quinta-feira, 9 de abril de 2015

♡ Blog Tour + #Giveaway ♡ Collision (Portland Street Kings #1) by Evie Harper + Excerpt @evieharper_auth @BTSPromosPR




Collision
Portland Street Kings #1
by
Evie Harper

Release Date: March 24, 2015

Genre: Contemporary Romance





✾ Synopsis ✾


When I was fourteen years old, I killed for the first time. That day I learned cruelty wasn't only within the walls we had just escaped.

It hasn't been easy growing up in the middle of a war. A struggle to find shelter. Fighting to protect our bodies against the corruption of the streets. Nobody cared about the street kids who had to beg and steal to eat.

We are the Portland Street Kings – A family forged through loyalty not blood. To get through this life of broken dreams alive, we've become hard, uncaring and merciless. We do what must be done to keep our family safe, we will harm those who stand against us.

We have it all, feared and respected by those on the streets. Then she collided into my world, and with her came demons from my past, back to haunt us all.












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✿ Excerpt ✿


Prologue


I step into the tiny bedroom I share with my five foster siblings. Four now. Agony explodes under my skin and causes my head to spin. A memory of her small, pale, dead and beaten body slams into my mind and nausea assaults me. I hold my stomach and turn my head to the side, trying to hold the bile down.

"Slater? What's wrong; are you sick?" Hearing my little sister«s sweet voice causes a tear to escape.

A warm hand lands on my shoulder and my brother, Pacer, repeats the question. "Slater, what's wrong?"

Just the thought of telling them, breaking their hearts, has me racing to the shared bathroom attached to our bedroom.

I kneel at the toilet and just as a wave of nausea hits me, my throat finally releases and I heave the contents of my stomach into the bowl.

When I'm sure I have nothing left to throw up, I sit back on my haunches. I sense the presence of my younger siblings behind me and break down. I physically feel the emptiness of one of my family members now gone, the girl I could never call a sister like Della. A girl whose smile brightened even my most terrifying days, one who made living in this dark, frightening house bearable.

Mia.

Della's smile always warmed my heart and made me smile back at her. But Mia... her smile made my heart pound heavily with excitement and something else I don't understand. It always felt strange thinking of her as my sister, but she was in our group home so we were all brothers and sisters, through circumstance, not family.

I grip the toilet seat and stand on shaky legs before I turn and face my family. All of them are staring at me with fear in their eyes.

Pacer steps forward, waiting for me to explain. As the second eldest at eleven, one year younger than me, it's always been him and me looking after our siblings.

I look to Mackson and at nine years old, he's already been through too much. Mia and Kelso were the only two who are the same age, at eight. We all joked sometimes that they must be twins. And then Della, the youngest at seven… So sweet and gentle, she often offers her food or water to us all, her nature to give and care for others. Even being brought up in this house, all of them are gentle, protective and giving people.

We are children who have lost all hope, who had our childhoods stolen away, who don't smile often and when we do, it's rare and something worth remembering. This is all we've ever known, all we can remember. We see what life is like on the outside through the little bit of TV we have been allowed to watch. We know we aren’t normal; we know our lives are set on a different and more terrifying path than others. I had thought that as I got older things would change and then I could get us all away from here, but that day has come much quicker than I thought it would. I'm scared. I don't know how to feed or protect my family in the outside world. I only know the rules inside these walls, but I have no choice now. I will not lose another.

I stare at Pacer for strength as I speak, because I know seeing my younger siblings' faces will break me.

"We have to leave, now. Phillip—" I pause as a lump forms in my throat. "Phillip killed Mia."

I find the courage to look to my brothers and sister and find wide eyes and sorrow evident on their faces. Della's lips tremble and she cries out, "No."

I pull her into my arms as she grieves the death of the only sister she's ever known.

My brothers start falling to the floor one after the other. Cries and moans echo around the bathroom as they grieve for their little sister. My eyes glaze over as I realize I don't have enough arms to hold them all.

Ever since they started arriving, one after the other, I took them as my family and promised myself I would protect them as much as I could. We were all placed here through the system because our parents didn't want us or couldn't cope with us anymore. The system, which was supposed to protect children, willingly handed us over to a monster. A group home that held many screams behind its closed doors.

I knew the horrors which awaited the kids who came after me, as I was the first. Each of them arrived when they were five, just like me. Any time Phillip neared the boys I would grow tense and prepare for a battle with him. I took many beatings trying to save them from Phillip's wandering hands. Usually, I would end up in our bedroom, beaten and crying, knowing what one of my brothers was enduring at that very moment. What I'd failed to prevent once again.

I could be more relaxed around my sisters; Phillip's hands apparently didn't like little girls. Thank God. But Phillip's fists found their faces often when they didn't keep up with their chores. We all did what we could to help the girls when Phillip wasn't looking, and often we felt the belt across our backs when we interfered with him hitting our sisters.

I call to Pacer because I need his help to get us all out of here alive. We need to stay strong for just a little while longer.

"Pace, I need your help and we don't have much time."

Pacer's eyes swing to me.

His tormented face brings an ache to my chest which attempts to explode from my mouth, but I stop before it can show them how close I am to falling apart. I need to stay strong. I need to get the rest of my family out of here.

