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Saturday, April 9, 2016

SALE BLITZ: Rough Hard Fierce Boxed Set by Skye Warren



Title: Rough Hard Fierce Boxed Set
Series: Chicago Underground #1-3
Author: Skye Warren
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release Date: March 20, 2014


Contains ROUGH, HARD, and FIERCE - all three books in Colin and Allie's complete story! This boxed set in the Chicago Underground series is over 400 pages.

Meet the woman shaped by betrayal and the man determined to save her at any cost...
ROUGH (Book One)

I'm a cautionary tale. A statistic. A victim. A single teenage mother from the poor part of town. Most of the time I'm too busy working and struggling to care what people think. Survival doesn't come easy.

I have a dark secret, a pressure valve, a rare moment just for myself. On these nights I visit a club. There I find men who give me what I need.
Men like Colin.
But he wants more than a few stolen hours. He demands more than my body. He wants my heart and soul--my happily ever after. I never thought I'd be Cinderella. I never thought a man that rough could be my prince.

HARD (Book Two)

What Colin doesn't know can't hurt him.
At least that's what I tell myself about the secrets I keep. I don't have a choice, not if I want to keep my daughter safe. And keep him Colin safe too. There are enemies in the shadows waiting to strike from all sides. I'm holding them out with my bare hands, but it's hard not to
get crushed in the process.
And the truth has a way of coming out.
If I'm not careful, the past I've been working so hard to hide, the pain I've been fighting so long to outrun, will wipe out the man I love.

FIERCE (Book Three)

I'm torn between what I want and what I need. Between the men in my past and the man by my side. Colin has tried to control me, to use me. But he also guards me so fiercely my heart aches.
Raincheck. Business. Don't wait up. --C
That's the note he leaves for me, as if I could sit around while he fights my dragons. As if I could let himself get killed in some vain attempt to protect me.
There's no protection left for me. No redemption either.

This is my battle, and I've already lost.


Purchase Links


 Author Bio
Skye Warren is the New York Times bestselling author of dark romance such as Wanderlust and Prisoner. Praised as a “true mistress of dark erotica”, her books have been featured in Jezebel, Buzzfeed, USA Today Happily Ever After, Glamour, and Elle Magazine. She makes her home in Texas with her loving family, four dogs, and one evil cat.
 Author Links

Book Blitz: Burnout by Sarah Castille

Sarah Castille
(Legal Heat #2.5)
Publication date: April 3rd 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
She vowed to uphold the law.

He’s determined to break it.

Together, they just might bend the rules.

Rookie cop, Sophie Nichols, knows the dangers of a one-night stand with a sexy stranger. Unable to resist the pull of cocky, badass biker, Ace Logan, she indulges in one steamy night of raw, unbridled passion.

At least, that was the plan…

As the new sergeant-at-arms for the Rogue Riders MC, Ace doesn’t need complications in his life—especially a curvy, captivating cop with a kick-ass attitude who has the power to wreak havoc on his club. So why can’t he stay away?

When Sophie’s brother is kidnapped by a ruthless criminal gang, Ace might be her only hope to find him. But once he has the rookie in his arms, he’ll never let her go. Now, Sophie must make a choice: break the law or break her heart?

