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Saturday, October 3, 2015

Newly Released!! Abandoned and Unseen (Branded Packs #2) by Alexandra Ivy & Carrie Ann Ryan


MATURE READERS 18+

Abandoned


When bear shifter, Anya Tucker fell in love with the wrong man, the only thing she left with was a broken heart—and her two bear cubs. Now she’s mended her wounds and learned that in order to raise her babies she can only trust herself. When her sons meet the lazy cat next door and fall heads over tails for him, she’ll do whatever she takes to protect them—even from a past she’d thought she’d left behind.

Cole McDermott is a jaguar on a mission. Long naps, a willing woman, and a full stomach is usually all he needs when it comes to relaxing after a long day of protecting his Pack. Then he meets Anya and the burn of temptation is silky and tantalizing indeed. When a horror from Anya’s past threatens everything she loves, Cole will put everything aside and fight for her family—as well as his own.

Unseen


Nicole Bradley had no reason to live after the humans murdered her son. Not until she learns to hunt down those responsible for his death. Shifting into her wolf form at night, she slips out of the compound, determined to do as much damage as possible. The last thing she expected was to discover secrets that could destroy the SAU.

Polar shifter, Tucker Stone, lives off the grid. It’s the only way the Unseen can avoid being rounded up by the humans and tossed into a compound. Besides, he’s a loner by nature. But he can’t walk away when he sees the pretty female wolf in danger. Risking exposure, he takes her to his hidden den and tries to heal her wounds.

Can a reclusive polar bear and a wolf with a death wish find happiness together?


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Chapter 1

(c) 2015 Carrie Ann Ryan

A branch cracked under the soft pad of a paw, but Cole McDermott didn’t twitch his ears at the sound. The wind brushed his fur, the scent of predator and home wrapping around him. He kept perfectly still from his perch in the tree beside his house. He didn’t want those tracking him to know he’d heard their loud trek through the forest. In fact, he’d heard them long before they’d mistakenly stepped on a fallen branch. These two needed lessons on how to properly hunt their prey.

That, however, was not Cole’s job.

Normally, as a Tracker, he would have been the one hunting. Today, however, he was the prey. And as the prey, he’d do his best to stay still so the hunters wouldn’t know he’d caught on to them. To lie in wait would allow those who hunted him to fall into a false sense of security. His father had taught him that long ago.

He was currently sprawled out on a low branch, close enough to the ground that he’d be able to land easily if he fell. Of course, he was a cat, so he always landed on his feet. And since he was in his jaguar form, he’d be in even better shape if he fell. Of course, he hadn’t fallen out of a tree since he was a cub, so the point was moot anyway.

The hunters came closer, their steps becoming tentative even as they grew louder. He flicked his tail, once, twice. The hunters froze, their bodies pressing closer to the ground. Cole may have had his eyes closed, but he could still hear the underbrush pressed close to the hunters’ tender bellies.

Cole yawned, his mouth stretching wide, his fangs gleaming in the sunlight that filtered through the trees.

See? Harmless cat here. Just sleeping the day away. Easy prey.

If only these hunters knew the truth. But again, he wouldn’t be the one to teach them such darkness. They didn’t need to know that behind the yawn, the stretch, was a predator in its own right. They would soon find out.

But not today.

The two hunters came closer, and Cole forced himself not to move. It wouldn’t do to alert them that their prey was well and truly awake.

When one of them batted at his tail, Cole held back his smile. Well, as much of a smile as he could, considering he was in his jaguar form at the moment. The other one went to his twins’ side and batted as well, each of them letting out a tiny growl when Cole curled his tail up, making it harder for the two bear cubs to attack.

Cole swished his tail back and forth, enjoying the way the two cubs rolled around in their bear form, chasing each other when they weren’t jumping at him. These two hunters needed to learn a few things about tracking, but they’d learn it from their family eventually. He just enjoyed hearing them sound happy, innocent. If they’d been in human form, he was sure the two would have been laughing.

There wasn’t much to laugh at these days in the compound.

He let the two play for a bit longer, not even bothering to open his eyes. They weren’t climbing the tree to get him so they’d be safe. Bear cubs could climb for sure, but they were still in the learning stages at their age. He thought they were about four, but he wasn’t sure. He hadn’t actually spoken to them. Instead, he’d stayed in cat form each time they’d snuck their way to his tree over the past two weeks.

Cole didn’t bother worrying or getting angry about two bear cubs encroaching on his territory. He had other things to worry about, and something like this was minimal. In fact, he’d rather just lie in the tree and conserve his energy for the cage and ritual fighting he’d be partaking in a bit later. That always got his adrenaline up. It also kept the Packs happy since all three species were now forced to live in one compound thanks to the humans who thought they could control what they didn’t understand.

