Chapter Reveal – FINDING YOU by Kelly Elliott


 If Grace Johnson knew one thing at all, it was that all men were dirtbags.
All men … except Noah Bennet.
“I was lost in his eyes. Lost in his tears. My goal was to pull him out of the darkness … even if it dragged me in as well.”
If Noah Bennet knew one thing at all, it was he needed Grace Johnson.
Needed her … desperately.
“My pain was pulling me under … she was my only saving grace.”
Grace is willing to put everything on the line to help bring back the man she is hopelessly in love with. Even if it costs her the future she’s been longing for.
“If finding you means losing a part of me … I’ll do it.”


*Subject to change before publishing* Unedited version*

Chapter One ~ Grace

I sat in the library as I rolled my neck around and let out a sigh. My mind had been pre occupied and I couldn’t afford to not be focused. I’d fallen behind in my classes when Lauren got sick.

Glancing back down at my book, I tried to read the words on the pages but my mind quickly drifted off to a memory of Noah and me.


Sitting back, I let the sun warm my face as Noah rowed the canoe.

“So are you going to just sit there while I do all the work, Grace?” Noah asked in a teasing voice.

“Yep,” I said with a smile.

Keeping my eyes closed, I could tell he had turned directions. Trying not to smile, I asked, “Are you getting tired, Noah? Was last night to much for you?”

Noah chuckled. It was the first night I’d stayed over at his apartment he shared with one other guy who also attended A&M. I wasn’t sure why I was keeping how close Noah and I were getting away from everyone. Maybe it was my way of keeping this relationship distant from my real world. That or I didn’t feel like answering Alex, Lauren, and Libby’s constant questions.

Whatever my reasons were, I pushed it from my mind.

“Baby, you could never be to much.”

Opening my eyes, I tilted my head and gave Noah a sexy smile. As hard as I tried to keep from falling in love with him, I fell deeper every moment we spent together.

“Is that a challenge?” I asked as I leaned forward, making sure to squeeze my arms together so my breasts showed just the right amount of cleavage since I only had a tank top over my swimsuit.

Lifting his eyebrows, Noah glanced over to the shore. When I looked over my shoulder, there was a small path. Noah paddled us over and jumped out. Reaching his hand out for mine, I placed it softly in his. The rush I got just from his touch about caused me to let out a moan. Stepping up onto the shore, I watched as Noah pulled the canoe up and grabbed my hand.

Leading me down the path, he pushed me against a tree and smiled at me.

“That is indeed a challenge. Let’s see if you can keep up with me now, Grace.”

My heart dropped to my stomach as I fought back those three words.

Lifting me up, Noah pushed his hard dick into me as I gasped. Desire pulled in my lower stomach and I was ready for anything Noah was going to give me.

Except for the three little words he was clearly not afraid to say.

“I love you, Grace.”

My mouth parted open slightly as I whispered back, “I love you too, Noah.”


My phone buzzed on the table, pulling me from my memory. Glancing down, I saw it was Alex.

Alex: Hey. I’m finished with classes today. Want to go grab some food?

Me: Where’s your hubby?

Alex: Sleeping. We both have been trying to get caught up on classes.

Letting out a laugh, I nodded my head at my phone.

Me: I love Lauren, but she screwed this semester up!

Alex: Right? So food or not? I’m starving and my baby wants food.

Me: I’ll meet you at Fuego’s.

Alex: Yes! I was hoping you’d say that. See you there in a few.

Smiling, I stood and gathered up my books. Turning to head out of the library, I came face to face with Doug Richards.

“Hey, Grace.”

My eyes traveled over his body as I suppressed the moan I wanted to let out. Damn he was fine as hell and it had been to long since I’d had sex. My mind had been filled with memories of Noah and I was horny as hell.

Pushing all thoughts of Noah away, I smiled as I quickly gave my lower lip a seductive bite and purred, “Hey, Doug.”

Doug’s eyes lit up. I’d always been friendly with Doug, but this was the first time I’d ever put a little bit of something more into my normal Oh hey Doug how’s it going.

Seeing Noah at the hospital with his new wife only proved to me that I needed to move on. I couldn’t shake the way Noah had looked at me though. I swear I saw the same look in his eye as I saw the first night he made love to me. Actually, the first time he ever looked at me I saw the passion.

“Plans for tonight?” Doug asked as he ran his fingers lightly up and down my arm. My body shook with the idea of being with someone. I needed a good hard fuck to pull me out of this funk. What would one mindless one-night stand do?

It would at least ease the throb between my legs. I’d gone through to many vibrators. I was ready for the real thing.

Licking my lips, I winked. “I believe you’re picking me up around eight? Taking me to dinner and then a little bit of … dessert afterwards.”

The smile that spread across Doug’s face caused me to smile. “I like that plan.”

My eyes roomed his body as they landed on his lips. Hopefully he was a good kisser. He had big shoes to fill.

Reaching into my purse, I took out a pen and grabbed Doug’s arm as I wrote down my address. “See ya at eight handsome.”

The second I turned to walk away I wanted to spin around and tell him to forget it. That I forgot I had plans with a friend. Worry my lip, I continued to walk toward the exit door.

No, Grace. It’s time to move on. What I needed was one evening of pure fun and Doug was the one who was going to provide it. Noah was married and I needed to stop feeling sorry for myself. What we had shared was amazing and I let it spoke me. I pushed away the only man I’d ever truly loved.

It was time to move on.

Tonight I was getting laid.


“What do you mean you have a date?” Alex asked with a stunned look on her face.

