Thursday, July 20, 2017

Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai ~ Virtual Tour, Excerpt, Giveaway & Review


One night. No one will know.


HATE TO WANT YOU
Forbidden Hearts #1
Alisha Rai
Releasing July 25, 2017
Avon Books


Alisha Rai, one of contemporary romance’s brightest stars, makes her Avon Books debut with the first novel in the sexy Forbidden Hearts series!

One night. No one will know.

That was the deal. Every year, Livvy Kane and Nicholas Chandler would share one perfect night of illicit pleasure. The forbidden hours let them forget the tragedy that haunted their pasts—and the last names that made them enemies.

Until the night she didn’t show up.

Now Nicholas has an empire to run. He doesn’t have time for distractions and Livvy’s sudden reappearance in town is a major distraction. She’s the one woman he shouldn’t want . . . so why can’t he forget how right she feels in his bed?

Livvy didn’t come home for Nicholas, but fate seems determined to remind her of his presence—and their past. Although the passion between them might have once run hot and deep, not even love can overcome the scandal that divided their families.

Being together might be against all the rules . . . but being apart is impossible.



(Rated R)
Despite her ridiculous schoolgirl outfit, she wasn’t the girl she’d been when she left town. Her hair, her clothes, even her attitude was subtly different. He’d watched every change happen over the past decade in a time-lapse video. There was nothing he didn’t like about the differences in her now.
Dangerous.
Right. Right. This was about sex. Nothing else.
She headed down the walkway, the flickering streetlamp in the parking lot burnishing her hair with red and black. She didn’t wobble a bit on her pencil-thin heels, reassuring him that though she’d been in a bar, she wasn’t anywhere near intoxicated.
He got out of the car, taking care to pull his collar up and lower his head, feeling ridiculous as he did so. He was a grown man. Who cared if he had sex with another consenting adult?
Lots of people, starting with his father, but he wasn’t going to think about them right now.
His strides were longer than hers. Her heels and skirt made it difficult for her to do more than mince. He made it to the door a second after she got it open, and followed her in, kicking the door shut behind him. She stripped off her light fall jacket and tossed it on the floor. “Liv—” was all he had a chance to say before she was in his arms, shoving him back.
It was dark, the only light coming in from the crack between the dingy curtains. Her lips pressed against his, and he inhaled the scent of her, each drugging kiss making his head spin. She crawled up him like he was a pole, her arms and legs clutching for balance.
It took him only a second. One second of having those red lips devouring his hungrily, one second of that hot sinner’s body pressing against his own, and all semblance of rational thought flew out of his brain.
Who cared about tomorrow? He was too enflamed to wonder about anything but the here and now. Too excited to even consider this a bad idea. He kissed her back as if he would die if he didn’t get her mouth, licking and sucking and memorizing the very taste of her. He slid his hands over her ass, gripped her luscious cheeks tight, and spun her around, pushing her up against the door.
He ripped his lips away, holding her from him when she might have forced her way back. “How do you want it?” he growled. He had an inkling, from the signals she was broadcasting, but it had been a while since he’d had to read those signals.
“Hard . . .” She scraped her nails over the back of his neck. “Use me. Make me feel it tomorrow.”
The wild look in her eyes was sharper than he’d ever seen it, and it ramped up his own lust. He dragged his hand over her ass, rubbing the fabric against her bottom. “This outfit is indecent.”
Her lids dropped to half-mast, and she arched her back. “You don’t like my clothes? I’m heartbroken.”
“You look like a schoolgirl.”
She tightened her legs around his waist, rubbing up on him. Her heat and wetness was obvious, even through the twin barriers of her underwear and his pants. “A naughty one? Who needs to be punished?”
He should feel ridiculous, but instead his body hardened more, blood engorging his dick. “So naughty.” His hand slipped up her leg to her hip and the strip of fabric there. He used his other hand to arch her back farther, feathering his fingers up her spine. “I could see your ass while you were walking outside.” He traced his hand around the waistband at her back and clenched the fabric in his wrist, pulling the bikini and her tights taut, digging into the folds of her pussy. Her eyes widened.
He tightened his grip. “Were you purposefully strutting around in this skirt, your ass hanging out of it?”
“N-no.”
“You’re lying. Do you know what I do to liars?”
Her nails dug into his skin. “Tell me you spank them.”