Plus, as Tracker, he could be called upon to protect his Pack at any moment. He had the best sense of smell of the entire Feline section, and he was pretty sure he could out-track even the bears and wolves he was forced to live with. So, if someone were coming at them within the compound—or, even outside the den walls since he could jump pretty darn high—he’d be able to find out who it was and take care of it before someone got hurt. That was his duty to his Alpha, and he was damn glad to do it.

Other than that and the fighting, he’d rather just lie in this tree and soak in the minimal sunrays that hit his fur. If a willing woman showed up and wanted to scratch an itch, he wouldn’t be opposed. But two cubs who just wanted to play, after having their caged-in life be rocked from the boundaries up, wasn’t worth Cole bolstering the energy to stop them. As long as they weren’t using their claws on him, he was fine.

Of course, on that note, perhaps he should have cared a little bit more.

After all, where there were bear cubs, there was probably a momma bear just around the corner. And she didn’t hold back with her claws.

“Owen! Lucas!”

And that would be momma bear right then. He let his claws come out slightly, only to dig into the branch he rested on. He’d heard that Anya Dare had a wicked right hook, and he wasn’t in the mood to go flying when she found out her cubs had been playing with him without her supervision. That woman had no sense of fun when it came to her kids. It wasn’t as if he’d ever hurt the cubs.

She didn’t know that, however.

She only saw a lazy cat, who didn’t bother to shoo her kids back to their prison—aka their new home. Of course, it probably wasn’t like that. She just didn’t like her cubs hanging out with him. Anya hated him for some reason, and he could never quite figure out why. It wasn’t as if he’d known her for long. The Ursines had only been living with the Felines and Canines for two weeks. In fact, the Felines hadn’t been living in the Canine compound for that long either. Everything was still new, but Anya had seemed to take a firm disliking to him the moment she’d seen him.

And now it sounded as if he cared. Well he didn’t. He only cared about sleeping, sexy shifter females who wanted in his bed, and protecting his Pack. And not necessarily in that order.

Cole finally opened his eyes to see Anya glaring at him. Damn she had pretty eyes—bright blue, flashing with a hint of fire and anger. He wasn’t that far up from the ground, and the grizzly momma had to be close to six-feet tall; she could have easily jumped and taken him down with one paw.

The cubs let out tiny growls from behind his tree. Cole risked his life, considering Anya still glared at him, and turned to watch the two little boys in bear form peek out from either side of the large trunk.

Anya let out a small growl, and Cole shot his gaze to her. She curled her lip at him then stalked toward her sons. Cole stayed where he was, not wanting to anger her further. He wasn’t in the mood to go up against a momma grizzly in a rage. He wasn’t sure if he’d win.

“What did I say, boys? What did I say about leaving the house without telling me?” She folded her arms under her ample breasts, and Cole did his best not to stare. He couldn’t help it. She was fucking gorgeous—not that he’d tell her that. Ever.

He valued his life, after all.

Owen and Lucas lowered their heads and padded at the dirt. They were adorable. Seriously. Cole loved kids, and one day hoped to have a few of his own with a nice cat who was adventurous in bed and would meet him stride for stride when it came to protecting his Pack. Or maybe he’d mate with a nice little submissive who would pamper his cat while taking care of the other side of the Pack that most never knew existed.

What Cole wouldn’t be doing, was dealing with Anya for longer than he needed to. He might like Owen and Lucas, but he did not want to be on the receiving end of an angry female protecting her cubs. No one in their right mind did.

“Don’t think looking cute will get you out of this, boys,” she said firmly, but Cole still heard the smile in her voice. She wasn’t a bad mother, a little overprotective, but he couldn’t blame her for that. Not with what was going on around them. “You guys snuck out of the house. I was scared. Don’t you get that? You can’t just sneak out of our home like that and not tell me where you’re going. You know you can’t come out to another’s territory without permission. Especially his.”

What did she mean by that? Especially his. What was so wrong with him?

Cole kept his gaze on the boys as they made their way out from behind the tree, their heads down and their little paws dragging along the dirt. They didn’t look scared, more resigned that they’d gotten caught breaking the rules. Cole held back a wince. He should have done something about them coming out to him, but he hadn’t thought they were hurting anyone. Despite the fact that he’d been around cubs all his life within the compound walls, he wasn’t that used to children.

The cubs went to her legs, rubbing their necks and bodies along her. She reached down and rubbed their heads, her mouth a thin line. “Don’t do it again, boys. I’m not going to lose you. Got me?”

The two made little growls then sat on their rumps, blinking up at their mother. Seriously. Adorable.

Anya probably wouldn’t appreciate him saying so, however.

“You found them?” a deep voice said from the direction of Anya’s home.

Cole flicked his ear toward the intruder, his body tense. “Yes, Oliver,” Anya answered. “They’re right where you thought they’d be. With him.”

