Monday, January 22, 2018

The Wild Irish Girl & Giveaway

The Wild Irish Girl

by C.B. Halverson The Wild Romantics #1 Publication Date: January 22, 2017 Genres: Adult, Historical, Romance, Regency, Erotic

AVAILABLE NOW!

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2mX5ayo (#FREE with #KindleUnlimited)

SYNOPSIS:

Audrey Byrnes doesn’t mind playing the wild Irish princess for London’s elite aristocracy—as long as they buy her novels. With her father’s Dublin theater in ruins and her sister’s illness growing worse, she’s the only person who can save her family from the gutter. As much as she enjoys the occasional passing dalliance, being the primary breadwinner of her Irish family means either marrying well or not at all.
Dr. Joseph Moorland knows it’s wrong to dress in disguise to hobnob with London’s high society, but he figures one night would do no harm—until he meets the charming and mysterious novelist, Audrey Byrnes. Too poor to marry, he hides his real identity until an accident reveals the truth, and what started as a mild flirtation turns to a complex game of secrets, passion, and desire.
Thrown together by circumstance, Audrey and Joseph find themselves in a tense alliance as they try to crawl their way up from their humble beginnings and into the highest echelons of the ton. But when one of the most formidable political players in London sets his sights on having Audrey for himself, she has to choose between saving her family from charges of treason or losing the man she loves forever.
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EXCERPT