A red haze swam in front of his eyes, and he pushed her legs down so she was standing. Then he grabbed her by the waist and spun her around to face the door.
He grasped her by the hips and pulled her to stand with her back in an arch, then flipped up that ridiculous plaid skirt. It took him a second to lower her tights to her thighs. Her red panties barely covered the curves of her ass, making him growl. He didn’t know what bar she’d been in, but he imagined her seated in some dingy smoke-filled dive, anonymous bastards salivating over her tight body. Fuck, all it would have taken was one shimmy, and everyone could have gotten a free show, these tempting round globes exposed but for the silly scraps of fabric she’d put over them.
You have no right to be jealous.
He palmed her cheeks, rubbing his thumbs over the plump flesh. “Do you know how badly I wanted to pull you onto my lap and flip this skirt up the second I saw you?”
“To fuck me or to spank me?”
“Both.”
She arched her back more, her ass wriggling. He didn’t think, merely lifted his hand and smacked one full cheek, his rational, caring side standing far apart and watching in horror. He’d never spanked a woman before. As scrappy as Livvy was, he hadn’t thought she’d like this.
Her moan suggested otherwise.
He got it. He got the appeal of this, with Livvy bent over in front of him, legs spread, skirt lifted, red panties exposed, and the hot flesh of her ass filling his hand. He slapped her other cheek, and she moaned again, louder. Hell. He could see the appeal of literally doing anything with Livvy, to be honest.
“Was that okay?” he had the semblance of mind to ask her.
Her hands had braced against the door, and her fingers curled in. She nodded, her red-streaked hair rippling over her back.
His next tap was harder. “You’ve been so bad, Livvy. Tempting all those men tonight. Tempting me.” He smacked her again. “You’ve never stopped tempting me.”
She whimpered. “I’ll stop.”
“We both know that’s impossible.” He squeezed her left cheek, dropping to his knees behind her. With his teeth, he carefully lowered the panties over her ass to meet the rolled-up waistband of her tights. He stayed there, luxuriating in her body as he pressed soft kisses over each cheek, punctuating each tender touch with a slap of his hand.
When she was rocking back against his mouth, he pulled away. He came to his feet. Unable to take his gaze off her tight body, he walked backward until his knees hit the cheap bed. Nicholas slid down to sit on the floor, his back supported by the bed. The sliver of streetlight illuminating the room highlighted her sweet, reddened buttocks. He tore at his jeans, growling when his hand met his throbbing cock. He needed to jerk off or get in her pussy. Something. Anything. Literally whatever would relieve this ache as soon as possible.
She peeked under her arm and straightened, skirt dropping down to cover her bottom.
A crime, covering that butt.
Livvy stripped off her tights and panties and then turned to face him. “Nicholas?”
He ran his hand down his cock once, then twice when he noted the hunger in her gaze as she watched him fondle himself. He grazed the tip, and his body jerked. “Take off your clothes. Shirt first.”
“Do I have to?” Her breathless question was pseudo-innocent.
“Unless you want to be punished.” How he’d punish her, he wasn’t sure. More spanking? Licking her until she wept with the need to orgasm? Fucking her until she screamed?
These didn’t sound like terrible punishments for either of them.
Her fingers fumbled with the buttons of her shirt, and she undid them one by one, so slowly he knew it was a tease. He tightened his hand on his cock, because he knew if he didn’t, he’d demand she come over here so he could rip the offending material right off her.
She stripped it off her shoulders, leaving her in her bra, her toned belly inviting his lips.
“Now the bra.”
She unsnapped the front snap and drew both cups of red lace away from her breasts. They were perky and lifted on their own, the small handfuls the perfect fit for his palm. Her brown nipples were tight and pointed, giving away her excitement. Her breasts rose and fell, her gaze locked on his hand. He made his pulls slower and more explicit, both to give her a show and to make sure he didn’t blow too quickly.
Her hand dropped to the waistband of her skirt, shoving it down, leaving her completely naked. She licked her lips, making the remnants of her lipstick shiny and vibrant. He imagined those lips wrapped tight around his cock, him whispering, Suck me, while guiding her head over his lap.
He shook his head, trying to shake the filthy image from his brain, and released his cock. “Come here.”
She walked over. Her hand unselfconsciously slid over her belly and pussy. She was wet and hot and plump, nearly hairless, save for a small landing strip. The pot of gold tattooed at her hip was a dark shadow. “Closer.”





