His name is Beat, and I should hate him.
Bound, blindfolded and bruised, I'm tied in his basement, waiting for the men who stripped me from clothes and humanity to collect his debt to them. Me.
His name is Nate and I should hate him, but I don't.
I'm not supposed to know his real name, even worse, I'm not supposed to care. He is nothing to me but means to an end. The plan is simple: break free, collect the pieces of my broken soul, kill the bastards and run away.
His name is Nathaniel Thomas Vela, and I've never seen his face, though I hear that it's beautiful.
Behind the rugged and handsome exterior, there's a quiet murderer, a killer who thinks guns are for pussies and ends people with his bare hands.
His name doesn't matter, neither does his face, but what does matter is my heart. And right now, sadly, it's his.
Blood to Dust is a standalone, full-length novel. It contains graphic violence and adult situations some may find offensive.
“Food.” He kicks the sole of my boot. So it is him. Somehow, it makes me feel a little less scared. He didn’t want me here, and didn’t slap me across the face. Unfortunately, in my world, this qualifies him as some sort of a black knight.
I hear the clank of a plastic plate being thrown in my direction on the floor, but don’t make a move for it.
“You deaf?” he asks.
“You stupid?” I smart off. “I’m blindfolded and tied. How the hell am I supposed to get to this food? The power of telepathy?”
He offers me another grunt, and I immediately regret snapping at him. I feel his fingers working the black cloth that’s tying my hands together, that peachy breath on my face again.
Once I’m free, he bends down, his warmth engulfing me, and places the plate in my hands.
“What’s for dinner?” I lick my injured lips.
“Whiskey-glazed steak with a side of wine-tossed asparagus.” He lets out a sniffle before adding flatly, “Wait, my bad. It’s just a peanut butter sandwich.”
“That’s better. I’m vegetarian.”
“I’ll let our chef know.” He offers me his own brand of sarcasm, his voice already descending. I realize that he’s about to climb back up. I can’t let that happen. Who knows when he’ll check on me again? The prospect of holding my pee a minute longer is nothing short of tormenting.
“Wait!” I launch forward, crawling on the floor toward his voice. I don’t hear anything, so I continue.
“I really need to take a shower, wash off all this blood. And I really, really need to pee.” I shuffle my way back to the corner, taking a small bite off my sandwich, my teeth brushing against my fingers. “Please?”
I feel his palm pressing flat against the wall I’m leaning on. I swear it moves a little from the impact.
“Finish your sandwich. Make it quick.”
I wolf down my dinner before he grabs my hand and leads me up the stairs. He stalks closely behind, and even though it’s taking me forever to climb up the narrow staircase, he keeps his grunt-count to a respectable minimum.
Leading me to the bathroom by the arm, he throws the door open and we both walk into the tiny room. Still blindfolded, I feel the cold sink stabbing at my lower back, but the warmth of his proximity keeps me from shivering.
“I need my privacy.” I lick my lips, feeling him everywhere. Not only is Beat physically big, he is also somewhat of a human furnace. I swear he radiates enough heat to photosynthesize a whole forest. I guess it’s good, because I always know when he’s around. But also bad, because why would it matter? It’s not like I can fight him in any way.
“Dream on, Country Club.” Another grunt.
“Please.” My voice breaks. Usually, I’m counting on my caramel blonde hair and big Disney-animal eyes—which he unfortunately can’t see right now—to get me out of trouble. I have a feeling this guy is harder to crack. “Just lock me in and stand guard outside. What can I do? Arm myself with a bar of soap? Try and break free through the sink’s hole?”
Is he going to buy it?
Is he sensitive?
Is he hard-nosed?
Maybe he’s both. He’s got some serious codes going on—no beating women, no manhandling your victim—yet he essentially agreed to lock me in here. Then there’s his tone and body language. Peaceful. Like he hasn’t got a care in the world, which couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve known him for a few short hours and I’m already privy to the fact that he was an inmate in San Dimas, has killed, owes Godfrey a favor and has the Aryan Brotherhood on his tail.
“Be warned,”—his peachy breath tickles my nose—“when people are bad to me, I’m worse. Don’t tempt my demons.”
L.J. Shen is a best-selling author of Contemporary Romance novels. She lives in Northern California with her husband, young son and chubby cat.
