Excerpt: Mafia Prince by Bella J #amreading #romance

Teaser 2

Available FREE on kindleunlimited or buy for only $3.99. Download here.

Crave author Bella J stopped by today for a peak at her new release, Mafia Prince, book two of her Royal Mafia series. Thank you Bella!

Mafia Prince by Bella J Excerpt

Somehow, I was no longer in the mood for a night out. Just this morning I was all up Antonio’s ass about a bachelor party for Lorik, but ever since that goddamn phone call, I was unable to tear my mind away from her.

The woman who ruined me.

The woman who destroyed the man I once was.

And after hearing a voice that was either hers or sounded a lot like hers, the memories felt like it all took place just yesterday. I had been walking around the whole goddamn day as if I was waiting for a fucking bomb to go off.

“You warned Karina, right?” Lorik touched my shoulder from the back seat. “Because if you didn’t, I am going to be in a fuck-load of trouble when I get home smelling like bourbon and unable to piss straight.”

I laughed. “Where’s the fun in that? I love hearing my sister swear at you in Italian. The look on your face is fucking priceless.”

He snorted. “Yeah, well, I’d like to see you try to keep a straight face when the woman you’re about to marry—who also happens to be the owner of the only pussy you will ever get for the rest of your life—gets angry at you and starts shouting in a language you can’t understand, yet you know she’s pissed at you. How the fuck am I supposed to know what to say when I don’t know what the fuck she’s saying?”

Antonio and I started laughing. Karina might be sweet, but she had Italian blood running through her veins, and when Italian women got angry, men tended to wish for the world to come to an end.

I parked my Audi in the underground parking—our usual spot. When you financed the owner’s illegal gambling setup, you got guaranteed VIP treatment.

As we approached the back door, the bouncer opened it, allowing us through, no questions asked. God, I loved this life. I couldn’t believe there was a time when I wanted something different. Who wouldn’t want to be treated like a goddamn prince?

Antonio nodded toward the bouncer in greeting, but naturally Lorik had to do the whole fist-bump maneuver.

“Tim, my man.”Teaser 3

“Detective Stone.”

Lorik held up his hand, showcasing the wolf tattoo. “Not a detective anymore, Tim. I’m a wolf now.” He smiled like an idiot.

I rolled my eyes then grabbed him behind his neck, dragging him down the hall. “Anyone ever tell you you’re a dumbass?”

Pfffft, never.”

Once we stepped inside the club, I felt a little of the tension ease out of my shoulders. The music, the people, the smell of sex and alcohol made me think of the here and now rather than the past or the fucking future. All that mattered was now—the present. Tomorrow would deal with the aftermath of the decisions which were made today.

Antonio took the lead with me short on his heel, while Lorik walked next to me. All eyes were on us—especially the women’s. It happened whenever we entered a goddamn room. Why? Because in this city we were fucking royalty. Everyone knew not to fuck with us.

The second we walked up to the second floor reserved for VIP guests, a waitress dressed in nothing but a black mini skirt and glitter nipple patches greeted us.

“Can I get you gentlemen something to drink?” Her eyes met mine, and memories of her naked body pressed up against the wall of the men’s room flashed through my mind. By the way she bit her bottom lip, I knew she was thinking of it too.

Antonio unbuttoned his suit jacket. “Three bourbons on the rocks, and a round of tequila.”

Lorik smiled. “This is going to be one hell of a night, gentlemen. I can feel it all the way down my fucking spine.”

The waitress brought our drinks, and we took a seat close to the glass barrier, wanting the view of the dancefloor below.

Antonio leaned back in his seat. “Anyone else been wondering about the weird phone call today?”

“Oh, come on,” Lorik complained. “Could you please pull that motherfucking stick out of your ass for one night? Just one goddamn night?”

I laughed. I couldn’t help it. Yes, the weird fucking phone call had been on my mind, but trust Antonio to bring it up at the start of what was supposed to be a fun night.

“I’m with Lorik on this one, brother. We can go one night without discussing such matters.”