This one has been touted as a Romeo and Juliet kinda of story but with a happy ending.  It definitely has the family angst and lack of communication going but most importantly the happy ending.  And it's so much more.

Here's a tiny spoiler for you - this story is about depression..  What I loved about that was that Livvy is outwardly not the poster child for depression.  Yet it plagues her.  I think that's more true and real then most people realize.  As someone who has had depression touch her family, it's important that people get that message.  That alone made this book feel real to me.

The characters are strong and bold.  They have issues.  There's been lying, anger and blackmail to tie these two families up for years.  But Livvy needs her family back and she comes home.  And home means Nickolas is nearby.  That makes for a lot of tension.  But these two have loved each other since childhood.  And they can't seem to stay away from each other.

The story is full of emotions.  Years worth of emotions - some good and some bad.  It's a struggle to weigh through all of the pain at times.  But I cheered for these two.  They need each other.  They balance each other.  They are both good people with struggles that no one should have to endure.  I was happy at the end.  At the very last page, there was a smile for them.

It's emotional and real, this is not your average sexy read.  It's more.  It has depth and strength.  And I loved it.


                               





Alisha Rai pens award-winning, sexy, contemporary romances and is the first author to have an indie-published book appear on The Washington Post’s annual Best Books list. She spends most of her time dreaming up sexy heroes and heroines, traveling, and tweeting. To find out more about her books or to sign up for her newsletter, visit her Website.

Swoon Thursday ~ 7/20/17


Who doesn't LOVE a good swoon?! We love them for sure! Check out our swoon below and then add to the fun.

Post anything that made you swoon, past or present read. Include the cover, blurb and links. Please no spoilers.


The Gamble (Colorado Mountain, #1)Love is the greatest gamble of all . . .
Nina Sheridan desperately needs a timeout vacation. With a fiance who can't even remember how she takes her coffee, Nina wants some distance to rethink her engagement. Flying halfway around the world from England to a mountain town in Colorado should do the trick. But when she finds a gorgeous man at her rental cabin, Nina's cold, lonely adventure suddenly heats up.
The owner of the house, Holden "Max" Maxwell is surprised by the beautiful woman who turns up at his door. But when Nina becomes ill, Max spends days nursing her back to health. A private man with a broken heart, Max finds himself drawn to the strong-willed woman. Soon it becomes impossible for Nina and Max to deny their growing attraction to one another. Yet even as these two wounded lovebirds think about taking a chance on a relationship, a dangerous secret from Max's past emerges-and threatens to end their love for good.


Swoon...


So instead of saying "or what." I did something not smart, not sane, not rational, and got up on my toes. Then I slid my fingers into his hair from the neck up. Then I grabbed on to his hard bicep with my other hand. 
Max helped, leaning into me, bending his neck, gliding his fingers farther into my hair to cup my head and putting his other hand to my waist.

I kissed him, touching my tongue to his lips, which he opened for me, and I slid inside, tasting beer,tasting Max, and thinking he was the most beautiful taste ti ever touch my tongue. 
He growled into my mouth, slanting his head, his arms coming around me, and he took control of the kiss.

His was better. So much better, I felt the need to slide my other hand into his hair and hold his head to me so he'd get the hint that I didn't want him to stop. 
Maybe never. 
Maybe I never wanted him to stop.

I'm doing a re-read of this, and it is turning out to be SUCH a great decision. Love this book -- and this series!!


That's our swoon this week! What about you? Leave us a comment & a link.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Trust by Kylie Scott ~ Review & Excerpt




Source: Received an ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Being young is all about the experiences: the first time you skip school, the first time you fall in love…the first time someone holds a gun to your head.

After being held hostage during a robbery at the local convenience store, seventeen year old Edie finds her attitude about life shattered. Unwilling to put up with the snobbery and bullying at her private school, she enrolls at the local public high school, crossing paths with John. The boy who risked his life to save hers. While Edie’s beginning to run wild, however, John’s just starting to settle down. After years of partying and dealing drugs with his older brother, he’s going straight—getting to class on time, and thinking about the future.

An unlikely bond grows between the two as John keeps Edie out of trouble and helps her broaden her horizons. But when he helps her out with another first—losing her virginity—their friendship gets complicated.

Meanwhile, Edie and John are pulled back into the dangerous world they narrowly escaped. They were lucky to survive the first time, but this time they have more to lose—each other.









