#Release Blitz & Excerpt Combust by @KBrombergDriven

Here’s another book to add to my never ending TBR read.  I loved the Driven Series and am looking forward to reading this book ASAP.  Check it out!

Combust, an all new sexy and emotional standalone by K. Bromberg is Available NOW!

 

From New York Times Bestselling author, K. Bromberg, comes the second standalone book in the Everyday Heroes series. Just how hot will firefighter Grady Malone turn up the heat?

Songwriter Dylan McCoy has been burned.

By her boyfriend she found in her bed . . . with someone else.

By the contract she signed that obligates her to work with him until the songs for his new album are complete.

By her agent when she asked Dylan to keep their breakup on the down-low.

When she finds herself in Sunnyville, she refuses to let her new roommate burn her too. Still . . . a rebound has never looked so good.

That’s her first thought when she sees firefighter Grady Malone.
Sexy. Charismatic. Unapologetic. He’s a man who carries his own scars—the ones on his back, the survivor’s guilt on his soul, and the fear in his heart.

When an unexpected visitor puts their roommate status to the test, will their undeniable attraction burn out, or will they both take a chance and play with fire?

 

Purchase your copy today!

Amazon US – http://amzn.to/2DUI1Hc

Amazon UK – http://amzn.to/2FlPDQk

Amazon CA – http://amzn.to/2BzsBTE

iBooks – https://apple.co/2CBOtm5

Barnes and Noble – http://bit.ly/2CPGb7K

Kobo – http://bit.ly/2CzIyhT

Amazon Paperback – http://amzn.to/2lRSKY2

Add to Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2kQ9z8P

 

 

EXCERPT

Preoccupied with a text on my phone from my agent, I walk into the kitchen and suck in a breath when I come face to back with Grady. He’s standing with his hand on the refrigerator door, head leaned inside, and his back fully exposed to me. It’s broad and strong and scarred immeasurably.

I stare.

I can’t help it. The marks are a dizzying array of dark and light and ridged and smooth. And they’re undeniably burns. Goosebumps chase over my skin as I imagine the pain he must have endured when he got those. I think of his habit of wearing unbuttoned shirts but never going shirtless and the hint of scars just visible above his collar that I never could have imagined led to this roadmap to hell on his back.

A part of me instinctively wants to reach out to touch them, bring some kind of comfort. It sounds ridiculous, even to me, but that doesn’t abate the urge.

“Not pretty, huh? Get a good look while you can.” His voice is gruff as his spine stiffens and body stills, emotion woven through the words.

“Thank God not all of you is pretty. I was beginning to feel majorly insecure having to live with perfection like you,” I say off the cuff, trying to make this situation less awkward. My attempt to settle the sudden tension sparking in the air around us.

“Perfection?” he asks as he turns to face me with a smile that masks the emotion swirling in his eyes.

“Yeah. You have scars. I have mermaid thighs.”

“Mermaid thighs?” He laughs. “What in the world are you talking about?”

“Thighs that touch from the top all the way to my knees.” I shrug as if it doesn’t bug me, as if I’m not highlighting one of the insults Tara threw at me. It’s a whole lot easier to make fun of myself so long as it puts him at ease.

“Do you ever give yourself a break?”

Do you?” I ask the question, sparking a silent battle of wills as we stare at each other and wonder what to say next about the other’s insecurities. Coming up empty, I shift gears. “I think there is some type of rule about how many abs are fair for a guy to have when the rest of us are just struggling to find one of them.”

His smile rings more genuine as he steps toward me, and I step back, my hips leaning against the counter now.

“Is that so?” His voice lowers as his eyes flick to my lips and then back up. “I’m sure you have some under your shirt there.”

Why does the simple action make it seem so hard to swallow?

He takes another step.

“What are you building outside?”

“A playroom.”

A nervous chuckle falls from my lips as I think of all of the versions of playrooms I’ve read about in my romance books. My cheeks stain red as I imagine Grady with a flogger in one hand standing beside a St. Andrew’s Cross.

“A playroom?”

