was sure something was stabbing her there. But one touch to her head had her fainting away again. Lying back down, she lay there trying to make the sick feeling in her head go away. Touching it gingerly, she felt the blood there again and the slice along her head, but there wasn’t any memory of how it had gotten there. Nor—and this frightened her more than the head wound did—who or where she was.  Jane Doe. That’s what she’d been referring to herself as since she’d awoken the second time. It had been dark where she first holed up. Not that the daylight she had now made things any clearer for her. Looking around from her position on the floor, she realized that she might be in some really old building that hadn’t seen a broom or dust rag in a very long time. Slowly she rolled to her back, closing her eyes so she wouldn’t get sick again. “You need help, girl.” She had also started talking to herself, she realized, and wondered if that was new or something she did all the time. Asking herself questions about the things she did know about herself didn’t ring any bells either, but she listed them now. “You’ve been shot and wounded. You’re female, and you’re smart enough to know that hiding out was the best course of action for yourself. And you carry a gun.” She wrapped her fingers around the gun that hadn’t left her side since she woke, and found it tucked tightly against her belly. It didn’t feel foreign to her, but like something that she wore as routinely as she did a shirt or socks. There was a holster for it, but the gun hadn’t been in it like it was now. Leather and steel, it had been strapped to her waist with one full magazine. Searching for any kind of identification hadn’t netted her anything. She had found a wound in her leg that had bothered her for a little bit, but not nearly like her head did. As she lay there, she thought of what could have happened to her and why. What was she that would make someone shoot her? Jane didn’t want to think that someone was out to kill her, not yet at any rate. “Was I a victim of a robbery gone bad? But if someone robbed me, wouldn’t they have taken the gun too?” Her head began to pound again so she left that thought alone for now. “I need to get someone to help me. But who?” Sitting up slowly, she felt her belly lurch again. Whatever had happened to her, it wasn’t going to get any better by just sitting around waiting to have some sort of epiphany. She had a feeling that when she did recall what had gone down, she wasn’t going to be any happier than she was with not remembering.  Standing was harder than sitting up, she soon discovered. Hanging onto the walls for support, her knees were weak and her hands shook. She could only hope that she was on a lower floor in the building, because she was sure that she’d never make stairs work for her. And when she saw them, all four flights, she sobbed like a baby. Nothing, she realized, was going to be easy about this. At least there was a handrail. 
She had no idea how long it took, but she was on the last level when she heard cars. No people as yet…she’d not encountered anyone on her way down. She had to rest, so crawling behind the stairs, she found a nice cubbyhole and closed her eyes. It might be just a few feet from her, but freedom and perhaps answers were going to have to wait. She was simply too weak to walk even the few feet to the door. What if—and this had bothered her with each landing that she’d encountered—what if they were just waiting for her to come out so they could finish the job? Darkness was coming on once again when she woke. She was getting sicker. Her belly was empty of whatever had been in it before, but it didn’t stop her from throwing up. The bile was hot, and she was getting weaker each time she got sick. Help was going to have to come soon or she knew she’d be dead. Standing this time took her to the floor again. On her knees, all she could think about was that she was going to die, right here, and no one would ever know…if there was anyone to mourn her death. Lying down, Jane closed her eyes and rested. It was nearing light again when she finally made her way out of the building. Her sleep had been fitful and unrestful, but she wasn’t as sick this time when she moved. It was either because she was too far gone or she was getting better, which she doubted.  There wasn’t anyone around except for a single truck that was idling nearby. As she staggered to the street, holding onto the walls as she went, she wondered who would be stupid enough to let a nice vehicle like that sit running unattended. Just as she was going to step out of the alley she was in, a slamming door had her turning to look. It was too fast. Her head spun dizzily and she nearly fell again. As she held on to the overturned trash can beside her, she tried breathing in her nose and out of her mouth to slow the pain down, as well as to keep her belly from churning up again. For whatever reason the thought of being caught—at what she had no idea—but being caught or captured terrified her. “Miss? Are you all right?” She wanted to scream at him that she wasn’t fucking all right, but just nodded. “I’m sorry, but I don’t think you are. Did you know that you’re bleeding from your head and leg?” “It won’t stop. Every time I wake up, it’s bleeding again.” He might have said something, but she had to puke again and gagged twice before she laid down. “I think I’m dying.” “I’m going to call an ambulance.” She screamed no at him, but must have blacked out for a bit. When she woke this time, she was in a moving vehicle. “You fainted, so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to get you to someone. But I won’t call the police. I have no idea why I didn’t, but I wanted you to know that.” “I don’t know who I am.” Trust. She didn’t have any clue why she trusted this man, but she did. “I don’t know where I am, how I got here, or how I was hurt. I’m at your mercy, it seems.” “Julian. Julian Stanton.” She asked him who that was. “Sorry. Me. I’m Julian Stanton. I’m taking you to my home…well, to my parents’ home. My father is a doctor. Retired now, but a good surgeon. I let him know what was going on about the wound, as well as that you seemed to be dead set against hospitals. He also knows that you’re carrying.” 