She enjoys the simple things in life, like chocolate, wine, reading, HBO, spending time with her girlfriends and internet-stalking Chris Hemsworth. She reads between three to five books a week and firmly believes Crocs shoes and mullets should be outlawed.
Chaos (Deathstalkers MC Novel)
Author: Alexis Noelle
Genre: MC Romance
Release Date: July 18, 2016 Cover Design: Cover Me Darling
That's my life. No other way to describe it.
As the Sargent-at-Arms for the Deathstalkers MC, my days are filled with
Constant craziness and crap.
But I like it.
It's who I am. And what I'm all about.
Finally, after years of Hell, everything feels like it's right where it's supposed to be.
Except with her
She's far from where she's supposed to be.
Tracie is so damned determined to be with someone who isn't "one of us."
That's what she is.
Downright insane at times.
Those idiots can't handle her.
Will never be able to handle her.
And I'm about to show her why.
And she'll finally understand.
Because this life ain't for everyone,
Especially when danger lurks in the shadows of all the
âAlexis Noelle is one of my favorite writers and everything she writes I just love.â - Swoon Worthy Books
âI loved it and I canât wait to see who gets a story next because please Alexis, donât let this be the series end. A well-deserved 5 stars for Chaos from me.â - MJâs Book Blog and Reviews
âJust what I needed, a really good M/C book. I absolutely loved this book.â - Reader Review
Alexis Noelle lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with her husband, and three kids. On top a writing career, she is a full-time student and a full-time mom. She loves spending time with her kids, although she has to hide the computer from them when she is writing! She love being active and being outdoors, especially if it involves any kind of shopping. She has always been passionate about writing. She loves to read romance books and feels like being able to lose yourself in a book is one of the more exciting aspects. The books she loves to read and write will be ones that make you feel for the characters. Ashley believes that you should have an opinion on every character in a book whether you love them, hate them, or think they are up to something.She also believes that the most important critic is your reader, so she loves to hear from the readers. She want her fans to be open & talk to her about what they want for the characters in the story, and what they would like to see happen.
The Billionaire's Beautiful Mistake by Elizabeth Lennox
Series: Bold Alaskan Men #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: July 15, 2016
Violet knew exactly what she wanted in life and went after it. She had built up her craft store from a hole in the wall to a thriving Internet success, she had friends and a warm home in a beautiful state. And when she was attending a bachelorette party, she thought she’d found the most exciting man with whom she could share her life.
Creek Jones had moved away from the mainland and bought himself a mountain. He could run his business empire from afar, away from the negative aspects of the world. With pristine air and beautiful landscapes, he thought he’d had it all.
Until an adorable brunette walked behind his bar in tight jeans and a fluffy sweater. He was knocked out. Violet Jenkins thought he was a bartender, had no idea that he was wealthy. All she wanted was him.
And he wanted her.
Until Violet’s stepfather explained that Violet’s “services” came with a price.
In the end, his morals wouldn’t allow him to pay for sex. And when Violet discovered that he had been, she was livid. Hurt. Disgusted.
All the precious, warm feelings were broken with his words.
Could Creek figure out how to get her back from such a heinous error?
Violet knew exactly what she wanted in life and went after it. She had built up her craft store from a hole in the wall to a thriving Internet success, she had friends and a warm home in a beautiful state. And when she was attending a bachelorette party, she thought she’d found the most exciting man with whom she could share her life.Creek Jones had moved away from the mainland and bought himself a mountain. He could run his business empire from afar, away from the negative aspects of the world. With pristine air and beautiful landscapes, he thought he’d had it all.Until an adorable brunette walked behind his bar in tight jeans and a fluffy sweater. He was knocked out. Violet Jenkins thought he was a bartender, had no idea that he was wealthy. All she wanted was him. And he wanted her.
USA Today™ best-selling author Elizabeth Lennox writes contemporary romance novels featuring sheiks, business tycoons, royalty, and other sexy rich men. Her male lead characters are smart, driven and determined, but can still be sensitive and vulnerable. Elizabeth’s female lead characters come from a variety of backgrounds. They are strong, intelligent and independent, while still feminine and caring. Although she wanted to be a romance novelist since the eighth grade, that dream only became a paid reality for her in 2009 and a full time job in 2012. Along the way, she received a BA in History and held different jobs in the real estate, government consulting, and financial industries. All during that time, though, she was always writing, using her personal experiences, dreams, and travels throughout the United States, Europe and the Caribbean as backdrops for her stories. To date, she has written over eighty books and sold over 1.7 million copies. Her free novellas have been downloaded over 2.9 million times since 2013. Elizabeth lives in Virginia with her husband and two children. Their home is just outside of Washington, D.C., and many of her novels are set in this area.