“Yeah.” He takes a step closer so we’re breathing the same air, his voice husky enough to cause every part of my body to grow alert. “A playroom. You know . . . a pool table. Foosball. A real man cave.”

I exhale a shaky sigh, suddenly more than aware that he’s so close, shirtless, sweaty, and smelling like sun and soap mixed together. But it’s his eyes that make my thoughts falter. There’s an intensity to them I don’t expect from the perpetually cheerful Grady Malone.

“Ah, that kind of playroom . . .” But my words trail off as he steps even closer and braces his hands on the counter on either side of me. I can hear his intake of breath. The music floating in from outside. The pound of my pulse in my ears.

“Hey, Dyl?”

“Yes?” Our eyes hold, my lips fall lax.

“I need you to open up.”

What?” I question as his hand brushes against my hip and his fingers pull on the drawer handle I’m standing in front of.

“I need the bottle opener. You’re standing in front of the drawer it’s in.” His lips spread into a full-fledged grin as I scramble away from the counter and, of course, run smack dab into the hardness, all six foot plus of him.

And then I rebound off him again in a flustered state that has him laughing and me stuttering. “Sorry. I wasn’t—I didn’t . . .” His arms hold on to my biceps to steady me, which prompts me to look up and meet his eyes.

“We need to stop meeting like this,” he murmurs, the heat of his breath hitting my lips.

“We do.” Brilliant, Dylan. Freaking brilliant response. “I’ve gotta . . . I’ve gotta get back to . . . to writing.”

About K. Bromberg

New York Times Bestselling author K. Bromberg writes contemporary novels that contain a mixture of sweet, emotional, a whole lot of sexy, and a little bit of real. She likes to write strong heroines, and damaged heroes who we love to hate and hate to love.

A mom of three, she plots her novels in between school runs and soccer practices, more often than not with her laptop in tow.

Since publishing her first book in 2013, Kristy has sold over one million copies of her books across sixteen different countries and has landed on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestsellers lists over twenty-five times. Her Driven trilogy (Driven, Fueled, and Crashed) is currently being adapted for film by Passionflix with the first movie slated to release in the summer of 2018.

She is currently working on her Everyday Heroes trilogy. This series consists of three complete standalone novels—Cuffed, Combust, and Cockpit (late spring 2018)—and is about three brothers who are emergency responders, the jobs that call to them, and the women who challenge them.

She loves to hear from her readers so make sure you check her out on social media or sign up for her newsletter to stay up to date on all her latest releases and sales: http://bit.ly/254MWtI

 

Connect with K. Bromberg

Website: http://www.kbromberg.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKBromberg

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KBrombergDriven

Instagram: https://instagram.com/kbromberg13/

Amazon Author page: http://amzn.to/204Qnfz

GoodReads: http://bit.ly/1koZIkL

Join her Reader Group: http://bit.ly/1PMUoG3

Sign up for her Newsletter: http://bit.ly/254MWtI

RULE BREAKER by @KatBastion & @StoneBastion – Pre-order Alert

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We’re thrilled to bring you pre-order news of Kat & Stone Bastion’s exciting new adult, multicultural, surfing romance RULE BREAKER.

PLUS be sure to visit, like, and comment on Mase’s Facebook page: Mase on Maui – Stone is posting as Mase and randomly choosing one commenter each week to win a $10 gift card.

RULE BREAKER is set to release November 7, 2016!

Rule Breaker Cover

Pre-order Your Copy… $2.99 Today | Releases 11.07.16 at $4.99
Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN | Amazon AU | iBooks
Kobo pre-order will be up soon, Nook goes live by release day.

Heartbreaker on Goodreads

Cover Designer: Sarah Hansen, Okay Creations
Image provided by: Love N. Books
Photographer: Made by MK
Model: Jase Dean
Genre: New Adult Romance / Sports Romance / Multicultural and Interracial

Racial Tensions Flare as Hot as the Passion in RULE BREAKER,
a Modern-day Romeo and Juliet Story

Leilani Kealoha wants to be set free. Of family expectations. Of generations of prejudice.