She touched her fingers to the gun still in the holster. Touching it, like that man did, it gave her trust. Again, she had no idea why she did, but she laid her head back to rest. The trip didn’t seem to take all that long, but she might have been out for a lot longer than she’d thought. Three men were standing on the front porch when she arrived at the house with Julian. Before he opened the door or they moved, he pointed out who they were. Two brothers and a father. Then when they moved toward her and the truck, she cringed when they started to reach for her. “Let me give you something for the pain.” The elderly man smiled at her. “It’ll take you under for a bit, but that’ll be fine while I exam you for injuries. You can trust us, young lady. We’ll not harm you.” The pinch of the needle didn’t hurt, but almost as soon as he rubbed the cotton ball over where he’d injected her, Jane felt herself floating away. It was the best she’d felt since she’d awoken. Flashes of light moved over her. Strong voices were there, but no words that she could understand. And on top of it all, a woman. Her kind voice made Jane feel like she’d been bathed in sunshine. Then there was nothing. ~~~ Denny waited for his wife, Lucy, to come and assist him while Julian filled him in on what had happened and why he’d brought her to their home. Denny checked the woman’s head injury, and wasn’t surprised to find it was a bullet wound. After cleaning it as gently as he could, he started to cut away her clothing. The gun perplexed him for a few moments, but Colton, his other son who had helped bring the young lady in, removed it from her and said he’d put it in the safe for her. Next, Denny removed her shoes, socks, and another weapon inside those. Whoever she was, she was well armed. “I just heard from a man by the name of Wexton. I believe he runs the grocery store…or perhaps the library. They’re all running together lately. Anyway, I have no idea why he’d think we have anything to do with this, but he said that someone is camping out in one of the buildings in the market district. I said that Julian checked it out today and it’s nothing.” After Lucy pulled on gloves, she stood over the young woman. “Do we know anything?” “Not as yet. At least not much. GSW to the head, but I think there will be more. There is blood on her pant legs as well as her hands. I was just going to take a look now.” She helped him pulled off the tattered clothing he’d cut away. He noted the wounds they found as they took off her shirt. “Bullet on her shoulder. It looks like it might have been done before the other things, superficial. There is some bruising on her belly; boot print, it looks to be.”  Denny, with the help of Lucy, rolled the young woman to her side. Her back was covered in scars that looked as if she’d been beaten, and repeatedly. There were a few more markings, none that he could recognize right off the top of his head. But as there was nothing life threatening, he moved to her pants. His wife took over there for him so that he could stitch up her head. He was just starting when he felt Lucy’s fear and stepped back from his patient. 