I Speak...Love (A Different Road, #3)
Author: Annalisa Nicole
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: August 15, 2016 One family of five... One life-altering tragedy... Three survivors. Each of the Mason siblings takes the outcome of the devastation three completely different ways.
When you live with a lifetime of lies, secrets, and regret over time it eats away at everything inside until all you’re left with is a cold, empty heart that’s fractured into a million pieces.
Stephen Mason has lived with not only one, but two life-shattering secrets since the day a car accident claimed the lives of his parents, left his brother impaired, and led his sister down a destructive path.
His number one rule since the accident: never let anyone get close…
He only destroys the lives of anyone who gets close to him. He’s distanced himself from his siblings and the possibility of love. He’s accepted the cruel punishment of being alone with his secrets until the day he dies.
But fate may have other plans…
Maddy Malone has lived her entire life knowing the fact that she was unwanted. Given up at birth, she bounced around the foster care system until she was eighteen. She’s learned to guard her feelings and protect her heart.
Good things are only meant for special people. When they happen to unspecial people, there are always consequences.
Two wrongs don’t make a right, but can two broken people make one whole?
When you’ve given up hope and have retreated inside yourself…
Can one truly speak…Love?
International Bestselling Author Annalisa Nicole is an "Indie" Contemporary Romance author. She's been married to her husband since 1996 where she enjoys being a stay-at-home mom to their two teenage boys. She was born and raised in Michigan, but currently lives in California.
She published her debut novel Take A Chance in October of 2013.
Series: Benedetti Brothers #1
Author: Natasha Knight
Genre: Dark Mafia Romance
Release Date: July 18, 2016
It all started with a contract signed by him, then by me, while our families watched. While my father sat silent, a man defeated, giving his daughter to the Benedetti monsters.
I obeyed. I played my part. I signed my name and gave away my life. I became their living, breathing trophy, a constant symbol of their power over us.
That was five years ago.
Then came the time for him to claim me. For Salvatore Benedetti to own me.
I had vowed vengeance. I had learned hate. And yet, nothing could have prepared me for the man who now ruled my life.
I expected a monster, one I would destroy. But nothing is ever black or white. No one is either good or evil. For all his darkness, I saw his light. For all his evil, I saw his good. As much as he made me hate him, a passion hotter than the fires of hell burned inside me.
I was his, and he was mine.
My very own monster.
I owned the DeMarco Mafia Princess. She belonged to me now. We had won, and they had lost. And what better way to teach a lesson than to take from them that which is most precious? Most beloved?
I was the boy who would be king. Next in line to rule the Benedetti Family. Lucia DeMarco was the spoils of war. Mine to do with as I pleased.
It was my duty to break her. To make her life a living hell. My soul was dark, I was hell bound. And there was no way out, not for either of us. Because the Benedetti family never lost, and in our wake, we left destruction. It’s how it had always been. How I believed it would always be.
Author’s Note: Salvatore and Lucia’s story is a steamy standalone romance with a happily-ever-after. No cliffhanger and no cheating. It is intended for mature readers.
USA Today Bestselling author Natasha Knight writes dark romance as well as spanking romance in a variety of genres including contemporary, paranormal, post-apocalyptic, science-fiction and fantasy. She is a #1 Amazon Bestseller in multiple categories forever searching in every story for that single most important element of love. All of her stories contain at least one kinky Alpha male, lots of dirty talk and a well deserved happily ever after.
Title: When Summer Came Calling Anthology
Author(s): Michelle Irwin
When Summer Came Calling: An Anthology
A collection of lethal, lighthearted, and lustful stories perfect for lazy summer days.
Eight amazing authors have come together to create this summer anthology.
Book #1: The Secret To Balance By Michelle Irwin
Book #2: Life After Marriage By Sam Destiny
Book #3: The Lies We Tell By Shelby Reeves
Book #4: Life And Death By C.J. Hart
Book #5: Camp Nightmare By Franny Marie
Book #6: Forgotten Pieces of Memory By Jamie Summer
Book #7: A Love Forever Unheard By Lady J.