"Pace, we need to move quickly and quietly so Phillip doesn't hear us. I need you to silently close our bedroom door and move a bed up to it. If he tries to get into our room, I want time before he gets in here."

Pacer nods and quickly races out of the bathroom. I don't hear our door close but I hear a soft drag of a bedframe.

I pick Dell up, carry her to her bed and place her down. She curls her body into a tight ball and sobs into her knees.

I rush back to Mack and Kelso and gently pull their chins up, forcing their eyes to meet mine. "I'm sorry," I say, swallowing back the large lump in my throat. "I'm so sorry this has happened, but I promise you, today we're getting out. We're leaving this place behind forever, but I need you guys to pull together and help. Can you do that for me?"

Mackson is the first to nod in understanding that we need to act now and grieve later. He's only nine, but he has always been the most level-headed one of us all. My gaze turns to Kelso and his eyes are still wide and glassy. "Can you do this, Kel? I need you, buddy."

"Slate, how? Where is she? We can't leave her behind." Kel's words come out strangled and they gut me to the core.

We can't leave her behind.

I bow my head and take a deep breath before I answer him. "She's gone, Kel." I don't tell him there was blood everywhere, that she was unrecognizable. "Now we need to leave so that doesn't happen to one of us." My words must register with Kel because he quickly nods and stands with Mack next to him.

"Okay, I need you two to pack all of our clothes into our backpacks, and then take the sheets and pillows from our beds, got it?"

They nod quickly, stand and run to the closet where our backpacks are stored, ones we were only ever allowed to use when we went to the store for groceries. Only Pacer and I got to go; the others had to stay behind. Phillip said it gave Pacer and me incentive to come back, and he was right. If he ever let us all go, I would have made sure none of us ever returned.

I scan the room, thinking of a way out without risking going through Phillip. I look to the windows. We are in a lone, two-story house at the end of a dirt road but not far from town. I think back to a movie where a boy tied sheets together to escape through a window. Does that work in real life? I don't know, but it's our only hope at the moment.

Mack and Kel are already taking the sheets off the beds, moving Dell gently to stand so they can grab hers, as well. I knew it wouldn't take them long to pack all our clothes. We don't have much — just a few shirts and shorts we all share and the girls only have a couple of long dresses they shared.

"Mack, Kel, pass me the sheets."

They throw me the white sheets and I begin tying the ends to one another. I finish and count the knots; there are four. I look around for the sixth sheet. I find it on Mia's still made-up mattress with her pillows still fluffed from this morning when she'd made her bed. A sharp pain shoots through my chest at thinking of disturbing her things. I decide to see if five sheets will be enough first.

I push the one window in our bedroom open, a chipped-paint, two-paned, wooden-framed, glass window which opens outward and faces the front of the house. Shoving it all the way out, it leaves more than enough room for someone to climb through.

A cool breeze from a midday storm, which just passed over us, blows into the room and the fresh smell of rain invades my senses.

I feed the sheets through, slowly letting them fall more and more with the weight of the material. When I've dropped all I can, I look down and find the sheets almost touch the ground. My family will have to jump down the last few feet.

I call Pace over and tell him he needs to go first and wait at the bottom to catch our siblings. He nods and readies himself to climb down.

I wrap the end of the sheet around my forearm and prepare to hang on tightly. Just as Pacer is about to lower himself down, I say, "Pace, when everyone is at the bottom I'm going to chuck you the bags, sheets and pillows. We need to take them with us."

As if just realizing, Pacer asks, "How will you get down without the sheets?"

"I'm going to sneak through the house and out the front door or a window, whatever I can find to get through. We're going to need our clothes and sheets. I don't know where we're going, but we will need them for shelter and warmth through the nights. We can't go to the police because they will put us back in the system, possibly separate us. Or worse, put us with another monster. I'm not escaping one hell just to go to another. And we need money to survive, Pacer. I need to take Phillip's wallet; it's our only option. We're going to need money for food and train tickets to get away from here, far away. We can't let child services find us."

Pacer shakes his head, not wanting to hear my plan. I place my hand on his shoulder and reassure him. "I will be fine, Pace. Right now, you need to get our brothers and sister out of here, and I need to get us the money to help do that. Take them to the store, and I'll meet you there. When I arrive, we're going to the station to catch the first train that pulls in."

"Slate, if Phillip catches you—"

I cut him off. "He won't, Pace. I promise, I'll be right behind you."

Pacer pauses, staring at me for a long moment before reluctantly nodding, turning and climbing down the rope of sheets.

I grab a tight hold of the sheets and sit on the floor with my back to the wall. I grit my teeth as I hold on with all my strength. After a few minutes, they go slack in my hands.

I jump up quickly and let out a relieved sigh as I see my brother safely on the ground, gesturing for me to hurry up.

Della goes next, then Kel and last, Mack. I throw down the sheets, pillows and three backpacks stuffed full of our clothes.

When they have everything, I mouth a silent, "Go!" They stare up at me with terrified eyes for a brief moment before they turn and start running, racing from this house of horrors, toward the road into town.

I turn and walk to the door and as quietly as possible, I drag the bed away and twist the handle softly. Opening it just a bit, I still my body to listen for Phillip in the house. I hear nothing, so I peer out into the hall — it's clear. I race to the end of the hallway and descend the stairs, stopping halfway down and listening again for any signs of Phillip inside the house. I hear nothing except the pounding of my heart in my ears.