Burnout is a standalone novella in the full-length Legal Heat series by New York Times bestselling author, Sarah Castille.
A thud on the door startled her. No one could get into the building unless she buzzed them through the front door, and she hadn’t met any of the other tenants.
“Who is it?” She balled the chip bag and walked over to the door.
She heard whispers and then the smack of flesh hitting flesh.
“Tuscan Movers. We’re here to...ah...finish the job.”
Puzzled, she pulled open the door only to step back when a burly man wearing a Tuscan Movers T-shirt was thrust in her face. Sophie recoiled, barely recognizing the mover who had laughed when she’d asked him to finish unpacking her stuff. His face was covered in cuts and bruises, his eyes were black, and his shirt stained red with blood.
“These the guys?” Ace shoved the mover forward, and turned to grab another man behind him, similarly beaten, and shove him forward, too.
Shocked, Sophie could only stare as Ace, Jackie, Kickstand, and two other Rogue Riders followed the movers into her apartment.
“Sophie.” Ace raised his voice, snapping her back to reality. “Are these the guys who dumped your stuff and walked away?”
She looked at the two badly beaten movers, pale and quiet now instead of angry and belligerent as they had been the previous day when they walked out on the job. “Yes.”
“Right. They’re here to finish the job. Kickstand, Slider, Spook, and I are gonna stick around to make sure the job gets done to your satisfaction. Jackie’s here ’cause I didn’t want you to feel uncomfortable being alone with so many guys, and since she never shuts up, she’ll keep you entertained.”
“I heard that,” Jackie snapped, tossing her thick, dark hair over her shoulder. Sophie couldn’t figure out what she was doing breaking into a cop’s home with a bunch of outlaw bikers instead of walking the runways in Paris and Milan.
“Good,” Ace said. “You were meant to.”
“But...” Sophie interrupted them. “I filed a complaint.”
Ace raised an eyebrow. “How long do you think you would have to sit here with your stuff like this if you pursued things through official channels? Forever. That’s how long. My way, the guys show up and finish what they started.”
“You can’t just kidnap people and force them to work,” Sophie snapped. “It’s against the law.”
Ace snorted. “We’re an outlaw club, babe. We don’t acknowledge the authority of civilian law. Sometimes it gets in the way of justice, and that’s what I’m giving you now.”
“Justice?” She pulled him to one side while two of the bikers directed the movers to lift the mattress she and Ace had slept on last night. “They’re obviously here under duress. I’m a cop. I can’t condone illegal activities going on in my home while I’m standing right here.”
Ace stroked his chin and nodded. “Right. We’ll go to the Roadhouse. Get a drink. Then you won’t be standing here. You’ll be sitting somewhere else. With me.”



“You are small.” Ace reached out to brush a lock of hair out of her eyes. “Even in those fucking sexy boots. And you’re curvy. But those curves would be wasted on a man like Bones. You got a body made for sex, not violence, and you need a man up for the challenge.”

She should have felt insulted, miffed, even outraged by his presumption. But he didn’t leer the way Bones had, and his tone was more appreciative than dirty. She had no doubt if she turned him down now, he would just walk away.

A real man. Confident and commanding without even a hint of the insecurity that had driven Ryan to return to their house the night after he’d been served with divorce papers.

“And that would be you?” Her voice lifted in a teasing tone. Although she couldn’t spend a night sexing it up with a criminal, she might as well have a bit of fun.

“Me.” His traced a thick finger along her jaw, his skin calloused and rough. The thought of his warm hands on her body sent a sizzle of heat straight to her core.

Her tongue darted out, slid over her bottom lip. She tasted the tang of lipstick, the faint hint of the whiskey she’d drunk to fortify herself before coming to the party, and the sweetness of desire.

Ace sucked in a sharp breath, his gaze locking on her tongue. “You got a name, babe?”


“Sophie.” He repeated her name with a sensual rumble that vibrated through her body, spreading out to her fingers and toes.

She liked the way he said her name, soft, almost like a prayer. She liked that he thought she was beautiful, although she had nothing on the women she’d seen as she passed through the house: taller, thinner, prettier, younger, wilder…with their piercings and dyed hair, leather crop tops, and minis. She liked it even more when he slid a hand around her waist to rest it in the small of her back, making her tingle from head to toe.

“Beer me, beautiful Sophie.”

“Beer you?”

“I just saved your sweet ass. Rescuing beautiful damsels in distress is thirsty work.” He gestured in the direction of the bar behind them with the slightest lift of his chin. “I’ll keep an eye on your ass for you as you walk away. Make sure no one else touches it.”

Someone needed to learn a lesson.

