FOLLOW ME BACK by A.L. Jackson Excerpt Blitz

Follow Me Back

The next seductive, unforgettable stand-alone romance in the FIGHT FOR ME series from NYT & USA Today Bestselling Author A.L. Jackson . . .

Coming February 5th

“This is why I read romance.” – Lauren Rowe, USA Today and International Bestselling Author
The next seductive, unforgettable stand-alone romance in the FIGHT FOR ME series from NYT & USA Today Bestselling Author A.L. Jackson . . .
Kale Bryant. Arrogant. Gorgeous. Commanding.
This ER doctor is married to his job. His only vice is one-night stands and short-lived flings. He learned a long time ago loving someone isn’t worth the risk.
Harley Hope Masterson. Beautiful. Brave. Sweet.
The owner of a small coffee shop knows what it’s like to struggle. Embroiled in a bitter divorce, she’s threatened with losing everything.
When Kale accepts a new position down the street from Hope’s shop, he begins to question every wall he’s built around his heart.
He wants her in a way he hasn’t wanted anyone.
One touch is fire.
One kiss, and he’s spinning out of control.
But taking her won’t come without consequences.
Hope is in for the fight of her life. One neither of them saw coming.
Now Kale must decide if loving her is worth risking it all.
She will fight with everything she has.
But sometimes even hope needs a hero . . .
Be notified of LIVE RELEASE on Amazon

© 2018 A.L. Jackson Books


I watched him stride across the café toward the door, hating the way everything tightened when he did.
His or mine, I wasn’t sure.
But it was there.
Pressing on my heart.
I couldn’t stop from watching him through the big windows as he started down the sidewalk, the man a scorching silhouette in the blaze of the day.
But he didn’t climb into his car that was parked at the curb.
He began to pace.
A pace that looked like indecision and turmoil.
Back and forth right on the other side of the window.
His head tilted back toward the sky, as if it might hold an answer, before he set his coffee and the lollipops down on one of the open tables, dug in his pocket, and pulled out his phone.
“You’re an idiot,” Jenna hissed from beside me. “That guy likes you, and he’s literally the hottest thing to ever walk through that door. And he bought All. The. Lollipops.”
Maybe that was part of the problem.
“I don’t get simple,” was my response.
“What if he doesn’t want simple?”
I would have answered her, told her that in the end, everyone did. They always took the easy way out when the going got tough. Except the café phone rang. I moved for it, thankful for the distraction, something to keep my feet from rounding the counter and running after him.
Because what the hell would that accomplish?
I lifted the receiver from the wall and pressed it to my ear. “A Drop of Hope. How can I help you?”
“Go out with me.” His gravelly voice echoed through the line.
A surprised sound whispered from my lips, and Kale was suddenly at the window, his face pressed to the glass, hand shading his eyes so he could see inside. His other hand was holding his cell to his ear. “Go out with me, Hope. Just dinner. Because I can’t fucking stop thinking about you. Couldn’t after I saw you the first time at Olive’s on Friday night. It only got worse after I saw you here Monday morning. I don’t know what it is about you . . . but there’s something that makes me want to figure it out.”
My breaths were hard pants, my heart a jackhammer in my chest. “My life’s complicated, Kale.”
“And I’m offering you a night away from it. Don’t you at least deserve that?”
I wanted to beg him, what then? What happened if I fell for that smirk and that smile and those tender eyes?
Fast and hard?
I could already feel myself slipping. My heart tipping his direction.
What happened if Dane found out?
What then?
But I was so tired of that man controlling every aspect of my life, even after I’d made the decision to cut him from it.
Jenna was suddenly in my face, gripping my wrist, her voice a hard, demanding whisper. “You tell him yes, Harley Hope. Don’t you dare hang up that phone without telling him yes. You deserve something just for you. Just for you.”
Indecision swarmed, questions and worries and want.
But it was the feeling balled in my stomach that trembled the floor beneath my feet.
The urge to reach out and touch on the beauty and tenderness that swam in his eyes. To discover if it was real.
The throb of desire that begged, a whisper in my ear that goaded—just one touch.
The hidden need to feel those hands skating my flesh.
I guessed I’d thought I’d never crave that again, my life fulfilled, my spirit content in knowing I was living for what was right.
Jenna squeezed tighter, my bossy best friend mouthing the word as she angled her head with the demand. “Say yes.”
It was at the same second Kale fisted his hand against the window, his forehead rocking against it, his own words a petition. “Come on, Hope. Say yes. I promise you, you won’t regret it.”
A hint of playfulness came out on the last, but it didn’t matter, because I was agreeing.
“Yes,” I murmured, wanting to feel something good even though I wasn’t so much a fool that I didn’t know I was making a mistake. That in the end, it wouldn’t hurt.
Because it already felt as if this mattered.
As if he mattered.
“Okay. One night. Just dinner,” I reiterated.
He breathed out in what sounded like relief. “Just dinner.”
As if anything could ever be as simple as that.

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Text “aljackson” to 33222 

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A.L. Jackson is the New York Times & USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance. She writes emotional, sexy, heart-filled stories about boys who usually like to be a little bit bad.
Her bestselling series include THE REGRET SERIES, CLOSER TO YOU, and BLEEDING STARS novels. Watch for A.L. Jackson’s upcoming novel, FOLLOW ME BACK, the second stand-alone novel in her brand-new FIGHT FOR ME SERIES.
If she’s not writing, you can find her hanging out by the pool with her family, sipping cocktails with her friends, or of course with her nose buried in a book.
Be sure not to miss new releases and sales from A.L. Jackson – Sign up to receive her newsletter or text “aljackson” to 33222 to receive short but sweet updates on all the important news.

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Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

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Well Played by J.S. Scott & Ruth Cardello Excerpt Reveal



Graham is my brother’s best friend. He’s always been my protector and my confident because he accepts me the way I am—and not many do. I can’t imagine not having him in my life.

Our weekend together was supposed to be a celebration. I graduated from college, Graham got engaged and signed with a pro football team, and my brother landed his dream job. It should have been the best time of our lives.

Except that the weekend started with me walking in on Graham’s fiancée going down on my brother.

I complicated the situation by having sex with Graham after that, but I wanted to comfort him and, damn, when I saw desire in his eyes—for me—I couldn’t say no. I’ve wanted him for so long.

Now he doesn’t want to see me. He says he has a darker side he needs to protect me from.

Where do we go from here? Do I try to pretend to be his friend again or push him to open up to me and possibly lose him forever?


Sleeping with one of my best friends was not exactly a brilliant idea. It made things complicated, and I didn’t do anything that threw my life into chaos. The fiancee her brother, Jack, had stolen had been part of my life plan, one more step I was taking to be somebody. Granted, I hadn’t been in love with my intended bride, but I didn’t really know how to love anybody

I survived.

I pushed to achieve more.

I battled my way to the top of the heap in my pro football career..

I’m a total dick, and I don’t want Lauren to see the side of me that would trample over anybody to work my way up in the world.

Lauren sees me as a hero, a title I’d never gain with anybody else in my life, so I wanted to keep her sheltered from the hard realities of my life. I wanted her to continue to think I was nice guy when I was really just the opposite.

We never should have crossed the line of going from friends to lovers.

There’s too much Lauren doesn’t know about me, and I care enough about her that I don’t want her to share my pain and the darkness that never sees daylight inside me.

I want her, but she’s a woman I can never have. She’s too smart, too sweet, and way too good for a guy like me.

Unfortunately, pushing her away becomes much more difficult than I’d planned…

Chapter 1

Specific moments tend to embed onto your psyche. They are so traumatic, so painful, they instantly imprint onto your long-term memory.

This was destined to be one of those moments. If I survived. If my ability to breathe returned.