Antonio shrugged, forfeiting his attempt to talk business. It was typical of him, always thinking business, and never making time for anything but that. Sometimes I got the feeling it was physically painful for him to have fun and to enjoy a good night out. I, on the other hand, had that down to a T, since even though there was that weird as fuck phone call, I could easily push it to the back of my mind. Tomorrow would be a good time to start fretting over it again.

I turned to Lorik, wanting to change the subject. “Still excited to be a part of the family?”

He rubbed tiny circles over the wolf tattoo on the top of his hand. “Best thing that ever happened to me.” He looked up at us. “Your sister, I mean. Not you two dildos. Fuck knows, my grandmother’s urn is more fun than you two.”

Antonio laughed then stood and walked to the glass barrier and stared out over the club. I rubbed the stubble on my chin with my thumb and forefinger, and Lorik ordered another round of tequila.

“Dante?”

I looked up at Antonio, who stood with his back toward me. “Yeah?”

“How sure are you it couldn’t have been Layla who phoned you from the other side of town?”

“Believe me, I’m sure.”

Antonio kept staring down to the dancefloor. “I think you need to come see this, little brother.”

“What is it?” I got up and sauntered over to the barrier.

Antonio pointed to the entrance, where I saw Matteo—the new Mancuso underboss since Lorik put a bullet in his brother’s chest. He looked every ounce the asshole we all knew he was. Not even a thousand-dollar suit could make him look like more than an ugly motherfucker. What annoyed me the most about him and his entire fucking family was how they walked around town like they owned it. They lived as if they had the world at their feet. Meanwhile, they didn’t have shit. If it wasn’t for the poison they were passing around on the streets like fucking candy, they wouldn’t even have a pot to piss in.

I took a sip of my drink, the tension slowly creeping back up my shoulders. “It’s Mancuso. We knew he might turn up here. What’s the deal?”

Antonio kept staring down at the crowd who walked in with Matteo, worry lines forming grooves on his forehead.

“Antonio, what the fuck, man?”

Without saying a word, he lifted his arm and pointed down toward Matteo. My gaze followed—searching, watching, and then…her.

The moment I saw her face, it felt like every drop of blood drained out of my body. Ice spread down my spine, and the glass slipped out of my hand and shattered on the ground by my feet.

“Layla,” I whispered. “Jesus Christ.”

It was her.

Layla Moore.

The woman who left after she stole the best of me.

I was frozen on the spot, staring down at her. My mind couldn’t make sense of what I was seeing.

Layla-fucking-Moore, in the flesh. And, dear God, she looked exactly as I remembered. The longer I stared at her, the more my heart pounded against my ribs as if it was trying to break through my chest. It felt like my heart knew…it fucking knew the woman who stood there in the ruby red dress, golden blonde hair tied up to expose her neck, was its rightful owner. It was exhilarating, yet painful at the same time to see her again.

I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t even fucking move. Memories. Words. Moments. Everything I shared with Layla came rushing back like a motherfucking tropical storm, and it would have knocked me off my feet if I weren’t gripping the rail in front of me so damn tight.

In the distance, I heard Lorik’s voice saying something about tequila and tits. I heard Antonio mention Layla’s name, and then Lorik stepped in next to me just as Matteo placed his hand on Layla’s shoulder, fingers brushing against her bare neck.

“Well, fuck,” Lorik muttered right when everything around me turned to shades of red.  

The longer Matteo’s fingers lingered on her skin, the darker my vision became. I had no idea what the fuck was happening. It felt like I was in an alternate universe, as if everything around me went on mute, people moving in slow motion. Even Matteo’s goddamn fingers on Layla’s neck moved in long, slow, torturing strokes. My heart no longer tried to break through my chest. Instead it was the beast in me who tried to claw its way out. It wanted to kill. It wanted to slaughter. It wanted to butcher every motherfucker who stood in a ten foot radius of her.

“Dante,” Antonio said beside me, but I ignored him. “Dante. I think we should leave.”

I couldn’t tear my gaze from her, from the way Matteo touched her.

Five years. Five fucking years, and it felt like no time had passed. As if the woman who stood right there still belonged to me. As if she never broke my heart. Never left.