“Denny, what is that?” He looked where she was pointing, careful of his hands. He had to look at it very hard until what it was came to him. He took another step back and tried to think beyond the fear. “Tell me.” “I’ve not see this mark on someone in…. I was a boy and my father had been working with one of the women in the village. He said that she was the devil’s handmaiden. Of course, as a child I believed him. But later, after doing some research, I found out that they’re people marked by another tribe…that they were supposed to be unworthy.” She asked him of what. “I don’t know. That’s all I could find. If she’s been marked like this, Lucy, she might be older than she looks. I mean, as in decades older.” “What is she doing around here?” He said that he didn’t know. “Well, we’ll fix her up, get some answers, and if we don’t like them, we’ll take care of her.” “Take care…what do you mean, take care of her? You’re not suggesting that we murder this poor child, are you?” She just stared at him with that look she reserved for their sons. “Lucy, explain yourself, please.” “Take care of her as in taking care of her. Make sure that she’s safe, well, and fed. Whatever made your mind rush to us killing her off? My goodness, Denny, you need to stop listening to those stories on the television set. Goodness gracious.”  He said he didn’t think it was that but a book he’d been reading, and moved to finish her head. “I knew I shouldn’t have gone to bed straight away after reading that book. I swear to you, Lucy, that author has some chilling thoughts going on in his head.” She told him to not read it at all. “It’s good. I want to finish it, but perhaps I’ll read only in the daylight hours. Not so close to bedtime.” They worked on her for over two hours. Under each article of clothing they removed they found more cuts and bruises. Another gunshot wound in her leg had startled him. Denny wondered why the young woman was still alive the way she’d been treated. As he was wrapping up the wound on her leg and setting it in a temporary cast to make sure it wasn’t bumped, the woman looked at him. “Hello.” She nodded, but he thought her too weak to do much more than stare at him. “You’ve lost a lot of blood so I’m giving you some fluids. The wound on your head is stitched up, but I’m concerned at how deep it is. Julian told us you don’t know who you are.” “No.” She closed her eyes and he thought her asleep again. “I don’t know anything. Where am I?” “Stanton Ranch.” She asked him what state. “Ohio. You’re just outside of Zanesville. My family and I have a nice ranch here. Not that we have much in the way of animals any longer, but we did a long time—” “I had a gun. Where…did you take it?” He told her what one of his sons had done with it. “I’d like it back please. It…I have no idea why, but it comforts me.” “All right. But I’d like to wait until you’re a little stronger. I’ve given you something for the pain, and I’d hate for someone to be hurt when you were out of it.” She nodded, then moaned. “I’ve taken care of the wounds on your body. You have one GSW to the head, another to your shoulder, as well as one in your calf. They’re cleaned up and stitched. I’ve saved the bullets for you.” 
“I don’t know what I do for a living. I might be a bad guy.” He’d thought of that as well, but had a feeling that wasn’t what had gotten her shot. “The man who brought me here, you said he was your son. Will he tell anyone where I am?” “No. He said you were inflexible about not going to the hospital, so he thought it might be safer for all of us not to tell anyone that we’d found you, nor that you were shot.” She nodded again and Denny thought for sure she was out this time.  As he and Julian moved her to the bed he had set up in his offices at home, he asked him about what he thought had happened. He told him what she’d said to him when she woke up. “You think she’s a bad guy? Or anything to do with things that go bump in the night?” Denny told his son that he didn’t. “I don’t either. She could have shot me when I came up to her at the warehouse. Granted she was weak, but I think if she were a corrupt person, she would have done it anyway.” After moving her, he sat down at the little desk that was part of each room. He didn’t use his offices much anymore…just for an occasional bump or two from one of the ranch hands. They only had a couple horses now, having sold them off a while back when he realized that he was just too old for ranching. His sons were off on their own now and Denny was proud of each of them, but he missed them when they weren’t home. He supposed it was a way of life for the elderly. Denny did a search on shootings in the area. A couple had occurred which were, he thought, too far away for the young woman to have traveled from. There was a robbery, but he wrote that off as well, knowing somehow that she might not have been involved in that either.  When Lucy brought him lunch on a tray they ate together, talking quietly about the upcoming picnic they were having, as well as Brayden’s birthday. He was a little old for having parties, but it never stopped them from having them for their boys. However, they no longer hired a clown to entertain them. “Do you suppose that he’ll even be home this year? Last year he was two days late coming home.” Brayden hadn’t been home as much as they liked, not for years now. “I miss him more all the time. I know that he’s working, but I’d so much like to have him home again.” “I’ve spoken to him a few times over the last few weeks. I guess things in Africa aren’t going as well as they had thought, and he might be able to get away for a little longer this time. Something about money troubles, as well as supplies coming up missing.” Lucy said that it would be nice to have him home. “I know, but when I talked to him, he sounded so beaten. Like he’s just tired of it.” “Well, he’s been working at building homes all over the world for others for nearly ten years now. I know as well as you that if you don’t take a break now and again, you can’t just pop back like you did before. He needs to come home and be with his family, and let someone else work for a little while. Perhaps he would do better at making money. Not that we need it, but I want him home occasionally.” Denny agreed, but he wouldn’t tell Brayden that. The boy was too stubborn about people telling him what to do. “When did he say he’d be here? Soon?” 
