First Love

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First Love
by Gillian Jones
 
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Series: Winning at Love; Book 2
Genre: RomCom / Contemporary Romance
 
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Kami Sutherland is gorgeous and – if the rumours are true – a virgin.
 
That – and the fact she’s my sister Eastlyn’s best friend – should be enough to keep a guy like me from crossing any lines.
 
However, our glances, subtle touches, and feelings are evolving beyond just friendship and being running buddies.
 
Despite my sister’s attempts to keep us apart, I only want Kami more. 
 
I know I shouldn’t crave her like I do, but she’s too damn hard to resist.
 
Kami has an infectious smile, one I look for whenever she’s near, one I want all to myself. 
 
And as the years pass, it’s all clicking into place: Kami wants me, too.
 
So, all bets are off.
 
There’s no way I can resist making her mine.
Read Book 1: Love Won for 99 cents
 
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About the Author
 
Wife, mother, shoe collector, pun lover, and proud Canadian. Teach by day, pantser of words by night.
 
Connoisseur of red wine, and a lover of a good IPA.
 
 A firm believer in that forever kind of love.
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Missing In Action

 

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Missing in Action
by K.L. Donn
 
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Genre: Contemporary Military Romance
Series: Task Force 779; Book 1
 
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Ryder Morrison is a man of loyalty. To his country, his family, his team.
 
After joining the Navy, he was secretly recruited to Task Force 779, a specialized unit that infiltrates dangerous situations when no one else can – or will. As the communications expert, it’s his job to clear the way for a smooth mission. He knows where the enemy is hidden at all times and when his team can enter a zone safely.
 
When things go wrong and he’s captured, declared dead before a search can truly begin, Ryder knows that when he makes his way home, his life will be different … his way home, his life will be different … better. He’ll live for himself from now on, instead of following where duty takes him. 
 
Enter his elusive neighbor …
A woman of mystery and fear.
 
Codie Ray is a woman filled with pain. Afraid of life and locked away.
 
She counts to soothe the anxiety. She watches her neighbor because he’s her only lifeline to the outside world. He’s a commitment she doesn’t have to worry will break her. Until the unthinkable happens and her solace is intruded upon. Ryder comes to the rescue and barges his way into her life, pushing past her barriers, causing Codie to rethink her reclusive lifestyle. Slowly being tormented with mind games from an unknown predator, she battles her better judgement and trusts Ryder to do what he does best … hunt down the perpetrator.
 
Their connection is instantaneous. Two broken people yearning to be loved but afraid to reach for it. Codie fears Ryder will leave when he discovers just how damaged she is. Ryder worries Codie will remain locked away in her mind, unable to break free. 
 
A surprise mission brings both of their fears to life, and when the walls crumble, Ryder is Missing in Action while Codie is just … missing. Will they find each other again or will they disappear, existing only in a memory?



Photographer: Paul Henry Serres
Model: Simon – Instagram
Designer: Sensual Graphic Designs

 
 
 
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An Extra Alpha

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Book Title: An Extra Alpha: An Mpreg Romance, Pine Wood Falls Book 2

Author: Sarah Havan

Publisher: Self-Published

Genre/s: e.g. Contemporary M/M Romance, Mpreg romance

Trope/s: e.g. threesome

Themes: e.g. self-acceptance, trust

Heat Rating: 4-5 flames

Length: 72 000 words/ 365 pages

The story is part of a series but can be read as a stand alone

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Tagline

They didn’t realize they could both get him pregnant.

Blurb

Thomas escaped his ex and has settled in at Pine Wood Falls. He found himself a nice job, has a cute little house, and his twins are now five months old. The last thing he wants or expects is to go into heat again so soon. He tries to fight the urge but can’t hold off any longer.

Campbell catches the scent of his fated omega. He finally found the one and can’t wait to start a family. So he goes to one of Pine Wood Falls get togethers to do what nature wants of him, what he wants–to mate with his fated one, but the situation gets turned on its head when there’s another alpha there that wants his omega.

All Griffin wants is a good time. He doesn’t believe he’s fated for anyone, that’s all in the past. He just wants his needs met, but another alpha stands in his way. Luckily, they all come to an agreement. The three of them together.

They don’t think they can both get the young omega pregnant. Thomas doesn’t think he’s fated for either of them, but when he ends up pregnant with quads, they all have some things to work out.