Book #8: One Last Summer By Lottie Cannon
Author: A.S. Roberts
Genre: Dark Romance
Dirty talking, tattooed Nathan Blackmore has it all, at least that's what he wants everyone to believe. Six months ago the only woman he has ever loved walked out of his life. This super bike rider vowed never to look back and never to give his love again. Nathan's self destruct button was pressed.
But that was then and this is now.
When Nathan and Bella Carpenter come face to face all the old feelings resurface. Bella, an investigative journalist, has a secret. A secret that has come back to haunt her, she needs to disappear, and disappear quickly. With her life possibly in danger the only person she can trust, no longer trusts her.
He wants the truth.
She is determined to keep her secret.
But what they both feel makes their passion inevitable.
I am a chocolate addict, children loving, mad woman. A self confessed book whore who reads more than she exercises.
Luckily I am married to the love of my life, together we have four boys and lots of dogs. I live in south east England, although I love to travel.
When I'm not reading... I can be found writing and drinking copious amounts of tea!
Series: An Oath Keepers MC Novel
Author: Sapphire Knight
Genre: MC Romance
Published: April 4, 2016
I lost my mind that day.
I arrived home, to my wife’s sweet color, stripped. Her body motionless, slain in a puddle of blood, her delicate skin, riddled with multiple stab wounds. The brutality of the rape was horrendous. My precious little girl lain in the middle of the floor, pillow securely duct taped on her face. Her tiny body, left unmoving. I’ve never screamed so savagely, wishing I was dead before in my life.
I’ve long given up on any light in my life, jaded. I wasn’t expecting to be blinded with friction, by a fucking ray of sunshine.
I had no idea what to do with my life or my baby’s. I trusted the wrong man, who turned out to be a ghost, disappearing, leaving me scattered. I head to my brothers club, in hopes of leaning on the only shoulder I’ve ever known.
What I find instead, is a hunter. A fiercely loyal, broken man, just waiting for his next kill.
Come fall in love with the next installment of the Oath Keepers MC from Internationally Bestselling Author Sapphire Knight.
Copyright Sapphire Knight 2016
Sapphire Knight is the International Bestselling Author of Secrets, Exposed, Relinquish, Corrupted, Forsaken Control, Unwanted Sacrifices, Friction and Unexpected Forfeit. The series are called Russkaya Mafiya, Oath Keepers MC, Ground and Pound and Dirty Down South.
Her books all reflect on what she loves to read herself.
Sapphire is a Texas girl who is crazy about football. She has always had a knack for writing, whether it is poems or stories. She originally studied psychology and that has only added to her passion for writing. She has two boys and has been married for ten years. When she's not busy in her writing cave, she's busy playing with her three Doberman Pinschers. She loves to donate to help animals and watching a good action movie.
Title: Anything But Minor
Author: Kate Stewart
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Release Date: July 15
“She’s a nerd.” “Heyyyy!” “Okay, she’s a flight instructor.” “Better.” “He’s a ballplayer.” “The best that ever was.” “Technically, you aren’t according to MLB stats.” “See? Total nerd. She also has no filter.” “He’s no southern gentlemen.” “I had one last season to prove my worth.” “I’d never seen a game.” “He told me he was a player.” “She told me she was a lesbian.” “But you fell in love with me anyway.” “Yeah, baby, I totally did.”
A native of Dallas, Kate Stewart now resides in beautiful Charleston, S.C. She lives with her husband of 9 years, Nick, and her naughty beagle, Sadie. Kate moved to Charleston three weeks after her first visit, dropping her career of 8 years, and declaring the city her creative muse. Since the move in 2010, Kate has written and published four novels including Room 212, Never Me, Loving the White Liar, The Fall, The Mind and The Heart. Kate writes messy, sexy, angst filled romance books with 'hard to get' happy endings because it's what she loves as a reader. She has a scary addiction to chocolate milk and a deep love for rap music specifically the genius known as Marshall Mathers.
In addition to her addiction to romance, Kate also lets her alter ego take over on occasion and writes erotic suspense under the pen Angelica Chase.
Title: In Deep
Series: All In #1
Author: Callie Harper
Genre: Hot Contemporary Romance
Cover Design: Perfect Pear Creative
Release Date: August 5, 2016
Chase is an Olympic swimmer going for gold. Focused, driven, intense.
Emma is a blogger going for the scoop, and she has the perfect in. She’s gotten herself hired as his physical therapist. With all that intimate time together, the secrets from his past don’t stand a chance.