“In a week. I had to make him narrow it down so that we could pick him up at the airport when he arrives. But of course, then I had to tell him several times that we didn’t mind going out of our way to get him. I swear, Lucy, I think he does that to make me mad.” She laughed and said they were alike in that. “What’s that supposed to mean? I’m not aggravating.” “If you say so, love. But when you get something in your head, you’re like a dog with a bone. You’ll pick at it to death.” They both looked over at the bed when the woman moaned. “She’s going to make it, isn’t she? I mean, she won’t get weaker from this, correct? Poor thing. I wonder if whoever did this to her even cares.” “No, I don’t think so. I have no idea why, but I think they would be upset to know she’s alive. But we might have some trouble keeping her down until she heals more. And she’s asked for her gun back and said that it’s comforting to her for some reason. She seems stubborn herself, don’t you think?” Lucy pointed out that she’d not spoken to her. “That’s right. I forgot. I’m concerned about the marks on her back. What they might mean to her. Or us.” “I was going to ask you if you looked them up while you were down here, but for some reason I have it in my head for you not to. It might lead someone here.” He nodded, telling her that he’d thought the same thing. “We don’t know anything about her, Denny, but I want to protect her like she’s our own child. Why is that, you suppose?” “I don’t know. But now that you mention it, I feel the same way. And even Julian said that he had this overwhelming need to make sure that she was safe. Not well, but safe. I asked him why and you know what he said? He told me that she needed him, that he felt it.” When she left him again, taking the tray with her, he sat at his computer to play a game. It was silly, he knew, when there were plenty of game systems upstairs, but he loved solitaire and found himself thinking about the game more than what he’d been doing earlier. It was a way to ease his mind…he had been playing games as a way to relieve stress for over a decade. The computer made it so much nicer. When a small ding alerted him that he had an incoming message, he clicked on it to see what his son had to say now. Brayden had better not be changing his mind. He wanted his boy home. When it came up, he read it three times to make sure that he’d not misread it. “I’m coming home, Dad. For good. I’ve had enough.” He started typing a reply when a second message from him came up. “Would you find me a house? Not too big, but nice. With a pool. I find that I want to swim again.” He told him he’d do just that, and smiled as he wrote the rest of his answer. “Are you sure you don’t want to build one? You should be good at it by now.” “I just want to live somewhere that is a nice home without any work on my part.” Denny watched the little icon that said Brayden was still typing paused. When it came up on his end, Denny could only stare at it. “I’m getting married. After I’m home. She’s not my mate, but I need some stability in my life and she can do it, I think. At least I hope so. She’s a little on the…. You’ll understand when you meet her. I’m bringing her home with me so you all can all get to know her too. Don’t tell Mom yet. I want to surprise her.” 