SC Burnout Teaser4

Author Bio:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Sarah Castille, writes contemporary erotic romance and romantic suspense featuring blazingly hot alpha males and the women who tame them.  
She is the author of the Redemption series, the Sinner’s Tribe MC series, and the Legal Heat series.  
A recovering lawyer and caffeine addict, she worked and travelled abroad before trading in her briefcase and stilettos for a handful of magic beans and a home on Vancouver Island.

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Excerpt Tour: LYING, CHEATING HEART by Mindy Ruiz

LCH - Tour banner

LYING, CHEATING HEART, the long awaited second book in Mindy Ruiz's Game of Hearts Series is finally here! Be sure and grab book 1, ENCHANTED HEART while it's FREE for release week only!






No More Lies!

Cassie Vera thought the biggest threat to her life disappeared the night her boyfriend, A.J. Vasillios, used his one-time-use power and saved her from certain death.

She was wrong.

The mythological hit list she was on is nothing compared to her freshman year at the University of Las Vegas. Rooming with Vegas’s future female royalty has pushed her estrogen tolerance to its limit. Worse, Cassie must take place in a time-honored tradition that tests her faith, while her boyfriend’s new job threatens to shatter her heart.

When age-old traditions change …

Cassie’s school year is interrupted when the future queens are ordered to represent their houses in an annual high-stakes competition. While at her ancestral home in Malaga, Spain, Cassie discovers the Greek gods have gifted her with new abilities. Cassie takes matters of righting an eighteen-year-old wrong into her hands. However, actions have consequences, and Cassie’s may very well end up costing her and the House of Hearts everything.

With her family’s future at stake and the love of her life choosing sides, Cassie must cheat death one more time.

When duty requires you to do the unthinkable, where will your loyalties lie?

Only a Cheating Heart Knows.

Read ENCHANTED HEART, the award winning first book in the Game of Hearts series while you wait…

Front Cover

ENCHANTED HEART Goodreads ** Amazon



Cassandra Vera never ever breaks the rules.


She’s also had a nonexistent social life since her best friend moved to Vegas. Armed with a new set of resolutions, the promise of a hot date, and her adoptive parents out of town, Cassandra agrees an overnight road trip to Las Vegas to celebrate her birthday is the perfect way to ring in the New Year. After all, it’s Vegas, the city where secrets are meant to stay hidden. Little does Cassandra know the secrets of her own pastare buried there, as well.

In the shadows of the glitz and gaudy lights of Vegas lies a power struggle centuries old. One wrong step and Cassandra could destroy the delicate web of secrets. Now an enemy she never knew existed is after her and the one boy who may be the missing piece to the puzzle —and her heart— is the one person she can’t afford to trust.