And neither does she.
Note: In Deep is a standalone hot, contemporary romance. It’s the first of four standalones in the “All In” series, which can be read in any order.
Join Callie’s Facebook group for exclusive
content and giveaways
Callie Harper writes hot, fun, page-turning romances. She is powered by coffee, wickedly sexy bad boys, and all things funny, intentional or otherwise. Born on the East Coast, she and her family are now kickin’ it all the way over on the West Coast. You’ve got a good chance of finding Callie outdoors enjoying the gorgeous Bay Area, but if she’s indoors she’ll likely be reading, writing or eating, sometimes all at once.
Callie Harper writes contemporary romances so hot they may melt your eReader. You've been warned!
Each book features a different member of the Kavanaugh family and can be read as a standalone:
Book 1: Unleashed (Declan & Kara)
Book 2: Undone (Ash & Ana)
Book 3: Untamed (Heath & Violet)—released May 23rd
Book 4: Unbelievable (Colt & Caroline)—released June 27th
To get freebies and hear about new releases and sales, sign up for Callie's newsletter at http://eepurl.com/bHtVnT.
Genre: Contemporary Sports Romance
Release Date: August 1, 2016
— SYNOPSIS --
I live a life most could only dream of. Parties, women, fame—what more could I want?
As the undisputed MMA light heavyweight champ, I’ve faced the world’s toughest men. But, with a single glance, I knew that the five-foot-five redhead with a smart mouth and innocent eyes would be my hardest opponent yet.
Sidney O’Neil isn’t my type. While I spend my nights out drinking at the trendiest clubs in town, she spends hers taking care of her sick nephew. She lives for those she loves, and I only love myself. She is nothing I thought I wanted, yet she’s somehow become the one thing I need.
But what happens when the world is tipped on end and I’m no longer who she needs?
How do I convince her that we’re worth the fight when all she knows is defeat?
I’ve never lost a match, and I refuse to start now.
But, sometimes, the toughest fight of your life is outside the cage.
— COVER DESIGNER --
— ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A.S. TEAGUE --
* Wifey * Mama * Wino * Cakeaholic *
Title: Who I Am With You
Author: Amanda Lanclos
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Dallas Garrison was a normal blue collar guy. In his late twenties, he worked fourteen hour days, every day. He lived his life and never expected it to change much. That is, until an unforeseen circumstance happens on his ranch.
Once his eyes meet the sea-blue eyes belonging to Kennedy Miller again, all bets are off. Their history is laced with pain and Dallas is all too familiar with the torment loving Kennedy brings.
But what guts him most, is that she doesn’t remember a damn thing. Especially not the reasons she loved him all those years ago.
Amanda resides in the lovely state of Louisiana just a short drive from Death Valley aka Baton Rouge. When she isn't head deep into a book she is spending time either blogging, writing, or being a mommy to two beautiful blonde headed blue eyed babies. Amanda never expected to be a writer, but one day that all changed when she saw a picture of a military man with both of his legs taken from an IUD in a war, and that is where her inspiration came for her very first novel Irreparable. With three books already out in the series she is working on the next as well as a Christian Romance about how to overcome grief and blaming yourself. Contact Amanda, because she loves to hear from her readers! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Author: Kenya Wright
Genre: Romance Crime Thriller
Release Date: July 15, 2016
***Warning: This book contains adult language, graphic violence, and explicit sex that may be disturbing for some readers. This book is not intended for readers under the age of 18.**
Mary Jane, a struggling comedienne, stumbled into the wrong club at the wrong time. She didn't notice the gangster gripping the gun and the two scary men on his sides. She just jumped on the stage, tested the microphone, and went into her routine.
And that's where things got interesting.
Noah was the gangster that gripped the gun. The Beast of Din City. The Boss of the Streets. The one who ruled them all from the North to the South. Not liking to murder women, he'd now been thrown into an uncomfortable situation. She'd accidentally become a witness to something she shouldn't have seen.
She'd now become a problem.
Yet, their gazes met and hearts faltered, thump, thumping in their chest like a tune beat out from bullets slicing through the air and bodies crashing to the ground.
Their gazes met and things would never be the same for him or her, nor the Streets. Their gazes met and he decided not to kill her, instead he took her on a journey where sex meets the rhythm of the streets, high to low, smooth to rough, growing inside of them both until they're not sure, if any of them will survive—him, her, or those bloody streets.
