THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Jaimie: Fire and Ice (The Wilde Sisters), Sandra Marton {$2.99}

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Description of Jaimie: Fire and Ice (The Wilde Sisters):

Zach Castelianos and Jaimie Wilde meet by accident. The attraction between them is instantaneous and hot, hot, hot. Zach is a woman’s dream: he’s tall, dark and ruggedly handsome, but there’s a dangerous edge to him and Jaimie Wilde is a cautious woman.

They’re wrong for each other. Zach knows it. So does Jaimie, but surely one night of steamy sex won’t change their lives… until Jaimie needs protection from an obsessed stalker and Zach is the only man who can provide it.

 

Accolades:

“Scorching hot nights, tender romantic days, well-drawn characters, family dynamics, humor and love…romance does not get better than this. As I await the next exciting installment in this delectable series, take my advice and pick up a copy of JAIMIE: FIRE AND ICE, and see for yourself what all the fuss is about!” 5 star Blue Ribbon review, RomanceJunkies.com

5/5 star review
” Fire meets ice and all logic melts away.” ContemporaryRomanceReviews.com

“I totally loved this book. Evidently it is the second in a series, stands alone well, but I will be seeking out the first as soon as possible! I love a contemporary romance that has a sense of humor. Ms. Marton has given readers a lead couple that will grab you and not let go. Their dialogue is so sharp and spot on. The sparks fly in this one. Strong primary and secondary characters, witty dialogue, detailed settings, even pacing; can’t ask for anything more than that. Oh wait…. a great romance!” Reader at amazon.com

Reviews:

Jaimie: Fire and Ice (The Wilde Sisters)  currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 4.8 stars from 26 reviews. Read the reviews here.

 

An excerpt from Jaimie: Fire and Ice (The Wilde Sisters):

An hour ago, she’d been trying to get away from Zacharias Castelianos.
What a mistake that would have been.
He wasn’t only drop-dead gorgeous, he was fun. He was charming. He was a man any woman would want. Well, except her. She was far too busy chasing her new career to get involved with anybody. Besides, he lived in New York. She lived in Washington.
And wasn’t thinking like that ridiculous?
Why did she always have to come up with logical reasons to explain things? She was, OK, she was attracted to him.
And unless she’d forgotten everything she’d ever known about men and women, he was attracted to her.
For tonight.
This wasn’t about forever. It was about attraction.
Pheromones.
For goodness’ sake, Jaimie, it’s about lust.
And if she were a different kind of woman, if she could give herself a good reason to let go and just enjoy whatever the night might offer…
“Such deep thoughts.”
His voice was low and rough. Jaimie blinked, looked up. He was inches away, smiling down at her as she sat at the counter, and what she saw in his eyes left her breathless.
“No,” she said quickly, “not deep. Just—just—I was wondering if there’s any news.”
The hell she was.
Her face was an open book. She’d been thinking the same thing he was thinking. He could see it in the sweep of color high on her cheeks, in the way she suddenly and, he’d bet, unknowingly swiped the tip of her tongue over her bottom lip.
Such a full, perfect, pink bottom lip.
God, he wanted to touch her.
Just once. Just lightly.
Zach let himself reach out and stroke an errant strand of gold behind her ear.
It wasn’t enough.
He wanted to kiss her.
He wanted to strip her naked, sweep everything from the counter, lay her across it and take her again and again until she was mindless with pleasure.
At least he didn’t have to worry about the knot in his balls anymore. It had been replaced by one hell of an erection.
He took a quick step back.
“News,” he said, in the manic tones of a desperate man.
“Excellent idea. I forgot all about that wind-up radio.”
He swung away, all but marched to the butcher-block table where he’d stashed the box of emergency supplies. He stood with his back to her and concentrated on cold showers, ice storms, glaciers and whatever other hard-on killers he could think of until it was safe to pluck the radio from the box, carry it across the room, set it on the counter and crank the handle.
“Here we go,” he said brightly. “We won’t get much time out of it, so—”
“…huge software glitch that has affected the grid on virtually the entire East Coast. Authorities have isolated the problem but say they cannot offer an estimate of when they’ll solve it—”
Static. More static, and the crisp intonations of the announcer gave way to… A piano. Soft, bluesy notes. And then a raw, emotion-filled voice.
“Springsteen,” Jaimie said.
Zach nodded. “It’s ‘Back in Your Arms Again.’”
“I know.” She hummed a little of it. “I love that song.”
He laughed. “It must be almost as old as you are.”
“Not even close,” she said, laughing along with him. “But I admit, I grew up on this stuff. I have older brothers. One of them is a big Springsteen fan.”
She shut her eyes, hummed softly with the music, head back, shoulders gently swaying. He watched her for a few seconds. Then he reached for her hand.
She looked at him.
“Dance with me,” he said softly.
Time, the very universe, narrowed down to this moment.
He held his breath until, slowly, she rose to her feet and put her hand in his.
He drew her into his arms.
She came to him willingly on a soft, sweet sigh.
He drew her close, closer still until her could feel the beat of her heart merge with the beat of his.
He pressed his lips to her hair.
She wrapped her arms around his neck, put her head against his shoulder.
They moved slowly to the music. After a while, it faded. Died. Still, they swayed together as the candlelight painted their silhouettes on the walls.
An eternity went by. Then Zach put his hands into Jaimie’s hair and raised her face to his. He knew he would never forget the smoky blueness of her eyes.
“Jaimie,” he said his voice low and urgent.
“Zacharias,” she whispered back.
And then his mouth was on hers, her lips parted to the stroke of his tongue and, in a heartbeat the night turned to magic.

 

Jaimie: Fire and Ice (The Wilde Sisters) is available for purchase at:

 Amazon Kindle for $2.99

 

Connect with Sandra Marton:

Website: http://www.sandramarton.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sandramartonauthor

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/sandramarton

In His Kiss (A Box Set), Debra Webb {$0.99}

The journey to finding Mr. Right can be an unexpected adventure!

A collection of sassy romance novels by Debra Webb.

Free Falling

Keeping Kennedy

Going to the Chapel

Taming GI Jane

What readers are saying:

A lovely hometown story…Going to the Chapel

Thoroughly enjoyable…Taming GI Jane

Light, fast and fun…Keeping Kennedy

I couldn’t put it down…Free Falling

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Nickels, Karen Baney {$2.99}

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Karen Baneys Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of The Nickels:

Niki Turner has finally arrived. Her career as a Software Engineer is soaring–she has just been offered the company’s most sought after account, Helitronics. Life would be perfect, if she could stop her roommate from playing matchmaker.

Then Kyle Jacobs mysteriously re-enters her life. As painful memories resurface, his presence turns her life upside down and threatens to waylay her career. She must find a way to work with him–after all, he’s the helicopter flight consultant for the new flight control system she’s coding.

Can she forget the past and see him as the new man he has become? Or will her resentment keep her from finding what she has always been searching for?

This contemporary Christian romance novel is an upbeat and compelling story set in the Phoenix Metro Area. Karen Baney shows a new side to her writing with great wit and banter between the main characters. Inspired by her love of romance and of computers, this story takes readers on a journey filled with laughter and tears.