He took hold of his silk cravat and unwound it, its silver silk fibers glinting in the firelight. “I want to tie you up.” I shrank away from him, my mouth gaping open. “Tie me up? Are you mad?” His face remained stern, his jaw set in harsh relief like when he had stitched my wound. “I cannot have your hands in the way. I cannot have you trying to take control.” He fumbled in his coat pocket and took out a handkerchief. “I should probably blindfold you, too.” “Blindfold?” The words choked in my throat. “Audrey.” He pressed toward me until my knees buckled against the mattress, forcing me to sit. “Do you remember the Gathering? Do you remember how they tied up the initiate?” I nodded, my blood running icy cold even as my cheeks burned with fire. The space between my thighs swelled with heat, and I clenched them together to try to dispel the ache. I didn’t know what had come over me, revulsion and desire warring in my body as memories of the initiate bound to the platform flashed in my mind. It had awakened both of our desires, driving us to rub against each other like animals. My throat went dry at the thought of taking the initiate’s place, and I couldn’t imagine ever giving up complete control to another person like that. “I’m not sure if I want to…” “Do you know why they tied her up, Audrey?” I shook my head, but a hundred reasons races through my head. To beat her. To humiliate her. To torture her. But then I remembered the initiate’s mouth contorted with an orgasm, how slick her sex became before the bull took her, and I looked away. Joseph took hold of my chin and forced me to look up at him. “The initiate comes to the ceremony willingly,” he said in a thick voice. “They tie her up so she can submit completely to the pleasure…and the pain.” “But I don’t want the pain.” Did I? My thoughts returned to the flogger bouncing off the initiate’s skin, and my body yearned for that sensation. I wanted it to be Joseph. Joseph to dominate me. Joseph to punish me. But for what? I had no idea. I only knew I needed it. He made a soothing sound in the back of his throat. “No pain tonight, Audrey. Not unless you want it.” I swallowed the lump rising in my throat. “Tonight,” he continued, “I want to teach you how to pleasure a woman, and for that, I require your full concentration.” His eyes bore into me, and he raised the cravat and the handkerchief up to me as if in offering. My nipples swelled beneath my nightdress, and I threw my shoulders back as I let out a long exhale. “Well, I suppose you are the expert,” I said, scooching back on the mattress, flinging my wrapper to the side. “So how does this work, anyway? You tie me up, and—” He pressed a finger to my lips. “Shh...let me take care of everything. I want you to concentrate. Pay attention to what you feel. Can you do that?” “I…suppose.” My voice faltered as he grabbed hold of my wrists and began winding the cravat around them. “Where did you learn to do this?” “Are you always this chatty in bed?” He pulled the silk fabric tight, and I let out a small gasp. I frowned and stared at him from beneath my hooded lids. He smiled and laughed beneath his breath. “Audrey, if you hang around Lord Weston long enough, you learn a great many things.” Pulling the cravat tight, he wound it around one of the bed posts, loose enough so I could lie straight. But it wasn’t enough to stop him from taking over my body and doing whatever he wanted with it. A flutter of panic rose in my belly, and I began to tremble. His lips found mine, and he smothered me, pulling my mouth to his and letting his tongue dart inside. I melted beneath him, my hips jerking with each swipe of his tongue across my teeth. The anxiousness faded away, and all that remained was a soft hum in my core. He broke off the kiss and raised the handkerchief to my face. “I’m going to blindfold you now,” he said. “But if you become frightened or want to stop, you need to say a word. A special word.” I raised an eyebrow. “Like what?” “Anything you like,” he replied. “But it cannot be ‘no.’” “Why not?” Joseph sighed. “What?” I pressed. “I’m new at this. You just tied me up, so the least you can do is answer my questions.” “It cannot be no because sometimes saying ‘no’ is a part of the game.” I laughed, tugging on my bonds and shaking my head. “Believe me, if I say no, Joseph, I’m going to mean it.” “Just give me a word.” “Roger.” “Roger?” He shook his head. “Forgive me, but don’t you think it would be bad form to call out another man’s name in bed?” I shrugged. “It was my dog’s name.” He let out a long exhale. “Very well.” “Do you have a word?” He paused and looked up at the ceiling, a thoughtful expression on his face. “I suppose I don’t. But I doubt I shall need one.” “You might.” “I don’t think so.” “I want a word.” “You are in no place to make demands.” “A word.” “Hippocrates.” I giggled. “Do no harm?” He bowed his head and smiled. “It was the first thing I could think of.” Leaning closer, he pressed a soft kiss on my cheek. A tingling sensation flooded my body, and I raised my gaze to meet his. A lock of dark hair fell in his eyes, and my hands strained with the desire to brush it back behind his ear. “Do you believe in that as a doctor?” I asked. “Do no harm?” “I try my best.” He looked down, his face falling. “I fail sometimes.” “Like in the Gathering when you beat up that satyr?” His head snapped up. “That was different.” I frowned. “How so?” “That man had pushed you. Hurt you.” He brushed his lips against the cut on my forehead, and my entire body shivered. “He deserved it, and I would do it again.” My heart swelled. I may have been tied up, exposed and vulnerable, and yet, I had never felt safer in my whole life. Dr. Moorland, the healer, the protector. Whatever he was about to do to my body, I embraced it completely. “Are you ready for the blindfold?” he asked. I nodded. His silk handkerchief pressed against my eyelids and darkness filled my sight. I nestled into the pillows, and Joseph’s hands passed down across my neck and between my breasts. With my vision gone, all I could feel were the smooth pads of his fingertips as they lingered on the lace of my nightshirt. My heart raced, my breathing too loud in my ears. He pulled on the drawstring and loosened the top, and a cool draft brushed against my nipples. They hardened, and my cheeks burned beneath the blindfold from being so exposed. “The key to pleasuring any woman, really, is to excite her whole body.” “The whole body?” “Do I need to gag you, too, Audrey?” I suppressed a smirk. “I didn’t realize I was in a lecture hall.” “My lesson. My rules.” “Fair enough.” The mattress shifted, and I breathed in the familiar smell of clove and cardamom. His lips brushed against my ear, and a shudder ran straight to my sex. “You might want to start with kissing the tendons along her neck.” His full lips brushed against my skin, and my breath hitched. I couldn’t see his hands, but my body tensed with anticipation, bracing for his next move. “Then,” he continued. “You might want to run your tongue ever so slightly along her earlobe.” He did the same. The lightest touch, warm and enticing. My back arched, the silk straining against my arms, the need to take control filling my limbs. “Relax, Audrey,” he whispered in my ear. “Give yourself to me.” I sank into the dark, and his hand pressed against my breast, pushing me down into the mattress before releasing me. The movement hypnotized me, my body rising and falling with his palm. He rubbed his thumb against my nipple, and a low moan escaped my lips. “Yes,” Joseph said in response. “Stimulation with a light touch is the key before moving on.” He planted a kiss on the tip of my nipple, and I let out gasp. With the blindfold on, everything felt amplified, intense. Joseph let out a low laugh, husky and dangerous. His lips clamped over my breast, and he twirled his tongue against my flesh. He pulled his mouth away, creating a suction that filled my body with bolts of pleasure. He rubbed my other nipple and sucked harder, my core pulsing with each touch, each slip of his tongue. “Oh, Joseph,” I whispered. “Oh…”