 

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

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Excerpt

Chapter One

Campbell

My time for a family had finally come. For days, the scent of my fated omega lingered in my nose. A smell so sweet and intoxicating. He was on the verge of going into heat, and now there he was, right across from me in the very place I first picked up his scent — The Pine Wood Falls Welcome Center.

“Can I help you with something, sir?” he asked. I took in a sharp breath as he looked up at me with his amazing green eyes. He swiped a strand of his light-blond hair out of his face and stood up, shuffling some papers on his desk. I had about a good foot on the omega in height. He was small and precious, and even though he didn’t know it yet, my future.

“I’m supposed to meet with Mr. Jones.”

“Okay, I’ll let him know you’re here.” His eyes then darted around the office. “Mr. Jones usually meets with everyone out in the dayroom.”

“All right. I’m Campbell. Campbell Vallejo,” I said, holding my hand out for a shake.

“Thomas,” he said, shaking my hand. He gasped when our palms met. Neither of us pulled our hands away.

“Nice to meet you, Thomas.” I gave him a smile, and his cheeks flushed bright pink.

He nodded and glanced down.

“Campbell, good to see you.” Mr. Jones walked into the small office and clapped me on the back. Thomas let go of my hand and dropped his arms to his sides.

“Hello, Mr. Jones.” Mr. Jones was a tall, attractive man with dark brown skin and a happy smile. His omega passed away years ago, so he now focused all of his attention on Pine Wood Falls. The very community his family started.

“I see you’ve met Thomas.”

“Sure have.”

“He’s our newest hire. Pine Wood Falls is growing, and we needed someone to help things run smoothly. He’s going to be a great administrative assistant.”

“Just start?” I asked.

“No, it’s been a couple months. I’m just not very good at my job, I guess.” Thomas’ face fell, and he fiddled with a file folder he picked up and held in front of his pants.

“I should reword that. You are a great administrative assistant.” Mr. Jones smiled and put his hands on his hips.

“Thanks,” Thomas whispered.

“Thomas,” Mr. Jones said.

He glanced up.

“You are. Now, Campbell, let’s go out to the dayroom and have our strategy meeting.” Mr. Jones led me out from the office, through the foyer, and to a table in the corner of the dayroom. He waved at a chair for me to sit in.

“I don’t think I’ve seen Thomas around before. Is he new to the community?” I glanced over my shoulder, hoping he’d be standing there. One omega knitted in the corner with a couple of baby carriers at their feet, and an alpha/omega couple sat on the back couch, but no Thomas.

“Newish. He showed up here about five months ago on the verge of having his babies, and we took him in. He’s been a little wary of others, so he doesn’t venture out much. Up until about a month ago, he worked from home.”

“And his alpha?” I asked because if he already had children perhaps somehow my senses were off. Maybe I was just smelling the part of him that was about to go into heat and not the part that would be mine.

“Gone, and we’re glad of that, bad news, but I shouldn’t talk too much about the poor boy. I’m sure he wouldn’t appreciate it.”

“Of course.”

Mr. Jones and I got down to work. He wanted to use my skills as a creative director at an advertising firm to help reach alphas and omegas who are new to Pine Wood Falls or hadn’t found their way there yet.

“I can make up some nice informational booklets for those who just arrive.” As with any new project, my mind whirled with tons of ideas.

“And for those who have just found out.”

“Of course, I can do that.”

“Some come to our meet and greets, but it would be nice to give them something they can take home and read, and some don’t want to talk to others yet.” Mr. Jones said.

“I could imagine if you just found out you had the alpha or omega wolf gene, it would be a lot to process.”

“Yes, it is a lot, but we’ve been lucky to have you here since you were born.”

“And I love it here and would never leave.” I did go away to college, but returned to live, working in the city not too far away. My dream was to find my fated omega and live the life I only hoped for. I lost family when I was younger and raised by a widowed omega.

“Now how much is your going rate?” Mr. Jones clasped his hands together on the table in front of him and gave me a smile.

“I’m not going to charge you. It’ll be my way of giving back.” That was how Pine Wood Falls kept going after so many years. We all did our part.

“That’s so kind. Now, what do you know about websites?”