 

Accolades:

“Karen Baney weaves a wonderful and enjoyable romance with realistic and believable characters you will grow to love as family. Nickels is an intriguing story that will capture you in the very first pages and keep you engrossed until the end.” –Readers Favorite Reviews

Reviews:

Nickels currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 4.3 stars from 49 reviews. Read the reviews here.

 

An excerpt from Nickels:

When Niki stood, her back and legs were stiff. How long had she been sitting there? Glancing at the clock on her computer, it was three hours later than the last time she checked. Crazy how she could completely lose track of time when she was deep in the zone, coding.
She stepped from the tall cube and ran straight into Kyle. Coffee flew from his hand and down the front of her shirt. She looked down. Drat. Her new lilac colored shirt turned purple-brown as the coffee soaked in. Of course it was her new shirt. She’d only worn it once before.
“Sorry,” Kyle said. “Wait here. Let me get some paper towels or something.”
He set what little was left of his coffee on her desk before he hobbled off to the break room. She grabbed it and tossed it in the trash and followed behind him, pausing briefly at Doug’s desk.
“Run into a coffee cart?” Doug teased.
“More like run over by a Kyle-sized coffee cart. I’ll be back in a minute. Try not to add too many bugs to the code while I’m gone, ‘kay?”
As she hurried down the hall, Doug fired back, “Ha! I’m the bug masher!”
She smiled as she opened the door to the break room only to run into Kyle a second time. Her smile was instantly swallowed by a frown.
“Really, we have to stop meeting like this,” he said stepping back. He offered her a wad of paper towels. “People are gonna talk.”
The humor in his voice was evident, but Niki was not in the mood. She snatched the towels from his hand and turned her back so she faced the wall, trying to modestly wipe down her front. She felt his eyes on her and glanced over her shoulder.
“Don’t you have someplace to be?”
“Nope.”
“Are you sure?”
She finished mopping up her shirt and tossed the towels in the trash. When she turned around to face him, he smiled that blasted charming smile. She wanted to smack it off his face.
“I was actually on my way to see you.”
“Oh, so the coffee attack was intentional then.”
“I was coming to see you about an issue, before heading out for lunch.”
“I was on my way to help Doug, who by now has grown worried thinking I’ve been kidnapped by aliens or something. Can you stop by later? Or just email me?”
Kyle muttered something under his breath.
She didn’t wait for a real answer before leaving the break room.
When she stepped into Doug’s cube, he commented again on her appearance. “Oh, look, lilac and coffee brown go so good together. You might just have hit on a new fashion trend.”
“Shut it.”
“I agree.” Kyle’s voice sounded from behind her. “You could make a fortune with that.”
Was he stalking her now? Had she not made it clear she would talk to him later?
“Have you seen my coffee?”
She pointed to her shirt with a furious look and raised eyebrow. “I’m pretty sure I am well acquainted with your coffee. Now, if you don’t mind, I have some work to do.”
“I meant my coffee cup. I thought I set it down somewhere around here.”
“Go look in my cube then.” She shooed him away.

 

Nickels is available for purchase at:

 Amazon Kindle for $2.99

 

Connect with Karen Baney:

Website: http://www.karenbaney.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Karen-Baney-Books/138412459527446?ref=hl

Twitter: http://twitter.com/karen_baney

Almost Magic (Splintered Category Romance), J.M. Kelley {$2.99}

SPLINTERED CATEGORY ROMANCE #103
MagicalParanormal

When it came to Vivian Burroughs’ unique connection with nature, her grandmother always said, ‘Mediocrity may not burn as bright as a firecracker, but it seldom blows up in your face.’ But the old woman never advised her on what to do when a sexy new neighbor stokes the flames of attraction.

Jack Riley, a still-grieving widower, relocates from the big city to small-town Essex Woods with his young daughter, Elizabeth. His introduction to Vivian leaves him enchanted, but rumors regarding her abilities soon come to light. Is the local beauty a witch or merely the product of an eccentric upbringing by her mother Fred and Aunt Lil, identical twins with a penchant for mischief?

Jack is intrigued by the mystery surrounding the woman, considering the complexities of raising the precocious Elizabeth, a child with frighteningly accurate intuitiveness. As he reluctantly draws closer to Vivian, he also discovers how deep his daughter’s gifts run. Can Jack accept the truth about his own flesh and blood, as well as a second chance at love?

What readers are saying:

ALMOST MAGIC by J.M. Kelley is a funny and lighthearted novella that is guaranteed to make you smile. Between the sweet heartwarming romance and the humorous characters, you’ll be whistling a happy tune when you are done reading. –The Romance Reviews

I really enjoyed this book. From the main characters to the small town feel to the quirky supporting cast, it was a pleasure to read. –Amazon Review

The average Amazon Reader Review Rating is currently 4.5 stars {2 reviews}.

 Click here to read more about and purchase Almost Magic (Splintered Category Romance) for $2.99

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Domestic Entanglements, Karen Laven {$2.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!}

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Karen Laven’s Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of Domestic Entanglements:

Limited discount offer of $1.99

Domestic Entanglements will make you smile

Blade Dafner is a hunk of a man, but a married one. Dali Wright is a career woman, looking for a way to pay for Graduate School.

Meanwhile, Blade and his wife are planning to hire a surrogate to carry the child Blade so desperately wants but his wife, Daisy, doesn’t want to ruin her surgically enhanced figure for.

When Blade and Dali meet by chance, its electrifying. Little do they realize in this first encounter how entwined their lives will soon become…all by chance.

A joyfully funny and enjoyable journey ensues between Blade, Dali, and Daisy, Dr. Dirk Dynk (Daisy’s gynecologist), and the ancient butler, Buford.

NOTE: This is an updated and edited version of Karen Laven’s novel The Surrogate Who Cleaned Up.

˃˃˃ Romantic, funny and light-hearted !

 

Accolades:

“Domestic Entanglements is a deliciously saucy tale, full of sly wordplay and comedic situations. But amid the chuckles is an affecting story of how a self-centered, ambitious young woman, out for some quick money, finds herself drawn into emotional situations that teach her unexpected lessons about family and love. An enjoyable and rewarding read.”

If you enjoy a good laugh (or dozens of them) and a charming story about characters who are unique and unforgettable, you’ll love Domestic Entanglements. The premise has a unique twist, too. If I had to pick one thing that I liked the most, it would have to be the snappy, clever dialogue. Will look for more books by Karen Laven!

Reviews:

Domestic Entanglements currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 4 stars from 33 reviews. Read the reviews here.

 

Domestic Entanglements is available for purchase at:

 Amazon Kindle for $2.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!

 

Connect with Karen Laven:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/freekindlebookz

Twitter: https://twitter.com/@hoblovesbooks

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Dear Rockstar (New Adult Romance), Emme Rollins {$0.99}

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Description of Dear Rockstar (New Adult Romance):

NEW ADULT ROCK STAR ROMANCE
FULL 65,000 WORD

The best things in life are crazy…

Sara is obsessed with rock star Tyler Vincent, and as she works to complete her senior year, she’s determined to find a way to meet him—although her best friend, Aimee, keeps telling her to find a different escape from her desperately violent home life.