I clenched the doorknob as my brother scrambled to cover his naked ass with a pillow. He swore and told me to get out.

I froze.

Holy shit, nothing will ever be the same.

Hope, the woman whose mouth was inhaling my brother’s cock, scrambled to retrieve her clothing from the floor. Her face was tomato-red. It should be. She’s engaged to Graham Morgan, my brother’s best friend.

Or she was.

“My lesson was canceled.” My voice was strangled as were my insides.

“You should have said something,” Jack said in a tone he’d used once when we were much younger and I’d caught him downloading porn on my computer.

That memory was also embedded.

I’m not a prude, but certain societal codes of behavior should be adhered to. One: Not violating my computer or—ew—my room because you’re grounded from the Internet.

Two: This!

“I’m sorry—” I stopped; I wasn’t sorry. I was numb. I waited for Jack to break out in a smile. It had to be a prank. Graham and Hope’s wedding invitation had arrived two days ago. Mine was secured on the refrigerator at Dad’s place with a heart magnet. We were in Aspen to celebrate the pending nuptials as well as my graduation and Jack’s promotion. “What are you doing, Jack?”

He shook his head without answering, and I pitied him. He usually wasn’t an asshole, at least not as assholey as he appeared with a pillow clutched to his genitals as if his nudity was the big issue.

Clothing in hand, Hope dashed from the living room, down the hall, and to the master bedroom. I wanted to escape, too, so no judgment on my behalf.

“Hope,” Jack bellowed.

She didn’t stop.

He grabbed his clothing and charged after her.

A cold burst of air brought a flurry of snow through the opened door. It instantly melted on the dark wooden floor of the luxury chalet Graham had rented.

We had spent weekends in Aspen, although never in a place so nice. During high school, Jack and I had scraped our pennies and rented the best discounted rooms we could afford. Graham had joined us, but we’d refused his money. He’d never talked much about his home life, but we knew it wasn’t good. Eventually, he’d stopped arguing and simply swore he’d get a huge NFL contract and repay us someday.

He finally had, and the expense of this chalet probably balanced the account.

On autopilot, I closed the door, unzipped my jacket, and hung it in the closet. I peeled off my boots and neatly placed them on the mat. I should have sought the warmth of the blazing fire in the stone hearth, but I still had the visual of my brother and Hope sprawled in front of it.

I shook my head.

That’s an image that can’t be unseen.

The kitchen seemed like a safe destination. I poured a glass of Merlot, and even though I wasn’t a drinker, I finished it off in one long gulp.

This can’t be happening. I gripped the counter behind me. Graham had trust issues. Jack and I were the only family he had. Jack, how could you do something this stupid? This cruel?
I poured another glass and downed half. My stomach churned in warning.

Voices in the living room forced me to abandon my wine and walk toward them. Although I couldn’t make out what they were saying at first, they were obviously arguing.

Hope dropped her luggage in the foyer and retrieved her coat from the closet. I stood, silently observing. “I have to get out of here,” she said desperately. When she realized I was there, she said, “I’m sorry. Graham is on his way. I should tell him not to come, but—” She covered her face with her hands. “This wasn’t supposed to happen.”

I might have felt sorry for her if I weren’t still trying to erase a certain image from my mind. It was still disgustingly vivid. Jack wrapped his arms around her, an act that angered me.

“You’re upset. You can’t drive like this,” Jack pleaded.

“I have to. I need to think. This isn’t me. I don’t do things like this.” She looked for confirmation from me, but I looked away. I hadn’t known her long enough to refute or support her claim, nor did I want to be put in that position.

“It’s going to be okay. I’ll drive you,” Jack said, as he cupped her face between his hands.

My voice finally functioned. “What about Graham?”

Jack turned to acknowledge my presence. I expected him to be angry with me, but his face held a pained expression instead. “I’ll drive Hope to the airport then come back. He’s still a few hours out.”

“I should be the one to tell him,” Hope said, although she didn’t look or sound convinced.

“No, we’ve been friends our whole lives. I’ll tell him,” Jack said firmly.

How noble of him. I wanted to slap him. His declaration had the opposite effect on Hope. She melted against him, and I wanted to vomit. There were many words I could have let fly, but none would have helped the situation.

I turned to walk away.

“Lauren,” Jack said as he approached me. Whispering to keep Hope from hearing, he said, “Don’t say anything to Graham if he beats me here. Tell him we were out when you arrived.”

“I won’t lie to him,” I said forcefully, brave from my wine buzz.

“Then drive home now.”

My mouth gaped. I didn’t know this Jack. “What if Graham gets here before you? Don’t you think he’ll worry if no one is here or answering his calls?”

The door opened, and Hope slipped out.

I started to tell him what I thought of his plan, but he walked away.

He grabbed his coat and swung the door open. “Listen, I fucked up. You don’t need to tell me how badly. Don’t say anything to Graham, okay? I’ll make this right. I swear.”

He slammed the door before I had a chance to agree or tell him to go to hell.

I grabbed my cell and brought up Graham’s number. He deserved to know what had happened. He deserved a chance to talk it out with Hope if that was what he wanted.

I stopped in front of the fire without calling him. I paused, trying to understand my feelings. My anger had dissolved; I felt relieved—almost happy.

That was as unnerving as seeing Jack and Hope together.

Graham was my honorary brother from another mother, my protector, and even my confidant. Jack’s betrayal would cut Graham deeply, and my heart should be breaking for him.

Leaving my phone on the mantel, I went to my room to pack. No matter who told Graham, chances were he would hate all of us, including me, simply for bearing witness. He’d cut members of his family out of his life for that very crime.

I tried imagining my life without Graham but couldn’t.

Confused and disgusted with myself, I transferred my belongings into my luggage, pausing when I saw my reflection in the bureau mirror. I told myself my feelings were irrelevant. Graham had never looked at me the way he looked at Hope.

I wasn’t in her league. On my best day, I was cute. On my worst, I was a slightly overweight, bespectacled nerd with awkward social skills.

Many people spend their entire lives trying to stand out. I only wanted to blend in. Strategically, I had learned to keep the majority of my thoughts to myself. Sharing them had never made my life better.

At age seven I pinpointed the error in a cartoon character’s attempt at Fermat’s Last Theorem, a problem that had taken mathematicians until 1994 to solve, and sought to discuss it. Not having the mathematical vocabulary to properly express how I would have solved it, I’d asked my teacher, and was instantly transferred to a school for the gifted.

I graduated from high school at fourteen, had an undergraduate degree in applied mathematics by seventeen, and my PhD in condensed matter physics by twenty. Whether it was what I wanted or what I was told I should want, I was still unsure. When I requested a year off to find myself, I was directed to therapy. Some good came from that experience. I learned to value my emotions even when they didn’t match the expected. Feelings weren’t wrong, actions were.

I also met my best friend, Kelley. She was interning at the practice where I paid for two sessions, debated the basic principles of psychology for two more, then on my clinician’s prodding, went on to formally study it.

In retrospect, the suggestion to get my own degree if I thought I knew so much might have been sarcastic, but I wrote a dissertation to support my views and had an additional diploma a year later. Unlike my clinician, Kelley found my questions invigorating. She defined friendship as two people bringing out the best in each other. We were still close even though she had gone off to college in California to finish her studies, leaving us to communicate only by phone for now. Besides Graham, she was the only person who accepted me as I was.

On impulse, I retrieved my phone from the mantel and called her. No answer. I checked the time. It was early enough that she might be in class. I left her a voice message—a long, detailed update that included a trip to the kitchen for another glass of Merlot.

Coming Soon From Author J.S. Scott – Billionaire Unloved
Available February 27th 2018

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Coming Soon from Author Ruth Cardello – Insatiable Bachelor Available February 22nd 2018

A brand new series set in a whole new world. 