“Dante?” Antonio placed his hand on my shoulder, but I jerked away. “Brother, you need to calm down, and we need to leave.”

Lorik held the shot of tequila out to me. “I suggest some tequila to tame the urge to go on a murderous rampage right about now.”  

I took the tequila and tossed it back before throwing the glass to the ground. “I am calm.”

Lorik stared down at the broken glass. “Yeah…yeah, I see that.”

I remained still, my gaze glued to the one and only woman I had ever loved. And no matter how she hurt me, how those words on that goddamn letter ripped my heart out, the way Matteo touched her made me want to tear him the fuck apart.

Questions that should have been running through my mind…didn’t. Questions like why was she back? Why did she leave? Why was she here with Matteo? Those were questions with answers that fucking mattered, but I couldn’t give a flying fuck. All I cared about…was her.

“This is not good, man,” Lorik said beside me.

Antonio touched my shoulder again, and that was the exact moment Layla looked up, her gaze meeting mine. That was also the moment my entire world came crashing down around me. Every bone in my body ached, my lungs unable to expand because I forgot to fucking breathe. Moments, seconds, minutes, hours. A week could have gone by, and I wouldn’t have noticed because all I concerned myself with was staring at her, to not take my eyes off her in case all of this wasn’t real.

But then Matteo’s hand dropped from her neck, his knuckles dragging down her arm. The movement caught my attention, forcing me to take my eyes off her.

Rage. Fury. Anger. Jealousy.

I could feel the blood in my veins start to simmer, the need to kill and destroy scratching against marrow and bone. Suddenly, I was very much aware of the gun tucked away at my side, the weight of the weapon begging me to clutch it in my palm, then aim and pull the fucking trigger.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000447_00006]Matteo looked up, meeting my glare, a smug grin spreading across his motherfucking ugly face. That grin was like a giant “fuck you” directed right at me, and when he leaned down, placing his lips against her cheek while his eyes were still focused on me, I fucking lost it.

“Dante, no!”

Antonio tried to stop me. But how did you stop an enraged animal with a lust for blood? I rushed down the stairs, adrenaline scraping against my veins as images of Matteo’s headless body filled my mind.

As I stepped onto the dancefloor, I looked at Layla. Her amber eyes were wide with panic, her lips slightly parted.

She knew it. She knew it as well as I did.

I was coming for her…because she was mine.

Available FREE on kindleunlimited or buy for only $3.99. Download here.

 

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Craving One Night Excerpt: Al Dente by Rosanna Leo #amreading #romance

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000447_00006]The authors of Craving One Night will be stopping by this week to bring you more about their stories featured in this anthology.

Let’s start by getting to know Rosanna Leo a little better…

Rapid Fire Interview with Rosanna Leo:

Tea or coffee?  Coffee! Can’t live without it.

Paperback/Hardcover or ebook? Ebook. I used to swear by print books but ebooks are so much friendlier for my eyes.

Vampire or shifter? I’m a greedy girl. Both!

Cop or fireman?  Hmm. Tough choice but I’ll say firefighter.

Snow or sunny skies?  Sunny skies, especially if I’m on a Mexican beach.

Beach or mountain ski resort?  LOL. Beach!

Coke or Pepsi? Neither. I don’t drink pop anymore.

HEA or a more realistic ending?  HEA…a must!

Chick flick or action movie?  Actually, I’d prefer a moody period piece.

City or country?  Country.

More beautiful: Sunset or sunrise?  There is something very tranquil about early morning, so I’ll say sunrise.

Car or plane?  Plane.

iPhone or Android? Android.

Mac or PC?  PC.

Kindle or Nook?  Neither for me. I use a tablet.

Listen to audiobook or read?  Read.

Ocean/Lake or pool?  Ocean. No lakes, please. There are squishy things in lakes.

Eggs or pancakes?  Pancakes, especially maple walnut pancakes.

Shower or bath?  Bath.

Cable or satellite?  Cable.

Handwrite or type?  Type.

Introvert or extrovert?  I’m a bit of both. I’m not shy but I’m not totally out there either.

Morning person or night owl?  Morning.

Camping or luxury hotel?  Luxury hotel.