Complications arise when Dale, the mysterious new transfer student, sets his sights on Sara, and she falls for this rock-star-in-the-making in spite of her better judgment. When Sara wins a contest, she is faced with a choice—travel to Tyler Vincent’s home town to meet him, or stay and support Dale in a Battle-of-the-Bands hosted by MTV.

Their triangulated relationship is pushed to its breaking point, but there is another, deeper secret that Dale’s been keeping that just may break things wide open…

Turn up your collar, feather your hair, and splash on some Polo, because we’re going back to the ‘80’s when MTV played music videos, there was no such thing as American Idol, and becoming a star meant doing nothing short of crazy for that one, big break.

Reviews:

Dear Rockstar (New Adult Romance)  currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 4.5 stars from 89 reviews. Read the reviews here.


An excerpt from Dear Rockstar (New Adult Romance):

I smiled, reaching over and taking his hand, giving him exactly what he’d asked for. He deserved it. “You’re very good. You’re an amazing singer. You’re an incredible performer. I’ve never seen a crowd go crazy like that for someone they’d never seen before. I mean, celebrity takes time. Exposure. I think you’re one of those people who draws other people in. Like a magnet. You’re going to have people following you around, no matter what you do. For the rest of your life.”

He was actually blushing. “Why do you say that?”

“Because that’s how you make me feel,” I confessed, biting my lip, almost wishing I hadn’t said it.

“Hm.” He made a little noise in his throat, turning my hand over in his, tracing the lines in my palm with his fingertip like he was following a road map. “How do I make you feel?”

“Like I would follow you anywhere,” I whispered.

He lifted my hand and pressed his lips to my palm, closing his eyes briefly, and I noticed how long and dark his lashes were before he looked at me with that intense, blue gaze, telling me more with one look than either of could ever say in words.

“When I saw you in the audience today, I don’t even know how to tell you what it did to me.” He shook his head, twining his fingers with mine.

“Why didn’t you tell me you were performing?” I asked softly.

“Because I didn’t want that to happen.” He gave a short laugh. “I didn’t want to be distracted. I wasn’t supposed to let myself get distracted…”

He met my eyes, the emotion in them so strong I felt it before he even said the words. “Sara, I don’t think you understand what you do to me.”

“What do you mean?” Now it was my turn to ask him.

“I couldn’t think,” he confessed. “Thank God the song was over, because the minute I saw you… I was done for.”

“Oh please.” I smiled, teasing him. “All those screaming girls. I’m surprised they weren’t throwing panties at you.”

“Sometimes they do.” He grinned. “But that never mattered to me.”

I blinked in surprise. “What does matter to you?”

“Now? You.” He squeezed my hand in his, that was all, but the sensation shot up my arm with a jolt that nearly knocked me off my chair.

“Dale, do you realize how crazy that sounds?” I whispered, glancing around like someone might overhear us. “We’ve only known each other for a week.”

“Sometimes the best things in life are crazy.”

I laughed. “I can’t argue with that.”

It was crazy.

It was all crazy.

Me and Tyler Vincent.

Me and Dale Diamond.

But somehow the latter had fully eclipsed the former in my mind—and my heart—at least in the moment.

 

Dear Rockstar (New Adult Romance) is available for purchase at:

 Amazon Kindle for $0.99

 

Connect with Emme Rollins:

Website: http://www.emmerollins.com

Twitter: @emmerollins

Facebook: www.facebook.com.emmerollinsfanpage

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: The Paris Secret, Angela Henry {$2.51}

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Angela Henry‘s Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of The Paris Secret:

Less than twenty-four hours after fleeing to Paris, Maya Sinclair is the prime suspect in a brutal murder—and targeted by the real killer. When she’s viciously attacked in the gardens of Versailles, Maya barely escapes with her life thanks to sexy French journalist Simon Girard.

Simon has been investigating the mysterious death of his brother, an art forger with ties to the woman Maya is suspected of killing. Still healing from heartbreak of his own, Simon reluctantly joins forces with Maya, who has awakened feelings within him he thought long dead.

Their search for answers uncovers the existence of a secret society, and puts them on a quest to find a missing crucifix rumored to hold the key to everlasting life. Together, Maya and Simon race through Paris one step ahead of a killer who will do anything to ensure some secrets remain buried forever…

86,600 words

 

Accolades:

“This book has it all—a phenomenal setting, long-buried secrets, a present-day murder mystery and a dash of paranormal intrigue, not to mention a cast of characters that leap off the page. And while it is so much more than a romance book, the two main characters are absolutely unforgettable.”
—The Romance Reviews Top Pick (Nominated for Best Action Adventure Romance of 2011!)

“The Paris Secret by Angela Henry grabbed me from the first paragraph and kept me turning pages long into the night. The novel offers the perfect blend of adventure, mystery, and romance. The pace is swift, the characters likable, and the mystery rich and interesting, without being too complex or detailed. The blend of history and intrigue in Paris was irresistible.”
—Night Owl Reviews Top Pick

Reviews:

The Paris Secret currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 3.9 stars from 15 reviews. Read the reviews here.


An excerpt from The Paris Secret:

I looked around for a place to put in the extra batteries I had packed. The few stone benches in the garden were taken. I went past the statues lining the walkway to the Apollo fountain and noticed an entrance to the garden hedge maze. Hoping there might be someplace to sit in the maze, I ducked inside. It was cooler and quieter there. Nobody else was in sight. I didn’t have to walk far before coming upon an open gate, through which I could see a pond.

In the very center of the pond was a large golden statue of a man struggling to free himself from the pile of black rocks. One golden, muscled arm reached out toward me. He was holding something in his hand that I couldn’t make out. A quick peek at the brochure I picked up inside the palace identified it as the Encelade Fountain depicting the fall of the Titans.

Something sailed over my head and landed with a loud splash in the pond. I jumped and bumped into someone.
“I’m so sorry—” I began before I saw it was the cop from the train. My blood started to boil. He dropped the large pebbles he’d been holding.

“Look, you can follow me around all you want but you’re wasting your time. I didn’t kill Juliet Rice and I don’t know what happened to the damned corkscrew. So you can tell Bernier and Bellange to kiss my ass.”

“Where’s the crucifix, Ms. Sinclair?” he asked, shocking me more by the fact that he was American than the fact that he knew my name.

“You’re American? I thought you were with the French police.”

“I’m not going to ask you again.” There was an edge to his voice that made me uneasy. I hadn’t realized just how isolated the spot we were in was until that moment.
I decided to play it cool and just walk away. But he grabbed the strap of my bag and yanked if off my shoulder, knocking me off balance. He shook the bag upside down, emptying the contents on the ground.

“Hey! What the hell is your problem? Give me my bag back!”

He dropped the bag and stood His brown eyes were cold and hard in the bright sunlight. After shoving up the sleeves of his polo shirt, his hands curled into fists. That’s when the small red mark on his arm jumped out at me. It wasn’t a birthmark. It was a tattoo of coiled snake, a cobra. I suddenly realized there could be another reason why he would smell like he’d spent time at the police station, and it wasn’t a good one.