Chafing at rules made by the proud Hawaiian men in her family, she yearns to discover herself and hungers to explore the world. Her adventuresome heart? Longs for something even greater, deeper.

The last thing she expects is an East Coast haole surfer to hold the key to everything.

Mason Price is done walking his parents’ path. Done with social acceptance—with cold politics.

On a surfing quest to reinvent himself, Mase finds an exotic beauty standing on his towel. But it’s her feisty bargaining that catches him off guard. When he challenges her with a “Truth or Shots” drinking game, she unwittingly reveals more than she’d intended about herself…and him.

The raw truth stuns him: She’s suffered like he has, is lost like he is—keeps secrets like he does.

But will young love and shared situations be enough to conquer racial and cultural divides?

Lines in the sand…were meant to be crossed.

***RULE BREAKER is a standalone, full-length new adult romance told in dual POV. Due to mature themes and adult language, this book is for those 18 and older.***

RB Amazon

Remember to visit, like and comment on Mase’s Facebook page:
Mase on Maui for fun posts on surfing, Maui, and a chance to win a $10 gift card each week just by commenting.

Have You Joined Their Email Notification List?
Keep informed of new releases by signing up:
Kat & Stone Bastion’s Email Subscription

One lucky subscriber wins an eBook of their choice from the backlist AND a $10 Amazon or B&N Gift Card with each announcement.

About Kat & Stone Bastion:

Shoe and Boot Photo

Kat Bastion won several awards for her bestselling debut novel Forged in Dreams and Magick.

Kat and Stone Bastion’s bestselling first novel No Weddings and the No Weddings series were named Best of 2014 by multiple romance review blogs.

When not defining love and redemption through scribed words, they enjoy spending their time mountain biking and hiking in the beautiful Sonoran Desert of Arizona.

Stay in touch with them on their social media pages…
Blog * Facebook * Kat’s Twitter * Stone’s Twitter * Website

#Review -Caught in the Flames by @KaceySheabooks

Susi Reviews Caught in the Flames

by Kacey Shea

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Callie Gordon is more than a little obsessed…

I love firemen.

Heroic. Selfless. Brave.

Not to mention the uniform with those damn sexy pants…I can’t get enough.

Imagine my surprise when local fire captain, Chase Matthews, wanders into my yard on moving day. I’ve hit real estate gold. Hot as sin with that all-knowing smirk creates an instant spark. Welcome to the neighborhood never looked so good.

But dating a firefighter isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Chase keeps me at distance even when I attempt to break down his walls. A friendship with the nosy eccentric woman down the street reveals there’s more to Chase than he’s willing to share. I’m playing with fire and bound to get burned.

Secrets unfold.

Truths are brought to light.

Can I handle the heat? Or will my love for this man prove that sometimes even good girls have to burn down the house?

Caught in the Flames is a standalone contemporary romance and intended for adult readers due to explicit content.

 

 

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Firefighters… another man in uniform that brings me to my knees. I have to start off by telling you that this is my favorite of all of Kacey Shea’s books. I have had the pleasure of reading her first series, Uncovering Love.  That series was real, heartwarming, sexy and enjoyable.  But this book, it totally rocked!

As a reader, I have enjoyed watching Kacey’s talent as a writer flourish.  This standalone hooked me from the start.

Callie, the female lead is an awesome, independent and caring young woman.  She is one character I really enjoyed reading about.  She wants to find love and loves firefighters. Yeah, I totally understand her predicament.  She even lives near the fire station.  Convenient, eh?  She is surrounded by two amazing, funny and wonderful friends, Jill and Alicia.  They are the ones that help keep her balanced.  All of these women are well written and perfectly scripted into this book keeping the story light, entertaining and fun.

Callie loves chocolate and she meets this gorgeous firefighter named Chase with the rich chocolate colored eyes.  Everything about him is pretty damn perfect. Longing for an ideal relationship, Chase seems to fit the bill until trust issues arise.  (No spoilers)

Callie also meets a new woman in her neighborhood.  Kiki, the cat lady who seems to lose her cat Silas often, winds up becoming one her best friends. Her years, wisdom, mutual love for firefighters and advice, prove to be priceless for Callie.