If I could, I would’ve written it all down. The taste of her sex. The softness of her flesh. The richness of her moans. The squeaking of the bed.
She had that good pussy. The sort a man wanted to lock down and trap to him. Never let out, unless the chick was strapped to him. That good pussy. I’d heard legends of women with gold between their thighs, but thought it was bullshit. Now, I was a believer. She had that good pussy. Gushing and dripping. Her sex wet for me. It was a perfect opening to pleasure. Folds like satin, a liquid symphony. Good pussy. Warm flesh hugging my cock. Drawing me inside of her. Luring. Singing to never stop.
“Oh, Noah,” Mary Jane moaned. “It feels so good.”
That’s a goddamn understatement.
Kenya Wright wrote her first novel during her third year at UM Law school. She dropped out a month after the release and never looked back.
Words are power,
and Kenya wants to be the greatest wizard that ever lived.
It's an audacity to inspire
and teach the healing of love through arousal.
It's this crazy idea that love
can not only help a reader escape,
but the story can also teach the person
about being human,
while making them laugh,
and hot for more sex.
If you are a writer, make sure you scan down to the bottom of the post to enter the Writer only giveaway
2 winners will each receive a signed paperback of Power + a bottle of one of the wine’s listed below (US only + 21 and over)
Heist, Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Ynez Valley, California – 2013
Inky, opaque garnet-to-brick hues in the glass. Ripe, juicy and loveable on the nose and palate with notes of black currant, cassis and blackberry over wet forest floor. Threads of violet and chocolate throughout. Nice balance, medium finish, ready to drink now.
Mary Jane’s Wine
Calamity Sue, Riesling, Arroyo Seco, California - 2014
Hues of pale yellow straw in the glass. Perfumy white flowers on the nose and ripe pear. Nice balance between acidity, fruit extraction and sweetness. Complex and interesting with a mineral nuance.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
1 Winner will receive the following:
Abel Lockwood would do anything to become a father—including hiring a company that matches donor mothers with prospective fathers. Love Child caters to wealthy bachelors who’ve been unsuccessful in creating a family through traditional means. Despite Love Child being an unconventional route to take, the conception takes place exactly the way nature intended.
Nearing forty and still single, Abel has accepted he won’t meet the right woman to marry and have a family with, so Love Child is his last hope for becoming a father. He’s gone through the files of the potential donors and handpicked one perfect candidate to create his baby with.
The moment he comes face to face with Adeline Matthews, Abel knows she’s the one. But not just the one he’s hoping to make a baby with. She’s the one he’s hoping to create a family with.
I was minutes away from meeting the woman who would become the mother of my child. Rather, the woman who would likely become the mother of my child.
Her file had set her apart from the rest. Adeline Matthews. I felt like I knew so much about her without having ever exchanged a word with her. I felt like I knew exactly what she must look like, though I’d never laid eyes on her.
My instinct told me this was the woman who would be the mother of my baby, so now all it came down to was hammering out the terms and signing the contract. The agency would help out with that, and of course our lawyers would add their expertise into the mix, but if all went well, by the end of the day, I would be that much closer to becoming a father.
Being a father. It would be my most important legacy and my proudest achievement. God knew the journey to get here had been my greatest challenge.
When the elevator doors chimed open on the top floor of one of the high-rises in downtown Chicago, I was met by both my attorney and the creator-slash-CEO of Love Child, Suzanne Reynolds.
Suzanne had stepped back from the successful company she’d grown from the ground up, but I’d heard she made the occasional appearance for a high profile client. I didn’t consider myself high profile, though I supposed my name carried a certain degree of influence in the upper stratum thanks to the generations of Lockwoods building an empire in commercial development.
“Mr. Lockwood”—Suzanne greeted me with a smile—“happy to meet you.”
“Likewise, Ms. Reynolds,” I replied, shaking her hand when she extended it. The woman had one hell of a handshake. “Have you met my attorney, Tom Bainbridge?”
She nodded. “Yes, Tom and I have worked together on several prior matches. He’s a great attorney to have in your corner.”
“That’s what he reminds me of every time he sends me the bill for his services at the end of the month.” I nudged Tom as Suzanne directed us past the front desk. “‘If you want the best, you pay for the best.’”
Suzanne cocked her brow, smiling. “No offense to Mr. Bainbridge, but my attorneys are better.”