Dalton: Women are a perk of my lifestyle. I work hard. I deserve to play harder. But I didn’t get on the Forbes List of Rising Entrepreneurs by getting lost in the baggage and disruption that comes with dating. I’ve seen dozens of men fail when they fall in love. Pathetic.

That’s why I chose the Bachelor Tower. It was designed by a genius, my hero: the late, Garry F. Sinclair. He created an all-male haven for ambitious men who want to live like kings and play by their own rules. Casino nights, a fully equipped gym and lap pool, cigar and Scotch bar, and a media room with screens the size of the average movie theater. The list is endless. I easily network with men trying to launch their careers or those at the top who want to stay hungry. The best part: the tower attracts women, beautiful women who hang out in the lobby bar and vie for an invite upstairs. Easy, like fishing in a barrel.

Until Sinclair dies and Penny Fuller moves into the apartment next to me because the new owner doesn’t share his vision.

Everyone agrees Penny can’t stay. I don’t want to get involved, but she doesn’t understand the lengths my fellow building mates will go to to get her out. She’s not only irresistibly sexy and painfully optimistic, she’s also in real danger.

Siding with her would be career suicide.

Betraying her was never my intention.

J.S. “Jan” Scott is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of steamy romance. She’s an avid reader of all types of books and literature. Writing what she loves to read, J.S. Scott writes both contemporary steamy romance stories and paranormal romance. They almost always feature an Alpha Male and have a happily ever after because she just can’t seem to write them any other way! She lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains with her husband and two very spoiled German Shepherds.

Ruth Cardello hit the New York Times and USA Today Bestsellers Lists for the first time back in 2012. Millions of sales are evidence that her her books are akin to potato chips, addictive from the first one. She has created a multi-series billionaire world with a combination of escapism and realism that has gained her a faithful following of readers.

What Kindle Reviewers write about her:

“Wow hot at every page. Heart stopping, fear raging, mind blowing wonderful.”

“I’m a true fan of Ms. Cardello. I ran on to her first book a few years back and have been hooked ever since. I could go on and on about the story like of this book, but I’m not. All of her books are total page turners, unique, heart wrenching, and I love them all. There isn’t two alike in the bunch and I feel like i know the characters personally. I personally read 97 authors books. And I buy every book they put out. This author is in my top 10. Great job and keep them coming.”

“Love this series. Got me to start reading again. I look forward to the next book. Thank you for giving me the love of reading back.”

Ruth Cardello was born the youngest of 11 children in a small city in northern Rhode Island. She spent her young adult years moving as far away as she could from her large extended family. She lived in Boston, Paris, Orlando, New York–then came full circle and moved back to New England. She now happily lives one town over from the one she was born in. For her, family trumped the warmer weather and international scene. She was an educator for 20 years, the last 11 as a kindergarten teacher. When her school district began cutting jobs, Ruth turned a serious eye toward her second love- writing and has never been happier. When she’s not writing, you can find her chasing her children around her small farm or connecting with her readers online.

Author J.S. Scott

Author Ruth Cardello 
Twitter @RuthieCardello

Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

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HOOKING UP by Helena Hunting Excerpt Reveal