He’d certainly do that, Denny thought. Not his mate, yet he was going to marry her? That made his own cat sort of curl around him in fear. It was a feeling, one that had made him become a great surgeon, that had him thinking that his eldest son was about to make the biggest mistake of his life. “We’ll talk when you get here, son. Tell me when you expect to be at the airport and I’ll be there.” He told him he should be in the United States in two days. To pick him up on Wednesday. “All right. Give me times when you get them and I’ll make sure that you and your lovely bride-to-be have a ride home.” Brayden said that he loved him and then the message box told him that he’d logged off. Denny checked on his patient then went to find his Lucy. There wasn’t any way that he was going to keep this from her, and he found that he didn’t want to. He needed someone to tell him he wasn’t nuts for feeling this way. “She’s not his mate? You’re sure that’s what he said.” Denny assured Lucy that he’d read it three times to be sure. “Why would he do a fool thing like that? Doesn’t he know what sort of trouble that can cause him when she does come along?” “He said he needs some stability in his life. And while I can understand that, I wonder if he knows he’s not going to get it. Do you think he gets what he’s doing?” She just huffed, something that she’d done all their married life when she thought he should know the answer to something. “Lucy, he’s bringing her home to meet us. Oh, you’re not supposed to know. He told me not to tell you.” “Well, I’m glad that you did. And no, I don’t think he understands what he’s doing. I can understand living with a woman if you’re lonely. I don’t care for it, but I guess I can understand. But this is at a whole new level of living with someone for sex.” Denny nodded, thinking that his wife was losing her filter more all the time when it came to talking about things. “Denny, you’re going to have to talk to him as soon as he gets home.” “I will, I promise. But I’d like to say something to you, and I don’t want you to get upset. You’ve been a little…how should I say this? You’ve been a lot more outspoken lately. Is it that club you’ve joined? The Women Over Fifty Group?” She kissed him on the cheek as she walked by him. “Lucy, you didn’t answer me. What is it about you lately?” “I’ve decided that I’m too old to be trying to please everyone.” He said that he could understand that. “And I’m not saying what I want, I just have opinions. A great many of them. But I’ve been too shy to say them. I’ve decided that I’m not going to sit in the back row any longer, but voice my opinion.”  After she left him in the kitchen, he laid his head on the butcher block they used as an island. Oh Lord, she was going to be the death of him, he just knew it. He smiled as he lifted his head. But she sure was fun now. He thought he liked this new Lucy. Going to the basement again, he sat with his patient.  Maybe, he thought, he’d take up this new habit Lucy had adopted. Saying what he wanted might be fun. Yes, sir, he was going to do that from now on instead of what people wanted to hear. He wondered what his sons would think about their new parents.   

Caleb: Winchester Brothers ( New Series ) Release Day & Giveaway

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

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

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

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


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Prologue
“Dag nabbit boy, what is wrong with you? Do you have sawdust in that noggin of yours?” Caleb said he wasn’t sure. “I’d be thinking you’d better be getting sure if you wanna live through this here thing. Your momma, she’s going to be having herself a kitten if I don’t miss my bet.” He looked over at the truck, or what was left of it. Caleb wanted to tell his dad that it wasn’t his fault, that he’d done nothing wrong, only he was sure that he’d still be in trouble. Caleb had been driving and he had hit the tree. “I’ll pay for the damages.” His dad said he darn tooting was. “And I’ll make sure that the tree is all right. I don’t know how I’ll make that happen, but I will. Mr. Wheedle likes this tree, and I would feel bad if it died.” The tow truck arrived about ten minutes later, and Caleb saw his mom get out of it almost before it was completely stopped. She asked him if he was all right, then she hugged him. Caleb waited for her to make sure he wasn’t bleeding profusely, then stood straighter when she glared. “Where were you going in an all-out hurry?” He told her he wasn’t speeding. She looked at the truck, which was on the dolly now, then at him. “You want to tell me why the truck, the only vehicle that we have, is all mangled up like those towels you left on the floor this morning?” “I wasn’t driving fast, but the wolf that ran out in front of me seemed to be…I think it was hurt.” He looked over at his dad, then at the ground again as he continued. “A wolf came out of nowhere. I wasn’t going to hit it, but it seemed to just jump in front of me. Like it was trying to kill itself. I swerved to miss it and lost control. I’m not blaming the wolf, because I was the one driving, but I didn’t want to hurt the wolf. But like I told Dad, I’ll pay for all the damages and work on the truck until it’s running again.” Neither of his parents said anything and Caleb looked up. They were looking at each other, and he felt his wolf run over his skin. There was something going on and he had no idea why, but he thought they believed him about the wolf. “This wolf, you ever seen it before? I mean, around the house?” He said that he’d not. “Can you tell me if you thought it was a shifter or just a regular old wolf? And I need you to be sure, so if you don’t know, then say it.” “It was bigger than a regular wolf. Of that I’m sure. But as for whether or not it’s a shifter, no, I don’t know.” His mom nodded and looked at his dad again. “May I know what’s going on?” “You know old Mr. Cartwright?” He asked if she meant his old math teacher. “Yes, that’ll be him. His mate died a few days ago. She was poorly for a while now and she just passed on. Mr. Cartwright, he was with her a good long time. Said he didn’t think he could live without her.” “So he was trying to kill himself?” Caleb’s mom said nothing, but he could see the hurt on her face. “Mom, I didn’t hurt him. I missed him by a mile. He…I like that old man. I hurt that he does.”