I creep down the last set of stairs and inspect the living room before heading left into Phillip's room. I take three quick steps backward as my heart crashes against my chest. The door to Phillip's room is open when it's usually closed and locked unless he is in there. I freeze on the spot and strain my ears to listen for anything, but when I still hear nothing, no sound of him in the house anywhere, I creep down the rest of the stairs. I move closer to his bedroom and slowly push open his door. Fear slams into my heart as it sounds with a creak as it opens; my pulse races and sweat drips down my face.

With the door now wide open, I can see Phillip is not in here. My heart is beating wildly as I rub the sweat away from my forehead with shaking hands.

I scan Phillip's room for his wallet and am thankful when it's the first thing my eyes land on. I take quick steps, scooping it up and looking inside. I see many bills and cards, cards I have no idea how to use; the bills will have to be enough. I will have to wait till I'm with Pacer to find out how much is in the wallet as he is the only one of us who knows how to count well.

I grasp tightly to the wallet in my palm and turn quickly, racing out of the room and heading straight for the front door before I freeze. Mia. I want to see her one last time. I need to say goodbye.

I tiptoe through the living room and peer into the kitchen. I can't see Phillip anywhere. Where is he? Did he run, knowing he had killed Mia? Did I send my siblings rushing off for no reason?

I crouch behind the bench in the kitchen and look around to Mia's body still lying lifeless on the tiled floor. Her right arm is outstretched, appearing to reach out for someone to take hold and help her. I stretch my hand out and softly touch the tips of her fingers, still so soft and warm.

Grumbling comes from the back door, and I hastily pull my arm back and scurry behind the counter. I hear Phillip mumbling, but no steps coming into the kitchen. I carefully look around the counter again and see him bringing an old blanket and a shovel covered in wet soil just inside the back door. He's going to bury Mia in the backyard. No! I need to get to a phone, call the police and tell them what he's done. She needs to be buried in a cemetery where she belongs, where I can visit her one day.

I look back to my unrecognizable Mia and my heart squeezes, twisting painfully as I force myself to say my last farewell. Tears fall as I swallow past a lump in my throat and finally I'm able to whisper, "Goodbye, Mia."

Watching as Phillip goes back outside, I decide now is my chance to quietly move back through the house to the front door. I make it and find the door locked as usual, and Phillip is the only one who has the key. The window next to it is slightly opened and has been missing the screen for months now. I quietly, but with all my strength, open the window which hasn't been touched in years. It squeaks once and I pray Phillip is too busy to worry about any sounds in this old, run-down house.

I jump up and slide my body through the window, scraping the skin off my hips as I barely fit, and fall to the ground with a hard thump. I bite my lip from yelling out in pain.

I'm out.

Terror grips my heart as I sprint frantically from the house, not looking behind me in fear I will find Phillip chasing me.

As I run from the only home I've ever known, the house of horrors, the only thoughts I'm having are ones I've never let released before this moment.

I think I was in love with her.

Not family love, but a different kind of love.

Now I'll never know.





✿ The Author ✿


Evie is an Australian author whose passion for reading lead her into writing. Evie spends her days writing angsty, heartbreaking love stories and creating happily ever afters. When Evie isn't writing you can find her reading or spending time with her husband and two children.

Evie released her debut novel You Loved Me At My Darkest in August 2014 and it was quickly followed by Book #2 You Loved Me At My Weakest which released in November 2014. Book #3 You Loved Me At My Ugliest will be releasing mid-2015.

Evie has another series called the PORTLAND STREET KINGS coming soon.

Book #1 in the series is called COLLISION and will be releasing 13th March 2014.



✽ Author Links ✽

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✿ Giveaway ✿







♡ Blog Tour ♡ Scorched by Sarah O'Rourke + Excerpt + Teasers @SarahORourke99




Scorched
by
Sarah O'Rourke





✾ Synopsis ✾


Life after marriage was everything that William "Devil" Delancy was all that he wanted it to be and more. That was, until his sweet, amazing (and slightly scary!) wife Molly decided to do the impossible - arrange the wedding of his drama queen assistant!

The question soon becomes... will the always-in-control Devil lose Molly to the wedding plans that are quickly falling apart, or will he be able to pull out all of the scorching sexual charms he's known for and bring her back to the dark side?

Romantic erotica comedy at its best! New Release... ONLY 99 pennies for a limited time! 42K words – STANDALONE sequel to Sizzle!








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✿ Excerpt ✿


Moaning as Devil palmed one warm globe and lifted it to his mouth, Molly watched him envelope her nipple, twirling his tongue around the hardened peak and watching as it drew even tighter. "God!" she gasped as he delivered the same treatment to the opposite breast, "I love it when you do that."

"Tits like these deserve to be worshiped, darlin'. And believe me, I could kneel at this altar all night, but you've got so many more curves that I want to explore," Devil rumbled in his velvety voice as he rained kisses over the upper curves of her breasts.

Molly felt like she was being both bathed in pleasure and showered by bliss as Devil traveled the hills and valleys of her body, exploring every inch of flesh with his damp lips. He paused every once in a while to lavish attention on certain locales, but mostly his mouth remained on the move, content to map her body with gentle touches of his lips. It was slow and sensual, and everything a woman could ask for in a lover.