ABOUT C.B. HALVERSON

As a child, Colleen Halverson used to play in the woods imagining worlds and telling stories to herself. Growing up on military bases, she found solace in her local library and later decided to make a living sharing the wonders of literature to poor, unsuspecting college freshmen. After backpacking through Ireland and singing in a traditional Irish music band, she earned a PhD in English with a specialization in Irish literature. When she’s not making up stories or teaching, she can be found hiking the rolling hills of the Driftless area of Wisconsin with her husband and two children. She also writes as C.B. Halverson.

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY

Hunter S. Jones & Giveaway

SEXUALITY AND ITS IMPACT ON HISTORY
The British Stripped Bare
by Hunter S. Jones

CRUISING FOR LOVE & Giveaway

Little White Lies
by R.C. Matthews

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GENRE: Contemporary Romance

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BLURB:
Cruising for Love: 4 Shipshape Romances Kindle Edition by R.C. Matthews (Author),‎ Cait O'Sullivan (Author),‎ Angela Adams (Author),‎ Peggy Gaddis (Author) Set a course for adventure with these four couples as they take to the high seas only to find new romance.

Little White Lies: (R. C. Matthews)

Attorney Madalyn Russell may have dumped her fiancĂ© at the altar, but no way is she rejecting the honeymoon cruise. Unfortunately, she didn’t cancel the newlywed package, and now she’s stuck as a single in a lovebird world. That is, until a devilishly handsome man with a secret, Royce Spencer, offers a deliciously indecent proposal: He’ll pose as her husband in exchange for companionship during the cruise. She can’t deny their attraction, but will their little white lies make too many waves when Royce’s past finally catches up with him?

Romancing the Seas: (Cait O’ Sullivan)

When a relationship gone bad sinks sous-chef Pippa Renshaw’s plans, she swaps her job in a prestigious London restaurant to become the head chef on a cruise ship sailing around New Zealand. It’s a great escape plan until a mix-up means she has to share a suite with her new boss, the delectable Jonathon Eagleton, who is no happier about the circumstances. These two can handle the simmer… but when the heat turns up, is it a recipe for true love?

Magic Moment: (Angela Adams)

Shortly after the FBI brings in Laura Roberts for questioning regarding activities at the warehouse where she keeps the books, a gang of thugs snatch her off the street. Chase Donovan boarded his boat intending to spend a few peaceful days getting his head together, but instead he finds trouble when he interrupts two men assaulting a woman in his cabin. What’s more, they claim his father told them to do it. Chase doesn’t want to believe his father could hurt anyone. Laura doesn’t understand why she’s a target. Can they put their mutual attraction and time on his yacht to work to discover the truth before someone dies?

Reach for Tomorrow: (Peggy Gaddis)

Nurse Claire Frazier was devoted to her fiancé, until he threw that love back in her face. Disillusioned and burning with shame, she books passage on a world cruise, along with an intriguing collection of fellow passengers: an attractive second officer, a detective, and a confidence artist. Is love waiting once again at the next port of call?

Sensuality Level: Sensual

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EXCERPT:

Madalyn gasped in shock as her hands shot forward, and she lost her balance, only to be steadied by a strong pair of hands. A familiar heady scent filled her nostrils. She closed her eyes and knew in a moment she’d be gazing into beautiful emerald eyes. His hands were big and felt good on her waist. Why couldn’t she have bumped into him at a more opportune time? Right now all she wanted was to get the hell out of there.