Beside me, Tom snorted good-naturedly. The guy had been in the business long enough that insults rolled right over him.
“Keep that in mind, Mr. Lockwood, when and if you meet the right donor today,” Suzanne continued. “Don’t get so caught up in negotiating price and terms that you lose her. You’ve selected a handful of my top donor candidates. Consider that when you make your offer.” Moving up beside her, I made sure she was looking at me when I replied. “I’m not bargain shopping for the mother of my child, Ms. Reynolds. The terms are what concern me. Not the price.”
“Glad to hear it.” She waved at a woman who looked about to have a baby any day now. I could only imagine how ecstatic the father must be. Hell, I was ecstatic at the possibility of having a child soon—I couldn’t imagine how I’d feel days away from the actual birth.
We continued quietly down the hall. There wasn’t much left to say. I knew how this all worked, and I was ready to move forward.
The décor of Love Child’s office was no different from any other prestigious company’s offices I’d been in: modern refinements, piercing functionality, and neutral colors. But hanging from the walls were pictures of past clients with the child or children they’d had with the aid of Love Child. Every single one of those men was not only a client but an investor in the privately held company. After today, hopefully I’d be the newest member. God knew I was ready.
We all believed in the gap Love Child had managed to fill. A woman could go to a sperm bank and have a child all on her own. A couple could have a child through numerous different outlets. But a man—a single man—had limited options if he wanted to become a father on his own. He could hire a surrogate, which wasn’t as cut-and-dried as most people thought; he could try to adopt, which was nearly impossible in the best of circumstances; or he could jump through the legal hoops involved with shared custody. But if he wanted to be a single parent without complications, he had no choices.
Or at least he hadn’t until Love Child’s inception.
That was why every man who became a client agreed to become an investor—because we were all committed to the mission this company embodied. We were just as committed to keeping it a secret from the public eye. The media would have spun the hell out of it until everything about this respected company became tarnished by slanderous labels and lewd accusations.
They’d see us as a bunch of wealthy men preying upon innocent young woman. We’d be painted as entitled bigots, believing the world and the people in it were our ice cream truck to point at what we wanted and hand over the price in exchange.
Society wouldn’t understand. It wouldn’t want to understand. People wouldn’t see that the men who had found their way to Love Child’s door were decent, hardworking individuals who would give every last dime to have a child. People wouldn’t be willing to understand that the women who carried our children weren’t being taken advantage of but were revered and appreciated far beyond any sum of money.
Society wouldn’t embrace Love Child’s mission. And that was why you’d never hear about it on the evening news or overhear someone mention someone they knew having used its services.
People wouldn’t understand. But I didn’t give a shit.
I wanted to become a father, and the traditional way of becoming one had been painful and unsuccessful.
When we stopped outside a closed door, Suzanne paused with her hand on the door. “Adeline Matthews. She has five other interviews with would-be fathers this week. I know you mentioned she was your top pick, but she told me she won’t be making a final decision until she’s met with all of the clients.”
My jaw set. I didn’t like the idea of the potential mother of my child meeting with five other men to discuss the same topic. “If I decide she’s the right one, I think you’ll find I can be quite persuasive.”
Suzanne held her half smile, her eyes suggesting she knew something I didn’t. “You might want to make sure your persuasion comes from the heart in Miss Matthews’s case and not from your checkbook.”
I found myself almost smiling back. I liked Suzanne Reynolds. She was nearing retirement age but still acted like she’d barely entered the workforce. She ran a tight ship, cared about what she did, and worked as hard as I did. That might have explained why we were both single and without children of our own.
The job had become our spouse, the schedule our offspring. At first, it hadn’t seemed like much of a sacrifice to me. Hitting thirty-five had changed my opinion on that though. No job could warm a bed. No amount of money could fill a house with laughter.
No, I’d been a fool to place my career before a family. At least now I had a chance to remedy that.
“Ready?” Suzanne asked.
“Since I signed my name on the application paperwork three months, eleven days, and . . .”—my gaze dropped to my watch—“two hours ago.”
When Suzanne opened the door, she waved Tom and me in first. Two people were already seated at the long table. One of them stood and shook hands with Tom. The other took a few seconds before she stood. It almost looked like she was trying to gather her courage as she sucked in a deep breath.
Suzanne fired off introductions, but her voice disappeared the moment my eyes fell on Adeline Matthews. The breath I’d been in the middle of hitched in my chest, feeling like it was straining against my ribs.