Then there is Ash.  Oh Ash. I have such a soft spot for this other firefighter hottie.  Don’t be fooled by his full name, Ashley or his choice of cars.  Ash turns out to be quite the man in this story.  Sorry, but you’ll have to read the book to meet Ash.

There is jealousy, a little bit of crazy, and plenty of laugh out loud dialogue to keep you reading this book in one sitting.  The sexual innuendos between Chase and Callie made me giggle and enjoy those initial moments between the characters.  And the sex, well… it is hot!

Just when I thought the story was going in one direction, Kacey totally changed it up and I am so glad she did.

I won’t spoil this review for you if you haven’t read this book yet.  But, Caught in the Flames is a brilliant grab some wine and read in one sitting book.

I gave this book 5 stars!

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.


 

Buy Links

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About the Author

5d8ce-img_20282b252822529Kacey Shea is a mom of three, wife, and indie author who resides in sunny Arizona. She enjoys reading and writing romance novels as much as her son loves unicorns, which is a lot.

When she’s not writing you will find her playing taxi cab to her children while belting out her favorite tunes, meeting friends or family for food and to share some laughs, or sweating it out in the gym. Kacey finds that picking up heavy weights repeatedly is good for her mental health as much as it is for the physical.

She has an unhealthy obsession with firefighters. It could be the pants. It could be the fire. It’s just hot. On occasion she has been known to include them, without their knowledge, in her selfies outside the grocery store.

Kacey one day aspires to be a woman hand model in a sexy photo shoot. You know, the woman’s hand raking across the muscular back or six pack stomach of the male fitness model. Yep, that hand.

Until that day comes she will continue writing sexy, flirty romance novels in hopes to bring others joy!

Kacey enjoys interacting with her fans so please feel free to stalk her on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

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#Free – Uncovering Love by Kacey Shea @kaceysheabooks

Uncovering Love FREE for a limited time!

Kacey Shea’s debut novel is available for free from June 29-July 3 for readers to celebrate it’s one year publishing anniversary! Uncovering Love is a fun, flirty read with a little mystery interwoven with laugh out loud moments—a perfect summer beach read. Pick up your copy today!

Buy it from Amazon here!

 

Join the party!

Kacey Shea has a day filled with giveaways and Facebook live streams in her reader group, Kacey’s Closet Vixens on June 30, 2016. Click here to come for the fun!

 

Win a Kindle Fire

Never miss another Kacey Shea release by signing up to receive her monthly newsletter. In addition to news, giveaways, events, and more, anyone who signs up for her newsletter before August 31st is automatically entered to win a Kindle Fire. Can’t beat that!

 


Uncovering Love Synopsis:

Evelyn Harper lived the perfect life. 
Until she was fired from her job. 
After a ridiculous idea devised among friends comes
to existence, Evelyn finds herself part owner in a private investigation firm
specializing in matters of the heart.  Throughout wild antics with her
best friends Jonathan and Kate, Evelyn conducts relationship background checks
for a wide variety of clients. 
Soon it becomes clear that one case has moved beyond
professional and Evelyn finds herself fighting an attraction she cannot resist.
Will Evelyn admit her feelings when she
uncovers love in the most unexpected of places?

Uncovering Love is book one in the Uncovering Love series.

Each book focuses on a different couple and can be read as standalones.

 

About the Author

Kacey Shea is a mom of three, wife, and indie author who resides in sunny Arizona. She enjoys reading
and writing romance novels as much as her son loves unicorns, which is a lot.

When she’s not writing you will find her playing taxi cab to her children while
belting out her favorite tunes, meeting friends or family for food and to share
some laughs, or sweating it out in the gym. Kacey finds that picking up heavy
weights repeatedly is good for her mental health as much as it is for the physical.

She has an unhealthy obsession with firefighters. It could be the pants. It
could be the fire. It’s just hot. On occasion she has been known to include
them, without their knowledge, in her selfies outside the grocery store.