“I know you do, son. So do I. To lose a mate…you know how that would make me feel should I lose your father.” She hugged him again. “But I need for you to do me a favor. A big one. And before you say something, yes, it is a lie, but it’s a good lie. Don’t tell anyone what happened here today. The pack will frown on him trying this.” “All right.” He looked at the truck, then back at his parents. “I’ll still take care of this. I swear to you that I will. And I’ll make sure that I keep a better lookout for Mr. Cartwright, too.” “You do that, Caleb. You go on ahead and do that for him.” Caleb and his dad made their way to the tow truck. “You know why we don’t want you to say anything? I mean, the real reason?” “No sir.” He watched his dad help Mom into the tow truck. She didn’t need it; Caleb knew that, but he loved watching his parents together. They loved each other the best, he thought. Always thinking of the other one no matter what was going on. “Mr. Cartwright loved his mate. I know that you understand that part of it, but he had nobody but her. They don’t have themselves any children or anybody else to call their own. If he were to die like this, by suicide, the pack wouldn’t bury him in a proper way. They’d just let his body rot in the field where he crawled to and let him just be more alone. On account’a that, he’d not be next to his mate in the cemetery. Understand?” “Yes, sir. He’s a good man who’s suffered a great loss.” His dad said that was it. “I’ll go on over and see him later. I won’t mention what happened, just see if he wants to go fishing or something. Keep him company.” “You’re a good boy, Caleb. All you boys are. I’m right proud of you.” Caleb felt his face heat up with embarrassment. “Now, you go on home. I’ll work something out with the driver here. We’ll muddle through this. I swear it.” Caleb knew that his family ran right on the edge of poverty, like a lot of families around here. But unlike most of them, his family had food on the table nightly and they had power and heat. His dad worked hard every day to make sure of that. And he and his younger brothers, all of them, did everything they could to help too. This wrecking of the truck, however, was going to hurt them for some time.  Instead of going home, he found himself standing in front of the Cartwright home. Mr. Cartwright was sitting on the front porch, rocking in his chair like he was going someplace. And he was crying. Caleb coughed, then cleared his throat to make sure to give the older man a little bit of time to collect himself. “What are you doing here? Don’t you have enough to do around that farm of yours that you should be here bothering me?” Caleb nodded and told him he had plenty to do, but wanted to ask him something. “Whatever it is, you don’t have any business asking me. Go on home.” “Would you like to go fishing with me? I sure could use a nice little break today. And I know you have that nice stream that goes behind your house.” Mr. Cartwright stopped rocking and asked him why he needed a break. “I had myself an accident earlier. My mom, she’s not mad at me. More glad that I’m all right, but I’d like to make it up to her by bringing home some meat for dinner.”