Passion Flix or Hallmark?  I haven’t had a chance to check out either, unfortunately.

You can learn more about Rosanna by visiting her website: https://rosannaleoauthor.wordpress.com/

Excerpt for Al Dente by Rosanna LeoAl Dente teaser Rosanna Leo

“You must be Ruby.” A tall woman in stilettos approached, her hand extended. “I’m Jennifer Nielson, Chef Matteo’s manager. Congratulations on winning the contest.”

Ruby didn’t see the chef. Perhaps he was in back. “Thanks. I was very excited when I got the news.”

“You beat out hundreds of contestants. Is, um, your partner joining us soon?”

“No. I’m on my own tonight. My partner just became my ex-partner.”

“How dreadful. His loss, I’m sure. You’ll have Matteo all to yourself, then.”

Ruby cleared her throat. “Awesome. I’m his biggest fan.” She popped a breath mint into her mouth.

Jennifer’s smile said Aren’t you adorable? No doubt every woman said she was his biggest fan. “He’s just in the kitchen. Would you like to meet him?”

Ruby nodded, worried any words from her lips might emerge as a frenzied scream.

His manager led her through a swinging door into the kitchen. The chef stood at a counter, dressed in his pristine uniform, black pants and a white double-breasted jacket with cloth knot buttons. His severe outfit did nothing to disguise the strong, lean body underneath. His cuffed sleeves allowed her to glimpse toned forearms. There wasn’t even a hint of a beer belly under his jacket. She wasn’t surprised he was in good shape. He often showcased healthy options in his recipes.

What did surprise her was his height. He’d always appeared tall on TV, but she assumed it was because everyone looked larger than life on screen. Rinaldi easily stood over six feet tall.

When he turned to her, Ruby held her breath. Dazzled by his dark brown eyes, thick hair, and brilliant smile, she had to remind herself to breathe.

In the pages of his cookbooks, he was gorgeous. Up close, he was as delicious as his Deconstructed Italian Rum Cake.

He extended his hand before Jennifer could do the introductions. “Matteo Rinaldi.” Because of his accent, his rolled “R” sounded more like the purr of a Ferrari. “I’m pleased to meet you.”

“Ruby.” Did her voice always sound so high? “Ruby Zhang.” When she touched his hand, warmth spread across her chest.

Whoa. That smile. She’d seen it a hundred times before, but it had never been aimed directly at her. Perhaps it was just the rawness of her breakup that made Chef Matteo so appealing. Then again, it might also have something to do with the way those brown eyes assessed her. Appreciation shone there, clear as day.

Shut the front door. Is he checking me out?

His gaze dipped, ever so slightly toward her blouse buttons.

No way.

“Zhang. Is that Korean?”

“No, but I get that a lot. It’s actually Chinese. My parents were born in China, but I was born in Canada. I’m a Toronto girl, through and through. Go, Blue Jays.” Oh, my God, you’re rambling.

“Well, Ruby who was born in Canada, I’m glad you entered our contest.” The chef chuckled.

“I’m glad I won.” She laughed like a lunatic. Quickly, she covered her mouth.

His smile only grew wider. “I think we’re going to have fun tonight.”

“If it’s all right with you, Matteo,” said Jennifer, “I’m going to do some work in the office here. Unless, of course, you need my help in any way.”

“No, grazie, Jennifer. I know my way around a kitchen.”

“Indeed you do.” She turned to Ruby. “Have a lovely private class. You’re learning from the best, darling.” With a wave, Jennifer headed down the hall to an office at the back of the restaurant.

She was alone with Matteo Rinaldi.

He put his hands on his hips. “Here we are on Valentine’s Day. I appreciate you coming. I much prefer to spend the occasion with a beautiful woman.”

Ruby sucked so hard on her breath mint, she almost swallowed it. “Thank you. I’m a bit nervous. I work in the industry, but I’ve never assisted a chef in the kitchen before.”

“Really? What do you do?”

“I’m a food blogger.”

“Ah, a critic then,” he teased in his accented, but perfect English.

“No, more of an enthusiast. And I love your recipes. I’ve seen all your specials.”