Kacey one day aspires to be a woman hand model in a sexy photo shoot. You know,
the woman’s hand raking across the muscular back or six pack stomach of the male fitness model. Yep, that hand.

Until that day comes she will continue writing sexy, flirty romance novels in hopes to bring others joy!

Kacey enjoys interacting with her fans so please feel free to stalk her on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

 

 

Book Tour – Excerpt & Giveaway – Perfectly Imperfect by Harper Sloan #IamWillow @harpersloan

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its live harper sloan perfectly imperfect

 

Meet Willow and Kane

in the newest stand alone by Harper Sloan!

NOW AVAILABLE on the following retailers:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1QqBIuM

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1HPNwUw

Nook: http://bit.ly/1kZQ87U

iBooks: http://apple.co/1WW6mAw

 

perfectly imperfect harper sloan cover

 

 

Blurb

Mirror, mirror … who’s the fairest of them all?

I still cringe when I hear that line. A fairy tale that had girls pretending they were the fairest, the most beautiful, and the most entitled. A fairy tale most couldn’t grow out of turned my haunted childhood memories into a living nightmare. Girls who grew up believing that pile of garbage became the meanest of all ‘mean girls.’

And those mean girls were right – it was a line meant for all the beautiful people in the world – and I knew the answer would never be me.

The women with long legs, flat stomachs, and perfect chests.

The type of women Kane Masters gravitated toward.

Well, that’s definitely not Willow Tate.

No. That will never be me.

Because I’m completely imperfect.

And … I hate myself.

I have no idea what Kane could possibly see in someone like me when he could have them.

 

Perfectly imperfect #iamwillow

 

Excerpt

“Are you nervous right now?”

I nod.

“Tell me why.”  His demand, steady and calm, gives me the courage I need to tell him.  To open a vein and bleed my insecurities.

“I’m not perfect,” I whisper.

“And neither am I, Willow.  I don’t want perfect.  What so many see as perfect, to me, is fake.  Perfect isn’t achievable naturally.  No one, and I mean no one, is perfect.”

I’m shaking my head before he’s even done speaking, but one long finger comes up and presses against my lips before I can speak.

“No, let me finish.  There isn’t beauty in perfection.  It’s as fake as the image the word projects.  Beauty is found in imperfection, Willow, because to admit you’re not perfect means you’re admitting you’re not whole and absolute.  When I think of myself, I see someone willing to admit he’s as far from complete as it gets because, in order to get to that perfection, I need to find the other part of me who will make my life better.  To take all the faults I have and fill them, and only then will I be there.  You see, the way I see it, the only way to become perfect is to find that perfectly imperfect person who brings it out of you.”

When he stops, I swear I might have stopped breathing.  How am I supposed to respond to that?

“Do you trust me?” he asks, his voice strong and sure.

“Yes, Kane.  Nerves or not, I do.”

“Then let me show you what I see when I look at you.”

He brings his hands up, framing my face once again in a way I’m quickly becoming addicted to the feeling of.  His warm eyes implore, begging me without words to let him continue.  I do not intend to stop him, regardless of the butterflies currently taking over my system.  I’m all in.

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About the Author – Harper Sloan

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Harper lives in small town Georgia just a short drive from her hometown of Peachtree City. She (and her 3 daughters) enjoy ruling the house they dubbed ‘Estrogen Ocean’, much to her husband’s chagrin. Harper has a borderline unhealthy obsession with books; you can almost ALWAYS find her with her eReader attached. She enjoys bad reality TV and cheesy romantic flicks. Her favorite kind of hero–the super alpha kind!

 

 

Harper started using writing as a way to unwind when the house went to sleep at night; and with a house full of crazy it was the perfect way to just relax. It didn’t take long before a head full of very demanding alphas would stop at nothing to have their story told.

 

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram

 

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$50 Amazon Gift Card

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Release Blitz – Perfectly Imperfect by Harper Sloan @harpersloan @RSofRomance

Happy Tuesday!  Be sure to check this new release out!