Beaux & Cassie

I walked Beaux down the hallway to his dorm. I hadn’t been wrong about the cut above his eye getting some friends. Despite the you’re-a-chicken taunts, I’d watched Beaux’s ride from the staging area on the closed circuit TV. The announcers were just as enamored with Beaux as Amber the busty bimbo was. When the camera zoomed in on Beaux, I had to admit, I could see where the luck and charm came from. Muscles undulated under his skin, and when he smiled at the camera, my heart may have fluttered.
It was ridiculous, but the stupid organ really fluttered.
It fluttered and then filled with guilt. I didn’t have too much time to wallow, because the moment the guilt made its way to my gut, the shoot opened and Beaux flew around on the back of a terrifying beast. Revolution bucked to the left, the right, reared up, slammed down, and then lifted its hind legs to send Beaux sailing through the air. I screamed as he crashed down to the floor of the arena. Three clowns rushed in, one stopped to check on Beaux. Nonchalantly, he picked up his black cowboy hat, dusted off his chaps, and waved to the crowd, all as if there wasn’t a deadly side of beef wanting to avenge the invention of hamburgers.
“You’re sure you don’t want to go to the hospital?”
“This is nothing.” Beaux smiled down at me, deepening the cut around his eye. “I’ll wash it off, and we’ll head out for dinner.”
“You sure?” I questioned. His muscular arm, draped around my neck, made another attempt to pull me closer to him.
“You could have a concussion.” I pressed. We stopped in front of his door, that mischievous smile pulled at the cut from earlier this morning.
“Come to think of it, I could use some help with my sponge bath,” his Australian accent mixed with a slight Southern twang.
“Never mind, you’re not concussed,” I chuckled. “Where are your keys?”
“Front pocket.” He waggled his eyebrows before adding, “Mind the flashlight, once you turn it on, it’s hard to contain the light.”
I giggled and slipped out from under Beaux’s arm, steadying him as I let go. I was getting good at dodging the one-liners. By the end of the semester, I’d have ninja skills to combat his come-ons.
“I think you can handle finding your own keys and flashlight from here, cowboy.” I turned to walk down the hall, but Beaux snagged the waistband of my skirt and pulled me back into him. The warmth of his body washed through me as he rested his chin on my shoulder, making parts of my body come to life. Parts of me that had no business becoming aware of anybody but A.J.
I shouldn’t feel this.
Not for him.
I had a boyfriend, and Beaux was in love with another girl. This had disaster written all over it, which was probably why Midas thought it was such a damned good idea. Beaux spun me around, my hands splayed against his chest, but that didn’t stop him from resting his forehead on mine. Every inch of the front of me pressed into every inch of him. I’m certain he could feel my heart pounding against his chest.
“Thanks for coming with me,” he finally whispered. The scent of hard alcohol one of the rodeo clowns had given him after he stumbled out of the main arena still clung to his breath.
“I wasn’t sure I had a choice.” I watched the light in his eyes dull just a fraction and immediately wanted the words back. “You’re welcome. I’m glad you got it out of your system.”
The glimmer returned; so did the mischievous smile.
“Who says I’ve gotten you out of my system?”
My pulse kick-started.
“I was talking about the bull riding.”
“Sheila, there’s no difference between you and the bulls. You’re both in my system and you’re both deadly as sin. But I will admit, I’m looking forward to kissing you more than I am the bulls.”
I stepped away from Beaux and turned so he could see how serious I was when I said, “Flirt with me all you want, but you and I will never happen. I love A.J.”

About Mindy Ruiz:

Author PhotoMindy Ruiz lives in a sleepy Beach Town in Southern California. When she’s not writing, she spends her time chasing after three boys, making flirty eyes at her hunky husband, watching fantasy television shows, cheering for the Dallas Cowboys, and hanging out at the beach with her very large and loud Italian family.

Her career in publishing started in the 4th grade with a story about a magic, museum-hopping, chair. Now, Mindy writes young adult, new adult, and adult paranormal romance. Her books always include tormented heroes, snarky heroines, and lots of swoon-y moments that will put a smile on your face or make your heart race. Mindy is the lover of a good romance, the underdog and John Hugh’s 80′s teen movies.

When her toes aren’t in the sand or her mind isn’t in the clouds, Mindy loves hearing from readers.

Facebook ** Twitter ** Instagram ** Author Goodreads ** Pinterest

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Book Tour: The Matchmakers Playbook by Rachel Van Dyken

The Matchmaker's Playbook (Wingmen Inc. 1)
Publisher: Skyscape (April 5, 2016)
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English

Wingman rule number one: don’t fall for a client.
After a career-ending accident, former NFL recruit Ian Hunter is back on campus—and he’s ready to get his new game on. As one of the masterminds behind Wingmen, Inc., a successful and secretive word-of-mouth dating service, he’s putting his extensive skills with women to work for the lovelorn. But when Blake Olson requests the services of Wingmen, Inc., Ian may have landed his most hopeless client yet.
From her frumpy athletic gear to her unfortunate choice of footwear, Blake is going to need a miracle if she wants to land her crush. At least with a professional matchmaker by her side she has a fighting chance. Ian knows that his advice and a makeover can turn Blake into another successful match. But as Blake begins the transformation from hot mess to smokin’ hot, Ian realizes he’s in danger of breaking his cardinal rule…