Her legs moved restlessly against his as he reached the curve of her belly and hunger unlike anything she'd experienced before began to claw at her as Devil's soft lips lingered over her belly button, his devilish tongue flicking that ticklish spot playfully. Writhing underneath her husband's marauding lips, Molly giggled as her fingers speared Devil's hair. "Stop that!" she gasped, twisting underneath him as their legs tangled together.

"Tell me I'm a sex god, then," Devil demanded, flicking her belly button again and pulling a high pitched squeal from his wife.

"Are you crazy? I will not!" Molly laughed, attempting to turn away from him onto her belly.

Holding Molly flat on her back with one splayed palm against her torso, Devil grinned against her skin. "Say it," he demanded, moving his mouth lower, his breath teasing against her sensitive folds. "Say it or you earn a punishment," he warned teasingly, lifting his head long enough to give his wife a roguish grin.

Molly's eyes lit up at his not-so-scary threat. Licking her lips slowly as her body undulated beneath his, she shook her head. "No," she clipped tartly, privately knowing that his 'punishment' would deliver nothing but the most sinful pleasure.

"No, huh?" Devil drawled, one eyebrow arching as he considered his wife beneath him. "Is my Molly feeling sassy tonight?" he asked, popping his open palm against her neatly trimmed pussy. Hearing her low moan, Devil grinned again. "Tell me, baby, am I going to need to fuck that sass right out of you?"

Molly offered her husband a sexy smile and cocked her head on the pillow as she stared up at him and said the three words guaranteed to drive him wild. "If you can."






✿ Teasers ✿















✿ Sale ✿


Sizzle





❀ Buy Links ❀

✧ $1.99 from April 6-10 ✧

Amazon US





✿ The Author ✿


Sarah O'Rourke is the alter ego of two best friends who bonded over their passion for romantic fiction and erotica. Born and raised in the southern United States, one lives near Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, while the other resides in Atlanta, Georgia. Formerly an accountant and a chemist, they are now overworked, stay-at-home moms who adore their children, their husbands... and writing about love in every way possible.

Inspired by their dog-eared copies of Gone with the Wind and their almost warped DVDs of Steel Magnolias, they love to write wildly intense romantic/erotica stories that have multiple characters, but they focus on one couple that will ALWAYS have a happy ending... eventually!



✽ Author Links ✽




Vera is Reading



♡ Chapter Reveal ♡ The Consequence of Loving Colton (Consequence #1) by Rachel Van Dyken @RachVD @InkSlingerPR




The Consequence of Loving Colton
Consequence #1
by
Rachel Van Dyken

Release Date: APRIL 21, 2015





✾ Synopsis ✾


It's all fun and games... until someone's heart is broken.

They're not kids anymore, but Milo Caro is certain that Colton Mathews will only see her as his best friend's little sister for the rest of their lives. After all, he made that clear the night before she left for college. But four years later, her brother is getting married and Colt's the best man — and guess who is the best man's last-minute date?

Milo vows to use the wedding to either claim the smoldering firefighter's heart or douse this torch for good. When Max — her best friend from college, who may be carrying a torch of his own — crashes the party, they devise a plan to make Colt see what he's missing. But after Colt catches on, he decides to cook up his own revenge.

Now it's personal. Colt and Milo are at war, and between Max's questionable acting methods, an unfortunate trip to jail, and a maniacal fiancée, what could possibly go right?








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✧ Pre-Order ✧

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Milo
Four years later

I gripped the steering wheel with both hands. Actually, I would have gripped it with my teeth, toes, and ankles had my brain actually fired fast enough to send the message: Red alert! Red alert!

Instead, mouth dry, I just sat there like an idiot.

I couldn't think of anything to say to make it better — anything. I couldn't even give the guy a smile, which really was a shame considering it was my best asset.

"Milo!" Colton tapped the door of my light-blue Mercedes. "You look good."

I blinked. Well, I thought I blinked, I wasn't really sure. The car was still running, you'd think I would at least have enough sense to take my foot off the pedal and put it into park, but all I could do was stare. Fantastic. Twenty-one years old and still dealing with sweaty palms because Colton Mathews had said my name.

One thing I was sure of — my mouth was still hanging slightly ajar. Drool would soon follow and then Colton would have just one more reason to make fun of me — Jason's little sister.

"You all right?" He leaned his muscled forearms against the open window and stuck his head in. Merciful God in heaven, he still smelled the same. His spicy cologne blending with his perfect tan skin would have made any girl pause, or swallow her tongue, or sweat; really, take your pick. "You do realize at some point you need to turn off the car and go inside the house, right, little girl?"

And there it was, I wasn't any girl. To Colt, I was Jason's little sister. Nothing more.

It didn't matter that my boobs cheerfully filled out a C cup or that I'd had my braces off for over seven years. I still wasn't a woman to him.

God must have taken pity on me, because for some reason, in that instant, when the smell of Acqua Di Gio floated into my car, I snapped out of my insane moment and smiled.

"Fine. Great. Awesome. Perfect. You?" Too many answers, Milo. Too many answers.

Colton chuckled. It was a deep chuckle. The type that makes girls sigh while simultaneously trying to figure out how to get out of their clothes and trap the man into marriage. Seriously. His smile was one that made girls want the condom to break.

Great, now I was thinking about condoms.