He touched his heart. “Grazie. That means a lot to me. I hope you like the menu I’ve chosen. We’ll begin with pomodori ripieni. Our pasta will be linguine al nero di sepia and we’ll finish with zabaione alla frutta.”

“Mmm. Stuffed tomatoes, squid ink linguine, and zagablione with fruit.” He’d chosen fun foods that wouldn’t require hours of work, but that still offered enough of a challenge to those who understood the basics of cooking. “Sounds perfect.”

“You know Italian?”

“Only the words that deal with food. I’ve read your books cover to cover.”

“Then I have an expert on my hands. I will have to be on my best behavior.”

“I promise you, Chef, I’m an amateur. I’ll still need you to tell me exactly what to do.”

“I look forward to it.” Brown eyes darkened to black. “But perhaps we should cook something first, eh?”

Craving One Night is available on Amazon for .99¢ or FREE with your KindleUnlimited subscription. Get your copy here.

 

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In Depth with Author Jessica Calla: Craving One Night #amreading #newrelease #romance #giveaway

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000447_00006]Author Jessica Calla stopped by to give us an in depth look into her story The One She left Behind featured in the Craving One Night anthology.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about time. Time seems to creep along, but then in a flash, it’s gone. Even though we lose all those precious moments, it’s fascinating to me to think about the things we remember and hold on to, that can take us right back to a particular moment, like a time machine.

I love second chance romances. For Ashley and Anthony, I wanted to write a story that showed the two of them being inseparable as kids, then letting each other go. Twenty years later, they meet up at their high school reunion, after having been married to other people and living their own lives. Still though, they always held each other close in their hearts. As soon as they see each other at the reunion, the memories invade and take them back twenty years to when they said goodbye.

For Anthony and Ashley’s journey, I wanted to explore the idea of “the right love at the
wrong time,” (yes, those are Barry Manilow lyrics—Google Somewhere Down the Road
and don’t judge!) with a little twist. Even though they were separated for twenty years,
their love story played out exactly the way it was supposed to. So for Anthony and
Ashley, the song lyrics would be: “the right love in the right time.”
I hope you enjoy the story.

Excerpt from The One She Left Behind

Anthony had followed her career, searching her name every day for the past twenty years. Her talent for photography had been obvious from the day they got their first phones, then the day she got her first real camera. He had no doubt that she’d make her life into whatever she wanted. I’m going to use this camera to see the world, she used toAnthony Bello looked down at her with his sexy, a little-too-big-for-his-face, grin. Damn, those full, soft lips. In twenty years she hadn_t found a more kissable subject than Anthony say. It’s my passport out of here.

Not him. He loved his town and the people in it so much that he’d never left. He’d been hired by the Cliffville Board of Education the day he graduated college with his Physical Education degree, and spent the past fifteen years as a gym teacher roaming the halls where he and Ashley had grown up. He knew everyone, everything, about the North Jersey suburb, and he was happy that Kelsey would grow up the same way he did.

Ashley, though, was never meant to be tied down. The day Wally walked into homeroom,
Ashley blushed at the sight of him. When he told the class about California and his love of travel, Anthony knew she’d found another ticket out.

“Peru? Wow.” Then, thinking out loud, he said, “I can’t imagine.”

No matter how perfect she felt in his arms, he couldn’t compete with Peru, or baby elephants, or whatever else she’d experienced in her life. Instead of getting into it, he winked at her. “But we’re both here now. How about that?”

“How about that,” she repeated.

When she smiled, he relaxed again, and moved his mouth close to her ear. “Never thought I’d see you back in Cliffville.”

“I heard there was an open bar so…”

He laughed, and suddenly the twenty years they’d been apart felt like only two minutes. “Oh, but even without the open bar, it’s paradise. I know you’ve traveled the world, seen our entire planet. But Cliffville, New Jersey is where all the action is at.”

“Ha.” Ashley snorted. “It’s nice to imagine loving a place so much that you want to stay.”
Anthony gave her hand a squeeze. “It’s nice to imagine being brave enough to leave too.”
They spent the rest of the night on the dance floor, oblivious to the rest of the Class of ’98.
She felt like heaven in his arms. It had been a long time since he’d been with a woman, and Ashley wasn’t just any woman. She was Ashley. His Ash.