“You want to take us public?” We were proud of who we were but knew the reality, how the general population would more than likely react negatively to a group of people with wolf genes and how a large portion of them, the ones with the omega gene, were intersex who can carry and give birth to children. Slowly, men (not all omegas identified as men, but many did) having children was becoming socially recognized, but most the omegas didn’t like the attention that it brought. We mainly wanted to keep our way of life quiet.

“No, but I wish there was some way for people who look online for information to have a way to reach us or to learn more, but without having a site saying what we are. And that sounds pretty impossible.”

“Would a site with an email and phone number do?” I asked.

“But how would they know they found the right thing?” Mr. Jones waved to a young couple that had walked in. One of them being a very pregnant omega.

“Keywords. People search by keywords, so if someone searched up male and pregnant, your site would come up, but it wouldn’t have to say any of that on the site itself.”

Mr. Jones smiled. “That sounds perfect.”

“I’ll get right on it.”

“Thank you so much, Campbell.”

“No problem. You and Pine Wood Falls have done so much for me. It’s about time I gave back.”

“You donate plenty.”

“It’s about more than money. Anybody who has it can donate it.”

“You’ve contributed so much to the community. You just don’t realize it.”

“Thanks, and I’ll get started on this all as soon as I get home.” As I left, I took in a deep breath, the scent of Thomas lingering in my nose, making me so hard.

 

 

 

About the Author

Sarah Havan grew up in the Midwest and still actually lives there. She has an appreciation for having all four seasons. She writes all kinds of romance, but most recently has focused on gay romance in her writing.

She is also the author of Falling Into Trust, One Night Alone, and the Pine Wood Falls series.

 

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Calendar Men Series – July

 

Being the Worthington Heir means one thing: relinquish your balls to the board. I’ve known this since I was a kid, but twenty-one seemed so far away, and I always thought there was a way out of my prison. Instead, the closer I got to my sentence, the more I realized the unlikelihood of breaking free. I’ve been granted one more year of freedom, I have to choose between honoring my family commitment and accepting the inheritance, or my football dreams and the girl I’ve loved since I was fifteen.

This is Book 7 in Calendar Men Series.

Each book is a complete stand alone connected only by the fact they each have a relevance to a particular month.

 

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About the Author

Sonya’s a nerd—a cool nerd—who loves science, books, make-up and unicorns. She even has unicorn slippers and unicorn plushes adorn her office. It’s not obsession (or so she says), it’s simply an ode to her imaginative side.
She believes in fairytales and in the beautiful things a mind can conjure. She’s a firm believer of empowering the crazy fictional ideas, putting them down on paper (figurative paper because she’s not a fan of writing in notebooks), and letting them flourish into a story.
Don’t believe me? Ask her in any of her social media. She’s all about those connections.

 

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 Men in the Series:

January – Jude Ouvrard

February – Scarlett J. Rose

March – Susan Horsnell

April – Aleisha Maree

May – Cheryl Wright

June – C. Renee

July – Sonya Jesus

August – Cari Robe

September – Heather Osbourne

October – RaeAnne Hadley

November – Margaret Tanner

December – DL Gallie

Join the group to find out about the authors, this series and the upcoming Calendar Gals Series

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Irresistible

Title: Irresistible
Author: Tara Vasser
Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance
Cover Designer: Dawn Til Dusk Designs
Models: Chase and Mandy Borst
Publisher: Winter Musings LLC
Publication Date: April 11, 2019
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR
Blurb:
Buried as punishment for a crime he didn’t commit, Endre has nothing but time to plot revenge on his betrayer. Salvation arrives when an archaeology student unwittingly exhumes his coffin and provides him with the first blood he’s tasted in nearly a century.
Upon awakening from an attack by a creature she never imagined actually existed, Nora discovers she is now his hostage. Forced to accompany Endre from Italy to Paris on a quest for vengeance, she is thrust into his dark and forbidden world where she finds herself inexplicably drawn to the Vampire. Lust runs rampant throughout the course of their journey and Nora begins to question if the irresistible connection between them is more than mere biology.
Tara Vasser is a wicked writer who lives in the frozen north in Minnesota with her wonderful husband and two rambunctious little dudes. She is an engineer during the day, a crazy mom in the afternoon and a writer at night. She enjoys spending her time playing in the dirt when her gardens aren’t covered in snow and listening to a wide variety of music that inspires her writing – sometimes doing both at the same time.   