The Matchmakers Playbook Creed

1. Head held high. 

2. Always smile. 

3. Never slouch. 

4. Wear clothes appropriate to the season. 

5. Let him open the door. 

6. No kissing on the first date. 

7. He comes to you. 

8. Lingering is frowned upon. 

9. NO facebook stalking. 

10. NO STALKING stalking. 

11. Don't be too available. 

12. LIsten to Lex and Ian. 

13. See Number 12.

14. No seriously, go back, re-read #12.

15. If after one week you aren't satisfied, we will dissolve the contract.

Ian and Lex's Rules of Play

1. Jealousy is key when trying to get noticed by a dude. No girl ever got her guy by hanging out by the potted plants or doing the dishes in the kitchen.

2. Smile. Often. Smiling makes dickheads automatically assume you've got a secret--and damn, do guys love discovering secrets.

3. Never call. Always text.

4. If he calls you, answer on the third ring, but only after he's called you three times.

5. The rule of three pertains to every situation, answering in person, the length of time you touch a body part (unless it’s down below, but you shouldn't be doing that at this point unless you're a psycho), the length of time you take to answer the door, the point is this, you have to pause, breathe, stare, and then answer. If you're doing it any other way. You're doing it wrong.

6. I don't care if he's serenading you with Taylor Swift and it’s just like absolutely OMGEE your most favorite song, holy shit he brought coke zero? I LOVE COKE ZERO. No. Hell no. You don't cave. It’s been one day. You do not cave on day one. On day one. You plan.

7. You are NEVER to be so interested in them right off the bat that you're willing to cancel plans, according to them, you're always busy damn it, why can't they just catch a break?

8. Walk away, never toward. I don't give a flying shit that he's wearing your favorite shirt and holding a monkey on his head, smile, wave, walk the other way. The only time you walk toward is if the douche needs medical attention and even then...if he's gonna live, so will you.

9. It’s not about you. I know, I know, you're just so pissed about Shelly and how she gave you a bitchy look during chem, but control yourself. It’s about him, ask him questions, in return, he will ask you. This. Is. Called. A. Conversation.

10. Put your damn phone away. When you're in his space, you aren't on Facebook or tweeting about it, this is how you lose his attention and gain another cat. Toss the cell phone away or Wingmen Inc will very politely shove it up your ass.

If the first ten rules are too difficult for you to comprehend, you probably aren't the client for us...because quite honestly...there are forty more, no chance in hell you'll get through them if you're already scowling. Buh-Bye.


Meet Lex!
Lex "suck my balls" Luther

Every hero needs a villain right? I mean that's how some of the best stories are written, so why not have one in real life? You'd think that being a certified genius would be enough, but for Lex, it isn't, Poly Sci just isn't what it used to be you know? So he seduces women by day and hacks computers by night. 

If Ian is the beauty behind Wingman Inc. then Lex is the brains. 

Only, he's hella hot too. 

Seriously, just ask the two girls currently vying for his attention in bed while he tries to take down the Pentagon. 

Its a tough job, but hey, someone's gotta do it! 

Meet the men behind Wingmen Inc 

Meet Ian

Ian Hunter, ex NFL football player, with a huge heart and a giant, large, mega watt, smile ;) He's always been a player off the field and on, so why not use his talents to better the world? It only makes sense, if one can't play, why not teach? So that's what Ian does, he teaches women how to get the man. 

How to walk. 




And yes, even text. 

Some may call him a genius, but really, he's just a regular guy, he puts his pants on one leg at a time just like you do, only his pants are designer, and his ego? Well, lets just say it matches the size of something else.

Just know, that if you need a wingman? He's your guy.



“What are you doing in my room?” Her voice was accusatory low, and kind of sexy—if I closed my eyes and thought of it belonging to a different body.

“You mean Gabi’s room?”

“No.” Her nostrils flared. “My room.”

“And you are?” I held out my hand, because I was a gentleman first, a certifiable man-whore second, and because my grandma used to swat my ass every time I introduced myself without a firm handshake.