Release Blitz – Perfectly Imperfect by Harper Sloan

Release Blitz perfectly imperfect banner

 

perfectly imperfect harper sloan cover

Meet Willow and Kane in the newest stand alone by Harper Sloan!

NOW AVAILABLE on the following retailers:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1QqBIuM

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1HPNwUw

Nook: http://bit.ly/1kZQ87U

iBooks: http://apple.co/1WW6mAw

 

perfectly imperfect harper sloan cover

 

Blurb

Mirror, mirror … who’s the fairest of them all?

I still cringe when I hear that line. A fairy tale that had girls pretending they were the fairest, the most beautiful, and the most entitled. A fairy tale most couldn’t grow out of turned my haunted childhood memories into a living nightmare. Girls who grew up believing that pile of garbage became the meanest of all ‘mean girls.’

And those mean girls were right – it was a line meant for all the beautiful people in the world – and I knew the answer would never be me.

The women with long legs, flat stomachs, and perfect chests.

The type of women Kane Masters gravitated toward.

Well, that’s definitely not Willow Tate.

No. That will never be me.

Because I’m completely imperfect.

And … I hate myself.

I have no idea what Kane could possibly see in someone like me when he could have them.

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About the Author

harper sloan author pic

 

Harper lives in small town Georgia just a short drive from her hometown of Peachtree City. She (and her 3 daughters) enjoy ruling the house they dubbed ‘Estrogen Ocean’, much to her husband’s chagrin. Harper has a borderline unhealthy obsession with books; you can almost ALWAYS find her with her eReader attached. She enjoys bad reality TV and cheesy romantic flicks. Her favorite kind of hero–the super alpha kind!

 

Harper started using writing as a way to unwind when the house went to sleep at night; and with a house full of crazy it was the perfect way to just relax. It didn’t take long before a head full of very demanding alphas would stop at nothing to have their story told.

Keep Up to Date with Harper via Social Media 

Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

 

 

Release Day & Excerpt – RIP by Rachel Van Dyken @RachVD @InkSlingerPR

Rachel Van Dyken brings you Rip a complete stand alone novel that fans of the Eagle Elite series will devour! With twists and turns you won’t see coming, this dark romantic suspense will keep you on your toes and leave you screaming for more.



 

Pretty things aren’t meant to be broken.

But I broke her, and now we both have to pay the price.

I’m her nightmare.

I’m her savior.

And now that I have her signature on an ironclad contract, I
own her body and soul.

She doesn’t remember me.

She will.

It’s inevitable.

Because as much as I know I need to stay away, for fear of
unlocking the memories I helped her father bury–I can’t.

She was the apple in the Garden, dangled in front of me, her
core so tempting and sweet. A voice whispered. Just. One. Bite.

I bit.

I tasted.

I fell.

Welcome to the world of the Russian mafia, where death, is your only future.

 