“I’m so sorry,” she said, looking up into his steady gaze. He must have thought she was a complete klutz—first the lounge chair and now this.

“Are you okay?” he asked, his voice soft and husky.

“I’m fine,” she said, and bit down on her bottom lip. “I should’ve been watching where I was going.” She stepped away and motioned towards the dining room. “Don’t let me keep you. You’ll be late for dinner.”

She turned to leave.

“Excuse me . . .  miss,” he called out, extending his hand to her.

“Madalyn,” she murmured and reached out for his hand.

A feathery light sensation traveled up her spine when his hand closed around hers, infusing her with his warmth. Why was she so captivated by this man?

“Madalyn,” he said in a soft voice. “Royce.”

Her lips curled up slightly at the corners. Royce was a sufficiently exotic name for her Adonis. It was unique, just like him. His rich baritone voice was easy on the ears. And she liked the way he wore his hair just a touch too long … perfect for running her fingers through it. Not that she’d have an opportunity to run her fingers through his hair. But if she did, well, she imagined it would feel heavenly.

His eyes probed hers. “You look like you could use a stiff drink. Would you join me for one?”

“You don’t need to skip dinner for me,” she said. “Your friends must be waiting for you.”

“I’m here alone,” he admitted, glancing down at his feet and shoving his hands in his pockets.

How did he manage to look both sexy and adorable?

“You’ll rescue me from a table full of strangers,” he said with a wink. “Right now I’d love to have a drink with you. What do you say?”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

R.C. Matthews is the author of contemporary and historical romances featuring bold, sassy heroines and magnetic alpha heroes. Warning! The chemistry between her characters is off the charts hot, so read at your own risk. She resides in the Midwest and is surrounded by men: her husband and three sons. During her free time you'll find her watching The Walking Dead, reading a fabulous book or hanging out with her family.

http://www.rcmatthews.com/
https://twitter.com/RCMatthews123
https://www.facebook.com/RC-Matthews-762414770455240/
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3361802.R_C_Matthews
http://www.rcmatthews.com/
http://www.simonandschuster.com/search/books/_/N-/Ntt-R.C.+Matthews

4 complete novels for only $2.99




a Rafflecopter giveaway

Along Came Jones

We are pleased to be shining the spotlight on the chick lit/contemporary fiction, Along Came Jones, by Victoria Bernadine.


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About the Book

Title: ALONG CAME JONES
Author: Victoria Bernadine
Publisher: Love of Words Publishing
Pages: 324
Genre: Chick Lit/Contemporary Fiction

BOOK BLURB: 

Benjamin Ferrin Macon-Jones has it all: a luxurious lifestyle in Toronto and the love of an intelligent, ambitious woman…until that same woman refuses his marriage proposal, tells him he’s a detriment to her career, and leaves him. Unable to deal with his cantankerous family trying to be supportive, he quietly slips away into the Canadian countryside.

Lou Upjohn has problems of her own. She’s a recluse and agoraphobic, staying safely within the walls of her ancestral home in small town Saskatchewan and depending on Ike, her best and only friend, to deal with the outside world. Only Ike’s just married another woman and now he’s moving to Vancouver. Before he leaves, he hires the new guy in town, Ferrin Jones, to run her errands and do her yard work. Lou isn’t happy, but even she has to admit the stranger looks mildly interesting.

Both their lives could be changed forever if she only has the courage to open the door.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon

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Book Excerpt:


“Marry me.”
Olivia laughs.
“What?” she teases with a fond, slightly mocking smile.  “Are you ‘proposing’ because you think it’s what people are supposed to do on New Year’s Eve?”
Ferrin smirks his lopsided, endearing smirk as he lowers himself to one knee and proffers the small, square velvet box he dug out of the pocket of his tuxedo.
The beautiful brunette laughs again.  “Oh, Ferrin, get up—you’re being ridiculous!  And the joke really isn’t all that funny.” 
Olivia glances at the crowd of beaming friends and family surrounding them and Ferrin watches as realization slowly dawns on her face.  Her gaze snaps back to his as realization morphs into horror, and Ferrin feels a corresponding sick, sinking feeling grow in his stomach as her expression changes.  His own smile slips away and his face freezes into an expressionless mask.  Their spectators’ hissed in-drawn breaths and sudden, uncomfortable silence barely register given his complete and utter focus on Olivia.
He knows what she’s going to say before she says it, but like any impending disaster, he can’t seem to look away.
“Oh, my God,” she whispers.  “Oh, shit!”  She bites her lip, then says in a rush, “I love you, Ferrin, I really, truly do...but I can’t marry you.”  Her voice breaks; her eyes fill with tears.
The silence that follows seems to grow and envelop them in a stifling cocoon built from his humiliation and suddenly terrified heart.  Ferrin hears, as if through cotton wool, subdued voices and the shuffling of feet as their family and friends gather their things and leave the apartment.  In some distant corner of his mind, he’s mildly surprised they're all leaving so quietly...or maybe he just can’t hear them across the yawning divide that’s opened between him and Olivia.
As the door closes, she whispers, “Get up.  Your knee must hurt.”
Does it?  He can’t tell over the crushing pressure in his chest, his stomach, his head, but he struggles to his feet anyway, like she asks, because she asks, aching and sore and suddenly ancient.  He straightens and becomes, as always, self-consciously aware of how big he is in comparison to her, and how his bulk looming over her always makes her edgy.  He automatically slouches his shoulders, trying to minimize his size, trying to make her comfortable.
“Say something,” she begs, and her voice breaks.
His voice is cracked, hollow, distant, as he says, “Is this it?”
‘It’, he thinks with despair.  Such a tiny word with such a huge meaning.
She hesitates, then nods, not quite looking at him.
“This can’t come as that much of a surprise.  Not if you’re honest with yourself.”
Ferrin can’t seem to make his brain work.  He shakes his head, trying to force something—anything—loose so his world—his life—will start to make sense again.
“I—I—no.  Yes.  Why?” he asks, and winces at just how lost he sounds.
Olivia sighs and says, very gently, “I want other things in life than you do, Ferrin.  My career means everything to me and I want to make it to the top of Macon-Jones Enterprises, or as high as I can get without being a blood relative.”
Finally, finally, anger flares inside him.
“And I’m holding you back?  In my own family’s company?”
Olivia hesitates.
Ferrin’s eyes widen.  “You really believe it,” he breathes.  “When have I ever stood in your way, Olivia?”
This time her sigh is long-suffering.  “You’ve never stood in my way, no, but you’ve never actively helped me, either.”
“I didn’t think you wanted me to!  If I recall correctly, you told me so in no uncertain terms when we moved in together.  That’s only a couple of years ago!  What’s changed?”
“I didn’t want you using any undue influence with Abram to get me promotions I didn’t deserve,” Olivia snaps, her own anger flaring.  “That didn’t mean I didn’t want you to help me at all!”
Ferrin snorts.  “Nobody has undue influence with Abram.  You should know that by now!”
“Abram isn’t the point!  The point is that I could have used your support when some of my projects came up for a vote before the Board.  Instead, you, as always, stayed out of it and gave your vote to the first cousin who asked for it, without any regard to how the decision would impact my career or my projects!  Half the time, you didn’t even bother asking me how I wanted you to vote!”
“I never ask anyone about the projects or how they want to use my vote!  The cousins know how I play the game and it works well for all of us.  Why do you think I’m the only one any of them will talk to without a witness present?”
Olivia throws her hands up in the air as she whirls and paces away.  “There!  That’s exactly the problem!”
He takes a step back, blinking.  “What?  The fact that I’m friendly with all my cousins?  That’s a problem?”
“No!”  She brushes a hand over her face in exasperation.  She turns to him, and now he recognizes that look on her face.  It’s the one she has when she’s getting ready to lecture him on what, exactly, he’s done wrong, and what he needs to do to avoid making the same mistake again.