Author Links:
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Buy Link:
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PROLOGUE
1923 – Italy
Endre sat beneath the shadow of a massive cork tree in his garden, reading the newspaper as he watched the first rays of sunshine peek over the hills to the east. It was a pity he could not give his full attention to the beautiful view, his mind burdened with the troubling headlines. Folding the paper with a deep sigh, he pushed the paper and his thoughts of Mussolini’s latest moves to overtake parliament to the side. Perhaps it was time to leave Italy and move on to greener pastures. There was an ominous scent in the wind, and it spoke of the death and destruction on the horizon.
Endre was no stranger to war and chaos, having been born a warrior. When conflicts arose in the world around him, his hands always itched to take up sword and shield. But of course, those days of ending wars with steel were over. Now, the weapons of choice were guns and bombs. There was no honor in that. No promises of glory or feasting in the halls of Valhalla when so little skill and preparation was involved.
Valhalla or no, the political climate of this region was no longer hospitable to his research. Secrecy was completely necessary, and the alliances Gregor had forged to provide Endre with supplies for his lab would not stand the threat this new breed of fascism posed. Glancing over at the horizon, he frowned. He had been out here long enough; it was time to retire for the day, and he would allow his dreams to conjure his next moves and put new plans into place when twilight fell. Endre picked up his paper and made his way toward the door when the noise of automobile tires crunching over the gravel drive and shouting stilled his movement.
“Back here! In the garden!” a voice hollered from the garden entrance.
A man dressed impeccably in a suit with a homburg gracing his head stood at the entrance of the sanctuary. Endre did not recall his name, he only knew the man as one of Lorenzo’s bodyguards. The man gestured wildly in Endre’s direction.
Several more of Lorenzo’s bodyguards filed in behind him, posturing menacingly.
Confused, Endre watched the men as they lined the perimeter of his garden, violating his last few moments before the sun crested over the hill. “What is this? Where is Lorenzo?” he scoffed, standing his ground when they surrounded him where he stood, preparing to fight if the need arose.
“I am here,” Lorenzo’s French-accented voice called leisurely from the garden entrance as he strolled forward and casually buttoned his suit jacket.
Sighing with relief, Endre relaxed at the sight of his friend.
Lorenzo sauntered into the garden lazily, stopping to inspect a blossom before meandering his way through his men to stand in front of Endre.
“And to what do I owe this honor?” Endre questioned suspiciously, watching Lorenzo carefully. It was much too close to dawn for them to be conducting business.
“Endre, you have been charged with murder,” Lorenzo recited in a bored voice, placing his hands in his pockets and rocking back on his heels.
Endre’s head jerked back as if he had been struck. Murder? He was being charged with murder? “And who is it exactly that I am supposed to have killed?” Endre demanded, outrage making his voice boom through the still morning air.
“Count La Rossa.” Lorenzo sighed sadly. “Why did you do it, Endre?”
“You cannot be serious.” Endre balked, sure this was some prank. “Gregor is dead?”
The men surrounding him took a step closer, as if of one mind.
“I did not kill Gregor,” Endre protested, though he found himself falling back on his training from another life and crouched into a fighting stance.
Several more men joined the mob, men from Gregor’s guard, flanking Endre now with more than a dozen men. At most, he could take out half of them before they would bring him down, leaving another half dozen to beat him mercilessly and likely kill him in the process—merely for resisting. Any defiance would be futile, but he would not go down without a fight, especially for a false charge.
Lorenzo shook his head sadly at Endre’s change in demeanor, as if his instincts of self-preservation condemned him of the crimes for which he was accused. Lorenzo raised his voice loud so all the men could hear him. “Endre, you are hereby charged with the murder of Count Gregor La Rossa. Your brothers here will serve as judge, jury, and executioners of your sentence. The traditional punishment for such a crime, as you are well aware, is burial. Your death by starvation will serve as justice by the old laws laid forth by The Council. Guards, seize him and prepare him for his punishment.” Then, turning back to Endre, he taunted, “I think we will bury you here in your beloved garden.”
Several of the guards pulled out pistols and made moves toward Endre.
Cowards, of course, they would not face him without firearms.
Endre lashed out, but he had only his fists. He managed to knock two of the guards to the ground before they had him pinned to the moldering leaves in the dirt.
Fists were no match for bullets.
Watching with one eye—the other caked in blood and dirt—three men began digging his grave beneath the large tree and another two hauled a plain coffin through the garden gates.
At the sight of the coffin, Endre redoubled his struggled to break free. “Lorenzo, this is nonsense. Gregor was my oldest friend and confidant. He was like a brother to me, just as you are. I would never harm him. What is the evidence against me? I demand a trial with The Council. It is my right,” he spoke around the dirt in his mouth.
Scowling down at him disapprovingly, Lorenzo approached slowly. He stooped and picked up Endre’s fallen fedora, brushing dirt from the fabric.
An entreating glance at Lorenzo earned Endre naught but a kick to the face. This man was no friend. Endre wondered if he had ever been. Blood from a gash above his eye poured down his face, but healed almost as quickly as it occurred, leaving dried blood caked to his eyelashes. Through crusted lashes, he watched as Lorenzo stood above him and removed his own hat, placing Endre’s atop his head instead.