The One She Left Behind-2He didn’t want to let her go when the band finished their last song and the dance floor cleared, so Anthony said the same word he’d said to her twenty years earlier, the day she’d left Cliffville: “Stay.”

Purchase Craving One Night for only .99¢ or get FREE with your KindleUnlimited subscription: https://www.amazon.com/Craving-One-Night-Book-ebook/dp/B07D5JT24T/

Interview with Author Jessica Calla

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
I get really creeped out by… (I almost can’t even type it)… sexy fireman books. My dad was a fireman, and I’ve been around firehouses all my life, and … just no. Can I stop at that?

What’s the sexiest accent?
Definitely Italian! My husband’s family is from Italy and I love hearing them talk.
Italian has such a beautiful flow. Even the curse words sound pretty.

What is your favorite romance sub-genre to write and read?
I love reading contemporary city romances, I think because I grew up in a suburb
of New York City. But every once in a while, I get the urge to read a sweet, small
town country romance, usually with cowboys. Reading about ranchers and
rodeos does something for me. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, switching to a
small-town romance resets me somehow. Would I ever want to live on a ranch?
Big no. Although I rode a horse once, in Alaska on my honeymoon! I was scared
to death and cried to get off.

Do you prefer reading traditional paperback/hard cover books or ebooks? Why?
For fiction, I love-love-love my Kindle Paperwhite. I prefer the Kindle itself to the
Kindle app, so I don’t get distracted by everything else on the phone, and focus
only on reading. Often, I read while pacing my house to get my steps in for my
daily Fitbit count. Reading makes the daily trek to 10,000 steps fly by! For non-
fiction, though, I prefer a hard copy. I like to make notes in the margins, highlight,
and be able to flip through the pages.

Do you have a day job? If so, what do you do?
I’m a lawyer by day, working for a government agency for the State of New
Jersey. Fun fact: I met my husband in law school. He sat in front of me as a 1L. I
didn’t know his first name for six months (the professors called us all by our last
names), but he had long hair and wore Doc Martens so I was smitten.

Rapid Fire…

Tea or coffee? Coffee, black and strong!
Paperback/Hardcover or ebook? Ebook for fiction, Paperback for non-fiction
Vampire or shifter? Vampire #TeamEdward #TeamDamon
Cop or fireman? Cop! My dad was a fireman so that’s just creepy to me.
Snow or sunny skies? SUN
Beach or mountain ski resort? BEACH
Coke or Pepsi? COKE (Please is this even a real question?)
HEA or a more realistic ending? HEAs or make me cry. Realistic, meh.
Chick flick or action movie? Chick Flick
City or country? City
More beautiful: Sunset or sunrise? Sunset!
Car or plane? Car
iPhone or Android? iPhone. Apple everything in my house!
Mac or PC? See above: MAC
Kindle or Nook? Kindle (Paperwhite)
Listen to audiobook or read? Read. I lose focus when listening to books.
Ocean/Lake or pool? Ocean.
Eggs or pancakes? I CANNOT DECIDE DON’T MAKE ME.
Shower or bath? Shower. Bath? Ick.

Cable or satellite? As much as I hate to say it, Cable. Don’t get me started.
Handwrite or type? Type.
Introvert or extrovert? Introvert.
Morning person or night owl? Night owl.
Camping or luxury hotel? Hotel please!
Passion Flix or Hallmark? Passionflix, unless it’s Christmastime!

To learn more about the amazing Jessica Calla, visit her website at http://www.jessicacalla.com/

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#TeaserTuesday Excerpt from Craving: Security

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Instead of one excerpt, today we are bringing you three.  #TeaserTuesday #99cents Read the rest of this story and many others in Craving: Security for only 99¢.

 Purchase Craving: Security for .99¢: getBook.at/CravingSecurity

Nowhere to Run by Camille Taylor

1. cc

Ivy Mercer raised her hands, palms facing out. Sweat rolled down her back, plastering her shirt to her skin. The acrid scent of smoke from the burning village seared her throat and filled her lungs.