EXCERPT



“So.” She plopped into the seat next to me and crossed her long legs. I fought hard to pull my eyes away. “Catch me up, what exactly are we doing in Chicago.”
I opened a folder and slid it across the table. “We are doing nothing. I, however, am making a speech at…a church.”
I didn’t miss her snort, or the way she tried to hide her amusement.
“Something funny?”
“Yeah.” She nodded. “In church.”
“Where did this attitude come from?”
“You kissed me.” Her eyes narrowed as she leaned back into her seat, not missing a beat as she let her gaze wander across my body like a caress. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel good, to be desired, wanted, and it was a welcome distraction from the pit in my stomach. I really, really didn’t want to go to Chicago.
“You kissed me back,” I retorted.
“Doesn’t matter, you still kissed me. The line between beast and his little toy has been crossed, therefore I kind of own you like you own me, just in a more…irritating way. I have your balls in a vise.”
“Let’s leave my balls out of the speech if you don’t mind,” I said ignoring her little ploy to get under my skin again.
“Hey.” Her grin spread smugly across her pretty face. “It may just inspire the crap out of them, you never know.”
This was a conversation that Andi would have loved, in fact, the more Maya talked the more I saw Andi in her, which just made it that much worse. Here Maya thought I was going to Chicago to slap hands with rich doctors and make speeches, when really, I was going because I made a promise, to a dying girl.
Just one more girl, I’d failed to save.
“Let’s leave all references to body parts out of my speech, hmm?”
“I’ll try.”
“I am the boss.”
“So you are.”
“I’ve created a monster. Had I known feeding you would gain this response I would have tied you up in the basement with a protein bar and some Gatorade.”
“It’s not your fault. It’s Netflix. Orange is the New Black combined with the nightmares…” She yawned and it was then that I noticed how tired she looked.
I shifted uncomfortably in my seat wanting to press things further, what kind of nightmares had she been having?
“I haven’t been sleeping much. Then again I blame you for keeping me from technology for so long.”
“Which brings us back full circle. I should have never given you such privileges.” My voice came out in a bark.
“It’s a right, not a privilege,” she snapped.
“So this…” What the hell was it? A eulogy? Not really, that was Sergio, but he’d asked me to say a few words. Shit. I struggled with how to ask, I didn’t know the first thing about being at a funeral, I put people in the casket, I didn’t visit them after they took their last breath. My eyes stung with exhaustion. “I need you to help me write it.”
“Wait…” She visibly paled. “What did you say?”
“Write.” I nodded encouragingly, my anger surging, breaking through all of my carefully constructed walls. Anger had no place in my business, in my life, and anger toward her, did nothing but put her in danger. “You know, words on a paper, you put them down, I say them.”
“Don’t be an ass.”
“Maya…” I tsked. “I am what I am.”
“Put that in your speech.”
“Maya.” I grit my teeth together to keep myself from snapping at her. “I need a speech, something…encouraging, inspirational, happy.”
Maya pulled out her laptop and opened it up. “Inspirational…I can do inspirational. When was the last time I was inspired…?” Her cheeks bloomed red.
“What was that?” I breathed, my eyes lowering to the expanse of cleavage, it was a welcome distraction from my morose and jumbled thoughts. “Didn’t catch what you just said.”
“I, uh, didn’t say anything.” She nervously tucked a piece of hair behind her ear, her cheeks pinkening even further.
“Your mouth didn’t…your face did.”
“Let’s not talk about my mouth…”
“Why?” I leaned in. “Does it inspire you too much?”
“Ass!” she hissed.
“I think you’re on to something…” I chuckled, bracing my hands on the armrests. Six inches, and our mouths would touch. I wasn’t just toying with breaking the contract, I was ripping it up, burning it. Just as our mouths were about to touch, I paused, lingering where our breaths mingled, hers warm on my lips, mine ragged and needy. I was right about one thing; she would be a welcome distraction, one that wouldn’t allow me to feel sad, or bothered by the fact that I was flying to a friend’s funeral.
And that history, if I wasn’t careful could repeat itself.
She moved, dislodging her water bottle. It landed with a soft thump on the floor.
I reared back and stared at it.
What the hell was I doing?
And as luck would have it, the water droplets had cascaded against my left hand, my tattoo—the mark of the sickle, the mark that would tell anyone who knew anything about the darker side of life.
What I did.
Who I worked for.
What I was capable of.
What I would do—to protect not just my own identity but those closest to me.
My phone rang.
I reached down to silence it—ready to silence it, when I noted the number. Cringing, I answered it with a smooth hello.
“You know I have eyes everywhere.”
“Good afternoon to you, too.”
Maya pretended not to eavesdrop.
The last thing she needed to know was that I was talking to her father—correction, receiving another threat.
This one not so baseless as the rest.