Smiling, Lorenzo gave a nod of approval at Endre’s taste in men’s fashion and tossed his hat to one of the men standing guard, inciting a round of chuckles from his henchmen.
Fury boiled in Endre’s veins as his ‘friend’ betrayed him and made light of the unlawful punishment he dealt. How could Lorenzo believe Endre capable of such a crime? It was unlike Lorenzo to dole out consequence without following proper protocol.
Unless Lorenzo had something to hide. Something he worried The Council would unearth if the matter were brought to trial.
Realization sunk like a stone in Endre’s gut as he put the pieces together.
When the guards finished digging the grave, the men casually tossed the coffin into the pit at Lorenzo’s gesture. The dull thud sent a chill through Endre. He continued to struggle against his captors, but with three of them now detaining him, he received nothing but a pistol whip to the head and kicks to his ribs.
With a nod from Lorenzo, the guards hauled Endre to his feet and dragged him toward the yawning opening of the coffin awaiting him. At the foot of the open box, two of the guards held his arms while one bound his hands in front of him with thick rope. Endre let out a shout when one man grabbed his hair and held his head back so he gazed directly into the lightening sky. From the corner of his eye, Endre watched Lorenzo pull a wicked-looking dagger from a sheath at his hip. The blade glinted with the light of the rising sun, a shining omen of Endre’s imminent demise.
“Lorenzo, please,” Endre spoke to the man before him, the man he had considered a friend until this day, “I—”
Lorenzo only gave Endre a devious grin and prevented any more words from escaping his lips with a quick slash of his blade across Endre’s neck. Blood cascaded from his neck and he choked as it drained into his throat. Within seconds, the wound had already begun to heal itself, the blood flow stanched. Lorenzo’s blade dashed out again, performing the same motion across the nearly-healed laceration. Again, Endre choked and sputtered on his own warm blood and any words he wished to speak.
Light-headed from the blood loss, Endre fell to his knees. The guards holding him stepped back and left him with Lorenzo glowering down at him. Endre’s head lolled to the side and he was barely clinging to consciousness. All it took was a well-placed kick from Lorenzo and he fell backward into his new prison.
Several of the guards made a move to place the lid on the coffin, but Lorenzo stayed their movement with a wave of his hand. “Leave us. I want to speak to this murderous traitor alone before we leave him to the worms,” Lorenzo ordered, his eyes never leaving Endre’s fading ones.
Several murmurs went through the small crowd. That was not the way. Tradition and adherence to the old laws stated the sentence must be carried out before an amassing of the people, so all could witness what fate befell a murderer of his own kind.
“Leave us!” Lorenzo roared, turning to stare down each man in turn.
The guards filed from the garden, leaving Endre with Lorenzo and his bloody blade.
Lorenzo couched so his face was close to Endre’s.
Endre only wished enough blood had still flowed in his veins so he could reach out and relieve Lorenzo of the triumphant smile gracing his lips.
“Endre,” Lorenzo whispered with a sigh, “I warned you not to approach Gregor to back your research, and yet you did. Not only that, expressing wishes to distribute your cure at no cost?” Lorenzo tsked and shook his head. “He would have done it, too. Threatened to expose me for lack of loyalty to our people. Unfortunately, he miscalculated. The man was too much of a philanthropist for his own good. He never did understand the power his money held. Such a waste. And here we are. Someone has to take the fall for Gregor’s death and justice must be served. It might as well be you. His blood is on your hands as much as mine, all because you could not follow simple directions. We could have profited from this together, you and I. I would kill you now if it would not upset the delicate sensibilities of our people. But alas, I cannot. Perhaps in a century or two, I will come check on you and finish the task when everyone has forgotten your existence.”
Endre glared up at Lorenzo, the lack of blood preventing his wounds from healing and allowing him to foil his new enemy’s plans.
“But do not worry,” Lorenzo continued, brushing dirt from his trousers. “I will not let your research go to waste. I still have plans for the work you have done, but perhaps an adjustment here and there to suit my own needs.”
Endre only had the faintest inkling of what kind of dastardly plans Lorenzo was concocting, but the malicious smile gracing his lips was indication enough that it would not be good.
Rising to his feet, Lorenzo glanced down impassively at Endre once more. “You should have listened to me, old friend. Now, you will have plenty of time to think on your cure and the error of your ways while you rot in your grave,” Lorenzo spat out with a maniacal laugh. Bending over, he slashed out with his blade one last time.
Endre felt the slightest trickle of blood ooze from the cut, so little of the liquid remained in his body.
At a shouted order from Lorenzo, the guards all marched back into the garden.
Endre attempted to alert them to Lorenzo’s treachery, but the only sound from his mangled throat was a pained moan. The lid of the coffin was lowered, blocking out the dazzling sunshine of the new morning, and hammers pounded out the finality of his death sentence. The last glimpse Endre had of Lorenzo was a mocking tip of the hat, his hat.
This box would not hold Endre forever, and when he rose, he intended to rain down retribution, and when he came for Lorenzo, it would be all-out war. The last thing he could hear between his own thoughts of revenge and each shovelful of dirt falling on the wooden box was Lorenzo whistling happily with the belief he had gotten away with his crimes.