Condoms and Colton.

A barking dog interrupted my sexual daydreams. It was Max's ringtone. "Um, one second." I put up my finger and shooed Colton away from the window as I pressed "Answer" and let the window close. He smiled, seemingly amused, and leaned against the car.

"How goes the first day of childhood hell, my friend?"

"That depends," I whispered into the phone, not taking my eyes off Colton as he stood facing the window. He was tall enough that I was basically staring at his lower abs and lower... body. Heat flooded my face, informing me without a doubt that crimson decorated my cheeks.

"Why are we whispering?" asked Max, my best friend from college.

"Because we are in the car."

"You are in the car. I'm at Starbucks."

"Whatever," I conceded with a snort, waving my hand in the air flippantly. "And it's not going well. In fact, I'm pretty sure Colton thinks I have a learning disability."

"Why would he think that?"

I sighed into the phone and tried to concentrate on anything but the fact that Colton was standing a few inches away from me. So freaking close. "I kind of, sort of... blacked out when he was talking to me."

"So where are you now?"

"We've established this. I'm in the car."

Max sighed. "Then where's Colton?"

"Outside the car."

"I'm confused."

"I'm an idiot." I groaned and smacked my hand against my forehead. "When the phone rang I closed the window to answer it but now he's not moving."

"Well..." Max cleared his throat. "I guess there are worse things in life than a hot guy standing outside your window, right?"

"Right." My voice wavered. "But he's like facing the door. All of him."

"All of him?"

"His parts," I clarified. Swear I felt my entire body go up in flames. Great, so now I was going to hell for looking at his parts. His very nice parts. His yummy, tight, straining — I needed to stop before I gave myself a stroke. "He's facing the window and leaning against the car and I swear, Max, the whole front of his body is pressed up against... my car."

"Naked?"

"What?" I yelled.

"Well, you said his parts."

"Not his parts-parts," I clarified. Shoot me now. Could this conversation get any more awkward? "Never mind, I mean — oh, crap."

"What? What's happening?"

I could see Max now, coffee thrust in the air, pacing the Starbucks floor like a crazy person.

"He's stretching across the car and—" I stopped mid-sentence. "Shit, my brother's on the other side."

"Let me get this straight." Max chuckled. "You have your lifelong crush, who just so happens to be your brother's best friend, on one side, his parts pressed firmly against your hot little Mercedes, and your brother, who has no idea of this sad infatuation, on the other side, making it possible for you to ogle his best friend's goodies?"

"Yup." My breathing picked up as I heard Colton laugh and then his front pressed against my door. "Good Lord, I'm sweating. He's—"

"Please don't finish that sentence. It makes me want to puke, and as much as you make fun of me for not having a girlfriend, it's not because I prefer men, so please... spare me the details."

"Fine."

"Milo?"

"What?" My eyes were glued to Colton's hot body as his stomach stretched across an eight-pack straight out of a glossy magazine cover.

"Seduce him."

"With what?" I whisper-yelled. "I have nothing to offer him!"

"It's not like I want you to plant a chocolate trail from the ground to your lips, Milo."

"I know that!" I snapped. "Besides, he's allergic to chocolate."

"Please tell me you don't have his medical history memorized."

"I don't," I lied, suddenly finding great interest in the black leather steering wheel while my shame increased. "Besides, it doesn't matter. His Facebook profile says he likes blondes. I have dark hair."

"I'm going to ignore the fact that you stalk him on Facebook and just help you fix the problem. So dye your hair."

"Yeah, let me just get the hair dye from the backseat, Max!"

"Sheesh, touchy. You, my friend, need to get laid."

"Tell me about it," I muttered. "I'm the one stuck in the damn car with nothing but my Kindle[SBK4] and a prayer."

"Your life makes me sad."

"Shut up."

"Seduce him."

"Again, with what?"

"Your body."

"I have no body." I slumped against the seat in a pout. "Besides, I don't know the first thing about seduction. And he hates me."

"He doesn't hate you."

"I tried kissing him when I was sixteen and he laughed in my face."

"To be fair, your skirt was tucked into your underwear."

"Not the point!" I yelled for real this time. Why the heck had I drunk that entire bottle of wine and confessed all my embarrassing moments to Max? The terrible two outside my car began banging loudly on the windows. Great, I'd probably captured their attention when I raised my voice. And fantastic, the car began to move. I'd officially awakened the beasts.

"I'm in hell."

"Well..." Max laughed. "Don't let the flames give you a sunburn. I gotta run, just saw my Starbucks barista... I will gain a date if it kills me! Oh, and good luck. You'll need it."

"Right." I clicked end and shut off the car.

Nothing was going as planned — that was for sure.






✿ The Author ✿


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

She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband and their snoring Boxer, Sir Winston Churchill. She loves to hear from readers! You can follow her writing journey at her website.



✽ Author Links ✽







♡ Excerpt Reveal ♡ Unrequited (Woodlands #4) by Jen Frederick @jensfred @RSofRomance





CHAPTER ONE


March

WINTER

I didn't know which one of us looked more surprised when Finn O'Malley walked into the Riverside Café at about ten minutes before midnight. The café was experiencing a lull in the post-late night, pre-bar closings time period, and there were only two customers: myself and a man in his fifties over by the counter.

And now Finn.