“And that means what to me? Are you telling things that aren’t true, boy? You do that and I’ll come after your entire family.” Caleb asked him what he meant by that. “What did you tell your parents about wrecking the truck?” Caleb looked at the ground again. He’d not said a thing about the truck, or wrecking for that matter. Mr. Cartwright would only know that if he’d been there. His parents were right in what they had thought. “I just needed to take a little break, that’s all. I thought…. Well, I guess you have more important things to do than to spend a lazy hour with a kid.” He nodded at him, his heart hurting for what the man was going through. “I’ll see you around, Mr. Cartwright.” “Now hold on there a minute. I never said I’d not go.” He stood up and Caleb tried not to notice how his face was a little scuffed up and that he was walking slower than usual. “You and me, we’ll go fishing today, but I don’t want you to make a habit of just showing up here. You need to be working on your math more than you need to be fishing with an old man.” Mr. Cartwright got them both some gear and even packed them up a nice basket of food to share. There was sweet tea to go with it, too. As they made their way down to the stream, Mr. Cartwright told him about how he had a good recipe for trout, and that he had some stored apples still from last year.  The two of them caught nine trout and two catfish. As he was helping the man gather up their papers from the food and the gear, Mr. Cartwright asked him if he’d take the entire catch with him to his house. “I already told my mom what I caught. She said that there was so much, you should come join us.” He hadn’t talked to his mom, but knew that if Mr. Cartwright would agree then he would. “She even baked a nice peach cobbler today. I was smelling it this morning. I’m betting there might be some homemade ice cream too.” In the end, Caleb was able to convince Mr. Cartwright to join them, and his dad said he’d dig out the old churn, that ice cream sure did sound good. The cobbler was the only thing he’d not lied to the man about. It was, after all, what he’d asked for as his special dessert for his birthday. Caleb Kelley Winchester was seventeen today. As he walked the man back to his house, they didn’t say much. He was stuffed as he’d ever been, and eating with the man beside him had made for a great gift, one he’d not expected to get. When he was up on his porch, Caleb turned to go home when Mr. Cartwright said his name. Caleb turned back to see him standing there with a sad look on his face. “My wife is gone. I know you know that, but I hurt with it. Worse than I ever dreamed I’d be, and that was a lot.” Caleb said he was sorry. “I’m sure you know it was me that caused you that accident. And…. Well, I’m sorrier than I can tell you that you missed me.” “I’m not. Had you died out there, I would have killed a great man on my birthday. I don’t think that would have settled well for me, do you?” He shook his head. “Mr. Cartwright, if you don’t mind, I’d very much like to hang out with you sometimes. I’m sorry that you hurt so much, and there isn’t anything I can do to fix it, but I really enjoyed today. And the meat was an added bonus. You’re a good man, and I liked today.”
“I did too. It’s the first enjoyment I’ve had in a while.” Caleb nodded. “And if you want to come by here and see me, I’ll not be sorry about that either. You’re a good boy, Caleb. I hope you know that.” “I hope so. My mom will be really disappointed in me if I’m not.” He laughed with Caleb. “I’ll come by tomorrow, sir. And we’ll see about fixing that leaky roof that you were telling me about. All right?” “Yes, I’d like that. I might have a few other chores around here that you can help me with too, if you’ll allow me to pay you for them.” He said that wasn’t necessary, but he’d like the company. “I would as well. I’ll see you tomorrow then.” Caleb returned home with a lighter step. He knew that things were going to be tighter now. His dad had told him that the truck towing alone cost nearly fifty dollars, more than he knew his parents had. He was going to go see Shelton in the morning to see if he could work off a bit of that a week. Caleb was going to hold to his promise of paying for the damage. ~~~ Arnold sat on his rocker and felt better than he had in a while…since his wife had taken her last breath, as a matter of fact. He wiped at the tears that fell, thinking that he just hurt to think about her too much. “I failed you, my darling. Failed to come to you today.” He looked in the direction that the young Caleb had taken. “I should have been a little more selective of who I ran in front of, I guess. An older driver, he wouldn’t have been that quick to swerve to miss me. But I got me a friend out of this mess I put me in. A few of them, I think. And the trout was almost as good as you made me on occasion.” Rocking more, he thought of the Winchester family and how meager their table had been tonight. He wondered what they might have eaten had they not brought the fish to them. But whatever might have been on their table, he was sure that they would have enjoyed it and felt blessed by it. He rocked a little harder. “They got themselves nothing to get around in because of me. I did that to them. I heard that boy telling his daddy that he’d make it right. And I have a feeling that he will too. No matter the cost to his time.” Arnold paused in his rocking to think of what