Marked

BLOG TOUR
Book Title: Marked
Author: J. Jay Barrett
Publisher: Self-Published/ VPJ Publishing
Cover Artist: J. Jay Barrett
Genre/s: LGBT Urban Adventure, Fantasy/Romance
Heat Rating: 3 flames
Length: approx 70 500 words/206 pages
Release Date: February 20, 2018
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Blurb

Never interfere. Those were his orders, and for centuries he stood by them, faithfully serving those that had given him his charge. Until one fateful night, while hunting, the young vampire stumbles upon a handsome, young stranger. Within minutes, Holden finds his peaceful existence thrown into a tailspin. Soon, it’s a race against time to save the human that he just can’t seem to get out of his head.

 
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Excerpt

Chapter One

When Holden opened his eyes, the only light in the room was the orange glow of the sodium street lamps sifting between the wooden blinds from the grid of city streets, forty-four stories below, and the pale blue light of his alarm clock. The colors combined to give his stark white walls a purplish tint. The clock read 10:32.

Shit. He had overslept.

The sun had set hours before, which meant he’d wasted good, prime hunting time. If he didn’t hurry, all he’d be left with would be drunks, junkies or the homeless. None of which appealed to him. Most of them would probably taste sour and would offer very little in terms of nutritional value, their blood tainted with so many chemicals.

Before he slid out from beneath his satin sheets, he quickly scanned his local armada of Ismeros for any sign of trouble throughout the city. He had about fifty or so Ismeros of his own posted around Chicago. Various members of the High Council probably had another sixty or seventy. They lived their normal, day-to-day lives, yet kept a close watch for him during the day while he slept. He offered them protection from the terrors that the world provided, while they provided him with information and food.

Truth be told, had anything serious happened that day, the psychic connection he held with his Ismeros would have woken him from even the deepest sleep. It was part of a vampire’s long-evolved self-preservation mechanism, an army to protect him while he was most vulnerable, while he slept. While the need for an army of Ismeros had long since faded, the tradition of keeping them had not. The simple fact that he’d overslept was a sign that all was peaceful in the city. At any rate, it was still something he did every evening when he awoke, just to be sure.

It had been decades since anything tempestuous had happened in his domain. The last Strigoi to invade Chicago had been John Wayne Gacy. His reign of terror had lasted far too long. It had taken the Council years to catch up with and dispose of the rogue vampire. They would have caught up with him much sooner had human law enforcement not gotten in their way. The thought of the long-executed Strigoi still made Holden rage inside.