"Winter," he said, his tone a cross between disappointment and disbelief which I understood immediately. He'd come to this run down café — far from where he lived and worked — to... well, I wasn't sure what he'd want other than get away from anyone who might know him.

And there I sat. The girl who'd had an enormous, unrequited crush on her older sister's high school boyfriend. And said older sister might have been the worst girlfriend he'd ever had. If my speeding heart was any indication, my crush was far from dead.

"Finn. Good to see you." He looked terrible — or as terrible as Finn could ever look. Tall with dark hair set against ivory skin and the lean, muscular build of someone who did manual labor for a living. Finn would never look bad.

But grief had hollowed out his cheeks, and his shocking blue eyes were bloodshot. His inky black hair stood in clumps around his head as if he'd run his fingers through it multiple times. He wore a gray T-shirt that hugged his strong frame but had dirt smudges all over it. His worn jeans displayed dust and grime.

He worked in construction — or more accurately, he flipped houses, the last I'd heard. Not that I kept up on the doings of Finn O'Malley that much.

His eyes shifted around the restaurant, as he probably wondered how he could take a seat away from me and not appear too rude. I solved his dilemma by grabbing my purse and library book and sliding out of the booth.

"I was just going," I said.

He licked his upper lip and I about died on the spot. But I was an adult now. All of twenty-two years. Crushes might have made my heart squeeze and my knees shake, but they didn't paralyze me. Giving him a tight smile, I walked toward the door. He didn't move, and unless I was going to walk around a table or two, I'd have to brush by him.

So I did.

And smelled him.

And suddenly I couldn't leave.

The sour, sweet stench of alcohol was so strong I wondered if he'd poured a bottle of vodka over his head. It was a familiar fragrance because my sister had been wearing it regularly for the past ten years. Her alcohol addiction, among other things, was a reason Finn and she were exes when many people had thought they'd get married out of high school.

I backed up. "Did you drive here?"

The side of his mouth quirked up — not quite a smile, more of a wry acknowledgment of my thought process. "I'm not drunk," he said. "I... it's a long story."

"I've got time." I started back toward the booth. "Come sit with me. My book was boring anyway."

Good manners drove him to follow even if he didn't want to. He dropped into the opposite bench, and I pushed my water glass toward him.

"Thanks." He drained it in three gulps. I was way too fascinated with the motion of his throat and the way that his Adam's apple signaled every gulp. He set the glass down carefully as if almost surprised by his own sudden thirstiness.

Due to his long arms, his folded hands reached halfway across the table. I kept my arms locked by my side so I wouldn't accidentally on purpose touch him.

My role was friend, not girlfriend, no matter how many inappropriate fantasies I'd dreamed up when I was a girl.

The waitress came out and delivered another glass of water and refilled my now empty one.

"I'll have a burger. Plain. Order of fries," Finn rattled off without looking at the menu. He pointed at me. "You want anything?"

I shook my head. "I'm good."

The waitress left, and Finn stretched his long legs out and leaned back into the booth, looking completely wiped. If I moved my legs, even a little, I'd brush against him. I stayed still because I wasn't sure what I would do if I touched him. Something embarrassing, no doubt.

"What are you doing here?"

Clearing my throat, I managed to form a coherent answer. "I just got off work. Closed tonight."

Surprised, his eyebrows shot into his forehead. "What are you doing that has you working until midnight?"

"I work at Atra, the ink shop two doors down."

"Oh," he started and then stopped. "I thought you were working at a marketing firm."

A tendril of pleasure sprang to life at the idea of Finn keeping track of me. We may have been friends once, but my sister was the connecting thread. And when she'd snapped their tie, Finn and I had drifted apart like florets from a blown dandelion.

He'd floated one way and I'd floated another. We'd lived in the same city going on three years now — since he got back from attending an out of town university — but the first time I'd seen him since he and Ivy had broken up had been at his father's funeral a month ago.

"No, I was downsized but I still do freelance design work for them and a couple other companies, but my primary job is commissioned artwork at Atra. I also help around the shop, doing bookings and stuff. Tonight I had a late consultation with a friend of Tucker's. He owns the shop," I explained and then shut up, not wanting to ramble.

Finn nodded as if he found this interesting. "Sounds like you are putting your talent to good use. I always thought your work was tremendous."

"Thanks. So what brings you here?"

He looked around. The man hunched over his coffee at the counter hadn't moved. "I just got off work too."

"I thought you were flipping houses?"

"Like you, I had a change in jobs." His voice was grim. It didn't take a genius to guess the change wasn't a good one like mine was. Or maybe he was just angry about life right now, which he had every right to be.

"I know this sounds like a stupid Hallmark card, but it does get better." I couldn't hold myself back any longer. I placed my hand over his folded ones. "I promise."

He tilted his head back, and his eyes fluttered closed, his ridiculously long lashes feathering across the top of his cheeks. Was he shutting out the pain or me? Or everything?

After long moments of silence, so long and so quiet that I could hear the hum of the refrigeration unit that held bottles of soda and beer behind the cash register, he spoke. "When I was thirteen, my dog Hunter died. Dad and I had bought him when I was four. He'd developed some kind of doggy liver disease, and we had to put him down. That was the worst kind of pain, I thought. But that was like a pin prick, while Dad's death is like a dull knife dragging itself across my body one painful inch at a time."