He was starting to hate the way she said him like that. Cole searched his mental file for who Oliver was within the Ursine Pack—yes, bears, cats, and wolves were each called Packs. That’s what happened when the damn wolves named things centuries ago and Cole’s ancestors had gone with it. Oliver was the Foreseer of the Ursines. Meaning he could tell the future—or at least make some predictions about immediate changes or danger based on premonitions. Cole wasn’t quite sure what it all entailed since Felines and Canines didn’t have a Foreseer counterpart. Instead, the wolves had an Omega, and the cats had a Shaman—or at least they would once they found him or her. It was hard to find each of their hierarchy within the walls of their confinement, but that was another story altogether.

Oliver was not only the Foreseer but Anya’s brother, as well. For some reason, that relieved some of the tension in Cole’s joints. He wasn’t quite sure how he felt about the fact that he’d not only gone tense, but had lost that tension when he figured out who the other male was.

“Go with your uncle, boys,” Anya ordered, her voice firm but not angry anymore. “I need to talk with Mr. Feline over here.”

Cole held back a wince. She wouldn’t even say his name. Well, this couldn’t end well; though he hadn’t thought it would once she’d stepped toward him all angry-like.

The boys gave him one last look then started the walk back to their place. Oliver raised a brow at him then followed. Cole wasn’t quite sure what to think of that brow, but at the moment, he had other, more pressing matters to deal with. Namely, the momma bear glaring daggers at him.

“You need to stop encouraging them,” she snapped. “They’re babies. And they are curious. I get that. But we don’t know how safe it is here, and you just sit here all lazy-like and let them play with your tail. You’re an adult. A Tracker. Act like it.”

He opened his mouth in an exaggerated yawn. She’d yelled at him for this before, and it wasn’t his fault. The cubs were, like she’d just said, curious. If they wanted to play with his tail, then he’d let them. They weren’t hurting him, and Anya needed to breathe.

“You’re an asshole,” she snapped. “So freaking lazy you can’t even turn back to human and defend yourself. Some Tracker the cats have. Leave my boys alone. If they come back here, send them back to me. Or come get me. I don’t want them out on their own. I’m all they have, Tracker. I’m not going to let them get hurt because you think it’s fun to break my rules.”

First, he wasn’t going to shift because he’d be naked. And being naked near her when he had a hard-on—because, come on, she was freaking sexy—wasn’t worth risking his life after she got a look at him sporting wood because of her. Second, he wasn’t lazy, he just picked his battles. As for her boys? Next time, he might just send them back. She had a point when it came to safety. He would never hurt them—they were cubs—but there were human patrols coming through the compound at all times. He wouldn’t see those boys hurt because the humans were in the wrong. However, he wasn’t going to shift and tell her this. She didn’t want to hear it. She had her own reasons for being angry, he suspected, and him defending himself wouldn’t help. Instead, he swished his tail, his eyes on hers.

She lifted her lip in another snarl then threw up her hands. “I can’t with you.” She turned on her heel and stomped back toward her home. He couldn’t help but watch the way her jeans hugged her ass as she did so. She was one sexy blonde Amazon of a woman. Not for him, but it didn’t hurt to look.

“I see you’re making all kinds of friends,” Gibson drawled as he slid through the trees.

Cole had scented the wolf come up a few moments before but hadn’t let on to Anya. He wasn’t sure she’d noticed the man there since she’d been so focused on Cole. Plus, with all the new smells around her, he knew it would take a bit longer than a couple of weeks for her to get her bearings when it came to the different scents of the compound. He didn’t want to see her embarrassed for her outburst in public. And he didn’t know how he felt about that last thought. Instead of dwelling on it, he stretched, lifting his back in a curl before jumping down to the forest floor. With a shake, he shifted back to human. It was fast, a painful reminder that his body held two forms that didn’t quite mesh when one thought of the physics behind it.

“Get some pants on,” Gibson said smoothly. He ran a hand through his dark black hair that always ended up in his face. The damn man had one of those emo rocker haircuts that looked like it took an hour to get perfect each morning. Though Cole knew it just came naturally to the wolf. “You’re late for your appointment, and I don’t need to see your bare ass.”

“It’s a cat ass,” Cole said with a grin and shook it before bending over to grab the pair of sweats he’d left in a nearby bush.

“I so didn’t need to see that. I think I’m blind.”

Cole smiled wide as he slid his sweats over his hips. “You know you liked it.”

The wolf flipped him off, the ink on his fingers standing out against his pale skin. “I might like cock and pussy equally, but that doesn’t mean I want yours, asshole.”

“Like I said, you like my asshole.”

Gibson let out a groan.

“See, you’re groaning.” Cole smacked the man on his back and started walking. “I don’t know how you ever lived without me.”

“It was much easier, let me tell you,” Gibson muttered.