Wedding Unbliss
This is the happiest day of my life. I allow that thought to roll around in my head, trying to figure out why it doesn’t seem to resonate the way it should. This should be the happiest day of my life. So I’m not exactly certain why the uneasy feeling I associate with cold feet is getting worse rather than dissipating. I’ve already done the hard part; walked down the aisle and said “I do.”
My husband excused himself to go to the bathroom several minutes ago and, based on Armstrong’s itinerary for the day, speeches are supposed to begin promptly at eight-thirty. According to my phone, that’s less than two minutes from now, and he’s not here. The emcee for the evening is awaiting Armstrong’s return before he begins. And then the real party can start. The one where we get to celebrate our commitment to each other as partners for life. As in the rest of my breathing days. Dear God, why does that make my stomach twist?
I sip my white wine. Armstrong pointed out that red is not a good idea with my dress, even though it’s my preference. Besides, I don’t want it to stain my teeth. That would make for bad pictures.
I glance around the hall and see my parents, who are probably celebrating the fact that I didn’t walk down the aisle with a convicted felon. And frankly, so am I. My dating history pre-Armstrong wasn’t fabulous.
The sheer number of people in attendance spikes my anxiety. Speaking in front of all of these people makes me want to drink more, which is a bad idea. Tipsy speeches could lead to saying the wrong thing. I check my phone under the table again. It’s after eight-thirty. The longer Armstrong takes to return, the further behind we’ll get. The music playlist, devised by Armstrong with painstaking efficiency, leaves no room for tardiness. If we don’t start on time I’ll have to take out a song, or possibly two, to compensate for his delay and he’s selected the order in such a way as to make that difficult and that will annoy him. I just want today to be perfect. I want it to be reflective of my decision to marry Armstrong. That I, Amalie Whitfield, can make good choices and am not a disgrace to my family.
“Where the hell is he?” I scan the room and take another small sip of my wine. I should switch to water soon so I don’t end up drunk, especially later, when all of this is over and we can celebrate our lifelong commitment to each other without clothes on. I’m hopeful it will last more than five minutes.
Ruby, my maid of honor and best friend for the past decade, puts a hand on my shoulder. “Would you like Bancroft to find Armstrong?”
Bancroft, or Bane for short, is Ruby’s boyfriend who she’s been living with for several months. Recently I find myself getting a little jealous of how affectionate they still are with each other, even after all this time. Cohabitation hasn’t slowed them down on the sex or their PDA. I have hope that Armstrong and I will be more like Bane and Ruby now that we’ll be sharing the same bed every night.
I’m about to tell Ruby to give him another minute when a low buzz suddenly fills the hall. It sounds like a school PA system. I start to panic—they can’t start the speeches without Armstrong at my side. What’s the point of speeches if the groom isn’t present?
I’m halfway out of my seat, ready to tell the deejay, or whoever is behind the mic, he needs to wait, when a very loud moan echoes through the room. The acoustics are phenomenal in here, it’s why we chose this venue.
I glance at Ruby to make sure I’m not hearing things. Her eyes are wide. The kind of wide associated with shock. The same shock I’m feeling.
Another moan reverberates through the sound system, followed by the words, “Oh, fuuuck.”
A collective gasp ripples through the now-silent crowd. While the words themselves are scandalous among these guests, it’s the voice groaning them that makes me sit up straighter, and simultaneously consider hiding under the table.
“Fuck yeah. Ah, suck it. That’s it. Deep throat it like a good little slut. Fuuuuuccckkkkk.”
My mouth drops and I look to Ruby to ensure I have not completely lost my mind. “Is that—” I don’t finish the sentence. I already know the answer to the question, so it’s pointless to ask. Besides, I’m cut off by yet another loud groan. I clap a hand over my mouth because I’m not sure I’m able to close it, my disbelief is as vast as the ocean.
Ruby’s expression mirrors mine, except hers is incredibly animated since she’s an actress. “Oh my God. Is that Armstrong?” Her words are no more than a whisper, but they sound very much like a scream. Oh no, wait, that’s just Armstrong on the verge of an orgasm. But these sounds are nothing like the ones he makes when he’s in the throes of passion with me.
I clutch Ruby’s hand. The next sound that comes from him is a hybrid between a hyena laugh and a wolf baying at the moon. And every guest at our wedding is hearing the same thing I am. Our wedding. Someone other than me is blowing my husband at my own wedding. My mortification knows no end.
I grab the closest bottle of wine and dump the contents into my glass. Some of it sloshes over the edge and onto the crisp white tablecloth. It doesn’t matter. There’s plenty more where it came from. I chug the glass, then grab Ruby’s.
People lean in and whisper to each other, eyes lift to the speakers. A few people, the ones who are probably just here for the social-ladder-climbing potential, question who it is.
“Is the deejay watching porn?” That comment comes from a table full of mostly drunk singles in their early twenties.
Several eyes shift my way as I carelessly down Ruby’s wine and someone asks where the groom has disappeared to.
The grunts and groans grow terrifyingly louder. This is nothing like what I’m used to in bed with Armstrong. The dirty words aren’t something he ever uses with me, mostly it’s just noises and sometimes a “Right there” or “I’m close,” but that’s about it. He’s never talked to me like he is to the woman currently providing oral pleasure. And I’m very adept at oral. Although with Armstrong it’s very polite, neat oral, with no sounds other than the occasional hum. Slurping is uncivilized and a definite no-no.
I reach past Ruby for the bottle of red since I don’t really give a flying fuck about purple teeth right now. As I sink low in my seat I pour another glass of wine, surveying the people in the ballroom from behind the cover of the centerpiece. The centerpieces are huge and excessive and I don’t like them at all, but at least provides a protective barrier between the guests and my disgust, which I’m certain they must share. He sounds like a wild animal rutting. It is entirely unsexy. I have no idea who he’s getting intimate with, but I’m suddenly very glad it’s not me.
And doesn’t that tell me more about our relationship than it should.
It’s only been about thirty seconds—the most humiliating thirty seconds of my life—before Armstrong comes. How do I know this? Because he says, very clearly, “Keep sucking, baby, I’m coming.”
And “baby,” whoever she is, makes these horrific gurgling noises. It sounds like some form of alien communication. It’s way over the top, and apparently Armstrong is loving it, based on the string of vile profanity that spews from his asshole mouth.
“Holy crap. Is this for real? That was really fast,” Ruby mutters.
I guzzle my glass of wine. Then decide the glass is unnecessary and take a long swig from the bottle before Ruby snatches it away. Wine dribbles down my chin and onto my chest, staining the white satin purple. My dress is ruined. I should be freaking out. But I really don’t care.
“Come on,” Ruby tugs on my hand. “We need to get you out of here while people are still distracted.”
My older brother Pierce and the emcee are standing in the middle of the hall, gesturing wildly to the speakers above us. My other brother, Lawson, is on his way toward the podium in an attempt to do something. I don’t think there’s anything he can do to stop this train wreck from there.
Ruby tugs again, but I’m frozen, still trying to figure out what exactly just happened. Well, I know what’s happened. I just can’t believe it.
The sound of a zipper and the rustle of clothes follows. “Thanks for that, now I’ll be able to last later tonight,” Armstrong says.
“What about me?” A female asks. Her voice is nasally and whiny.
“What about you?”
“Well I helped you, aren’t you going to help me?”
“Didn’t you come with a date?”
“Well, yes, but—” God her voice is familiar. I just can’t figure out where I know it from.
“My cousin, right? He loves my sloppy seconds. Speeches are starting. I gotta get back to my ball and chain.”
Gasps of horror ripple through the room, followed by a few giggles. These people really are assholes.
I think I’m going to throw up. I can’t believe he’s going to come out here and pretend nothing just happened. Like some other woman didn’t just have her lips around his cock. His distinctly average cock. Maybe even slightly below average in length, if I’m being one hundred percent honest.
A door opens and closes.
Lawson turns on the mic behind the podium and taps it, sending screeching feedback through the room, making people cringe. Too bad no one did that a minute ago.
Murmuring grows louder and glances flicker to the head table and then away as Brittany Thorton, a seriously skanky debutante, comes strutting through the doors, using a compact to check her lipstick. She’s made it her mission to attempt to get into the pants of half the eligible men in this room. She’s followed, not five seconds later, by a very smug-looking Armstrong.
“I’m going to kill him.” I grab the closest steak knife, but it appears my hasty, and possibly felonious, plan is unnecessary. My brothers leave their respective posts and stalk toward him. Across the room my mother is gripping my father’s arm, whispering furiously in his ear. Great. Just what I need, additional family drama.
“Oh shit,” Ruby gasps.
I follow her gaze to find Bane converging on Armstrong with my brothers. Bancroft is a tank and he used to play professional rugby. I’ve seen him with his shirt off, he’s built like a superhero and he’ll probably crush Armstrong, or at least break something. Possibly multiple somethings.
For a second I consider that Ruby should probably stop Bane from destroying Armstrong’s pretty, regal face, but then I realize I don’t actually care. In fact, the possibility that he might break Armstrong’s perfectly straight nose fills me with glee. Armstrong’s wellbeing is no longer my concern, it’s more about Bane ending up in prison for murder.
“I hope Armstrong has a good plastic surgeon, he’s going to need it once Bane is done with him.” Ruby echoes my internal hopes and her chair tips as she jumps up. “Come on, let’s get you out of here.” She nods to the right.
I notice my mother and father engaged in a heated discussion with Armstrong’s parents. I really don’t need this right now. Not the drama. Not the humiliation. All I wanted was a nice wedding. Instead I end up with a husband who gets a blow job during our reception—and it’s broadcast to everyone attending.
Ruby urges me into action. “Don’t worry about them. Get your stuff and we’ll get you the hell out of here. I’ll have the limo meet you by the entrance near your bridal suite as soon as I can.”
I nod and stumble unsteadily to my feet, thanks to having consumed the better part of a bottle of wine in the last minute and a half. It’s amazing how ninety seconds can change a person’s entire life.
All hell breaks loose as more men jump in to either pummel or extract Armstrong from the pummeling. I grab my clutch and phone from the table, gather up my stupid, too puffy gown, and head for the bridal suite, where I had prepared for what was supposed to be the most amazing day of my life. And now it’s likely the worst, at least I hope the mortification level I’m experiencing can’t exceed this. I feel like the foulest version of Cinderella ever.
I rush down the empty hall and grab the doorknob as I fumble around in my clutch for the key. I’m surprised when it turns. I thought I’d locked it before we left for the ceremony. Regardless, I need to get away from everyone before I either lose it or commit a felony. Maybe both. Murder in the first. Armstrong will be my victim. And maybe that horrible skank, Brittany.
I thrust the door open and slam it closed behind me, locking it from the inside. Tears threaten to spill over and ruin my makeup. Not that it matters since there’s no way I’m going out there again. I can’t believe my forever lasted less than twelve hours. I can’t believe the man I’m supposed to spend the rest of my life loving couldn’t be faithful to me for even one day. What the hell is wrong with me? With him? I’m as devastated as I am angry and embarrassed. Once I annul this farce of a marriage I’ll become a spinster. I should probably go ahead and adopt six or seven cats tonight.
“I need to get out of this dress,” I say to myself. I reach behind me and pull the bow at the base of my spine. Instead of unfurling, it knots and I only succeed in pulling it tighter. Of course my dress has to be difficult. I growl my annoyance and rush over to my dressing table where my makeup and perfume are scattered from earlier today. Half a mimosa sits unconsumed beside the vase of red roses Armstrong had delivered.
The card read: I can’t wait to spend forever loving you.
What a load of bullshit. I drain the contents of the champagne flute, not caring that the drink is warm and flat. Then I throw the glass, because it feels good and the sound of shattering crystal is satisfying. Next I heave the vase of roses, which explodes impressively against the wall, splattering water and shards of glass across the floor.
I yank out a couple of the drawers and find a pair of scissors. They actually look more like gardening shears and seem rather out of place, but I don’t question it. Instead I reach behind me with my back to the mirror and awkwardly try to cut myself free. It’s not easy with the way I have to crane my neck.
“Goddammit! I need to get out of this stupid dress!” I yell at my reflection. I think I might actually be losing it just a touch now. I stop messing around with the laces in the back and shove the scissors down the front. I nearly nick myself with the blade—they’re a lot sharper than I realized—but that doesn’t slow me down. I start hacking my way through the bodice; layers of satin, lace, and intricate beading sliced apart with every vicious snip.
I just want out of this nightmare.


Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

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SHOW ME THE WAY by A.L. Jackson Excerpt Blitz

Show Me the Way

The first stand-alone novel in A.L. Jackson’s brand-new Fight for Me series…

Coming October 2nd

“This book is absolutely perfect.” – Corinne Michaels, New York Times Bestselling Author

The first sexy, captivating, stand-alone novel in the brand-new FIGHT FOR ME series from NYT & USA Today Bestselling Author A.L. Jackson . . .
Rex Gunner. As bitter as he is beautiful.
The owner of the largest construction company in Gingham Lakes has been burned one too many times. His wife leaving him to raise their daughter was the last blow this single dad could take. The only woman he’ll let into his heart is his little girl.
Rynna Dayne. As vulnerable as she is tempting.
She ran from Gingham Lakes when she was seventeen. She swore to herself she would never return. Then her grandmother passed away and left her the deed to the diner that she once loved.
When Rex meets his new neighbor, he knows he’s in trouble.
She’s gorgeous and sweet and everything he can’t trust.
Until she becomes the one thing he can’t resist.
One kiss sends them tumbling toward ecstasy.
But in a town this size, pasts are bound to collide. Caught in a web of lies, betrayal, and disloyalty, Rex must make a choice.
Will he hide behind his walls or will he take the chance . . .

© 2017 A.L. Jackson Books
Tension roiled between us. That tether pulled taut. Drawing us closer. I swallowed around it and reached for the latch. He was quick to open his door, jumping out and rounding to my side before I had time to step out of his massive truck. He helped me down, and his hand scorched where he aided me by holding on to my elbow.
“Let me walk you to the door. Last thing I need to be worried about is you here by yourself and some asshole taking advantage of you.”
He quirked this belly-flopping grin that pierced me like an arrow. “Unless of course that asshole is me.”
He barely angled his head to the side. There was something so endearing and self-deprecating about it. Everything about him right then was at odds with the surly, bear of a man I’d met weeks ago, the man exposing himself, layer by layer.
I lifted my chin, both in strength and vulnerability, tossing all the uncertainties and questions out into the open. “Should I be afraid?”
“Yeah, you should be.” His response was hard, but there was no missing the fact his irritation was aimed at himself. He set his palm on the small of my back, helping me through the gravel drive in my heels, an inch behind as we ascended the porch steps.
We crossed the planks. That tension wound higher with each step until we were nothing but needy pants at my door. Slowly, I turned around to face him.
His presence sent a ripple of energy vibrating across the floorboards, the overwhelming sight of him the owner of my breath.
He stood beneath the faint glow of the hurricane lamp that hung outside the door. A sculpture of sinewy muscle and raw strength, forged through years of obvious physical labor. Every inch of him was rugged, from those roughened, callused hands to the crinkles set deep at the edges of his eyes.
The man was a carving of pure, daunting beauty.
“What exactly am I supposed to be afraid of, Rex?” My brow twisted, and my voice quieted with the admission. “Because when I’m around you, the last thing I feel is afraid.”
“I fuck everything up, Rynna, and the only thing I’ve got to offer you is my mess. I can’t do this.”
Restraint rumbled in his chest, the sound so deep I felt it shake the ground beneath my feet.
I gently cupped one side of his rugged face. “I’m not afraid.”
It was a promise.
An appeal.
“You should be,” he grated. “Warned you, my shit doesn’t ever end well.”
“Maybe that’s a chance I’m willing to take.”
He groaned and he planted his hands high above my head. The man panted above me, torn, desperate, his nose just brushing mine. “God damn it, Rynna. God damn it.”
I felt the moment he broke. When the thread pulled too tight and this mesmerizing man snapped. His mouth descended on mine.
Lips and tongue and nips of teeth.
And those hands. They were on my face. My neck. My waist. Somehow, I managed to hold on to him and spin away as I fumbled with the lock. He pressed against my backside, his cock against my bottom, and his mouth leaving a trail of fire at the side of my neck. We stumbled into the darkness of my house, breaking apart as I turned to face him.
The only light trickled down from the lamp I’d left on upstairs.
Slowly, he clicked the door shut behind him. We stood there, two feet away from each other, staring.
Chests heaving.
Before we collided.
A tangle of tongues and bodies.
The man frantic, trying to touch me everywhere.
“What am I doing? Fuck, what am I doing?” he muttered incoherently, kissing me deeper. Madder. Wilder.
I pushed up on my toes and tore my mouth from his so I could kiss down the strong column of his throat. His head thudded back against the door, his entire body pressing against it as if he needed it to keep him standing.
He grated my name, and I kept kissing at his throat while I worked free the button on his jeans, hands shaking.
Every reservation spun out of control.
Out of reach.
It was only spurred further when the defined muscles of his abdomen jumped and twitched beneath my touch, when he mumbled, “You’re killing me, Rynna. Fucking killing me.”
Desire rippled from him in heady waves.
And I felt so brave and bold, my kisses brazen as I nipped at the hollow of his throat.
Before I could consider it—the ramifications and the repercussions and the distinct threat to my heart—I dropped to my knees.
I refused to think of anything but setting him free.
Hoping he’d find a little of that freedom in me.



A.L. Jackson is the New York Times & USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance. She writes emotional, sexy, heart-filled stories about boys who usually like to be a little bit bad.
Her bestselling series include THE REGRET SERIES, CLOSER TO YOU, and BLEEDING STARS novels. Watch for A.L. Jackson’s upcoming novel, SHOW ME THE WAY, the first stand-alone novel in her brand-new FIGHT FOR ME SERIES.
If she’s not writing, you can find her hanging out by the pool with her family, sipping cocktails with her friends, or of course with her nose buried in a book.
Be sure not to miss new releases and sales from A.L. Jackson – Sign up to receive her newsletter or text “aljackson” to 24587 to receive short but sweet updates on all the important news.

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Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

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Duke with Benefits by Manda Collins Excerpt Blitz