I bit down on my lip so I didn't cry in front of him. I remembered that pain, and hated that someone I cared about had to suffer it too. "I'm not going to say it's easy to get over a loss like that; only that it does happen — eventually."

He snorted, a rough and unhappy sound. "I have been drinking. Not going to lie about that." His eyes opened halfway, which was probably for the best. The piercing blue came off as too beautiful to be real and too mesmerizing to look away. "But not tonight. Tonight I decided to throw my bottles against the wall instead of drinking them, and because I'm a stupid fuck, I failed to realize I was standing in the splash zone."

The food arrived before I could respond. He pulled a napkin from the tabletop dispenser and shoved half his fries onto it. "Eat or I won't be able to."

Obediently I put a fry into my mouth and watched him dig in. Grief or no grief, he was still eating, which was a good sign. And he didn't seem drunk. No slurred words, no inappropriate comments.

"Sorry I jumped to conclusions," I said after polishing off another fry.

"Don't be. With your past, I can see why you'd be concerned," he said between bites. My past. He was referring to dealing with my sister's addictions, which had spiraled out of control after our parents died when she was nineteen.

"She's better now," I said. "If you were wondering."

"Really?" Disbelief was clear in every long drawn-out letter.

"Really. She hit a bad place shortly after her release, but she's been clean for..." I counted in my head, "almost thirty days."

"That's good. Good for her and for you." He popped the rest of the burger into his mouth and washed it down with the entire glass of water.

"Did you chew that or inhale it?" I laughed, remembering the days he'd linger in our kitchen eating anything and everything Mom would cook.

"I haven't eaten since noon so if I could have just pressed it into my face and absorbed it via osmosis, I would have." We shared a laugh, just a small one, but I was breathless by the end. His smile was too much for me, and it was the first one I'd seen from him for so long. It lit up his eyes and revealed the deep creases on the corners of his mouth and his even, perfect white teeth.

"No burgers on the west side of the city?" I joked to disguise my growing and uncomfortable desire for him. Now was not the time nor the place. He was not ever to be mine.

His grin grew wider. "Why do you think I'm here? Trying to avoid being seen by my roommates. I don't know if you met them at the funeral?" I shook my head. I'd only had eyes for Finn. "I live with four of them. Adam Rees is one." Adam was a friend of Finn's from high school. He had a famous father. That was about all I remembered, but I nodded anyway, and he continued. "Their idea of helping me cope is to get me involved in increasingly dangerous activities."

"What have your roommates made you do?"

"What haven't they made me do is the question. I've been to strip clubs, paintballing, ATVing, a firing range, rock climbing, fishing." Finn tapped a finger on the table to punctuate each activity. "I've got two former Marines living with me, and I think they're planning to push me out of an airplane. So I can't go home."

"You can stay with me," I said with a nonchalant shrug.

His eyes drifted around my face, lingering on my lips and then dropping lower. I could feel my unbound breasts tighten under the cotton of my T-shirt. I hated bras and was small and perky enough I could get away without wearing them. The only problem was I had fat, eraser-sized nipples, and right now they were pointing directly at Finn. He stared at them for what seemed like an eternity.

"Is that right?" His voice was husky.

The air in the room disappeared, and I barely had enough breath to croak out, "No, Ivy's there. She and I live together now. Have for—" I paused, not wanting to bring up her recent incarceration, "—for a couple of months," I finished awkwardly.

He made a noise in the back of his throat, one I couldn't decipher. "So have you been seeing anyone?"

I didn't know what to make of that. Why was he at all remotely interested in my love life?

"No, not recently. Not since—" I broke off again.

"Not since Ivy got out of prison," he said dryly.

"You heard?"

"I heard." He was done with the subject of Ivy and that was okay with me. It made me uncomfortable to talk about her while I was perving on her ex-boyfriend.

Anxious to change the subject, I asked, "What about you?"

"I don't think what I've been doing constitutes as seeing anyone. Not since my dad died. Not feeling it." His blue gaze pinned me against the booth. I heard what he wasn’t saying out loud. He had been sleeping around and from the interested way he was eyeing me, the suggestion was I could be next. "I've been trying not to feel for a while but tonight? Maybe tonight should be different."

It wasn't a question; it was an invitation. And all the teenage feelings of longing and lust rushed over me until I was dry mouthed and full of want.

He looked out the window, considering something, and then back toward me. "You had a crush on me for a long time. Am I taking advantage of you?"

I didn't pretend I was confused about what he was asking, even though it was a bit mortifying to be confronted by my unreciprocated feelings. I shook my head. "No. I think it's the other way around."

"It's not. Why don't we get out of this place?" He stood and threw two twenties on the table and waited for me to lead the way out.

I was acutely aware of his large frame behind me as I walked carefully across the tiled floor to the entrance. The heat of his body nearly burned me as he pressed against my back to reach around me with a large, work-roughened hand to push the glass door open.

He placed a hand on my lower back and guided me to his truck. It was a monster of a thing with big black tires and a menacing silver grill.

"You really expect me to climb into this thing?"

He opened the door and in one swift motion lifted me onto the seat. "I forgot what a bitty thing you are."

"I'm not small. You're just very tall. With a very large truck."

His hands didn't release my waist; instead, he moved closer. I opened my legs to make space for him.