“Who are you?” Every hair on my body stood up in alarm.
He didn’t answer. Instead, he punched me hard in the stomach. The pain was immediate and intense. I doubled over, clutching my stomach. He grabbed my throat and slammed me up against the side of the lattice walkway. Leaves, vines of ivy and the hard latticework pressed into my back.

“Where’s the crucifix?” Tattoo Man hissed at me, bathing my nostrils with his funky breath.

“Wha…what?” was all I could get out. Between the pain in my stomach and the tight grip of his hand around my throat, I could barely breathe, let alone talk. I struggled to free my hands, which were trapped between our bodies.

“Don’t play games with me! I know Juliet gave it to you. It wasn’t in the hotel room! Where is it?” He shook me by my throat like a rag doll.

“I barely knew her,” I gasped. “She never gave me anything. I swear. Please…don’t hurt me anymore!”
I managed to press myself back just enough to free my right knee and drove it toward his groin.

But he anticipated the move and deflected it by turning sideways, then spun me around pressing my face against the latticework as he tugged my arms up painfully behind me.

“You barely knew her, yet you shared a hotel room! You barely knew her, yet you showed such concern for her when you saw her being harassed by that Frenchman on the bridge.”

“Please! We didn’t know each other! We didn’t!” How did he know about what happened on the boat?

“Don’t lie to me!” he screamed in my ear and pulled my arms up higher. It felt like they were about to break.

“I’m not lying. Please! Please, stop!” Tears streamed down my face and snot ran from my nose.

“I followed you yesterday. I know you didn’t have the crucifix then. She must have given it to you after she got back to the hotel.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about! I swear!”
“What I did to Juliet Rice is nothing compared to what I’ll do to you if you don’t give me what I want! Where is the crucifix?”

The world started to spin. This was the man who took my bag. This was the man who took my key card and used my corkscrew to kill Juliet. My legs gave out and I slid down his body to the ground. He jerked me back to my feet, turned me around to face him and punched me again, this time in my right side. The explosion of searing pain caused me to fall to the ground and curl into a ball. He grabbed a handful of my hair and jerked my head back.

“Tell me!” he screamed.

My vision began to blur. My attacker let out a grunt. The last thing I heard before passing out was the sound of fists on flesh.

When I came to, I was lying on my back. The most intense pair of green eyes I’d ever seen stared down at me. I’d seen those eyes before.

“Are you okay? Can you stand?” asked the man with the green eyes.

His English was tinged with a French accent. Sunglasses poked out of the front pocket of his faded jean jacket. His white shirt was ripped and his pants were smudged with dirt. This looked like the guy I’d bumped into when I’d arrived earlier. But those eyes made me realize that hadn’t been the first time I’d seen him. This was also the man who’d seen Juliet arguing with on the Pont de la Concorde. What was he doing here? I struggled to my feet and felt a wave of nausea wash over me.

“Easy.” He reached out to steady me. I pushed his hand away and took long, deep breaths to keep from throwing up.

“We need to get out of here before he comes to.” He gestured toward my unconscious attacker lying inside the latticed walkway who had started to groan.

“Come on! Let’s go!” he commanded impatiently, grabbing my hand. I pulled away.

“No! We need to call the police! What’s the number?” I fumbled around on the ground for my cell as I tossed as much of my stuff as I could back into my bag.
Tattoo Man groaned again, louder this time.

“Are you crazy? He’s coming to! We’ve got to get out of here!”

“It’ll only take a minute!” I tried to turn my cell phone on. But my hands were shaking so badly I could barely push the buttons.

“We don’t have time. Come on!” He grabbed my hand again.

He took off running, pulling me behind him. I tried my best to keep up but the pain in my side slowed me down. A bullet whizzed past my head and another hit the fencepost near me. Tattoo Man was firing a gun as he staggered behind us.

“He’s got a gun!” I screamed at my rescuer.

“No shit! Shut up and keep running!”
We emerged from the maze to see an old, beat-up maintenance truck parked about ten feet away. A workman stood on a scaffold cleaning a nearby statue.

“Get in!” Green Eyes shouted, shoving me into the truck on the driver’s side. I scooted over and he jumped behind the wheel. There was no key in the ignition and he slapped the steering wheel in frustration.

“Merde!”

The man on the scaffold, yelling at us in French, began to climb down. Tattoo Man lumbered out of the maze and ran smack into the scaffold, sending it and the statue cleaner crashing down. While the two cursing men tried to extricate themselves from each other and the wreck of the scaffold, Green Eyes frantically looked for the keys in the glove box and under the floor mat.

“Don’t just sit there! Help me!” he yelled, jolting me into action.

I checked the ashtray and under the seat, then reached over and pulled down the driver’s sun visor. A set of keys fell into his lap. He started the truck just as the back window exploded. I screamed. Tattoo Man was back on his feet and about to fire again.

“Get down!” Green Eyes shouted, pushing my head down as another bullet whizzed through the truck and shattered the front windshield.

He threw the truck into reverse. Thud! I sat up and turned to Tattoo Man on the ground. His gun had been knocked out of his hand. We sped off at top speed and minutes later were on the highway.

“You okay?” he asked, squeezing my shoulder. I wasn’t but I nodded yes anyway.

“You were on the bridge with Dr. Rice yesterday, weren’t you?”

He looked at me and gave me a disarming half smile, but didn’t answer. I had the feeling he used that smile to his advantage quite often. And I bet it worked most of the time.

“Aren’t you even going to tell me who you are and what the hell is going on?”

“Aren’t you even going to thank me for saving your life?” He smiled at me in an infuriatingly smug way.

“You first.” I glared at him. He laughed.

“All in due time, Maya. But first things first.” How the hell did he know my name?

“What do you mean? Where are we going?” I demanded while carefully picking shattered glass out of my hair and shaking it out of my clothing.

“Back to Paris. You’re not the only one needing answers,” he replied cryptically.

 

The Paris Secret is available for purchase at:

 Amazon Kindle for $2.51

 

Connect with Angela Henry:

Author Website: http://www.angelahenry.com/paris-secret.php

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MystNoir

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THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Dangerous Past, A. Ebbers {$0.99}

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Description of Dangerous Past:

Airline Captain Frank Braden is being stalked by unknown assassins who have a deadline to make his death look like an accident or a suicide. Braden and his wife, Nicole, don’t know why he is being targeted. They don’t realize that they stand in the way of a deadly conspiracy. After several attempts on his life, Braden receives a message warning him not to attend a Senate hearing in Washington. If he agrees he will will receive a million dollars and his wife’s life.

Dangerous Past is a story of a man who must choose between doing what ought to be done or keeping his family alive.

 

Accolades:

Kirkus Reviews: “The author writes with breezy energy and is at his best when describing scenes of suspenseful intrigue. Frank and his wife, Nicole, emerge as a heroic pair. These two steal the show. Spirited, readable debut with extra points for plot and pacing.”

“A gripping page-turner to the very end.”–Midwest Book Review.

“Dangerous Past is a mystery-thriller in the spirit of both Scott Turow and Ernest K. Gann.” Military Writers of America Review.