When she stood—her big brown eyes looking straight into mine—it wasn’t only my lungs and heart reacting to her. She wasn’t just the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen—she was the most beautiful thing to have ever been created. Sweet smile, angelic face, innocent demeanor—perfection was hovering ten feet in front of me.
She was petite but had the type of body that was hard to come by in this day and age of size zero clothing and thigh gap goals. She had a woman’s body. Curves, shape, and a soft, feminine quality that was not making me think innocent things about Miss Matthews. All I could focus on was the way her body would feel against mine, the way her curves would look silhouetted against my bedroom wall, the way her light, wavy hair would looked spilled across my pillow as I moved above her, planting my baby inside her.
That was another reason for the clandestine nature of Love Child—the process of actually creating the baby wasn’t done in a laboratory. Conception didn’t take place in a petri dish, and a fertilized egg wasn’t procedurally implanted inside of the mother’s body.
No, the mother became pregnant the old-fashioned way. The way nature had intended. That was the main reason I’d gone with Love Child instead of searching for a surrogate mother. I didn’t want my baby’s moment of creation to occur in a cold, sterile environment. I wanted my baby to be created from warmth and passion. Emotion and feeling. Connection and combustion.
The actual sex had been of less concern to me than the thought process behind it. But now, seeing Adeline, I was looking forward to the sex. I was really looking forward to the sex.
This was her. The mother of my child. My god, I’d never been so certain of anything in my entire life. I was looking at the woman who would bear my child, who would give me the most precious gift of my existence.
The urge to power around the table and wrap her up in my arms or throw myself at her feet became intense enough I feared moving closer. I didn’t want to start off the meeting by making a fool of myself and ruining the entire thing.
I couldn’t ruin this. Adeline would be the mother to my baby. I knew this with absolute certainty.
Now all I had to do was convince her.
“Miss Matthews, thank you for agreeing to meet with me.” When my voice rolled over her, I noticed her hands curl at her sides.
Was she frightened by me? Startled by my voice? I had to be twice her size. I’d been told plenty of times that my deep voice could be on the sharp side of commanding, but couldn’t she tell? Couldn’t she hear it in my voice?
She had nothing to fear from me. My goal, from this moment on, was to protect her. From threats, pain, disappointment . . . from a damn mosquito that dared to get too close. The overwhelming urge to protect her consumed me.
We’d agreed to nothing. She’d barely made eye contact yet. But I already felt savagely possessive of her.
Like hell she was meeting with five other men. If I couldn’t get her to commit to me today, I’d find out who the other five were and have them removed from her schedule. Through whatever means necessary.
Adeline Matthews was mine.
She was about to know it too.
Kat Austen is the secret pen name of a New York Times and USATODAY bestselling author. Kat writes short and steamy reads that leave hearts (and other parts) satisfied.
Title: The First Taste
Series: Slip of the Tongue #2
Author: Jessica Hawkins
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Cover Design: Okay Creations
Cover Image: Image © The Licensing Project/Offset.com
Release Date: August 4, 2016
Andrew Beckwith has already devoted his life to one girl—and as far as he’s concerned, she’s all he needs. The rough-around-the-edges bad boy left his reckless ways behind six years ago when his daughter Bell was born. To the female population’s dismay, he’s unapologetically single. When Bell’s mother walked out on them years ago, he vowed never to let another woman close enough to hurt them again.
Amelia Van Ecken isn’t just another woman. She’s an independent, smart, and savvy businesswoman who doesn’t have time for sex, much less love. In the midst of a drawn-out, bitter divorce, all she wants is to bury herself in work. But when sharp-tongued Amelia and stubborn Andrew cross paths, sparks fly—and burn. Two things are obvious in an instant: they want each other, and they’re from different worlds. It’s the perfect formula for an off-the-charts one-night stand. After all, it’s not as if opposites ever attract.
Jessica Hawkins grew up between the purple mountains and under the endless sun of Palm Springs, California. She studied international business at Arizona State University and has also lived in Costa Rica and New York City. To her, the most intriguing fiction is forbidden, and that's what you'll find in her stories. Currently, she resides wherever her head lands, which is often the unexpected (but warm) keyboard of her trusty MacBook.
DON’T MISS OUT ON ANYTHING JESSICA HAWKINS!
Sign up for her Mailing List!
BBBf-sizzlereads-bestbookboyfriends & L.A.B.B