I adore this author so I was super excited to read this YA story that sounds like it would be emotional. Emotional it was and so much more.

Here's the things that you need to know about this book.  Edie is a plus sized girl, a good girl and a follow the rules girl.  John is a bad boy, a boy that doesn't go back for seconds, a drug dealer, a boy with a history.  They experience something horrific together.  And things change, a lot.  And while it's clear they are experiencing feeling for each other - each has to deal with things in their own way.  And it took a path that was hard as they learned to trust and figure out who they are in this new post trauma world.

I love Edie.  She's always been a good girl.  She follows the rules and gets good grades.  She reads a lot.  She's had a best friend since very young.  Her private school is paid for by her Grandmother but she really doesn't belong in the rich world.  She's plus sized and bullied for it.  Then the impossible happens.  (And it happens in the first chapter - no spoiler here - it's in the blurb).  It changes her.  

John - well I ended up loving him.  He's a bad boy who never goes back for seconds, well not much anyway.  He's quiet.  He deals in weed.  He doesn't care much about school.  He has a reputation there.  All the girls want him.  All the teachers have given up on him.  But when the impossible happens, he fights.  He changes too, though differently than Edie.  

Together they end up friends.  Friends who understand each other because of what they shared.  And while Edie has a crush right away, John seems unaffected by her.  Yeah, right.  Don't let him fool you.  And that was what took me so long to fall for him.  He did need to get his head on straight but some of things he did redeemed himself so wonderfully.  Sweet.  And he stood up for Edie.  Protected her.  Refused to let her put herself down.  Yeah, I fell hard for him.

The story itself is one of survival and acceptance, of moving on and growing up, and of falling in the real kind of love.  There are bully's that need to be punched and real life slapping you in the face.  It's gritty and yet has moments of humor.  It sucked me in from the first page and I pretty much read it straight through.  It's full of firsts, including the messy one that can be embarrassing.  It's got anger, friendship and forgiveness (not of the jerk that had the gun pointed at them - no his behind is in jail where it belongs).  It's real and poignant.  

Expertly crafted, the writing weaves a story of two people who would never have met otherwise but because they are in the same place at the same time one fateful night their worlds change.  Together they find a future.  The way this book ends speaks to the skill of this author.  The story doesn't follow a normal romance path, no it follows a path that binds these two and is perfection.  I loved it. 

If you love a good YA read, then this one is the one for you.

                                          




EXCERPT
“You were going to give it up to Duncan Dickerson?” he sneered. “Are you serious?”
I halted, staring at him. This was not good. “How do you know about that?”
“Anders overheard you and Hang talking.”
“Bastard.”
“Well?” he demanded, acting all authoritarian. Idiot.
“To be fair, I didn’t know his last name was Dickerson,” I said. “That’s unfortunate. Though, I wasn’t actually planning on marrying him, so . . .”
“Not funny.”
I shrugged.
“You barely know the guy.”
“Um, yeah. None of your concern. We’re not talking about this.” How mortifying! My face burned bright. People should just gather around and cook s’mores. “I appreciate that we’re friends. You mean a lot to me. But this is going to have to fall under definitely none of your damn business, so go away please.”
“We’re talking about it.” He advanced a step.
“No we are not.” And I retreated.
“You were going to let a complete stranger touch you.” Advance.
Retreat. “People do it all the time. You do it all the time.”
“But you don’t,” he said, taking the final step, backing me up against the side of his car and getting all in my face. “Edie, this is your first time we’re talking about. Isn’t it?”
“Yes, and it’s going to be messy and painful and probably horribly embarrassing and I just want it over and done with.” I tried to meet his eyes but failed, settling for a spot on his right shoulder. “You’re not a girl; you wouldn’t understand. Also, last time I checked, you’re not the gatekeeper of my hymen, John Cole. So back the fuck off.”
He said nothing.
Deep, calming breaths. “Look, someday I’ll meet someone I really like and we’ll have a deep and meaningful relationship and go at it like bunnies. But I don’t want to be the dumb virgin in that scenario.”
He slowly shook his head.
“Also, I do not want to die a virgin.”
“What? What the hell are you talking about?”
“Hey, you and I both know death can occur at any time.”
“This is crazy.”
“I’m seeing a therapist!” I told his shoulder. “I don’t know if you noticed, but I’m a little bit messed up these days. It’s hard for me to trust people. That’s not going to change anytime soon.”
He screwed up his face at me. “Wha—”
“I’m just trying to be practical.”
“Well, you’re being ridiculous. None of this makes sense.”
“It does to me.”
Again, he said nothing.
In fact, he said nothing for so long that I finally looked him in the eye. The anger had left him, replaced by an emotion I didn’t recognize. Worst of all, he still smelled like summer. A little sweat and the open night air, everything I loved. Liked. I meant liked.
“What?” I said, finally.
He let loose a breath. “I’ll do it.”









ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kylie is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She was voted Australian Romance Writer of the year, 2013 & 2014, by the Australian Romance Writer’s Association and her books have been translated into eleven different languages. She is a long time fan of romance, rock music, and B-grade horror films. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet. You can learn more about Kylie from http://www.kylie-scott.com/
Links:
















Race The Darkness by Abbie Roads ~ 99¢ Sale Blitz & Giveaway


We’re so thrilled to share this sale with you! All three books; Race the Darkness, Hunt the Dawn, and Saving Mercy are on sale for 99¢ (reg $6.15).


 

RACE THE DARKNESS

Series: Fatal Dreams Series, Book 1 Genre: Dark Romantic Thriller


Cursed with a terrible gift...
Criminal investigator Xander Stone doesn't have to question you-he can hear your thoughts. Scarred by lightning, burdened with a power that gives him no peace, Xander struggles to maintain his sanity against the voice that haunts him day and night-the voice of a woman begging him to save her.
A gift that threatens to engulf them
Isleen Walker has long since given up hope of escape from the nightmare of captivity and torture that is draining her life, her mind, and her soul. Except...there is the man in her feverish dreams, the strangely beautiful man who beckons her to freedom and wholeness. And when he comes, if he comes, it will take all their combined fury and faith to overcome a madman bent on fulfilling a deadly prophecy.


Buy Now


Excerpt

Her gaze locked with his—locked so hard the entire world vanished and all that existed were her and him and his hand feeling the steady beat of her heart. Whatever the fuck she was about to say, he was gonna believe her. She could tell him he was a two-headed, purple squirrel, and he’d go out, find a nut, and climb a tree.
“Xander. I vow to protect you from pain. I vow never to leave you unless you want me to leave. I vow never to hurt you the way Gran hurt your father. Because hurting you would be hurting myself. Your pain is my pain. And my pain is yours. But together we are strong and invincible. Don’t you feel it when we touch? It’s all I can feel. All I want to feel. You and me. Us. Together.”
Her words did more than enter his ears; they melded into him as bone-deep truth. He’d never do anything to hurt her and—damn—he trusted that she wouldn’t hurt him. As sick as it sounded, maybe his faith in her was born from the suffering she’d endured. She understood pain. Understood the depth and damage pain caused in a way few others ever would. That kind of knowledge made her incapable of wounding anyone else.
“Say something. You’re looking at me funny.” Her voice trembled just a bit. He could practically hear her doubting whether she should’ve spoken the words of her heart.
“What you said… Those words…” Christ. He didn’t have experience talking about his feelings. “Everything.”
She cocked her head to the side, questions wrinkling her forehead.
He was screwing this up. “Your words mean everything to me.” He could show her easier than he could tell her. He slid his hands up her neck, framing her face, staring at her, absorbing every detail. “You’re my…” Fearless. He caught himself before he said the word. To base how he felt on a story wasn’t real. She was real. And the emotions warming him were real. “Everything.”
He lowered his mouth to hers. She tasted sweet, of cinnamon and sugar, and for some reason, his heart ached with a fullness of feeling it had never experienced before.
He scooped her up in his arms, cradling her to his chest, his mind flashing back to the day he found her—and to holding her this same way. God, she had weighed so little, had seemed so fragile, but she was strong. Stronger than he’d ever be. Knowing what she’s gone through, what she’d survived—yeah. Strong was too weak a word to describe her.

He carried her up the stairs to his bedroom, his mouth never leaving hers. With a gentleness born of reverence, he settled her on the bed. He broke the kiss to stare at her once more. Her eyes were closed, her face relaxed, her lips deliciously puffy and pink from a good kissing. He fucking loved pink.

HUNT THE DAWN

Series: Fatal Dreams Series, Book 2 (stand alone) Genre: Dark Romantic Thriller


Out of darkness and danger…

You can't hide your secrets from Lathan Montgomery-he can read your darkest memories. And while his special abilities are invaluable in the FBI's hunt for a serial killer, he has no way to avoid the pain that brings him. Until he is drawn to courageous, down-on-her-luck Evanee Brown and finds himself able to offer her something he's never offered another human being: himself.