Gibson muttered a lot, but also talked Cole’s ear off when he wanted to. The other man didn’t speak much according to the rest of the Pack. He apparently liked Cole enough to open himself up a bit more. He was the Pack tattoo artist, in charge of not only personal ink, but also the ritual ink that came with being a mate, a Pack member, and a shifter. The three emblems blended into one full tattoo once a shifter found their mate, though most of the Pack members only held two—the brand the humans forced them to wear that Gibson tattooed over, and the tattoo that signified what Pack they were born or made into. He did that work for wolves alone, but he also did other work—like the piece he was doing for Cole—for the other shifters. There was a feline artist, the one who had done the ritual work on Cole’s forearm, but he liked Gibson’s work better. Not that he’d ever say that. People may be pissed about him and Gibson’s friendship, and that he let the other man work on his back, but the rest of the shifters would just have to get over it. The three Packs had been forced to live in one small compound—times were changing, and hating one another for being a different kind of shifter had to be pushed into the past if they were to survive.

“You’re looking serious over there,” Gibson said as they walked into the wolf’s home. He pointed to the chair near the tattoo station and lifted his chin. “Sit. I’ll get you ready. Now, tell me what’s on your mind.”

Cole did as he was told. He hadn’t bothered to put a shirt on, so he didn’t have to deal with that. “I thought you didn’t like to speak while doing this. That’s what Holden said.” Holden was the wolf Alpha. He’d married a newly-turned human a couple of months back, and that had been the catalyst for not only the move of the Packs but so much more.

“I don’t like to speak unless I have something to say. And I like talking to you because you usually just listen.” Gibson worked on setting up his station and prepping Cole’s back. This was the second day of work on the piece. While humans would have to wait between sessions, he healed fast enough that he only had to wait a day. He could have probably done it all in one session, but that was asking a lot of the wolf who had his own duties within the compound.

“So, you never did say anything about Anya. Why does she hate you so much?” The wolf’s foot worked the pedal and he began working on Cole’s back. The buzz of the needle settled Cole’s cat and he relaxed, even as he thought about Anya and her apparent dislike of him.

“She called me lazy.”

Gibson snorted. “Well, you kind of are, but probably not for the reasons she thinks.”

“I’m not lazy.” Cole scowled. “I just don’t like wasting my energy on things that I won’t win. Or at least things that won’t be worth it if I win. The cubs wanted to play, and I didn’t want to growl at them to go. At least with me there, they were safe.

“But she didn’t see it that way. I’d say she shouldn’t have let the cubs get out, but there’s no way to stop shifter cubs sometimes. The fact that they felt safe enough to venture out tells you she raised them right. Thanks to the humans surrounding us, some shifters scare the hell out of their children to keep them safe. So much that they inherently cripple them.”

And that was the crux of it. They were shifters, not human. They had the ability to become the animal they were born with and, therefore, had to assume the responsibility that came with it. When they’d come out to the humans and revealed that there was something more to them than the others understood, shifters had been forced into compounds—collared and branded, but not forgotten. He’d been three when his parents risked their lives trying to protect him. They’d lost the battle, and he’d ended up raised by a group of shifters within the den walls who had tried to heal the orphans of their generation.

His people had lost so much, and now with each new decision brought on by the Shifter Accommodation Unit—the SAU for short—he was afraid they’d be one step closer to a new war where the casualty of peace would be far greater than the wars of their past.

Gibson worked on his back, and Cole tried to settle the deep ache in his bones that told him that peace was far from being within his grasp. He may be deemed lazy by a certain momma bear, but he hadn’t earned that description. He’d fight for what was his—bleed for it, die for it.

Only, a new age was upon them, and the three shifter Packs were forced to live with one another as punishments for crimes that shouldn’t have been deemed offenses in the first place, Cole wasn’t sure he would be able to fight an enemy he didn’t understand.

His world had changed once again, and he knew he’d have to take a stand with his Pack and with the other Packs he now lived with, to protect his people. He just prayed Anya and her cubs weren’t caught in the crossfire. He’d seen the pain in her eyes, the weariness that came from years of being on alert, tuned to the danger from those who would rise against them. He didn’t want to see that again, didn’t want to see the woman who had raised those cubs hurt because of a battle far from being won. Only he didn’t know why he felt that way, nor did he feel he had the right to.

He was only a lazy cat, a Tracker, a jaguar. Only worth the blood he put on the line.

Nothing more. Nothing less.






Like most writers, I was born with an avid love for reading. Growing up in a small town in the Midwest, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a book in my hand or wasn’t dreaming up wild stories in my head. And when I stepped into my local library for the first time I thought it was paradise. There were so many books on the shelves I didn’t know where to start!