That bastard had killed one of Holden’s favorite Ismeros, Lukas, back in the 1970s. That boy had fucked like a champ and tasted like heaven, dipped in amazing and served with a side of remarkable. It still made Holden sad to think about. After all, it was because of Holden that boy had learned to trust vampires, which ultimately lead him to his untimely death. Holden still felt partially to blame and like a failure for not being able to save him.

“Should I just order takeout? Or should I go pick something up?” Holden said out loud to his empty room as he climbed from the warmth of his bed, scanning a mental list of Ismeros again, this time searching for any willing blood donors, who lived happened to live nearby, that might pique his interest. It was Monday. Which meant the bars and clubs would be relatively quiet in the area, yet none of his Ismeros were catching his attention.

He always did what he could to avoid the any of the Council’s Ismeros, never fully trusting them. Their loyalty lay with the Council, not with him. So, he always thought of them as spies despite working for the same team. “I’ll pick something up,” he decided out loud to an empty room.

He moved to the window, pulling up the generic blinds, which released a cloud of dust and looked out the city grid below. The orange shimmer flooded the room, illuminating his naked body in the window. He really loved this new apartment; it was too bad he wouldn’t be able to stay long. The Council forced him to move frequently, more so because they thought it was best, not because he wanted to. It was an attempt to not to draw any unwanted attention from a nosey human. Human neighbors tended to notice when the twenty-something next door always remained a twenty-something.

Holden had learned that lesson quickly in the years following the Great Chicago Fire. A neighbor had accused him of being a witch, which made for an exciting few weeks. In a stroke of luck, she’d ended up dying of cholera a short while later, and the attention quickly dwindled.

That age had been a bit more superstitious than today’s society, but the Council insisted he not take any chances, so every few years he moved to a different part of the city. He had found this apartment a few months prior. Its location on a penthouse floor of a high rise on Lake Shore Drive had definite perks. Lincoln Park, the lakefront playground that stretched from downtown to the far north side, was directly across the boulevard-turned-freeway, and it offered plenty of dark areas for hunting, chock full of potential meals. Joggers, bikers, various riff-raff, late-night walkers… to a Vampire, it was like an international buffet. Each and every one of them ripe for the picking, with the park affording all the necessary discretion to do so. It was quite dark; all the trees muted the copper glow from the city streets on one side and on the other, a hundred mile stretch of the black, open waters of Lake Michigan. He almost always hunted his breakfast here, granted, it was usually a few hours earlier.

Another option was to try his luck in the local bars and nightclubs that the neighboring Boystown and Wrigleyville had to offer. Being a Monday the only people at the bars and clubs around 4 am, his dinner hour, would be the hardcore drunks. And that much alcohol neither helped with how they tasted nor with how well they’d perform in the bedroom, both of which were equally important to a vampire. Tonight, he decided, he would exercise his third option, he would find an Ismeros to bring over for dinner, but breakfast he was going to be an excellent old-fashioned hunt.

His naked form crossed the room into the ensuite bathroom, and he turned on the shower. Steam quickly fogged up the enclosure, which was entirely made out of frameless-glass. He climbed into the black marble interior and let the hot water spray over his skin and muscles washing away any trace of his early morning romp with last night’s dinner.

The hot water soothed as it poured over his body. He massaged both of his shoulders with his hands. All of his muscles ached and burned. They cried out to be fed, burning for fuel. Every muscle fiber in his body was silently screaming out for food, having long burned off the meal from his tryst the night prior. Reminding him that it had been almost eighteen hours since he’d eaten. Jacob? Jake? John? Joe? He couldn’t remember. Johann? He had tasted Swedish, or maybe Finnish; it was hard to tell here in the New World. Everyone was a little bit of everything these days. Whatever he was, it was nothing spectacular, neither in taste nor his ability to perform in the bedroom. The boy had wound up being rather prudish and shy in bed, which was what Holden had expected from a boy who agreed to come home with him less than thirty minutes after they’d met.

Sundays had historically been very easy. The boys of East Lakeview were always eager for one last weekend rendezvous before they had to go back to the monotony of the workweek. Most them begging for his phone number before he sent them on their way, always remembering the incredible fuck, never remembering him feeding on them. He was still happy to oblige. A vampire was always on the lookout for new Ismeros, sex, and food available at his every beck and call, but it was rare that they ever actually called. Sure, he’d sometimes get a text message, but in truth, the sleek iPhone that he’d bought at the insistence of his live-in Ismeros, Marie, rarely left where it was neatly docked on his desk in the living room. He had no real use for the thing, anyone he truly cared for, he was directly linked to, with a natural, psychic link. By the time he would see the text message, the boys usually had moved on to the next best thing, and that suited this vampire just fine.