Amazon Reviewer: “A fast-paced thriller that kept me guessing at every turn! My interest never waned once as I was reading, and I struggled to put it down” — Ruth Hill.

 

Review Ratings:

Dangerous Past currently has a review rating of 3.9 stars from 55 reviews. Read the reviews here.


Dangerous Past is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $0.99

 

An excerpt from Dangerous Past:

It was nine at night, when the FBI agent watching Frank’s house decided to drive down the road to get a cup of coffee. He figured it would take no longer than twenty minutes. Inside the house Nicole made some coffee and gave a cup to Frank to take outside to give to the agent.

Frank went out the front door and looked for the agent’s car. He peered into the darkness and started to cross the street when he heard a voice from the side of the yard.

“I’m back here.”

Frank turned around and walked into the dark beside his house.

“Over here.”

Frank thought the voice now came from the back yard and he continued toward the rear of the house. When he got to the rear yard, Frank still couldn’t see the agent. “Hey, where in the devil are you? I got some hot coffee.”

“I think I saw someone run into the foliage near the lake. You better go back inside where it’s safe while I have a look around.”

“No, I’ll help you search. Wait a minute.” Frank jogged towards the voice that seemed to be closer to the lake now.

Standing in the shadows, John smiled. For whatever reason, whether his victim was a macho know-it-all type or just naive of the danger, many of the men he had killed had swallowed that bait. He also figured from the fax sheet he had received, that the Austin police had taken Frank’s .38-calber revolver. Under the new waiting law, John knew it was impossible for Frank to get another weapon so soon unless his intended victim wasn’t a law-biding citizen. And John was counting on Frank to be a law-abiding sort.

As Frank neared Town Lake, he wished he had brought a flashlight. He couldn’t see the agent at all. So he went toward the shrubbery where he last heard the voice. “Hey, fellow, where are you?” Frank said. He felt foolish that he didn’t know the agent’s name.

“Here, right behind you.”

The voice startled Frank and he whirled around to face a well-built man wearing all black as though he was on a Special Forces recon night team. I’m in trouble, Frank thought, as he looked down the silencer barrel of a 9mm pistol. God, this guy is really good. “Did you kill the agent that was watching me?”

“I wasn’t paid to do that. Now, Frankie boy, let’s me and you take a walk to the shoreline.”

 

Dangerous Past is available for purchase at:

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THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: When Lightning Strikes (Whiskey Creek), Brenda Novak {$1.99}

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Description of When Lightning Strikes (Whiskey Creek):

Simon O’Neal’s causing trouble again. And it’s up to Gail DeMarco to stop him.

Gail DeMarco left Whiskey Creek, California, to make a name for herself in Los Angeles. Her PR firm has accumulated a roster of A-list clients, including the biggest box office hit of all—sexy and unpredictable Simon O’Neal. But Simon, who’s just been through a turbulent divorce, is so busy self-destructing he won’t listen to anything she says. She drops him from her list—and he retaliates by taking the rest of her clients with him.

Desperate to save her company, Gail has to humble herself by making a deal with Simon. The one thing he wants is custody of his son, but that’s going to require a whole new image. He needs to marry some squeaky-clean girl who’ll drag him off to some small, obscure place like Whiskey Creek….

Gail’s the only one he can trust. She agrees to become his wife—reluctantly. But she isn’t reluctant because he’s too hard to like. It’s because he’s too hard not to love!

 

Accolades:

National Reader’s Choice Finalist!
Write Touch Reader’s Award Finalist!
Book Buyer’s Best Finalist!

“Brenda Novak is always a joy to read–and never more than with this new series!” #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Debbie Macomber

“A rare treat! Brenda Novak draws you in from the first page!”
#1 New York Times Bestselling Author Barbara Freethy

 

Amazon Reader Reviews:

When Lightning Strikes (Whiskey Creek) currently has a Amazon reader review rating of 4.6 stars, with 72 reviews! Read the reviews here!

 

When Lightning Strikes (Whiskey Creek) is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $1.99


Excerpt from Of When Lightning Strikes (Whiskey Creek):