Her eyes widened as she stared at my naked body.

“Fine,” I said with a half shrug and then stood. “But I literally only have three minutes before Gabi hands me my ass. You want the bed or the floor, since you’re already there?”

And Gabi said I wasn’t charitable enough? Damn, look at me, just ready to hand out orgasms for free.

“What?” New girl’s wide roaming eyes finally lifted to meet mine. Damn, some people charge for that kind of staring. “What are you talking about?”

“Okay, now we’re down to about two and a half minutes. I’m not gonna say it won’t be difficult, but I could probably do something that would at least conjure up a little panting. Maybe a scream or two.”

“Scream?” she said, her eyebrows drawing together. “What are you talking about? And why are you naked?”

“I was looking for clothes before you barged in on me.”

“In my room.”

“Look.” I glanced at my watch. “Now we’re really getting into dangerous territory. I’ve been nicknamed Superman in bed, but I’m not actually sure I can do a repeat of 2014, though I’d love to add another instance to the record books. So if we’re going to do this, you need to hurry up and take at least your shirt off.”

“Are you”—her cheeks reddened—“a stripper for the party?”

Hmm. The idea had merit. I could do a free show, which would make me a saint, considering what I typically charge each client.

“No.” I held out my hand. When she didn’t take it, I took it upon myself to lift her from the floor and onto her feet.

She kicked. She even tried to bite me.

“There we go. A little enthusiasm!”

“Put me down!” She jerked away from me.

I set her away from me and crossed my arms. “Sorry, time’s up. You have ten seconds left, and even I can’t perform a miracle of this”—I pointed at her baggy shirt, baggy shirts, and, holy shit, was she wearing tube socks?—“caliber.” I swallowed. “Just a guess, but were you homeschooled?”

Her face reddened with either embarrassment or anger. “No! And I live here. This is my room!”

“But it’s Gabi’s room.”

“We switched this morning!” She stomped her foot. The girl was wearing old-school Adidas flip-flops.

They still made those? Huh. It was like seeing a real live T. rex.

“Why are you staring at my feet?”

“They have to be worth a mint by now.” I tapped my chin and continued staring at the ugly rubber flip-flops. “Impressive. Really impressive.”

“Are you even listening to me?” she shrieked. “Put some clothes on and get out of my room. Or don’t put clothes on and just get out of my room. Whichever.”

“Exactly.” I nodded seriously. “I was just about to do that when you tumbled in. Now,” I said slowly, “you say you switched rooms?”

She nodded.

“Which makes Gabi’s room . . . ?”

She pointed down the hall. I had a brief moment of recollection in which Gabi had mentioned something about switching to the smaller room because the two new roommates were going to share.

“Ah, you must be Serena.”

“Blake,” she growled. “Serena’s blonde.”

I’d have bet she was hot too. Serena was a hot-girl name. Blake? It was what you named a girl that you thought was going to be a boy and therefore projected all your boyhood dreams onto her. Ten bucks that her dad had made her play every sport in the book and she was either the product of divorce or single parenting.

“Why are you still standing here . . . naked?” This time she looked away, covering her face with her hands.

“What’s wrong with being naked? You do know you were born that way, right?”

“Just”—she didn’t look again, but pointed at the door—“go.”

“Your loss.” I laughed. “Could have rocked your world.”

“My world doesn’t need rocking.”

I paused midway through the door and turned back, moving in close, making sure my breath would blow across her neck as I whispered, “Now that’s where you’re wrong, Blake. Every girl needs to allow her world to be rocked, at least once. Or if said rocking is coming from me? Twice.”

omped over to the swear jar and tossed in a dollar bill. 




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, adorable son, and two snoring boxers! She loves to hear from readers!

Want to be kept up to date on new releases? Text MAFIA to 66866!

You can connect with her on Facebook or join her fan group Rachel's New Rockin Readers. Her website is .



Friday, April 8, 2016

Chapter Reveal: Possess (The Syndicate, #1) by Kaye Blue

possess - chapter reveal.jpg
Expected Publication April 27, 2016

Pre-order links



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No weakness.