She says, “It’s not the fact the cousins all like you that’s the problem; it’s the reason they all like you!  You’re such a goddamn fixer, itching to solve everyone’s problems that you’ve become a complete pushover!  I don’t want to hurt you, Ferrin, but, let’s face it:  you’re a sucker.  You’re gullible.  And I hate to say this, but you’re also a bit of a wimp.  You’ll do whatever anybody tells you to do, and that’s proven in spades by your so-called ‘business investments’!  All anybody needs in order to get money out of you is a sob story and a half-assed idea!”
His mouth sags open as he rocks beneath her barrage, every word slamming into his heart and his gut and his mind.
“What the hell?” he chokes.
Olivia deflates, pity in her eyes.
“Look,” she says, and now her voice is calm and firmly matter-of-fact, the way Ferrin has so often heard her speak whenever he’s forced to attend a board meeting with her, “I’m going to be CEO someday of a multi-billion-dollar multinational company.  Your family’s multi-billion-dollar multinational company.  It’s ruthless and cutthroat, and a spouse’s strengths and talents are just as important to an executive’s rise as the executive’s own skills and talents, especially in Macon-Jones Enterprises.  You know how outright Machiavellian your family can be, and that’s when they’re arranging Christmas!  If you think they’re ruthless in their personal lives, they’re ten times worse in the boardroom, trust me!”
“Yes, I know,” Ferrin says drily, and is almost glad he’s starting to feel something—anything—now.  “I have met my cousins and I’ve even been to a board meeting a time or two.  Abram seems to have done all right without a spouse to support him.”
She snorts.  “He’s Chair and he was handed the job by your great-grandfather!  He’s never had to prove anything to anybody!”
His laugh is harsh and barking.  “Now you’re the one who’s forgotten what my cousins are like!” He waves his words away.  “Doesn’t matter.  You knew when we met that I do everything I can to avoid anything to do with the company.”
“You’re not supposed to avoid it by giving your vote to whichever cousin gets to you first!  Besides, you’re your father’s only surviving child, the last of your particular branch of the family!  You out of all your cousins shouldn’t avoid the company at all!”
Ferrin flinches.
She grimaces.  “I’m sorry; that was low...but you know I’m right.  You could wield enormous influence and power in the company, and not only with the family when they want something, if you’d just take an interest!  If you would listen to me, let me guide you, advise you so you don’t believe everything you’re told, and let me stop Carson, Dyson and Jack from constantly distracting you, you could be the next Chair of the Board instead of Jack!”
“So I’m not only gullible and a wimp, I’m also so stupid I can only trust you to advise me?” he says, incredulous.
“Of course not!  But you’re wasting your potential—and your birthright!  Your father was Abram’s second-in-command, for God’s sake!  All you have to do is step up and follow in his footsteps!”  She runs a hand through her hair and groans.  “Face it, Ferrin, I’m never going to be CEO if I remain allied with you, not unless you change your approach to the business.”
Ferrin rears back and stares.
“‘Allied’?” he says slowly.  “Is that what the last five years have been about, Olivia?  An alliance?”
“No!  Of course not!  I love you.  I do!  You’re a wonderful man, Ferrin.  But you’re...” She spreads her hands and shrugs helplessly.
“Weak,” he says flatly, “and obviously a little stupid.  Have I got it right?”
“Ferrin…”  She takes a step towards him, but he quickly retreats.  She stops and stares at him, her large, brown eyes brimming with tears.  For once, he’s unmoved.
“I’m sorry I’ve been such a disappointment to your professional ambitions,” he grates out, a bitter twist to his lips.  He turns and heads for the exit.
“Where are you going?”
“I have no idea,” he says, and slams the door behind him.
♠♥♣♦
Lou signs the last of the papers and sits back with a rueful scowl.
“Considering I never leave the house,” she grumbles to Ike, “you’d think there’d be less paperwork.”
Ike chuckles as he straightens the papers and tucks them into his briefcase.
“You have a lot of investments, Lou.  You need to keep track of them all.”
She shrugs.  “I suppose, although I thought that’s what I was paying you to do.”
“Lou,” Ike says, and leans back in Ike's Chair with an annoyed sigh.
She grimaces and waves a hand.  “Whatever.  You know I don’t read the things when you put them in front of me, and I tune out as soon as you start talking finances and investments and whatever the hell else you’re saying when your lips are moving.”
“Yes, I do know.  Why do you think I gave up a long time ago on trying to convince you to pay more attention?”
She shrugs, then tugs her over-sized, dirt-brown sweater more closely around herself.  Her stomach churns and tightens as she buries her suddenly shaking hands in the knitted wool.  She staunchly reminds herself of her New Year’s Resolution to make changes in her life, beginning with her relationship with Ike and ending with her finally figuring out a way to leave the house.
“Would you like something to drink?” she asks, carefully casual, but she can’t quite keep the hopeful lilt from her voice. 