Lady Daphne Forsyth is a brilliant mathematician with a burning passion for puzzles. When she learns that the library belonging to her benefactress houses the legendary Cameron Cipher—an encrypted message that, once solved, holds the key to great riches—Daphne is on the case. Unfortunately, her race to unlock the cipher’s code is continually thwarted by a deliciously handsome distraction she hadn’t counted on . . . and cannot resist.
Dalton Beauchamp, the Duke of Maitland, is curious as to why Daphne is spending so much time snooping around his aunt’s bookshelves. He’s even more intrigued by her bold yet calculating manner: She is unapologetic about her secret quest . . . and the fiery attraction that develops between them both. But how can they concentrate on solving a perplexing enigma once the prospect of true love enters the equation?
Duke with Benefits is the second in Manda Collins’ Studies in Scandal series set in Regency England.
“There you are, my dear,” said the Earl of Forsyth with a beaming smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes.
Maitland saw at once that Daphne favored him. Her green eyes were the same shade as his, though there were lines of dissipation bracketing the earl’s. And though his expertly cropped blond hair was shot through with silver, what remained of its original color was the same shade as hers. But whereas Daphne’s gaze was focused off to the left of whomever she conversed with, like a bird hovering just over a branch, Forsyth’s speared one with cold calculation. As he did to Daphne now.
“You are looking well, Daphne,” the earl continued, stepping forward to embrace his daughter, who looked as uncomfortable with the contact as Maitland had ever seen her. “The sea air agrees with you. As I knew it would.”
“The sea is very beautiful,” Daphne replied woodenly. “Why are you here, Father?”
“Is that any way to greet your Papa?” the earl chided, stepping back from her and wandering farther into the room, standing to stare out at the gardens below through the window. “I’ve traveled all the way from London to see you. And this lovely estate. I must admit that when I first learned of your inheritance, I thought it was all some sort of trick. But you would have your own way and leave the loving bosom of your family no matter what I said. Now that I’m here, though, and see it in person, I must admit that it’s a lovely spot. And your chaperone, Lady Serena, is quite beautiful, isn’t she? A widow, I take it?”
His jaw clenched at the man’s mention of Serena, and Maitland thought perhaps it was time to announce himself. Daphne seemed not to realize he’d followed her in, and the earl was too busy waxing rhapsodic over the beauties of Beauchamp House.
“I don’t believe we’ve met, Forsyth,” he said forcefully, stepping up to stand side by side with Daphne. He gave a slight bow, perhaps not quite as deep as was warranted, but not caring. “The Duke of Maitland. I am a friend of your daughter’s, you might say.”
What he meant by that last, he could not say, but the man made every bit of protective instinct within him go on the alert. He was her father, but all the same Maitland knew that Daphne was no safer with him than she would have been with Sommersby if he still lived.
At the sound of the duke’s voice, Lord Forsyth turned with almost comical haste from the window and stared. For the barest flicker, he looked angry. Well, if he were upset at the knowledge that his daughter was not without friends, then he would simply have to swallow it. Because Maitland was damned if he’d leave her alone with the fellow.
“Duke,” Lord Forsyth said with a tilt of his head, “I am pleased to make your acquaintance. I was a friend of your father’s, and had little notion I’d be meeting you here. He was a good man, your father.”
His father had been nothing of the sort, but Maitland was hardly going to discuss it with Forsyth.
“I am here visiting my sister, Lady Serena,” Maitland said coolly, letting the other man know in tone rather than words that he had not appreciated the older man’s speculative words about her earlier. “And of course my cousin, Kerr. He only recently married another of the heiresses here, and resides here with her.”
Forsyth’s eyes narrowed at the implication that Daphne was well protected should her father wish to cause trouble. At least that was the message Maitland was endeavoring to send. And by the looks of it, Forsyth read him loud and clear.
“Capital, capital,” the earl said with false cheer. “A merry party you must all make here. I had no idea you were in such fine company here, Daphne. No notion at all.”
“Because we have not spoken since I left,” Daphne said, looking from her father to Maitland then back again, as if wondering what went on between them. “And now, father, I really must ask you to leave. I have a great deal of work to do and . . .”
“Don’t be absurd, Daphne,” her father said with a shake of his head. “I only just arrived. And there is something very important I must speak to you about.” He turned to Maitland with a raised brow. “I’m sure you’ll excuse us, Duke. I’m afraid what I need to tell my daughter is private family business.”
Maitland was opening his mouth to tell the man he would leave Daphne alone with him when hell froze over, when Daphne did it for him.
“Maitland stays,” she said, reaching out to grasp him by the arm. It was as much of a cry for help as he’d ever thought he’d see from her. Wordlessly, he slipped her arm into his, as if they were about to promenade round the room. He covered her hand with his, keenly aware of the thread of tension in her.
Once more, the earl’s eyes narrowed, and he turned an assessing gaze on Maitland, perhaps realizing for the first time the threat coming at him from that direction.
His jaw clenched, Forsyth said grimly, “Very well. If you wish your friend to witness our dirty linen, so be it.” As if needing to be in motion in order to speak, the earl began to pace the area between the window and the fireplace. “You know, Daphne, you left me without any obvious means of recouping what I lost from years of paying that tutor of yours, old man Sommersby.”
“You agreed to pay him,” Daphne said tightly. “After I threatened to expose . . .”
Hastily, Forsyth continued, “And I am currently in need of funds. As such, I must insist you return to London with me for the time being and meet a particular gentleman who has expressed interest in marrying you. Though his birth is not as high as yours, he’s quite wealthy and will make you a good husband, I trust. He’s assured me he has no concern about your odd ways, if you’re as beautiful as your portrait.”
Before Maitland could burst out with the string of invectives the other man’s pronouncement inspired in him, Daphne said, “I cannot marry this person. I’ve never even met him. You promised me that I would not have to marry someone for money as long as I won enough at the tables. I did so. You promised me, father.”
“I never actually promised, Daphne.” Forsyth said with a shake of his head. “If you chose to interpret it as such, that is not my fault. Now, go pack your things.”
Daphne’s hand on Maitland’s arm gripped him tightly. And before he even knew what he was doing, he said, “I’m afraid that’s impossible, Forsyth. Daphne is staying here.”
“I don’t know who you think you are, Maitland,” said the earl through clenched teeth, “but I am her father, and I am well within my rights to take her back to London. Now, kindly take your hands off of her and let her go pack.”
“It might once have been your right, Forsyth,” Maitland said coldly, “but Lady Daphne is my betrothed now and as such, she will remain here. With me.”
Copyright © 2017 by Manda Collins and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press.
Author Bio:

Manda Collins is the author of several books, including Ready Set Rogue and The Lords of Anarchy series. She spent her teen years wishing she’d been born a couple of centuries earlier, preferably in the English countryside. Time travel being what it is, she resigned herself to life with electricity and indoor plumbing, and read lots of books. When she’s not writing, she’s helping other people use books, as an academic librarian.
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Facebook: @MandaCollinsAuthor

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Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

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WHEN LIFE HAPPENED by Jewel E. Ann Chapter Reveal


When Life Happened, an all-new standalone romance from

Jewel E. Ann is coming June 5th!

WLH Full

When Life Happened by Jewel E. Ann

Publication Date: June 5th, 2017

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Parker Cruse despises cheaters. It might have something to do with her boyfriend sleeping with her twin sister.
After a wedding day prank involving a strong laxative, that ends the already severed relationship between the twins, Parker decides to grow up and act twenty-six.
Step One: Move out of her parents’ house.
Step Two: Find a job.
Opportunity strikes when she meets her new neighbor, Gus Westman. He’s an electrician with Iowa farm-boy values and a gift for saying her name like it’s a dirty word.
He also has a wife.
Sabrina Westman, head of a successful engineering firm, hires Parker as her personal assistant. Driven to be the best assistant ever, Parker vows to stay focused, walk the dog, go to the dry cleaners, and not kiss Gus—again.
Step Three: Don’t judge.
Step Four: Remember— when life happens, it does it in a heartbeat.

Exclusive Chapter One Reveal:

Preorder exclusively on iBooks:

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About Jewel:

Jewel is a free-spirited romance junkie with a quirky sense of humor. With 10 years of flossing lectures under her belt, she took early retirement from her dental hygiene career to stay home with her three awesome boys and manage the family business. After her best friend of nearly 30 years suggested a few books from the Contemporary Romance genre, Jewel was hooked. Devouring two and three books a week but still craving more, she decided to practice sustainable reading, AKA writing. When she’s not donning her cape and saving the planet one tree at a time, she enjoys yoga with friends, good food with family, rock climbing with her kids, watching How I Met Your Mother reruns, and of course…heart-wrenching, tear-jerking, panty-scorching novels.