Maxim has stayed alive—and on top—for twenty years through a ruthless combination of brains and brutality. He’s grown the Syndicate into one of the world’s most powerful criminal enterprises.

He cares for no one.

Except her.

The woman he never should have saved…the one who holds the remnants of his long-dead heart.

No limits.

Senna doesn’t know why Maxim spared her all those years ago, or why he’s kept her by his side. But she does know that nothing—not his beautiful cruelty, not the black void where his heart should be—can stop her from loving him. Wanting him.

Even though she shouldn’t.

No turning back.

Years of obsession sharpen to a knife’s edge when Senna begins to crave her freedom. And when an old rival discovers her existence, Maxim must fight to keep her alive, even as he battles his need to possess her completely…no matter the cost.

AP new - excerpt.jpg

Ten Years Ago…

He stepped over the first body, careful to avoid the blood that pooled around it.
It was best not to make a mess, but as he looked around the room, his disgust rising with every passing second, he was reminded that the man who had come here before him not only had no concerns about making a mess, he reveled in doing so.
He looked around the room again, his face muscles twisting with his displeasure at what he saw. A small, tidy family room, pictures on the wall, a TV in one corner. The TV still played, but the screen was dimmed by the splattered blood that covered it.
He moved deeper into the house and maneuvered around the woman who lay in the middle of the floor.
He didn’t have to look closely to know that she, like the man at the door, was dead, so after a brief glimpse at her stiff, glassy-eyed face, he turned his attention to the scene unfolding in front of him.
“Get out here, you little bitch!”
He face muscles twisting even more, he focused on the man who had bellowed those words in a voice that vibrated with rage, menace, and more than a hint of excitement.
Santo Carmelli had centered himself in the narrow hallway, blocking any chance of exit. He was also frothing at the mouth, his entire body seeming to expand with rage—and anticipation—with each breath he took.
No different than usual, except now that Santo had had a taste of the violence he seemed to feed on, he wouldn’t be satisfied until he’d had his fill. And when Santo was like this, the two he’d already killed wouldn’t be nearly enough.
“No more, Santo. Let’s go,” Maxim said, keeping his voice calm, disinterested, and not letting his irritation come through, difficult as it was to hide it.
If Santo heard, he gave no indication, too far gone in the bloodlust that made him so valued by his superiors and such a pain in Maxim’s ass.
Santo let out an animalistic growl and began stomping down the hallway, uncaring of the gore that coated his shoes and hands.
Maxim didn’t follow immediately, and instead debated whether he should just end this now.
Santo, never a reasonable man, had gotten worse. Much worse. And it always fell on Maxim to clean up his messes, a task Maxim had more than tired of, a task made that much worse by Santo’s sloppiness and his inability to think when he was like this.
Maxim lifted his hand to the small but lethally sharp knife he kept in his waistband.
Finally being rid of Santo would be a relief, and would allow him to focus on more pressing issues. Santo was so distracted it would be easy to get close. Two quick slashes, and one of Maxim’s biggest annoyances and biggest potential rivals would be eliminated.
A tempting prospect, but one Maxim disregarded.
He was close, and all the pieces he needed for his takeover were in place. In a few weeks, the Syndicate would be his.
Then he’d deal with the Santo problem.
Until then…
“Santo,” he said, still calm, tone not betraying how close he’d been to ending Santo’s life.
His voice must have penetrated Santo’s blind rage, for he turned and looked at Maxim.
“Fuck off, Maxim. I’m busy,” he yelled.
“I can see that,” Maxim replied. “Busy and too fucking crazy to do this right. Go now, Santo.”
He shook his head. “No fucking way. She’s back there somewhere trying to hide from me.” As Santo spoke, he glared down the hallway, yelling even louder. Then, he looked back at Maxim, eyes wild with uncontrolled rage. “You think I’m letting this go? That bitch scratched me!” he said, gesturing at the gouges that marked his arms.
Good for her.