"Don't worry, Winter. Everything's going to fit fine." With a firm hand on my neck, he drew my face down to his. I heard his lips part before I felt them press against mine.

A thousand thoughts tumbled in my head. Would Ivy be okay with this? Should I really be taking advantage of a grief-stricken man? How were his lips soft and firm at the same time? Could I have an orgasm from just kissing? Was this what love felt like?

His mouth took mine in a firm possession — no hesitation. He wanted this if not me. And I took what he gave me because when did a girl ever get to kiss the boy she'd crushed over for years? Hardly ever.

Only in the movies.

I wrapped my arms around his shoulders and dug my hands into his hair, giving into every desperate desire I'd always tried to stomp down.

He groaned and pulled me tighter to him, the seat somehow perfectly situated at groin level so I felt the strong, heated evidence of his desire through our jeans. He rubbed his tongue along the edges of mine. He outlined my lips and then stroked the flat of his tongue against the roof of my mouth.

Even if I hadn't had a crush on him, I would have been weak-kneed. Finn O'Malley knew how to kiss. He wasn't just thrusting his tongue into me, he was exploring me, learning me, tasting me.

A large hand cupped one breast and squeezed it tightly. I cried out, part in pleasure and part in surprise at how the slight pain felt so good.

"Too rough?" he asked, pulling away.

I shook my head. He gave a half smile and yanked down the vee of my T-shirt until my bare breast popped out. The overhead light had gone off in the truck, but there was enough moonlight that anyone coming out of the café could probably see what we were doing.

But any concern I had ended when he placed his mouth over my ripe nipple. With the same lavish care he took kissing me, he explored every inch of my breast. The top received a dozen wet kisses and tiny nips. The areola he licked thoroughly, and the nipple was sucked on so hard and with such long draws that I felt as if a string connected my nipples to my pussy. A string I hadn't known existed.

While he sucked, he made low growls of delight that fueled my lust. I squeezed my legs around his hips, drawing him closer, drawing him inside where only he could relieve the painful ache between my legs.

"Fuck," he rasped, breaking our connection and backing away. The cool spring air made my taut nipple tighten even more. "Not here." He gently straightened my T-shirt and then tucked me inside the truck.

We drove a short distance to a chain link fence that opened upon a press of a remote.

"What is this place?" I tried to catch my breath. Peering out the window into the dimly lit night, there appeared to be nothing but bare land filled with machinery and surrounded by fences. Beyond it was the river.

"My new job. Left to me courtesy of Mr. Sean O'Malley." There was a faint twinge of bitterness. "Dad wanted to stamp his signature on the city and chose this downtown revitalization project. But then he died and left it to me, so I don't know whether to love or hate him."

"It's okay to feel both. Love and hate," I clarified unnecessarily.

"I suppose you're right." He stopped the truck in front of a trailer.

"You can cry you know. I did a lot of that."

"I like to have my emotional release come a different way."

"Like what?"

He shifted in the truck seat to look at me. His hand reached out to cup my face. "You've grown into a very beautiful woman. I'd very much like to take you inside the trailer and fuck you against the wall."

"That's kind of a coarse invitation."

His thumb ran over my lower lip, using some of the moisture of my mouth to wet my lip. I shivered, and a grim but knowing smile spread across his face.

"It's the only kind I've got in me. All the tender emotion has been eaten up by my dad's death. I want to lose myself in you, Winter."

He got out of the truck and opened my door, giving me an expectant look. Was I in or out?

I knew what he was saying. It wasn't that he loved me, wanted to date me, or wanted me to be his girlfriend. He'd probably be disappointed if he saw me next to him tomorrow morning. He'd lie awake wondering if he had to chew off his own arm to escape. He was offering a hard fuck in his trailer, not lovemaking in his bed.

I knew all of this and still wanted him.

Maybe the sex would burn away his mystery, and I wouldn't internally sigh when I heard his name. Maybe it wouldn't. But it was a risk worth taking, and I planned to get my money's worth.

"How many condoms do you have?" I answered boldly.

His eyes glittered in the moonlight. "How many do I need?"

"Depends on your stamina and recovery time."

"Honey, you're going to have a hard time walking out of the trailer when we're done."

My heart ached at his words, but I took his hand and followed him inside.








✿ Coming soon! ✿



Finn & Winter’s story will be here on April 13th!



Unrequited
Woodlands #4
by
Jen Frederick

Release Date: April 13th 2015





✾ Synopsis ✾


Winter Donovan loves two things: her sister and her sister's ex boyfriend. She's spent her whole life doing the right thing except that one time, that night when Finn O'Malley looked hollowed out by his father's death. Then she did something very wrong that felt terribly right.

Finn can't stop thinking about Winter and the night and he'll do anything to make her a permanent part of his life, even if it means separating Winter from the only family she has.

Their love was supposed to be unrequited but one grief stricken guy and one girl with too big of a heart results in disastrous consequences.












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✿ Woodland Series ✿


Undeclared
Woodlands #1





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✧ free 4/10 ✧

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Unspoken
Woodlands #2





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Unraveled
Woodlands #3





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✿ The Author ✿


Jen Frederick lives with her husband, child, and one rambunctious dog. She's been reading stories all her life but never imagined writing one of her own. Jen loves to hear from readers so drop her a line at jensfrederick@gmail.com



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