The muzzle of a rifle followed the militant’s head as he bent it toward the ground. She didn’t need to speak the language to understand his direction.

Sinking to her knees, Ivy kept her gaze on the man pointing the gun at her head. Her heart pounded. Her knotted stomach somersaulted as she forced in thick, dry breaths, each harder than the last. The oppressive heat was as suffocating as being trapped inside a house on fire.

Ivy bit her lip to keep from crying out as one of her arms was wrenched behind her back, then the other, and they were secured firmly together at the wrists. Tears burned her eyes, but she blinked them back, determined not to give her captors any satisfaction.

Ivy had a feeling this was one situation she wouldn’t be able to get herself out of.

2.

Tate waved his gun before her eyes. A bright spark raced along the muzzle as the moonlight caught the steel.

Ivy swallowed at her suddenly dry throat.

“Please, my father would disown me if I couldn’t shoot a tick off an elephant’s ass.” Her palms became slippery. “But I-I don’t think I could kill anyone.”

Tate shrugged off his backpack and dropped it beside her. “It’s either you or them, Poison Ivy.”

Heat suffused her cheeks. “I told you never to call me that.”

He grinned, like the reckless, fun-loving boy he had been. But he was no longer a boy. A fact she was trying hard to ignore.

“Good, you’re angry. Stay that way.”

“You can count on it.”

He nodded. “Stay here. Shoot anything that comes too close. Except me. I’ll be real pissed if you shoot me.”

She caught the sleeve of his shirt, the fabric thick beneath her fingers. “Wait, where are you going?”

“We need to thin the herd if we plan to get out of here. Watch my six.”

Her gaze dropped to his ass, which filled out his dark pants magnificently. She drew in a deep breath, almost choking, having forgotten to breathe.

Ivy tracked Tate as he moved through the dusty cloud kicked up by the hoard of men charging toward them. Gunshots reverberated through the night and rang in her ears.

3.

She blew out her breath, her arms trembling. Tate stepped around the body, towering over her as he drew near.

“When I said watch my six, I meant from a distance. But thank you.”

Ivy opened her mouth to reply, but Tate dragged her closer, his lips swooping down to ravish hers. His tongue rasped against her own, short-circuiting her synapses and liquefying her muscles. A soft fluttering began in her stomach, light and sweet. Ivy clutched at his arms, allowing him to devour her. Her heart thumped and she moaned into his mouth.

Tate’s hold tightened. His hand roamed her back before settling on her nape, holding her head still as he drank from her. Desire swirled around, igniting quickly. With one last plunge, Tate drew back and sucked in a deep breath.

Ivy wet her lips, feeling his possession. Stepping away, she stumbled, snagging Tate’s arm at the last second to steady herself. He caught her and held her close. Ivy sagged into him. His arm, a steel band around her back, held her upright.

Ivy fought to drag air into her lungs. That kiss had damn near robbed her of breath.

 

#TeaserTuesday Excerpt from Craving: Christmas

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There was a soft knock at his bedroom door. Through a fog of sleepiness, Ryan said, “It’s unlocked.” When the door opened, he sat partially up in bed, leaning on one elbow. Angela stood in the doorway, wearing the same white t-shirt he’d given her the night before. Was she wearing panties underneath? Sweet Jesus…what would Denise do? Move on if she was him—that’s what.

He was moving on.

Slowly.

“Can I come in?” she asked.

His body stirred as the light from the hallway silhouetted her curves, filtering through her thin white shirt.

Okay, maybe not that slowly, but was he ready for this? For her? “Yeah.” His voice cracked.

“I don’t think I can sleep without someone next to me.”

She wanted to share his bed? With him in it? Man, it had been so long since he even remotely thought about doing this. “I got you. Come in.” Do I? He patted the bed next to him.

Angela slipped into his room, moving toward his side of the bed. He scooted over, giving her enough room to lay down, but he stayed close. She settled under the blanket, her body heat warming him. With her back to his front, he took in the scent of his shampoo on her hair. He jerked his hips away, remembering that he was hard.