Santo probably hadn’t even felt it, but it was good that she’d fought back. Doing so had only pissed Santo off more, and only made Maxim’s already hard job harder, but Maxim didn’t care. A few scratches were nothing, but Maxim would welcome any victory against Santo, no matter how small and symbolic or how much it inconvenienced him.
“I’ll take care of it, Santo,” Maxim said, holding the other man’s gaze.
They were equals in the Syndicate, at least in name, and Maxim had no real authority to give orders, at least not yet. But while Maxim had no official authority over Santo, he had clout, influence, and support that Santo, despite how valued he was by certain members of leadership, did not. And even when he was like this, caught up in his rage and little else, Santo knew that.
Santo’s breath began to smooth out, some of the minuscule reason he had clearing the rage in his eyes.
He finally nodded. “You’re better at this than me anyway. Make it hurt,” he said as he brushed past Maxim and down the hall.
Maxim couldn’t really argue with Santo’s words. He was better, but he wasn’t a mad dog like Santo and he didn’t relish the idea of making someone suffer without good cause, wouldn’t do so simply because Santo had demanded it.
Once Santo was out of the house, Maxim began moving, only barely listening as the others who had entered began to clean the living room, instead focused on the hallway.
Three doors, all partially ajar, darkness spilling out from them.
Two bedrooms and a bathroom, Maxim assumed based on the layout common for houses in this area. This wasn’t the first time he’d been in a place like this, hunting for a person who’d had the misfortune of crossing the Syndicate’s, or Santo’s, path.
A shame, but a part of the job.
Maxim looked down the hall and quickly dismissed the door at the far end. If Maxim was right, and he’d been in this scenario far too many times to be anything else, the person Santo was chasing had planned to slip out behind him as he thrashed through the other rooms. So going to the far door wouldn’t give them the opportunity to get past him.
Which left the second bedroom or bathroom.
Both had merits.
The bedroom offered more places to hide, like the closets people were so fond of. But the bathroom had its own benefits. A window that might serve as an alternate escape, and all kinds of chemicals and cleaners that could do some damage if it came to that.
The scratches on Santo’s arms, the fact that she had gotten away, proved Santo’s prey was a fighter, so Maxim turned into the bathroom and pulled the floral shower curtain aside.
The girl was younger than him, twenty, maybe, and as he’d suspected, clutching a spray bottle of bleach so tightly that her brown fingers were turning white at the knuckles.
Her grip was so tight that it took a moment for her to react, but she did, loosening her hold and then squeezing the nozzle on the spray bottle. Her movements were jerky, panicked, and her aim was off, so the spray flew over Maxim’s shoulder and landed harmlessly behind him.
He glared at her, and her eyes widened but the rest of her body went stiff as she froze in place, staring back at him. Maxim watched her for a moment, two, saw as she debated whether to try to spray him again, saw her fingers twitch around the nozzle as she weighed the consequences of action or inaction.
Saw when she tightened her grip on the bottle.
She met his eyes, and Maxim stared back at her, curious as to what she would do. It felt like the longest time, but in reality it was only seconds. Long enough for Maxim to see that his perception of her as a fighter was true, and long enough for him to tire of their little standoff.
He pried the bottle from her hand and dropped it to the floor, staring at her, considering.
Her eyes were glassy and wet with unshed tears, but tears had long since lost the power to sway him. Maxim couldn’t say for sure if they ever actually had.
He watched her for a moment longer, unmoving. Everything he knew said he should have reached for his knife.
He didn’t.
Instead he grabbed the hand that had been holding the bleach and pulled her out of the shower.
She stared up at him, blinking rapidly, and Maxim could see the beat of her pulse at the base of her throat.
“Are you going to k-kill me?” she asked in a low whisper.
No witnesses. No loose ends. She was both.
The answer was easy.
Maxim looked at her eyes again and then shook his head.
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Kaye writes hot, gritty, suspenseful romance featuring alpha males and the women who love them.

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