It’s been a long time since Ike stayed past the time it takes to get her signature on a stack of papers, or to confirm she’s still breathing.  She misses the days when he’d linger and talk with her, giving her news of the world outside the walls of her house.  Even more, she misses those all-too-few nights, when he’d whisper against her heated skin, and leave her weak with need.  But those nights, like everything else, faded away and now he barely spends any time with her at all.
She doesn’t really miss people, but she misses Ike, and he’s the only one right in front of her.
Now he hesitates, and the thoughtful look on his face makes her stomach drop.
This won’t be good, she thinks.
“I don’t want anything to drink,” he says slowly, “but I do want to talk to you.”
Her stomach drops even further as she shifts her weight in her seat, her fingers clutching at the strands of her sweater.
“All right,” she says, feeling as wary as a rabbit sensing danger.
Ike leans forward, his gorgeous golden-brown eyes never wavering from hers.  He says, very carefully and precisely, “On New Year’s Eve, I asked Irish to marry me, and she said yes.”
The ensuing silence lengthens, deepens, as the words drift around her like leaves, like dust.
She loves Ike, has always loved him.  Even while they played cops and robbers through the dusty streets of Ledoux, or hunted for ghosts in and around the abandoned hospital on the outskirts of town, or searched for buried treasure in the rare copses of trees that dot the prairie landscape, she also secretly dreamed of playing house.  He’s her white knight, riding to her rescue whenever he noticed her schoolmates teasing her or when her mother got sick or when she realized she could no longer bring herself to face the world lurking outside her windows.  He starred in more dreams than she can count when she was a teenager, and he’s in more fantasies than she cares to admit as an adult.
Ten years ago, he helped her cope with her mother’s illness as he gradually took over all the mundane tasks she had no time or energy to do:  paying bills, buying groceries, talking to the neighbours.  Five years later, he stood by her side, strong and tall and comforting, when she finally laid her mother—that poor, long-suffering woman—to rest. Lou had been twenty-five then, grief-stricken and suddenly unable to cope with the world outside, but Ike remained her friend even after she crept into her house and allowed the doors to seal shut behind her.
She stayed inside, and there were those few brief months when he joined her in her bed, but then his desire faded away, and when she wasn’t looking, he fell in love with Irish.
She shivers.
The cold of a Saskatchewan winter doesn’t even come close to the ice growing inside her.
“Lou?”
She blinks and shifts, her fingers flexing nervously against the knitted fabric of her sweater.
“Congratulations,” she croaks.  Her heart clenches at the genuine happiness on his face, in his eyes.  She clears her throat, then asks, her voice husky, “When’s the big day?”
“The beginning of March.”
“That’s only six weeks away!”
He laughs.  “Well, there’s no reason to wait, is there? Don’t worry, Lou, I’m still going to manage your finances and take care of you.”
“Oh.  Well.  That’s...good.”  What did it matter, she wants to scream, if there’s no longer any hope you’ll come back to me?
Ike nods as he smacks his hands against his knees and surges to his feet.
“Maybe someday you’ll meet her,” he says, grinning as he picks up his briefcase.
She forces a smile, and hopes he doesn’t notice her trembling lips.  “Maybe.  You’ve told me so much about her, I feel like I know her already.”  She winces inside at her dry tone.
Ike either doesn’t notice or decides to ignore the sarcasm. 
“You’d like her, you know,” he says as he walks to the door.  She drifts after him and watches, helpless, as he pulls on his boots and parka.  “She reminds me a lot of how you used to be.”
Lou opens her mouth to say she could be the way she used to be; she just needs to figure out how to get there, that’s all.  But he’s already opening the door, and she closes her mouth, the words unsaid.
He pauses on the threshold, the icy air swirling round his feet and into the large, cluttered foyer. He half-turns towards her, standing in both shadow and light.  Lou swallows, once again struck by how perfect he is, from the compelling beauty of his amber eyes, high cheekbones and perfectly symmetrical features, to his crown of carefully groomed dark brown hair, now ruffled by the cold winter wind.  She sometimes finds it hard to believe he’s ever run barefoot through mud, or hovered over her as he patiently coaxed her to orgasm.  Maybe if she had been able to enjoy the sex more—
“I’ll be back before the wedding,” he says now, startling her from her thoughts.  “See you later, Lou.”
He flashes his charming smile, and is gone before she even finishes nodding.
She stares at the door without seeing it before she carefully straightens her sweater, vaguely aware her feet are numb even in their wool socks, thanks to the cold prairie wind that had blown inside the house.  She turns and walks just as carefully back to the living room.  She eases down onto the couch, feeling as if even the air touching her skin is enough to break her.
She stares at nothing, and allows the comforting silence to gently settle over her.