When I’m not writing I love to travel, it doesn’t matter where I’m going as long as it doesn’t include any cooking or cleaning. I also love to spend time with my family who continue to be my greatest source of inspiration. And since some things never change…when I have a few minutes, you can still find me with a book in my hand!



New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Carrie Ann Ryan never thought she’d be a writer. Not really. No, she loved math and science and even went on to graduate school in chemistry. Yes, she read as a kid and devoured teen fiction and Harry Potter, but it wasn’t until someone handed her a romance book in her late teens that she realized that there was something out there just for her. When another author suggested she use the voices in her head for good and not evil, The Redwood Pack and all her other stories were born.

Carrie Ann is a bestselling author of over twenty novels and novellas and has so much more on her mind (and on her spreadsheets *grins*) that she isn’t planning on giving up her dream anytime soon.
ALEXANDRA IVY:
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CARRIE ANN RYAN:



Friday, October 2, 2015

NEWLY RELEASED!! CATCH (The Billionaire's Rules, Book 14) by Kelly Favor


MATURE READERS 18+


***SHORT STORY SERIES***

Introducing CATCH, book fourteen in the hot and sexy romance series, The Billionaire’s Rules, by New York Times bestselling author Kelly Favor... 

Twenty-two-year-old Lanie Day has only just moved into her own apartment for the first time. But she has no job and no real experience. 

In anything. 

Least of all men. 

But when she’s able to snag an interview at a hot new tech startup company, she comes face-to-face with its sexy and wild CEO, Brayden Forman. 

Brayden is a playboy who’s known for chewing women up and spitting them out, and now somehow he’s become fixated on Lanie. 

Lanie’s lack of experience gives him a blank canvas on which to paint his deepest and darkest fantasies. 

And with each new encounter, the dominant CEO teaches his shy assistant the pleasures and seductions of being naughty in the workplace... 

Soon the two of them are locked in a game of mystery, seduction, and raging desire that knows no bounds. That is, until Lanie is pushed beyond her limits. 

And Brayden Forman has enemies that are lurking and waiting to come out of the shadows to finally destroy him. Only now they might also destroy Lanie Day right along with him. 

CATCH is the fourteenth book in the hot alpha billionaire series by bestselling romance author Kelly Favor.


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~GET THE REST OF THE SERIES~



Kelly Favor is the New York Times bestselling author of For His Pleasure. She writes sexy romances about alpha males and the women who love them!
I'm a writer first and foremost. I like billionaires, steamy romance, bdsm in my fiction, and hot alpha males.

I believe in love and happy ever after because it happened to me in real life.



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Vicious Cycle (Vicious Cycle #1) by Katie Ashley


MATURE READERS 18+

*This book and series has been picked up for publication by Penguin book.

David aka ‘Deacon’ Malloy has devoted his adult life to the Hell’s Raiders motorcycle club. Plucked off the streets as a teenager for his fighting ability, he willingly embraces the violent life-style of his new family. After his adoptive father’s murder during the last club war, he slid into the vacated role of Sergeant at Arms. His world is thrown for a loop when a former club whore dies, and the five year old daughter he had no idea he had fathered is deposited on the club steps.

Alexandra Evans followed in her parents’ footsteps by going into education. As a Kindergarten teacher, she loves helping her young students learn to read and write. At the start of the school year, one little girl stands out to her above all the rest. With an aura of sadness about her, Willow Malloy is someone who needs all the tender loving care Alexandra can give. When she suddenly stops coming to school, Alexandra goes in search of her. What she finds is a clubhouse full of bikers, and a father hell bent on keeping his daughter always within his sight during a turf war.

The moment Deacon lays eyes on Alexandra he knows he has to have her. He doesn’t give two shits about the fact she’s a na├»ve civilian or that she has no desire to become another one of his conquests. He’s never found a woman he couldn’t have, and he wants nothing more to persuade Alexandra into changing her mind.

Will Deacon seduce Alexandra into his dark world, or will she help him embrace a brighter future for himself and his daughter?


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Bouncing her legs on the worn, leather couch, Willow happily followed along with Dora as she went exploring. No matter where the cartoon went, it was always better than the run-down apartment building where Willow lived. At the sound of splintering glass shards crashing across the kitchen floor, Willow abandoned Dora’s world, tucked her ratty teddy bear under her arm, and hightailed it out of the living room. Although she was only five, she knew all too well what was to come after the angry voices and the throwing things began. She had learned to read the signs, and sadly she was never wrong. There weren’t many places of refuge in the tiny apartment where she and her mommy lived. But there was one place she could always count on to ride out the violent storms.