Simon spotted Gail almost immediately. In a sea of silicone, Botox and spray tans, she stood out. Maybe it was her chest, flat by L.A. standards, the severe cut of her business suit with its starched white shirt or the stubborn set to her jaw. Or maybe it was her general disdain for the Hollywood crowd and her unwillingness to dress up and join the fun.
Regardless, Simon had always liked the fact that she wasn’t an adoring fan—almost as much as he hated it. One would think she’d at least try to blend in, if she was going to crash the party. He was fairly certain she hadn’t received an invitation.
“What’s wrong?”
He jerked his gaze back to the stunning blonde sitting in the booth next to him. A “hot yoga” instructor he’d met through a friend, her name was Sunny Something and she was smarter than the stereotype her short skirt and low-cut blouse brought to mind. She was a nice person, too. But he was bored. These days the women he socialized with seemed almost interchangeable.
“Nothing.” He tossed back the rest of his drink. “Why?”
She angled her head to be able to see where he’d been looking but skimmed right over Gail. She probably couldn’t imagine such a nondescript woman being of any consequence to him. If not for the guilt that plagued him, he probably wouldn’t have given Gail a second thought. When he’d told Ian Callister, his business manager, that he wished she’d go broke and return to the small town she called home, he hadn’t meant it literally. He’d been drunk when he made that statement. But Ian had decided to take revenge for the damage her defection had caused, and Simon had been preoccupied and angry enough to turn a blind eye to it. He hadn’t even asked what Ian was up to. Part of him figured Gail DeMarco deserved whatever she got. The other part didn’t see why Ian would go to too much trouble.
But just yesterday he’d learned that Ian had stripped her of almost every client.
“You were frowning,” Sunny said. “Is there someone here you’re not happy to see?”
“No,” he lied.
“What did you say?”
She couldn’t hear him for the music. He raised his voice. “Just getting tired, that’s all.”
“Tired? Already?” She offered him a pout. “It’s barely ten o’clock.”
His lack of interest was an insult to such a sought-after woman. He understood that. If he were a better man he’d pretend to be entertained, but he simply couldn’t fake it. Not tonight. He did enough acting when the cameras were rolling. Besides, he didn’t care if she moved on to someone more attentive. He’d been telling the truth when he said he was tired. He’d been tired since before he came, hadn’t slept in days. Every time his mind grew quiet, the regret that tortured him constantly swallowed him whole.
“Would you like another drink?” he asked.
She didn’t get a chance to answer. When Gail started making her way over, his attention shifted. She’d located him, as he knew she would. She was nothing if not focused. And it wasn’t as if he could disappear into the crowd. He was always the center of attention whether he wanted to be or not.
What would happen from here, however, was anyone’s guess. He’d never dreamed his ex-PR agent would have the moxie to show up at such an event, where he’d be surrounded by friends and supporters, not to mention the regular contingent of hangers on–people who were willing to kiss his ass regardless of what he did.
The girl had guts. He had to give her that.
“Simon?”
He gazed up at her from beneath his eyelashes, as if he was too lazy or intoxicated to move. Maybe his temper had sparked the conflagration that’d consumed her business, but he hadn’t intended for Ian to be quite so vindictive and didn’t want to take responsibility for it. Barring a few minor faults, Ian was a good manager. He’d certainly never done anything like this before. She could call Ian if she wanted to talk. It wasn’t as if she was entirely innocent; she’d vented her fury by making a series of unflattering statements that’d wound up in the press.
Maybe when Simon O’Neal grows up, he’ll realize that women are good for more than one thing….
Simon O’Neal is his own worst enemy. He hates himself in direct proportion to everyone else’s admiration. Why, is anyone’s guess. The guy’s had it all. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no excuse for his actions….
Maybe some people find him attractive. But I wouldn’t sleep with him if he were the last man on earth. There’s no telling what kind of disease he’s carrying….
There were others he couldn’t remember verbatim. A comment about him needing more therapy than even a fortune like his could support, as well another about him being a waste of God-given talent, a man without decency, a charming Dr. Jekyll on screen and an evil Mr. Hyde off….
“What can I do for you?” he replied, using the same overly polite tone with which she’d addressed him.
She lifted her chin. “Could I have a word with you, please?”
Was she crazy? He had no interest in walking off with her. “’Fraid not. Maybe you don’t remember, but we don’t have anything to discuss these days. And in case you haven’t noticed, I’m with someone.” He could feel Sunny’s interest in their exchange; she watched them but didn’t say anything.
Gail ignored her completely. “It’ll just take a minute.”
He flicked his hand, hoping she’d interpret the gesture for what it was—an indication that she should take herself off. “I’m busy.”
Unfortunately, she didn’t go anywhere. With a decisive tug on her tailored jacket, she cleared her throat. “Fine. We’ll talk here. I-I’d like to offer you an apology.”
He didn’t want an apology. People were beginning to stare, to realize she was the PR lady who’d dissed him so badly. Everyone would want to hear what she had to say; he should get rid of her as soon as possible. But she’d just offered him an opportunity to challenge the integrity she clung to like a battle shield, and he couldn’t resist.
“Are you saying you didn’t mean all the terrible things you said about me?” he drawled.
She couldn’t go quite that far. She hesitated while searching for words, eventually coming up with a response designed to placate without being overtly untruthful. “I shouldn’t have said them.”
Damn right she shouldn’t have said them! She’d drawn first blood. She’d been so sanctimonious while sitting on the throne of her PR empire that Ian had shown her just how vulnerable she was. It’d been tit for tat, no big deal. And as far as Simon was concerned, their little…disagreement was over.
“No problem. I’m willing to let bygones be bygones if you are,” he said. “Have a nice night.”
“That’s it?” Her blue eyes widened.
He slung an arm around his date, slouching into her so he’d look comfortable and cozy and unlikely to go anywhere. “Were you hoping for more?”
Her bottom lip quivered as tears filled her eyes.
Ah, shit.
“I was hoping that maybe you might—”
Jerry Russell, the director of his latest project, interrupted by walking up and bending to see into her face. “What’s going on here? You making the ladies cry already, Simon?”
“You got trouble, Simon?” someone else piped up, and that was all it took to send a murmur through the crowd that made everyone turn toward him.
Tears rolled down Gail’s cheeks. He could tell she was trying to hold back but that only seemed to make matters worse. She was emotionally strung out and under scrutiny….
He had to get her out of here before he wound up on the front page of the tabloids yet again. One picture of her sorrowful face and some stupid paparazzi would report that he’d purposely and vengefully acted to destroy her: Box Office Hit Simon O’Neal Sends Small Town PR Girl Packing. Which, thanks to Ian, was close enough to the truth that he wouldn’t even be able to fight it.
He couldn’t afford to give his ex-wife any more fodder for the bitter war she was waging. If he didn’t clean up his act he’d never gain custody of his son. The judge had been very firm about that.
“No trouble,” he said with a reassuring smile and, telling Sunny he’d be right back, slid out of the booth. “It’s damn hot in here. I think we’ll get some air.”
Taking Gail’s hand, to throw any curious onlookers off the scent of a possible disagreement, he led her at a measured pace, nodding and exchanging greetings as they passed through the crowd to an expensively appointed back room, one that’d been designated for his use. No one ever specified what such a room was for because it was for anything he wanted. He could do drugs in here, have sex, throw a smaller, more private party…whatever.
He’d never been more grateful for it than now.
“What were you thinking coming here?” he growled as soon as he closed the door securely behind them. “And for the love of God would you stop crying?”
She dashed a hand across her face. “I’m sorry. I…I’m embarrassed, but…I can’t seem to help it.”
Tears made him feel inadequate. Especially coming from her. She’d always been so composed. “Try harder.”
“Thanks for the empathy,” she ground out.
Partially so he wouldn’t have to look at her, he crossed the room and poured a glass of champagne from the bottle that’d been left on ice, then pressed it into her hands. “Here, maybe this will help.”
“I don’t drink.”
He grimaced. “One of the many reasons I don’t like you. Drink it anyway.”
She downed it as if it was mere water and the resulting coughing fit distracted her enough that she was able to shut off the waterworks.
“So what is it you want from me?” he asked. “How do I make this…go away?”
The shrewdness in her eyes returned. “You mean me? How do you make me go away?”
After taking a second to think about it, he shrugged. “Basically, yeah.”
“You can say that so nonchalantly after destroying my business?”
He considered explaining that he hadn’t been as actively involved as she might imagine, but didn’t bother. He doubted she’d believe him, anyway. “You need money, is that it?”
“No! I want my old clients back. And not for my sake–well, not entirely. The way things sit right now, I’ll have to let my employees go, and…they need their jobs.”
Her situation was that dire? Already? He was going to kill Ian. Why’d he have to take it so damn far? “Fine. I’ll see what I can do to reverse the damage. Call me next week. Good enough? Will you go home now and…watch TV or reorganize your cupboards or whatever exciting thing such a fastidious person does in her spare time? Maybe you can go online and look for a dress that would be appropriate for a party such as this.”
He could tell she was tempted to land a good jab of her own. He knew she was capable of it. But held her tongue. With a sniff and a nod, she handed him the glass he’d provided and started to leave.
“And Gail?”
She glanced over her shoulder.
“I don’t have a disease, sexually transmitted or otherwise.”
At least she had the decency to blush. “Sorry,” she muttered and slipped out.

 

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THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Jake (California Dreamy), Rian Kelley {$2.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!}

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Description:

Red-Hot and Ready!
Ivy has been too good for too long,
so when wickedly hot, but by-the-book
Marine Lieutenant Jake finds
her stranded on the side of the
road, she decides giving into temptation
is exactly what she needs.
But will they burn as brightly outside
the bedroom?

 

Accolade:

5 Stars on Amazon!

This review is from: Jake (California Dreamy) (Kindle Edition)
Wow! Hot and steamy. The romance was fantastic. The story line was good .It fit together nicely and made for enjoyable reading.

This review is from: Jake (California Dreamy) (Kindle Edition)
Really great book. It has a really great story line & that’s what I love. Absolutely great!!! Highly recommended. Great!!!!