“Can you put your arm around me?”

Uhhh… “Do you want me to?” His voice cracked again. Smooth.

She snort-giggled. “That is why I asked.”

“I’m, uhhh—”

“You’re uhhh what?”

He draped his arm over her waist. Except with the amount of distance he’d left between them, only his wrist and hand reached. Angela inched backward into him. Her spectacular ass pressed against him. Ryan groaned.

She gasped in a teasing tone. “Now I know what the ‘what’ is. You’re hard.”

“Sorry, probably not what you need righ—”

“Why are you apologizing? It’s flattering.” She rolled over and faced him.

“I don’t want you to get the wrong impression.”

“And what would that be? You’re attracted to me, right?”

“Um,” he swallowed hard, “we only met yesterday.”

“So? What does that have to do with whether you’re attracted to me?” Her hand cupped his face. He closed his eyes, liking her touch—surprised at how good it felt.

“You’re leaving soon.”

“Stop. What do therapists call it when you change the subject to avoid talking about it?”

“I’m not deflecting, I’m being realistic.”

“Well, stop it. And all I asked was if I could sleep next to you. The operative word being ‘sleep.’”

“I’m a cop, hard for me to not be realistic.” She stroked his cheek. His hips rocked forward. “You have to stop doing that,” he whispered.

“Doing what?” She passed her thumb over his lips. He slid his hand up her spine, pulling her flush to his body.

“Trying to seduce me.”

Want to read more? Download Craving: Christmas for only 99¢:  https://www.amazon.com/Craving-Christmas-Book-5-ebook/dp/B077J7QVZS/

#TeaserTuesday: Expert from Craving: Secrets

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#TeaserTuesday #99cents Read the rest of this story and many others in Craving: Secrets for only 99¢.
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Excerpt from “Masquerade” by A.L. Vincent

Her thoughts drifted to Quinn Olivier, as they often did on her sporadic visits. She’d never ran into him again after that summer. That glorious summer when they’d been in love, or lust. Sweaty nights, early mornings in the Quarter, sipping café au lait at Café du Monde. He’d been so different than the other boys she’d dated. He was older, not into the frat parties, the games. He’d cooked for her, taken her on real dates. He’d been a cop then, and Alex often wondered what had happened to him. Had he made detective? Had he bothered to try to find her when she left and went back to Dallas?

Had he found out she’d lied? About everything? About her name, where she was from?

Young and foolish, Alex had never told him her real name, about her prominent Dallas family, about anything, actually. When they’d met that night in that quiet little dive bar on Bourbon, she had told him her name was Bella, her family’s nickname for her.

She’d been out celebrating graduating from Tulane. She was one step closer to becoming an attorney like her father, and his father, and so on. She’d gone to the bar to order another drink when he caught her eye. He sat there, nursing a bourbon and Coke. He was twirling the ice around in the glass and watching the sweat from the glass drip off onto the napkin.

“Looks like you’re having a bad night,” Alex had said.

“I guess you could say that.”

Alex went to him then, leaning against the bar.

“Want to talk about it?”

He raised an eyebrow. “Not if it’s going to cost me.”

She laughed then. “I’m not that kinda girl.”

He smiled at her and pulled the barstool out, and Alex sat down.

They talked about everything that night: about New Orleans, music, Mardi Gras, their favorite restaurants. He told her why he was there that night. About being in court, doing his job as a cop, and how the criminal had gone free anyway.

He’d walked her home and kissed her that night. And when he did, when he pushed her up against the door, all rational thought escaped her. Caught up in the whirlwind of the affair that resulted, the lie continued. When Quinn had expressed a distaste for New Orleans gentry, the parties, the balls, the sense of entitlement, Alex knew he’d feel the same way about her.

Out of fear, she’d remained silent. The summer grew to a close, and it was time for her to return to Dallas to begin practicing law. One morning, while he was sleeping, she’d kissed him on the forehead and slid out of bed. She’d never even said goodbye.

Coward.

Seeing the lights of New Orleans in the distance, Alex shook her head.

Thank God New Orleans was a big town. The chances of running into Quinn again after all this time were nonexistent.