To other kids her age, the dark recesses under the bed were a frightening place. But for Willow, the known horror that often surrounded her was far less scary than the unknown. Lifting up the faded blue and white patchwork quilt, she crawled across the dingy carpet and underneath the ratty mattress that smelled like smoke and pee. Dust bunnies clung to her clothes, clouding her lungs and making it difficult to breathe.
Once she settled in, she pinched her eyes shut and imagined herself miles and miles away. Whenever she was scared, she always went to be with her Angel Mommy. In Angel Mommy’s world everything was happy, beautiful and pure. Rainbows stretched across the sky over castles filled with unicorns. But the best part of all was Angel Mommy herself. Angel Mommy never drank too much out of the bottles with dark liquid that made her real mommy angry and then sad. Angel Mommy never had boyfriends who yelled at Willow or smacked her in the face or on the bottom. For Angel Mommy, Willow was her whole world—the only focus of her love and attention. They would play for hours and hours, running along the grassy meadow or playing hide and seek in one of the castles on the hillside.

She’d first begun to dream of Angel Mommy two years before at Christmas time. After her real mommy had drunk from the bad bottles and Mommy’s boyfriend had stuck himself with the scary needle, they started yelling at each other. Cowering on the couch, Willow had tried to hide behind the pillows. As Mommy and her boyfriend’s voices rose louder and louder, they began to push and shove each other. When Mommy tripped over one of Willow’s shoes, she lost her balance and fell into the small Christmas tree in the corner. Ornaments had broken and scattered along the floor.
After Mommy had screamed at Willow and thrown the offending shoe, hitting her in the face, Willow had tried to pick up the mess to make Mommy less mad. An angel in a long white robe was the only thing that hadn’t broken. It had soft, dark hair that she could stroke like one of her dolls, and it also had soothing brown eyes that gave Willow the reassurance she so desperately needed. Willow hadn’t let Mommy see that she kept the angel. And that very day, Willow named her Angel Mommy and always kept the ornament close to her side.

Under the bed, she let her hand creep down to her shorts pocket where Angel Mommy waited to give her comfort. Willow stroked the doll’s hair as the yelling in the living room grew louder. Just as she was about to plug her ears with her fingers, there was the bang of the front door blowing open and hitting the wall, like when Mommy’s boyfriend came home angry. More voices now. More yelling. More breaking glass. It sounded like the living room was being torn apart.

Mommy was begging someone with a voice that Willow wasn’t used to. It rang with fear, and it was usually Willow who was afraid, not Mommy. Thump, thump, thump. Willow began to shake at the sound. Was it pounding boots? Mommy didn’t like when Willow’s shoes made loud noises. Holding her breath, she prayed to Angel Mommy that the man in the boots wouldn’t find her. But even as she was saying the words over and over in her head, the scary person came inside her bedroom. She could tell right away from the size of his feet that it was a man. He started over to the closet. Clothes and toys began to litter the floor as he went through her possessions as if he were looking for something in particular.
Then he went over to her chest of drawers. One by one, he pulled the drawers out and tossed them to the floor. When one landed a little too close to her, she jumped and hit her head against the mattress, causing her to squeak. The small noise caused the man to freeze.

Willow’s heart began to beat wildly, and she felt like she couldn’t breathe. As she tried burrowing farther underneath the bed, the mattress covering her was ripped away. With a scream, she stared up at a man who was a vision out of her worst nightmares—long, stringy black hair, an angry red scar that ran down his face and onto his neck, and a patch over one of his eyes. Willow pinched her eyes shut with fear. Please, please, help me, Angel Mommy!

But then Big Booted Man grabbed her up and hoisted her over his shoulder. She could barely breathe, least of all cry out or scream—it was as if her voice had been snatched away the moment her precious hiding place had been invaded. Her body trembled with fear as he marched out of her bedroom and into the living room. He tossed her about like a mistreated baby doll. When they finally came to a stop, he jerked her around to where she was facing out from his chest. His arm wrapped tightly around her waist, binding her to him.

Her voice momentarily returned at the horrific sight before her. “Mommy!” she cried. Mommy and her boyfriend, Jamey, were tied with rope to two chairs from the kitchen table. Jamey stared at her with the same aggravation he always had. But Mommy wasn’t talking or looking at her. Blood trickled out of her nose and mouth, her head hung limp. When she didn’t respond, Willow kicked at Big Booted Man to try to get away. “Mommy!” she shrieked.

She was rewarded with a smack to the head and face. “Shut the hell up, brat!”

Although she shouldn’t have, she cried out with the pain. Her face stung as if someone was poking her repeatedly with something tiny and sharp. It sent tears to blur her eyes.

She jumped at the sound of a gravely, harsh voice behind her. “Crank, watch yourself. She doesn’t get hurt until I say so, got it?”

“Yessir,” Crank replied.

Willow turned her aching head to see a mean man staring at her. The look he gave her made her tremble all over. His black eyes focused on her with such hatred, even though she had never met him before. “Aren’t you a pretty, little thing,” he said.

Since she couldn’t speak, she only stared at Mean Man. He then turned his gaze from her to one of the men who was standing behind her mommy.