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About the Author


Victoria Bernadine (a pseudonym) is, as the saying goes, a "woman of a certain age". After twenty-something years of writer's block, she began writing again in 2008. 
Victoria enjoys reading all genres and particularly loves writing romantic comedy and post-apocalyptic science fiction. What those two have in common is anybody's guess.
She lives in Edmonton with her two cats (The Grunt and The Runt).  Along Came Jones is the second novel she felt was good enough to be released into the wild.



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Sunday, January 21, 2018

Out of Goodbyes

  LIMITED TIME 99¢ SALE  
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2ztVdRO
All other links: books2read.com/devoted2
~~~
Author: Gen Ryan
Title: Out of Goodbyes
Series: Hopelessly Devoted, #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Cover Designer: Claire Smith
Publisher: Hot Tree Publishing


Just when Rainey finally gets her life together, her high school sweetheart, Parker, decides he’s ready to fight for her. His promises threaten to tear apart all that Rainey has fought for. Her happiness and heart included.

Levi Hayes has fought hard for Rainey’s trust. When he finally wins her heart, he fears it all might be taken away. But he’ll fight for Rainey, even if doing so threatens to bring up memories he’d rather forget.

For Rainey to make her choice, she must let go of a past that took everything from her and hope she can finally live for herself, and find her forever happiness.

It’s not over yet! 
More Than Words, the first in another character’s story, is coming in March 2018!
When We Were Young
Book 1


You can find Gen curled up reading paranormal romance and romantic thrillers or frantically typing her stories on her laptop.

Forensic psychology is her trade by day, teaching and molding the minds of college students. Her interest in psychology can be seen in her books, each including many psychological undertones. Although she loves teaching, her passion, her true love, lies in the stories that roam around in her head. Yes, they all come from her mind--the good, the bad, and the totally insane.

Gen Ryan is an international best-selling author in multiple sub genres within romance. She lives in Massachusetts--no, not Boston--with her husband, daughter, and American Eskimo dog named Chewbacca. With each story she shares, she hopes her love for writing and storytelling seeps through, encompassing the reader and leaving them wanting more.


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K.N. Lee is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. She is the author of the Dragon-Born Saga, Eura Chronicles, Wonderland University, and the Chronicles of Koa series. When she is not writing twisted urban fantasy, epic tales of dragons, pirates, and mermaids, and dark poetry, she does a great deal of traveling and spending time with her family. Wannabe rockstar, foreign language enthusiast, and anime geek, K.N. Lee also enjoys gaming and sketching. She is a winner of the Elevate Lifestyle Top 30 Under 30 "Future Leaders of Charlotte" award for her success as a writer, business owner, and for community service.


She is signed with Captive Quill Press and Patchwork Press and represented by Hershman Rights Management.

K.N. Lee loves hearing from fans and readers. Connect with her!




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