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Twitter: @JewelE_Ann
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Dare to Love by Amanda Kaitlyn Chapter Reveal

Title: Dare to Love
Series: The Beautifully Broken Series
Author: Amanda Kaitlyn
Genre: LGBT Romance/Gay Romance/New Adult Fiction
Release Date: June 9, 2017 


Chapter One

THE SMELL OF freshly brewed coffee and powdered sugar hit my nose as I entered the coffee shop my older brother, Lucas and his wife owned. The scent of coffee and sweet pastries was heavenly and I stepped in the long line of customers, eager for my caffeine fix.
“Allison? Is that you?” I heard my name being called and I turned toward the sound, spotting my sister in law, Kaelyn rushing over to me from behind the counter. Smiling wide, I moved into her widely held arms and felt her sigh of relief against my shoulder. I’d been driving all night long and was bone tired, but I was excited to finally be here.
I graduated from Art School yesterday and to say it felt damn good would be an understatement. It felt amazing. It felt even better to be near family again, even if I wasn’t back home in Chicago like I wanted.
When my brother asked me to help out in the cafe over the next three months, I thought it would be fun to have a nice, relaxing winter down south.
My sculptures could wait, after all.
“I’m so happy your here! We are going to have a blast this winter!”
Kaelyn’s excited voice said in my ear and I nodded, my smile getting even bigger on my face. As she squeezed me even tighter to her side and we stepped forward in the line, I gave her an even tighter one in return.
Now that I’d seen her, this place felt so much warmer than I thought possible and it felt just like coming home.
God, how I had missed this girl.
We sat in the large, deeply cushioned chairs that were placed against the walls of windows making the space light up with bright, natural light. My eyes took everything in and I felt my body become rejuvenated just from the ambiance of the place.
How had I never been here before?
The coffee shop and bakery had been in Kaelyn’s family for two generations and now I could see why it was so important to her. My brother had wanted her to sell off her shares of the business and move back to Chicago with him and their two beautiful daughters but she’d resisted. She wanted to finish out the year before transferring her half of The Joyous Cup to her best friend and business partner, Meghan. Having grown up in the heart of the windy city, I couldn’t help but want her and my brother to come back home where our family was. Ever since I was a young girl, I was surrounded by people who loved and cared for me. My family was tightly knit and though, yes it could prove to be a bit stifling- I loved every moment of it.
“So? How was the drive in? Did you hit any traffic?”
“No, it was a pretty smooth drive. I stopped for a few hours half way through. Who knew staring at the road could make me so damn tired?”
Kaelyn laughed softly, shaking her head.
“I still can’t believe you drove all the way here, by your self for that matter. Babe, Luke would have driven you.”
I waved her concerns off, unworried.
When I was growing up, my Dad took a truck driving job one year when the business at the garage wasn’t doing very well. Most times, I would tag along on his long drives if they landed on a weekend or during that winter. I loved the feeling I got from the slow hum of a powerful engine underneath me and the sight of the road in front of me. But after close to thirty hours behind the wheel, it had definitely worn me out.
I desperately wanted to get to the Bed and Breakfast I booked for the winter and sink my tired body into a nice, hot bath.
“You look exhausted, Allison. How about I close down early and drive you to the hotel?” Her hand rested on my knee then, but I shook my head, not wanting to be a bother. It was only a few minutes drive, anyways.
“No, no. That’s okay, Kel. I’m going to head out, though.”
I stood and embraced her and felt her slender arms wrap around my waist and hug me just as fiercely.
“Give the goofball a big kiss and hug for me, OK?”
I said into her ear, fondness for Luke clear in the tone of my voice.
Nodding, she pulled away and I stepped out into the cool, crisp night air. Digging a hand through my black-strapped purse on my shoulder, I slid my keys out and unlocked my car before sliding back in front of the wheel.
Only a few more minutes. I told myself, putting the gear into drive and merging back onto the now quiet street toward my home for the winter.
A Bed & Breakfast was nested between two large, very old oak trees and the only parking that I could find was a spot just next to the front door.
My feet ached as I went inside and set my suitcase and carry on bag on the luggage cart I spotted by the interior doors.
“Welcome to Bunk and Bean Bed and Breakfast! My name is Bree, how can I help ya?”
The familiar voice roused me from my long, indulgent yawn and a smile spread my lips as the petite woman behind the counter turned toward me.
“Oh my gosh! Allison?”
Nodding, I dropped my purse onto the luggage cart and rushed toward her, curling my arms around her as soon as I got close enough.
“I can’t believe your here, Bree! I’ve missed you so much!”
She pulled away from our hug first, her eyes shining with excitement.
“How have you been? Shit, girl, it’s been so long since I last saw you!”
I wiped away a stray tear from my face, nodding. Bree James and I had been best friends since I could remember ever having one. Our mothers were the best of friends, even calling each other sisters as we were growing up. It was natural that we became fast friends as children. I shook my head in blissful remembrance at all of the shenanigans we caused back then. Bree and I were attached at the hip. As soon as we could leave home without our protective mothers hovering nearby, we set out to cause mischief. My favorite had to be when we poured ice water in a metal jug and attached it to the door of my fathers tool shed, causing him to be pelted when it opened. The look on his face as he spotted us hiding and giggling loudly in the nearby bushes? Priceless.
Since I moved away from our home town of Chicago, Illinois, we had lost touch. At first, it was small. We would miss our daily phone calls, a visit back home would be canceled or I would forget to video chat her after class one night. It was hard to be so far away from the large, loving home I grew up in. It was even more difficult to adapt to living without the constant presence of my two best friends, Bree and Nathan. I didn’t notice how far Bree and I had strayed from our friendship until it was too late.
As we hugged again and reminisced on our childhood adventures, I thanked God that there was a such thing as social media. We’d reconnected online last year and were thankfully as close as ever, especially now that I was spending the hot, Texas winter here. I was so happy she was here.
“The last few weeks have been crazy, Bree. With final projects being due and my older brothers coming into the city to attend my graduation, I was sure I’d go crazy before the ceremony ended!”
Her sweet, carefree laugh hit my ear.
I sometimes thought that it was crazy we were ever able to get along.
We were opposite in almost every way. I was bright and happy, overly excited for every phase of life and eager to take the world by the horns.
I had always been that way.
The always present support of my loving family had made me thrust out of my shell at a young age.
Complete with bright, neon colors, long flow skirts and enough books to last me a lifetime, that was who I was.
Bree was this small, light skinned beauty with black hair that fell down her back in waves. Her eyes were the color of the sea- deep, navy blue with flecks of green and yellow in them. She always wore dark colors, black, brown or brown. And she was always in either a pants suit or a pair of snugly fit Levi jeans. Bree hated to dress up and thought of herself somewhat goth. Her makeup was dark, ruby red lipstick and silver eye-shadow. The faint lines of her midnight black eyeliner made her eyes look even brighter as she lifted her head and I smiled.
Out of all of the time I had known her, she never changed.
I loved that so much because I knew she was real, through and through.
Growing up under the watchful gaze of the public meant that most friends I had made as a child were that of motive. Girls became friends with me to get closer to my musician brothers. Boys befriended me in hopes of getting a shot with my families record company. Almost none of them were founded by true friendship. At first, it hurt. But then I realized that in time, I would find who my real, my true friends were. In the end of high school, I learned who that friend had been all along.
Bree James.
“I’m so damn proud of you. I knew you could do it. When you left, I was mad. Not going to lie about that. But your my best friend. My confidant. My sister from another mister,” A loud laugh leaves me at that but she just squeezes my hand in hers and continues.
“I couldn’t be mad at you for long, though. You followed your dream of sculpture like a fucking badass, Allison.”
I broke into a mess at her honest words and flung my arms around her, again. As she hugged me just as fiercely, I realized she was here. In Fredricksburg, Texas.
My eyebrows drew together at the realization because it just didn’t make sense. We’d grown up in Illinois. Her family was in Illinois. Why was she here, now?
“What are you doing here, Bree?”
She pulled back, smiling wider at my question.
“I own this place. My husband and I bought it after the Wilson’s, the previous owners, passed away. Don’t you just love this little place?”
My heart squeezed in my chest almost painfully. God, I’d missed out on so much while I was away. Somehow my once cynical and hopeless romantic best friend had gone and gotten married and if the twinkle in her eyes was any indication, she was happy. She had the life I always hoped she would. Surrounded by love and happiness and void of the sorrow her childhood had once given her. My best friend was finally happy.
“Oh, I’m so happy for you. God, we missed a lot in each others lives, huh?”
I asked, cradling her face as a bright, no holds barred smile spreads across her face.
“It was only last month that we got married.”
I was pretty sure my eyes bulged out of my head as I heard her voice whisper across the space between us, her voice quiet as if she hadn’t meant to omit that confession.
“I wish I had known, girl. I would have loved to be there”
Shaking her head, she busies herself with the folder in her hands.
I could feel the nerves radiating off of her in waves. Somewhere between the topic of the bed and breakfast and Kingsley, she’d become a bundle of nerves.
“It was, uh, a quick wedding”
“Oh my gosh, Bree!”
“What!” Her quiet yell snapped back at me and my eyes widened as I noticed the blush that was now littered across her cheeks.
“It was a shotgun wedding?”
Sighing loudly, she plopped back into the chair next to me and nodded, then quickly, she was shaking her head again.
“Uh, no, I swear it wasn’t like that. I moved here a year ago and I needed a part time job between classes. Something to fill my time. Kingsley worked at the local bar and hired me on the spot. Almost immediately, we began dating. It was slow going at first, though. He would stay after his shifts ended and we had dinner after the night crew had left. He’s just got this way about him, Allison.”
“My ears are ringing, Bree. You bragging about me to our customers, now?”
A deep, booming voice came from the doorway of the front lobby and my eyes moved toward the sound. When my eyes landed on the large, tall man that not only stood in the doorway but filled it completely, I gasped in surprise.
“Hey, I didn’t think you would be home for a while. How was the meeting?”
Bree stood and walked toward him, her hands instantly drawing up to touch his scruffy face. I watched, entranced as the seemingly hard, stone faced man visibly softened the moment she was touching him. Bending his knees just slightly, he brought his wide, muscled arms around her back to take hold of her ass as he lifted her up his body that had to be at least 6’5. Her hands smoothed over his cheek as she smiled, a look passing through them that spoke volumes as to how they felt about each other. My best friend was in love.
“It was fine. This contractor is gonna get his ass kicked if he doesn’t stop beating around the bush. I don’t need him to argue with me. I just need him to get this shit done” Even with the anger spliced through his tone, his body molded tightly to hers, his hands squeezing her bottom in a silent claiming.
“King. I want you to meet someone. Stop feeling me up, silly man”
He scoffed roughly, hiking her body up a few inches until their mouths touched.
“Don’t tell me what to do, woman”
“Let me down.”
Frowning, he kissed her briefly, then caved to her softly spoken demand.
“Allison, this is my husband, Kingsley. Kingsley, baby, meet my best friend from high school, Allison.”
He stepped forward, out reaching one large hand to me.
“I’m damn glad to meet you, Allison. Bree has missed you something fierce.”
Shaking his hand, I nodded.
I had missed her, too.
“Me too. It looks like you make her very happy.”
Bree rested her head against his shoulder, proving my words were true.