“Wake the bitch up,” Mean Man commanded.

The man grabbed Mommy’s hair and yanked her head up. She cried out, her eyes blinking furiously. When she met Willow’s gaze, she sucked in a harsh breath. “Leave her out of this. She has nothing to do with my business,” she said, in a pained whisper.

“Ah, but you see, she is part of you two, so she’s my business. Since you decide to fuck with my business, I’m going to fuck with yours.” Without taking his eyes off of her mommy, he took a step closer to Willow. “I think it’s time we showed your daughter what happens when you double cross someone.” Mean Man waved a gleaming silver knife in front of Willow’s face. When the blade pressed against her neck, fear overwhelmed her, sending warm liquid dribbling down her legs. Big Booted Man who held Willow pulled her back from the blade to give her a shake so hard her teeth clattered. “The little cunt just pissed all over me!” he exclaimed.

Mean Man narrowed his eyes. “Don’t be such a pussy, Crank. Now hold her fucking still, you hear me?”

Crank grumbled but kept his arms tight around Willow. Mean Man glanced at Mommy and Jamey before he once again pressed the blade to Willow’s neck. “Now let’s try this again, eh? If you don’t fucking tell us where the shipment is, I’m going to start cutting pieces out of your kid!”
Jamey rolled his eyes and gave a contemptuous snort—the kind he usually gave Willow when she tried to talk to him about dolls or her favorite television shows. “Go ahead and slit the brat’s throat. I don’t give a shit.”

The Mean Man’s eyebrows rose in surprise. “You just playin’ me, man? ‘Cause I will seriously hurt the little shit.”

“You heard me straight. I don’t give a shit if you spill her blood all over the floor because it won’t be mine flowing out of her.”

“If she ain’t yours, whose kid is she?”

“She’s Malloy’s bastard.”

Mean Man hissed at the mention of the name. “Which Malloy?”

“Jamey, don’t,” Mommy protested, looking scared. All her young life, Willow had wondered who her daddy was. Whenever she asked, Mommy would call her daddy bad names. She’d never even seen a picture of him. Now it seemed Mommy had been hiding who her daddy was because she was scared. Willow couldn’t help wondering if her daddy was as bad as these men.

“Shut your trap, bitch,” Mean Man snarled. He then jerked his chin up at Jamey. “Tell me which Malloy the brat belongs to.”

“She’s Deacon’s.”

A name. Willow had finally heard her daddy’s name. For some reason hearing it made her feel like she knew him somehow. Her happiness was fleeting. Hearing her daddy’s name seemed to make Mean Man very happy, and Willow imagined that couldn’t be good. A smile curved on his lips. “Well, now. This certainly changes things, doesn’t it?”

His knife lowered from Willow’s throat. When he took a step closer to her, Willow cringed back against Big Booted Man. “This seems to be your lucky day, little girl. Letting you go now is going to serve my purpose far more in the long run.” Mean Man cocked his brows and stared at her. His rough hands came to cup her chin, tilting her head to look at her from several angles. “I can’t believe I didn’t notice it before. You’re the fucking spitting image of that cocksucker.”

Mommy leaned forward in her chair. “Just let her go, okay? Using her won’t do you any good. Deacon doesn’t even know she’s his—I left him before I found out. He doesn’t like kids, so he won’t give a shit about her.”

Mean Man tsked at Mommy. “He might not care at first, but I’ll give him some time. Even if he doesn’t want her, I guarantee his brother, Rev, will. And I’ll use any leverage I can against Deacon and his brothers.” He motioned to Crank. “Put her down.”

Relief filled Willow when she felt the ground beneath her feet again. Mean Man crouched down beside her.
“I want you to listen to me and listen good. You tell no one what you saw here tonight, understand?”

Although Willow bobbed her head furiously to show she understood, it didn’t seem to satisfy the Mean Man. He leaned in to where she could feel his hot breath burning against her cheek. “If you say a fucking word to anyone about me or what you saw, I will come to you in the night and cut out your heart. Got it?”
Apart from the times when she explored with Dora or escaped with Angel Mommy, Willow spent a lot of time afraid. But, until now, she had never experienced such frightening fear like this. The tremor seemed to flood every part of her body. Although she shook from head to toe, she couldn’t make herself reply.

But somehow Mean Man was satisfied with her lack of response. He turned back to Mommy. “Does she have somewhere she can go?”

Tears streaked down Mommy’s cheeks. “Yes, she stays with the lady down the hall a lot.”

Willow’s fear dissipated a little at the thought of Mrs. Martinez whose warm and cozy apartment she stayed in during the times Mommy was away with Jamey or working. Mrs. Martinez always cooked something for Willow, and she even let her help prepare the food. She let Willow call her Mama Mari, and it was like getting to have a grandmother like her friends at school did.