This review is from: Jake (California Dreamy) (Kindle Edition)
I have to admit, I’m a sucker for strong military men, and Jake fits that to a T! I wish he was my boyfriend, and I can’t wait to check out more books in this series!

This review is from: Jake (California Dreamy) (Kindle Edition)
This is a sexy story and this author has just become a new favorite.
I can’t wait to read the next book.

This review is from: Jake (California Dreamy) (Kindle Edition)
I loved this story. Jake was the perfect hero. A few flaws but hardly noticeable when you looked at the whole picture. The heroine had a good brain in her head and a backbone. They had a few issues to work thru but they did so. Their connection could be felt through the page. I love this kind of story. A man and a woman and their coming together. Perfect. I highly recommend. Jake will be one of my favorite heroes. Great read. Give it time because you won’t be able to put it down until you finish it. Loved it.

This review is from: Jake (California Dreamy) (Kindle Edition)
Can’t wait til the continuation of Jake and Ivy.

We all want to fall in love at first site and this books lets that happen for us. Ms. Kelley hits
the nail on the head. Nice to read about a couple who don’t start out hating each other like most romance books do. Ivy and Jake take us with them on their whirlwind romance and we develop a vested interest in what’s going to happen next with them.

I look forward with anticipation for Ms. Kelley’s next book.

Easy read with a page turning storyline. You did good Ms. Kelley!


Amazon Reader Reviews:

Jake (California Dreamy) currently has an Amazon Reader Review rating of 4.5 stars, with 29 reviews. Read the reviews here.

 

An excerpt from Jake (California Dreamy):