A small, almost private smile took up residence on his face.

“Yeah,” He nodded once. “I guess, I do”
The softly blowing wind whispered over my face, my feet stepping over crushed leaves as I walked toward the small park in the middle of town the following day. After spending some much needed time with Bree and her husband, I hadn’t been able to keep the smile off of my face. It felt so damn good to be back near the people that made me happy, made me laugh. Though I hadn’t seen my brother yet, I knew that feeling of true happiness of this place would only grow once I did. Luke was my biggest fan, after all. Hell, wasn’t that what older brothers were for?
The wind of the cool, winter day picked up and my hands reached for the small zipper of the black fleece jacket I wore, dragging it up until it reached my chin. The sun shone above, causing rays of light to cascade over the hills of the grass covered ground in Fell’s Park.
There was another rolling hill toward the ending of grass, where the green ground led to a small, dirt road and I noticed a quaint little brick house nearby. I squinted my eyes, my gaze landing on the small sign at the top of the door. As I moved closer, my hands slipped into the deep pockets of my Lucky dark denim jeans. The sign becoming larger as I approached, my curiosity piqued.
Who knew an animal shelter lay in the center of the small park I chose to take a walk in?
Ever since I was a young girl, I had a very special love for animals of all kind.
Dogs, cats, anything I could get my hands on, I loved them.
I couldn’t count on one hand how many animals I had as a kid.
The time away from home hadn’t changed that.
An excited smile tugged my lips as I headed toward the small, brick house. But the closer I drew to the house, I noticed it wasn’t really a house at all.
It was three brick cottages built together, connecting by a large, cherry wood wrap porch. Behind the buildings lay a long pasture of grass area where I saw the heads of a few grazing horses. The excitement inside of me caused my heart to flutter like that of a little girl but still, I couldn’t retreat from what I had stumbled upon.
The large, wooden door creaked as it closed behind me and I stepped inside, cautious. The floors were the first thing I noticed. They were laminate hard wood and as I looked at them, I could tell they’d been laid by hand. I watched my older brothers do enough construction to know that wasn’t an easy task. My eyes moved next to the large front lobby and a long, narrow hallway that most likely led to where the animals were kept.
I all but jumped out of my skin from surprise as a woman’s voice came from the other side of the reception desk in front of me.
“Be with you in just a moment, Ma’am”
A shiver ran up my spine at the sound of the raspy voice and my hand came to rest on the handle of the door I’d just come through.
As if at a moments notice, I would bolt.
Maybe I would.
I didn’t understand the mixture of trepidation and curiosity that was now humming through my veins like liquid adrenaline.
I didn’t know why I suddenly wondered why I’d stumbled inside the building in the first place.
I stepped deeper inside as I heard the woman’s footsteps retreat from the desk, most likely getting something from the the office.
For some reason, the sound of her voice had struck a cord in me.
I had no idea how it sounded so familiar to me, since I hadn’t been here even a few days yet. How could I know her if we’d never actually met?
Maybe she was another old friend from up North, where I grew up.
Shit, maybe I was going crazy from the lack of sleep.
Between the long drive from New York, my late night yesterday and a fatigue from the drastic change of weather I’d experienced, I was probably losing it.
I was about to step back from the reception desk and toward the large, oak wood door when the woman came from the back office and into my view for the first time.
No. My inner voice screamed at me as I took a step back unconsciously, as if from sheer instinct. It couldn’t be. I told myself, shaking my head in disbelief.
“Ally,” She said, her rasped voice now so much clearer as she stood in front of me. There was only one woman who’d ever called me that. She was a ghost from my past but for this one, small moment, she was real.
One moment. 
One moment changed my life forever.
Her big green eyes looked at me and I knew I would never be the same. 
But sometimes in life, the things you want are the ones that stand just out of reach. 
The pain her loss in my life caused was indescribable. 
Hot, piercing pain that in all of my fourteen years of living, I had never experienced. 
I remembered her. 
Every day. 
Every bad date my friends pushed me into. 
Every lonely holiday I spent without her to talk to. 
Until I saw her. 
And I found her all over again. 
My father always told me that love snuck up on you when you were least expecting it. 
That’s what happened with her. 
Charlie was my girl from that moment on and I would do anything to protect her. 
Amanda Kaitlyn is an author of heart stopping, sweet romance. Finding Beautiful is her debut novel. She is a hopeless romantic at heart. Books by Kristen Proby, Kelly Elliott and Stephanie Meyer have influenced her writing. One thing that inspires her is music. Country, pop, rock, Amanda enjoys it all. As a young girl, she loved fairy tales. As she grew up she realized that these stories change. Love isn’t always perfect and the fight of that love is what urges her to write the stories she does. Between the pages of her books you will find real, heartfelt romance, rugged emotion and lots of steam. Do you want to know more about Amanda Kaitlyn and her books? You can find her on social media and her author website.



Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

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