he could do to make it up to them. “That old truck out back, I think they’ll be able to use it, don’t you?” He thought of other things that he had that he no longer had any use for. He’d give it to them, to make up for what they’d lost. But he’d have to be sly about it. Arnold would not take their pride from them. And he knew for as much as they didn’t have, their pride was a thing they valued a great deal. Pulling his phone toward him, he called Shelton Bloom. When he answered his phone on the forth ring, Arnold had to laugh. He was sounding like a man who might need a break himself. “Shelton, it’s Arnold Cartwright here. I wanted to talk to you about the Winchester truck that you brought there today.” Shelton told him it wasn’t worth fixing even if they had the money. Arnold had already figured that was what he’d say. “You got anything there that they can use up? I’ll pay you for it. Not top dollar, but I’ll pay you for it. That
boy, Caleb, he’s going to be running me around, and I need him to have something to use.” “There are two old beaters in the back that run all right. But I don’t know, Mr. Cartwright. You might need something better than that. I’d surely hate to think of the two of you broken down on the side of the road. How about I let him take that car that Masterson never paid for? It’s a beauty and runs like it’s in its second childhood.” Shelton understood what he was doing, even if Arnold was a little nervous about it. “I think it’ll hold you both, and his family, should they need to be on an outing together. What do you think? It won’t cost you a thing either. Mr. Masterson said I could have it for working on it.” By the time he hung up the phone, he’d planned to have the towing paid by him and his old truck looked at to make sure it was running well. There wasn’t any reason why he couldn’t drive himself around, but to have that boy helping him might be worth it. As he settled into his chair again, Arnold spoke to his lovely wife. “I might not be joining you just yet, my love. This family, I have a feeling that they need me as much as I do them. And I have a powerful need to help them out.” He nodded into the darkness, thinking of how much more alive he felt because a boy hadn’t killed him like he’d wanted. “You just hang on tight and I’ll be there soon enough. I need to be helpful to them and in return…. Well, I think they’re going to be more helpful to me than I ever thought.” Over the next few weeks, not only did he get his leaky roof fixed by Caleb, but he also got his lawn mowed, his bushes trimmed, and he even got the steps to his barn repaired. Not only did Caleb help him, but the rest of them, including that mom of his, lent him a hand or two. He had berries in his freezer, and a few little pies he could eat when he wanted. His pants were patched up, and there wasn’t a single button missing off any of his shirts. His wife, Thelma, she’d been sick for a time, and those things had gone by the wayside. It was nice having the house all aired out and the sheets on his bed to be fresh. It was like they’d adopted him, and he was liking it. Caleb was in his yard, mowing the last of the grass, when he realized how much more he could help this boy. College. He needed this boy—hell, all them boys—to go to college. Arnold also knew that the Winchesters would be lucky to send one to college, not to mention six of them. So he set about, in his own little way, making that happen as well.  And he sat down to dinner with them every night too. Sometimes there was meat, most nights not. But Arnold didn’t mind. He was with good people, and that made up for his belly being just a little upset with him for not having a hunk of meat in it. He decided to help them out with that as well. Arnold was having fun. Helping these people was fun. “I need me a person to work for me full time.” Caleb’s father asked him what he needed and that he’d find him someone. “No, I’m talking about you, Kelley. I need you to come work for me full time.” “Mr. Cartwright, you’re a very nice man. And I have to tell you, you couldn’t have helped us out any better than giving us that vehicle to get around in. Mary said it’s a real
treat for her to go shopping and not have to load it all in the back end of that old truck of ours. And don’t think I don’t know that you’ve made a few other things happen for us too. I’m appreciative of it, I swear to you. But you don’t have to go making up work for me. I’m glad to help you out.” Arnold started to speak, but Kelley cut him off before he could. “Caleb is learning a lot from you. How to be a better man, and to know that not everything he does needs to have a payment in the end in the form of money. I thank you for that too. But like I said, you’ve done about enough.” “No, I’ve not, Kelley. Without you—without that boy there—I’d be dead now. We both know it.” Kelley nodded and Arnold nodded before continuing. “That day that I hurt him—and I know that it did—but that day he gave me something I’d not had in a long while, since my wife took ill. He gave me purpose. And this job that I have for you, it’s not a made up one. I do need you. I have…I don’t have anyone else.” “You know that I’ll surely be glad to help you. You’re a good man.” Arnold thanked him. “What is it you need help with? I’m not too smart, but I’ll give it my best shot.” Arnold had no doubt whatsoever that he would too. Yes, sir, he was going to have the time of his life with this family.