Chapter One

The road was dusty and potted and sure enough the bald tires on her Jeep Patriot weren’t up to the challenge. Ivy heard the pop before the steering wheel jerked in her hands and pulled the car left, into on-coming traffic—if there was any. But her luck was running in negative numbers lately. She was on a desolate stretch of state road, between islands of civilization, with a cell phone that had a weak battery.
She pumped the brakes and wrestled with the steering wheel. As the car slowed, the wind through the open windows calmed enough that she could hear the crunch of gravel under her tires. She coasted to a stop on the shoulder, then pried her fingers loose and flipped on the emergency flashers.
She had no spare. She’d loaned it to her neighbor, who was in thicker dire straits than Ivy.
But she had a can of Repair! that promised to re-inflate tires and keep them going fifty-plus miles; she had flares, a marker and cardboard she could rip off a box in the back and make into a distress sign if the ‘miracle in a can’ didn’t work.
This was not her first emergency; just the latest in what seemed like a lifetime of living
on the edge, waiting for the next round to begin.
She pulled her purse into her lap and rummaged through it for her cell phone, a Blackberry more than four years old and dropped so many times the red veneer had chipped off around the edges.
Cell phones were a luxury. As were movie rentals and pedicures, her morning frappuccinos and shoes priced over forty dollars. She’d given up a lot over the past nineteen months. She had no regrets about it. Not even now.
Although tires were not an excess, two repairs in a single month was more than her budget could sustain. She’d had to choose between those and a tune up. A fifty-fifty gamble she’d just lost.
She pressed her thumb to the ball on her phone and the screen lit up. Then faded. Before it went black, Ivy noted the red x over the tower icon and the complete absence of reception bars. Even if her phone was capable of a full charge, it would be of no use to her here.
She climbed out of the car and into a dry wind that plastered her cotton skirt to her bottom and legs. Long, supple legs. She’d given up her membership to a fancy gym and purchased a pair of running shoes. That was one of her better decisions. She felt stronger than ever, had shed the eight pounds she hadn’t been able to chisel away before hitting the pavement, and her mind was a lot clearer, too. She loved a landslide win. The thought of it made her smile, which instantly covered her teeth in grit.
The desert. August. Sand and wind and plenty of both. Ivy had trouble remembering that. She made this drive twice a month, without fail, but the sharp air and the unrelenting sun, which dried everything to tinder, was always on the outside. It was three hundred and thirty miles from San Diego to Las Vegas and Ivy did it in one long stretch, fueling up before departure, loading up on water and fresh fruit. She did the same for the trip back. There was nothing worth pausing over out here. Not a lick of green in the landscape. No scent of salt in the wind.
Ivy loved San Diego, even if living there meant a five hundred square foot studio apartment and street parking. All she had to do was throw open her windows and inhale. She was less than a block from the Bay and just a short sprint from the boardwalk and the beach. When she wasn’t working late or already outside running, she perched in one of the windows and watched the sun slip through its palette of colors before disappearing into the sea. Nothing beat that.
She walked around the car, stood at the hood and noted its unnatural leaning. The wind pulled her hair into long streamers, the sun catching the red highlights. She was dark where her sister was light. Ivy had taken her coloring from her father, who was born in Mexicali. She’d gotten her bone structure from him, too, with broad cheeks and full lips and a straight nose that flared slightly. Of course, she had only her mother’s word on that—Ivy’s father left long before she’d developed any meaningful memories of him.
She took a step back and bent slightly at the waist to examine the extent of the damage.
Front tire, driver’s side. She’d known that before getting out. But the tire was a goner. It had already started to shred, rubber peeling away from the rim. Not good news.
She didn’t panic. She was a pro, now, at handling crisis situations. At saving herself. She’d had to do it at thirteen, when her mother, in one of her drunken stupors, had set fire to their home, and again at twenty-two, when she’d walked away from an abusive marriage. A blown tire in the middle of nowhere was an inconvenience. It wasn’t life-threatening.
Ivy lifted her chin and propped her hands on her hips. The wind blew drifts of sand over the hood and roof of the car, coating the black paint and the windshield. She felt it in her hair and knew she probably had a fine dusting of pale over mahogany. She gazed beyond the car, but there was no traffic coming from the west. She turned and looked east, the way she’d come. Nothing.
She had taken this two lane interchange on purpose. Less traffic meant swifter travel. She worked Sunday evenings at a job doing what she loved—respiratory therapist. Nights on the pod, as they called it, were no less busy than her days on the acute care unit at Children’s Hospital, but there was a hushed quality to them that soothed her. She worked a twelve hour shift, seven to seven, checking ventilators and coaching children through coughing and breathing exercises.
It was rewarding. And it had given Ivy her first flush of personal value.
She didn’t want to be late. At ten after four in the afternoon, that gave her an hour to get help and get on her way and almost two hours to finish the drive.
So she would slip out of her sandals and into her running shoes and trek however many miles to a call box. In California, that could be as much as seven miles. She’d run five that morning.
Ivy opened the back hatch of the car and pulled the cardboard box toward her. She kept supplies in here—oil, coolant, jumper cables, a flashlight. She tore off a flap and then searched for a black Sharpie, which she found pushed to the back of the glove compartment. ‘Call police,’ she wrote in big block letters and then taped the sign to the back window. Next, she wrote a note on the back of a grocery receipt: ‘Walking west to call box.’ She slipped this on the dash, in front of the steering wheel, and then dug her running shoes out of her bag in the back seat.
Running was a privilege. Holly wasn’t able to, not yet. Her sister, who had run track in high school—mostly so that she had a reason to be out of the house—and then spent the past ten years competing in long distance races and always placed, was no longer able to run. She was still relearning to walk. Ivy blinked away the first sheen of tears before they could overwhelm her. Holly had worked relentlessly for the past nineteen months to get her mobility back, and yesterday the doctor had said that she was at the halfway point. He’d said that three months ago, too. He’d warned them from the beginning that Holly could hit a brick wall anywhere along the way. It was inevitable. And Ivy worried that maybe that time was now.
Ivy was in the car with Holly the night their lives had changed forever again. She remembered everything about the crash. How they had left the restaurant laughing and it had felt so good after such a long silence—Ivy’s fault for refusing to speak to her sister for nearly three years. They had gotten on the freeway, determined to catch the sunset while sitting on the beach sipping margaritas. A celebration and a promise not to let anything—or anyone—come between them again.
And then, in the gathering dusk, a car had come barreling toward them. The wrong way on the freeway. Ivy remembered seeing the flashing bar of police lights behind it. And how those colors had seemed to merge and shatter on impact. But she never lost consciousness. For a few moments, while her mind and body absorbed the shock of the crash, all had gone dark. But she was still able to hear—Holly’s gasps shuddering into a low groan and then into silence.
She had used her medical training to keep her sister alive while the police fluttered around her peripheral, offering help, following Ivy’s instructions. Then the wail of the siren as the paramedics arrived.
Ivy had broken her wrist. Her sister had lost her leg, above the knee, and had broken several bones including a vertebrae and femur.
They rode to the hospital together inside an ambulance that rocked through sharp turns and gathered darkness as the sun set and her sister’s conditioned worsened.
When they were kids, Ivy had been all about Holly. She was her big sister by two years and Ivy wanted to do everything she did. Holly had tolerated it well. As teens, the tables turned and it was Holly who spent much of her time looking out for Ivy. Nothing like a dysfunctional family life to pull siblings together—and then eventually tear them apart. Ivy had allowed all those insecurities that were planted by the experience of never being good enough to command their mother’s attention or to deserve the presence of a father, whittle away any shred of self-confidence or value.
After high school, Holly had tried to take Ivy with her. Her sister had received a scholarship to UC Berkeley. California. A fresh start, leaving a dripping Oregon behind and the damp, shadowed mobile home where they had lived with their sometimes sober mother. Her sister was willing to work nights—every night—waitressing, and attend school full time as well, if it meant Ivy was with her and safe.
But Ivy had other ideas, and they all revolved around Trace Patrick. She was in love and so sure of it, at the age of sixteen she’d accepted his proposal, declared herself emancipated and finished high school—because Trace’s parents had insisted—with an engagement ring on her finger. Instead of donning cap and gown, she and Trace had climbed into his shiny blue Ford 150 and shot over back streets and down the thin ribbon of highway all the way to the coast and gotten married, with two strangers as their witnesses.
Ivy had worn a pair of blue jeans, split at the knee, and a red t-shirt with their school mascot holding a baseball bat and with the number four printed on the back—Trace was the state’s top homerun hitter and a killer first baseman with only two steals his entire four years.
They had left the next morning for Arizona, where Trace had been placed by the San Diego Padres. He’d made it to their farm team. A place where he would bulk up and perfect his swing. Only that never happened. And Trace, who had been so full of dreams he’d seemed to float—the very trait that Ivy had needed in her life—came crashing down.
He’d taken Ivy with her. And the only swing he’d improved upon was his left hook. He brawled at the bars and he brought it home afterwards. It took Ivy four years to find her way out.
Ivy had made mistakes. More than a few. Some more serious than others. But she’d fixed what she could and put to rest what she couldn’t. And there was no looking back.
Holly insisted she didn’t. Not even now. Nineteen months after the crash, her sister was still using a cane. The doctors had expected much less of her. They had said that she would never recover full mobility. That she may never do more than sit upright. But they didn’t know Holly, or Ivy, or the circumstance in which they were raised.
The Warner girls were not quitters.
They didn’t run away from their problems—not anymore—they ran toward them.
Holly would walk again, under her own steam. She would run again, with a new
hydraulic leg crafted specially for her. And Ivy would be there with her. For now, it had to be every other weekend. But she hoped that would change. That Holly would finally agree to move west.
Ivy pulled a pair of socks out of the bag, along with a pair of shorts and her runner’s bra. If she ran to the call box, it would cut off a good chunk of time. She stood inside the open car door for a little modesty, dropped her sneakers on the blacktop, and slipped off her sandals. She shimmied into the shorts and then rolled her skirt down to her ankles and off in a single, economical movement. Ivy was a doer. She didn’t like feeling swamped by a problem and knew life was in the solution. She was living proof of that.
She sat down on the edge of the seat and pushed her feet into socks and then shoes and started lacing up. If the call box was close enough, she might even have time for a quick dinner before her shift started. A shower, too.
“Ma’am.”
She was so engrossed in carrying out her plan that she didn’t hear the approaching car. Later, she would blame it on the wind that clapped in her ears. On the zone that she always slipped into whenever she became a woman of action, which is how she liked to think of it—whether she was running or pulling herself out of one of life’s nose dives.
Ivy dropped her hands, which had been gathering the hem of her shirt in order to pull it over her head, and looked up. Way up.
Six feet, broad shoulders, buzz cut. Probably a Marine.
That ribbon of thought was immediately followed by: rugged, like the man was cut out of
the dry, craggy hills that surrounded them; intense—his mouth was firm, lips thin, eyes a startling, clear shade of green-blue and focused relentlessly on her face.
Blond. Ivy had a weakness for blonds built like a god.
Of course, with her current work schedule and her history of poor relationships, she indulged only from a distance now.
Ivy placed a hand on the open door, and realized that she still held her bra, as white as a flag of surrender. She tossed it into the backseat behind her and ignored the flush of heat that swept up her neck and settled in her cheeks.
But he had noticed and a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. He was an imposing figure. Not just tall and broad, but cut. The muscles of his shoulders and pecs were clearly outlined by his t-shirt.
Her skin tingled and flushed with sensitivity. Even her nipples responded, puckering into beaded delight.
Ivy made herself blink—it was the only way to break the tension between them.
She wondered where it came from. The sudden awareness of him—his shape, his strength, the chiseled features—and her swift reaction to his everything male.
She never responded this way—so quickly and completely—especially to a stranger.
She thought: Wow. And it kept repeating, like ticker tape running through her head.
She stood and said, “It’s about time.” Thinking about all the scenarios in which she’d found herself over the years—wishing someone would send in the Marines—but with no one but herself to rely on, and not at all about the timing of his arrival. But her words irritated him. She could tell by the way his face tightened, his eyes became hooded.
He lifted his hands—strong, long, tapered fingers—and placed them on his hips. Narrow hips in snug denim. The move caused his biceps to bunch, the corded muscles in his forearms to ripple. And she noticed three things at once—a hot spear of need shot through her body; she was badly in need of some male attention; and them were fighting words.
“Sorry to keep you waiting,” he returned, sarcasm slicing and dicing his words.

 

Jake (California Dreamy) is available for purchase at:

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Author Website: riankelley.blogspot.com

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