“Fine. She goes down the hall, and we finish this.”

“C-Can I at least say goodbye,” Mommy questioned, as her chest rose and fell with sobs. Seeing Mommy cry made Willow start to cry.

“Hurry it up,” Mean Man replied, shoving Willow toward the chair where Mommy sat.

Clambering as best she could into Mommy’s lap, Willow buried her head in Mommy’s neck. Still bound tight by her fear, she couldn’t seem to make her lips move to say the words she was screaming in her mind. No matter how mad and mean Mommy was, Willow always loved her. She wanted nothing more than to be hugged and kissed by Mommy, but she very rarely got what she wanted.

“I love you, Willow. You be a good girl for Mrs. Martinez. She’s going to take you to your daddy. You be good for him, okay?” Willow nodded. Mommy started to cry harder. “I’m sorry I was a bad mother, baby. I hope you’ll have a better one now.”

Willow jerked back to stare into Mommy’s eyes. What did she mean a ‘better mommy’? Was she going somewhere? If Willow went to live with her daddy, did that mean she would never see Mommy again? It made her cry as her tummy twisted. “I love you, Mommy,” she whispered, finally finding the words she desperately wanted to say.

“I love you, too, Willow.”

“All right, enough sentimental bullshit. Crank, take the kid down the hall. Tell the woman to get the fuck out of the building for the next few hours if she knows what’s good for her.”

Big Booted man responded by snatching Willow up again and marching her to the door. As Willow gazed over her shoulder, Mean Man closed the gap between him and Mommy. Just as they started out of the apartment, Mean Man’s knife went to Mommy’s throat. Mommy looked straight at Willow. “I love—” Her words were cut off when the knife slid across her neck.

Willow’s mouth opened in a scream, but nothing came out. As hard as she tried closing her eyes from the sight of the red blood pouring from her mommy’s neck, she couldn’t. The last thing she saw as she was taken from the apartment was Mean Man turning back to her as he brought his fingers to his lips to remind her to keep quiet.

Willow knew that she would never tell. She never, ever wanted to see Mean Man again. No matter what was done to her, she would never tell.









Katie Ashley is the New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon Best-Selling author of The Proposition Series, Runaway Train Series, as well as several New Adult and Young Adult titles. Her latest series, Vicious Cycle, has been picked up for publication by Penguin Books.

She lives outside of Atlanta, Georgia with her two very spoiled dogs. She has a slight obsession with Pinterest, The Golden Girls, Harry Potter, Shakespeare, Supernatural, Sons of Anarchy, Downton Abbey, Designing Women, and Scooby-Doo.

With a BA in English, a BS in Secondary English Education, and a Masters in English Education, she spent 11 1/2 years educating the Youth of America aka teaching MS and HS English until she left to write full time in December 2012.

A Shade of Vampire (A Shade of Vampire #1) by Bella Forrest




THE SERIES WITH OVER A MILLION BOOKS SOLD


Over 7,600 Five-Star Reviews (on Amazon & Goodreads).
Recommended Read on USA Today's Happy Ever After blog. Amazon Overall Top 10 Bestseller. 


#1 Bestseller in Vampire Romance, Paranormal & Fantasy.


"...an utterly enthralling, highly exciting and beautifully sensitive story... Five stars and a standing ovation for A Shade of Vampire and its wonderful author, Bella Forrest."
- Books For Tomorrow ★★★★★


On the evening of Sofia Claremont's seventeenth birthday, she is sucked into a nightmare from which she cannot wake.

A quiet evening walk along a beach brings her face to face with a dangerous pale creature that craves much more than her blood.

She is kidnapped to an island where the sun is eternally forbidden to shine. An island uncharted by any map and ruled by the most powerful vampire coven on the planet. She wakes here as a slave, a captive in chains.

Sofia's life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn when she is the one selected out of hundreds of girls to join the harem of Derek Novak, the dark royal Prince.

Despite his addiction to power and obsessive thirst for her blood, Sofia soon realizes that the safest place on the island is within his quarters, and she must do all within her power to win him over if she is to survive even one more night.

Will she succeed? ...Or is she destined to the same fate that all other girls have met at the hands of the Novaks?

"I challenge you to read this book and not love it." - Get Lost In Fiction ★★★★★


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COMING SOON!
A Shade of Vampire 19: A Soldier of Shadows
OCTOBER 25, 2015!!

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Coming Soon!! Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer



COMING SOON!!! NOV. 10, 2015!!

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend–the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?


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Marissa Meyer is the New York Times-bestselling author of The Lunar Chronicles. She lives in Tacoma, Washington. She’s a fan of most things geeky (Sailor Moon, Firefly, any occasion that requires a costume), and has been in love with fairy tales since she was a child. She may or may not be a cyborg.

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