He emerged from the shower, wrapping his toned vampire body in only a plain white towel. The terrycloth fabric hung low from his waist, showing off his well-defined abdominal muscles and giving off just the slightest hint of well-groomed hair that it hid beneath its rough surface, as he walked into the living room. Marie was there, folding the solid black, Egyptian cotton sheets from his feeding room. He kept a second room strictly for feeding and fucking, having long ago been taught that you don’t bring your food into the bed that you sleep in. Things, of course, could always end up getting a little bit messy, with the inevitable exchange of body fluids.

“You slept late tonight,” she said, giving him a sharp look of concern, “Are you feeling okay?”

“I wish you’d woken me,’ he smiled. “But, yeah, I feel fine,” he said with a shrug of confidence. He was a vampire, and vampires never got sick. “Have you ever known me, or any vampire for that matter, to feel sick? I’m not sure, maybe my dinner date wore me out last night,” He smiled, remembering how attractive the boy had been. His name had definitely been Johann. “Speaking of, did you see him out?” Holden’s voice had long ago become very Americanized, losing almost all traces of its European roots.

“He left shortly after he awoke this morning,” she said, “looking just as confused as the rest of them. I’m not sure how you do it…” She chuckled.

“Talent,” he said coyly, a smirk spreading across his porcelain skin. “I learned from the best.” He, of course, was referring to his Sire, Damek. The elder vampire was nearly a thousand years old and had personally groomed Holden to be in the position that he was, Watcher for the High Council of Vampires.

“I find it hard to believe that you aren’t the best,” she flirted, “I seem to remember you being the best.” Her New Orleans accent was still discernable after all these years and always served her well in the art of flattery.

They, of course, had a very long history, at least in human terms, dating back to the late 1960s. He’d found her, homeless on the streets, ravaged by a rogue vampire, who had briefly passed through town. Having run away from an abusive home in Louisiana, she had nowhere to go, so he’d taken her in, raised her first as a foster child, then as a lover, but now she’d out-aged him, and things had come full circle. She loved him, Holden could tell, but not as a lover as she had in her youth, but more maternally. He felt a pang of remorse deep inside his heart. Holden had stolen her youth, taken her life and any hope she had ever had for a family. Next, he would steal her golden years. He shook his head to clear the thought away.

“I think I’m going to the get dressed and head to the park for some breakfast,” he said. “No strange late-night visitors tonight, I promise.”

“Good, then maybe tomorrow I will be able to sleep in,” she said with a nod and a joking smile, returning to the pile of linens at her feet. “Take your phone, please.”

He, of course, heard her request, it was the same request she gave him every night but like most things’ humans said to him, he didn’t give it a whole lot of thought. He dropped his towel into the empty laundry basket next to her feet, turned and his naked form walked back towards his room to get dressed.

About the Author

Jay Barrett lives in Chicago with his husband. A writer in the evening, he’s a flight attendant by day and an avid runner. Marked is his first novel.

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Three of Hearts

 
 
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Three of Hearts
by Angela Nicole
 
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Series: Mastered Hearts; Book 5
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Menage
 
 
Marcus and Matthew
 
As brothers, we are always taught to share. We share a successful business, a beautiful beachfront home, and hot women. We’d gladly give it all up for a chance to be with the only woman we’ve ever loved, our best friend, Kate.
 
The problem is, Kate doesn’t know how we feel. When she does find out, we’re surprised to learn she’s loved us since we were young.
 
As we’re about to embark on a summer of getting to know one another intimately, the threat of losing our friendship hangs over us.
 
Kate
 
I’ve been in love with Marcus and Matthew Bailey since I was a young girl. As my two best friends, they’ve been there through the tragic death of my parents, and my failed marriage to a man I didn’t love.
 
When I suddenly find myself alone for the summer, my thoughts turn to getting Marcus and Matthew into my bed.
 
But can one hot summer lead to a lifetime of being shared by two men?
 
 
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Cover Models: Gideon Connelly, Alli Theresa and Blake Sevani
Cover Designer: T.E. Black Designs
 
 
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