 Dawns a unique and powerful love

Nightmares are nothing new to Evanee Brown. But once she meets Lathan, they plummet into the realm of the macabre. Murder victims are reaching from beyond the grave to give Evanee evidence that could help Lathan bring a terrifying killer to justice. Together, they could forge an indomitable partnership to thwart violence, abuse, and death-if they survive the forces that seek to tear them apart.


                    
Buy Now

Excerpt

While he hauled his motorcycle onto the road, he didn’t look away from her. She stood bereft in the middle of the pavement, staring out over the pasture. Emotions infused the air around her. Shame. Hate. Embarrassment. Sadness. Fear. Desperation.
He recognized that tangled combination of scents. Knew them intimately. Knew the feeling of being hurt and vulnerable and powerless to stop the pain. Knew how memories, like the one he witnessed, had left wounds on her soul and Junior had just ripped off all the scabs.
She was raw, bleeding emotionally in front of him and yet holding it together by a spider’s thread. He could see the effort in the way she stood straight and stiff.
Fury simmered low in his gut. After he got her squared away, maybe he’d pay a visit to Junior. Show the asshole what it felt like to be the victim.
He walked the bike to her. After he straddled the seat, he held out his hand to her. She grabbed him, her grip hungry.
“Climb on up.”
She tossed her leg over the seat, using his hand to balance her weight.
He sat at the same time she did, her body settling against his back.
Holy Jesus. He couldn’t activate the ability to think—his brain short-circuited from her nearness. Everything disappeared but the feeling of her open thighs wrapped around his ass with nothing but a tiny pair of black shorts and his jeans between them.
Her sweet musky scent, almost like honey, but better—way better—folded around him like a celestial pair of wings. The scent of her entered his nose, flowed into his lungs, then out to his extremities, spreading a cooling wave of solace that he wanted to savor, but couldn’t. Not with her perched behind him, waiting for him to drive down the road.
He placed her hand against his stomach, pressed it tightly to him. His abdominal muscles twitched under her touch.
“Hold on.” He let go of her hand and she slid her other arm around his waist. She pressed her front to his back, holding as tightly to his body as she’d held his hand. She was a clingy little thing. Not that he minded. Her touch felt like—what was the word he wanted to use—kismet. Exactly as he’d always imagined a lover’s touch. Two pieces fitting perfectly together.
He kicked the machine in gear, trying to ease it forward instead of his normal burst of speed. She rested her head on his spine, nestling her cheek across the fabric of his shirt before settling.
His heart grew, straining against his chest wall, threatening to come up his throat in a shout of
absolute ecstasy.


SAVING MERCY

Series: Fatal Truth Series, Book 1 Genre: Dark Romantic Thriller




He’s found her at last…

 Cain Killion knows himself to be a damaged man. His only redeeming quality? The extrasensory connection to blood that he uses to catch killers. His latest case takes a macabre turn when he discovers a familiar and haunting symbol linking the crime to his horrific past—and the one woman who might understand what it means.

 Only to lose her to a nightmare

 Mercy Ledger is brave, resilient, beautiful—and in terrible danger. The moment Cain finds her the line between good and evil blurs and the only thing clear to them is that they belong together. Love is the antidote for blood—but is their bond strong enough to overcome the madness that stalks them?

            

Buy Now

Excerpt

The rain came down gray and thick as a shroud, blurring his vision of the world. He flipped on the wipers and pulled out of the hospital parking lot onto the road. Fat blobs of smacked the windshield loud as marbles being tossed against the glass. Was that hail? As if it mattered. His car was trashed.

Cain had covered the passenger seat and all Mac’s blood with a blanket he kept in the trunk. Even though his view of all that crimson was blocked, his mind knew it was there and his eyes kept wandering to the blanket, calling up the image of the dark stickiness coating the seat and the floor. All that blood was playing touchy-feely with his sanity. And he wasn’t in the mood for games.

He drove past a gas station, a fast food restaurant, a person walking alongside the road. His foot hit the brake before his brain had a chance to talk him out of it.

Mercy.

Her hair was slicked to her skull, her clothes—his clothes—were sucked to her body, doing a shitty job of hiding her curves. At least the T-shirt she wore was black, not white. He pulled over to the berm and watched her in the rearview mirror.