“Tell me something I don’t know,” I said, waiting for his response.
“She’s been touched.”
I rolled my eyes. “You sure about that?”
The line crackled.
“She flushes when you’re near.”
“Most women do.”
“Cocky son of a bitch.” He chuckled. “Remember the terms of our agreement, Nikolai, I scratch your back, you scratch mine. She means nothing to me. You are the one who has everything to lose. You’ve developed a god complex, but I know all your secrets. It would take nothing for me to destroy you. You signed in blood. And it will be your blood that is spilled if you go back on your promise.”
My nostrils flared, heat surged through my body as I watched Maya happily pull out a magazine and cross her legs. Damn it, he was right. What the hell was I doing?
My lack of self control would end up getting her killed.
I knew that just as much as he did.
I was stuck.
And he knew it. Part of me wondered if he was aware that I’d developed a conscience—then again, I’d stopped working directly with him long ago, but it didn’t mean I wasn’t still owned.
“We’ll be in touch.” The phone went dead.
Damn Russian mafia.
And damn me for being one of the best. I didn’t get the nickname The Doctor because I had a good bedside manner.
And I wondered, as I tried not to stare too hard at Maya while she read through her magazine, would she still be alive if I hadn’t have taken the job that changed everything?
Had I damn her, then?
Had I truly saved her?
I let out a low growl of frustration; clenching my phone in my hand, ready to break it in half. I wanted so desperately to protect her from Andi’s fate, but would it be better that she died?
My body tensed.
Would I be extending her mercy, by snuffing out her life?
Maya frowned down at the magazine, her eyebrows furrowed as the plane rose to altitude.
I didn’t shake, didn’t so much as tremble. I was a doctor, after all, and whenever I made a decision of life and death, I was calm. Humanity didn’t slip through. I didn’t have a come –to-Jesus moment, where I wondered if what I was doing would sentence me to the darkest depths of hell.
It was…clarity.
The only way I could explain it.
“Something else to drink?” I asked Maya while she popped her knuckles again. Shit, twice in a few minutes? Was there something about the plane? Or my conversation?
“Wine.” She said quickly. “If you have it.”
I nodded, already walking to the bar. I glanced to my left to make sure she wasn’t watching me, then reached into the cupboard and pulled out a syringe of sodium pentothal. It wouldn’t harm her. If anything, it would relax her more, make it so that I would be able to hold a conversation with her…without her remembering a damn thing, though the dosage needed to be precise. The last thing I needed was for her to end up unconscious.
“What time is it?” I asked while I poured the wine, keeping the small syringe in my right hand.
“Oh.” Maya yawned then glanced at her watch. “It’s nearing four in the afternoon, why?”
“Just thinking about our dinner plans,” I lied. Two and a half hours since she’d last eaten. I mentally went over her stats, weight one-forty, height five seven. She’d need a half dose at the most.
Clearing my throat, I turned, sliding the syringe into the top of my sleeve and bringing over the two glasses of wine; hers was more full.
“Wow, generous in all areas aren’t you, Nikolai?” Maya eyed the wine glass and took a long sip.
“Drink it all,” I instructed with a half smile. “Doctor’s orders.”
“All of it?” She laughed lifting the glass into the air. “This is at least two glasses.”
“At least half,” I said in a more gentle tone. “You seem stressed, and I know…I’m not the easiest to travel with.”
Maya blinked then took another sip of wine. “No, you think?”
“It’s a…” I coughed into my hand letting the syringe slip out to the tips of my fingers. “It’s not you. It’s me.”
“Okay,” she said slowly, setting her wine down on the arm rest.
“Nope.” I offered a encouraging smile. “A few more sips, trust me, you’ll feel so much better.”
Maya rolled her eyes but drank deeply.
The alcohol would work beautifully with the sodium pentothal. Truth serums, didn’t necessarily work by themselves, they were used in conjunction with other tools and drugs, allowing the human mind to be open to suggestion.
But no human mind or body was the same, meaning, the outcome was always different.
If Maya had any sort of…secret she was keeping close, something she wanted to tell me, but couldn’t or refused to, it would most likely come out at some point in the next half hour.
If she were harboring memories, dark ones, ones that scared her, and I offered her a caring ear, she’d jump at it.
And I’d know.
If she was getting triggered and how.
It sounded sick.
But it was of the utmost importance that she be kept in the dark, especially since her father clearly was still keeping eyes on her.
I told myself that as she drank more wine.




Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency
and contemporary romances. When she’s not writing you can find her drinking
coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.

She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband, adorable son, and two snoring boxers! She loves to hear from
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