She stopped walking, stared at the car—knew it was him—but didn’t move. Could he blame her for not wanting to be around him after what he’d said to her? Not really. And yet, he couldn’t leave her alone and walking in the rain with Payne still out there. Not to mention that she didn’t have anyone or anywhere to go.

She still hadn’t moved from her spot. He left the car running, opened his door and got out. The rain slapped him—frigid, bordering on icy, soaking his clothes and dripping in his eyes. The pressure of it hitting the wounds in his bicep and shoulder made him wince. But that was all the attention he’d give to the pain.

“Get in the car.” The words came out harsher than he’d intended.

She crossed her arms in front of her chest, lifted her head, and somehow managed to stare down her nose at him even though she was almost a foot shorter. “No.” She said the word as if it didn’t matter that they were standing in the middle of a downpour.

“Get in the goddamned car.” This time the words came out loud and angry sounding. Like that was going to win her over. What was his problem?

“Fuck you.” She looked miserable—all wet and shivery and yet feisty and taking none of his crap.

He should soften his tone. He should try to be nicer. He should, but his inner asshole seemed attracted to her inner bitch. “Where are you going? No where. You don’t have anywhere to go. You don’t have any money. You don’t have friends.” His voice softened and filled with some emotion he couldn’t name. “You don’t have anyone looking out for you, caring for you, able to help you in a pinch. You got no one.” He sucked in a breath and when he spoke next his voice was soft and pleading. “Except me.”

The moment he finished speaking he wanted to retract every goddamned one of those words he’d spoken. “I’m…Shit…” He ran a hand through his soaking hair. “Goddamn it. I’m a dick. Okay?” He softened his tone. “Now will you please get in the car?”

Her shoulders straightened, her chin lifted, and she walked forward without looking at him. He expecting her to stomp past the car, but she yanked open the passenger door and got in. Seconds passed where he just stood here, getting even more wet, and staring at the back of her head poking above the headrest.

“Now what?” He asked himself. Just what was he going to do with her? Drop her on Dolan? Yes. No. Yes. No. No. No. The last time he tried dropping her on someone she’d almost gotten hurt. If Mac hadn’t been able to keep her safe, he sure as shit wasn’t going to trust Dolan with her.

He got back in car. Every inch of him soaked. He brushed his hair back off his face and wiped the water from his eyes.

She stared out the passenger window, refusing to look at him. He reached over and touched her shoulder. Underneath his hand, her body tensed, then trembled. Shit. Was he scaring her?

He wrenched his hand off her and wanted to use the damned thing to slap himself around a little. Maybe then he’d get it through his stupid brain that she was fucking frightened of him. Too many words flooded his mind and he didn’t know which ones to say. The I’m-sorry ones. The I-won’t-hurt-you ones. The I’m-an-asshole ones. The I-don’t-know-what-to-do ones.

She turned to him. Rain slicked her cheeks. Or was that tears? Her beautiful eyes were the color of tropical waters—deep and fathomless. He held up his hands in a show of surrender and she flew across the console at him.

He closed his eyes, braced for the blows, but none came.

Instead, slender arms wrapped around him, her hair, cold and wet dripped against his chest, but her cheek over his heart was warm—so warm.

Maybe he’d had a stroke or something because this felt like she was hugging him. And that couldn’t be. Could it? He opened his eyes and looked down at her.

Yep. She was wound tight around the front of him. And suddenly his brain let him feel the total sensation of it. Of being held tight as if he mattered to her. He let his arms fall around her and squeezed, pressing her tighter to him. Damn, this felt good. She felt good. It was oddly comforting to have her clinging on to him so tight.

He closed his eyes and memorized the pressure of her arms around him and the way her hands pressed into his back. The way she felt in his arms, the subtle ripple of her spine and ribs underneath his fingers, the way her skin felt warm against his when every other part of him was cold.

If he’d been given a Stop Time button. This was the moment he would’ve used it. Here, holding her—the gentle lullaby of rain playing in the background—was the only perfect moment of his entire life.



About Abbie Roads

Abbie Roads is a mental health counselor known for her blunt, honest style of therapy. By night she writes dark, emotional novels always giving her characters the happy ending she wishes for all her clients. SAVING MERCY is the first book in her new Fatal Truth Series of dark, gritty, romantic suspense with a psychological twist.
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