I took a bit of my taco and shrugged my shoulders. “You know, Alex. That thing you do when you’re single and haven’t had normal sex in I don’t know how long. Even my vibrator wants me out of the house.”

Alex giggled as she quickly looked around. “You’re terrible, Grace Hope Johnson.”

Shrugging my shoulders, I said, “Hey, you’re getting dick every night. I wonder if I should get a Brazilian wax?”

Laughing, Alex shook her head. “That was random as hell.”

“I just got to thinking, I think I want my hoo-ha to smooth for tonight.”

Alex started choking on her taco. “What? Grace, you can’t do that today and then have sex tonight?”

Pulling my head back in a shocked expression, I asked, “Why not?”

“Have you ever had anything waxed on your body before?”

Tilting my head, I thought about it. “Nope, I can’t say that I have.”

Leaning in toward the table, Alex motioned for me to come closer. “Grace, it hurts like hell to get waxed for the first time. I don’t think you want your hoo-ha to be tortured before you dive back into the whole sex thing again. I mean I get the whole, I just want mindless sex thing, but do you really want to mistreat her like that all in one day?”

About to state my case, I heard someone clear her throat. Alex and I both turned to see a mom staring at us with her daughter sitting there with her mouth dropped to the table. Smiling, I said, “I’m not going to have mindless sex tonight … well actually I am but I always use protection and… ouch!” I called out as I felt a stabbing pain in my shin from where Alex kicked me. Turning back to her, I yelled, “What the hell, Alex?”

Alex eyes were widened as she shook her head. “Grace, stop talking.”

The mother stood and motioned for her daughter to follow as Alex sat back and moaned, “Great, some mother I’m going to be.”

Letting out a laugh, I shook my head and said, “You’re going to be a kick ass mother. Just like Ellie. Hey, so we never really got to talk about how your parents and Will’s parents reacted to the big baby news.”

Alex, shrugged her shoulders. “I think they were all in shock. My father biggest worry was school. I’m so glad we’re all graduating this December.”

Taking a bite of my taco, I nodded my head. “Yeah, I’m glad too.” After swallowing the taco, I worried my bottom lip. I had been trying to figure out how to ask Alex if she had changed her mind about our plans.

Alex reached across the table and took my hand in her hand. “The baby doesn’t change anything, Grace. I want to still follow our dream of opening up Wild Flower. We’ve been dreaming of opening a flower nursery for years. Nothing is going to change that.”

I instantly felt my body relax. Our whole focus throughout school had been to open a nursery between Fredericksburg and Mason. The news of Alex having a baby had scared the piss out of me. Smiling, I said, “I’m not going to lie, I thought I might be doing this on my own and I was scared as hell.”

Letting out a chuckle, Alex shook her head. “No way. Will and I have already talked about it. I fully intend on pursuing our dream, Grace.” Shrugging her shoulders, she said, “Besides, we will own the place! I can bring the baby. She learn to dig in the dirt probably before she learns to walk.”

Sitting up straighter, I let out a gasp. “Oh my gosh! We can build a little baby nursery besides your office. I mean, I’m sure y’all will have more kids in the future. I bet my dad or your dad could easily add that into the design. Move that storage space somewhere else.”

Alex’s eyes lit up as she nodded her head. “Grace, that’s a great idea! This will be perfect for both of us.”

Narrowing my eyes, I let out a confused chuckle. “How is a baby room perfect for me?”

Giving me a sly smile, Alex said, “For when you have kids.”

Nearly choking on my tea, I held up my hands. “Whoa! Whoa! Holy hell woman! Don’t even speak such words. This girl has no plans for kids in the near future. Fuck, I’m not even having sex and the last time I checked … you can’t get knocked up from a vibrator.”

Alex looked around as she put her finger up to her lips. “Why do you have to talk so loud?”

“Why do you have to say such things? My God! There is already something in the water with you and Libby both getting pregnant. I’m sure Lauren is probably going to be announcing something in the next few months. Well … no thank you. I’m not having kids any time soon.”

Alex’s eyes looked sad. “Grace, do you not want kids?”

My heart instantly hurt as I plastered on a fake smile. “Someday I’m sure I’ll want kids. Right now it is the furthest thing from my mind. All I want right now, Alex, is to move on and have a good time.”

“Grace, I talked to Noah the day Lauren got out of the hospital. He desperately needs to talk to you.”

Swallowing hard, I fought to hold back my tears. “W-what did he say?”

Shaking her head, Alex said, “He asked how Lauren was and then for your number. I gave it to him. He said he needed to talk to you.”

Feeling my entire body start shaking, I quickly stood up. “Why would you give him my phone number, Alex? He’s married for Christ’s sake! Besides, it’s been over two weeks since Lauren left the hospital. He must not be that desperate to talk to me. Damn it, Alex. Why did you give him my number?”

Alex motioned for me to sit down. “Grace, just give me one second to explain.”

Grabbing my food and drink, I glared at Alex. “I have to go, I have to head home and grab a book a forgot and head to class.”

“Grace! Let me finish talking!” Alex called out.

Racing to the door, I pushed it open and quickly dragged in the fresh air. Glancing at my watch, I sighed. I was going to be late for class now. Quickly making my way to my car, my phone buzzed. Pulling it out of my purse, I saw it was Alex.

Alex: I didn’t mean to upset you. It’s just he seemed desperate. You really need to talk to him, Grace.

Rolling my eyes, I threw my purse and phone onto the passenger seat and headed back to the house I shared with Alex and Will. Now that Luke, Libby, Lauren, and Colt had moved out it seemed cold and empty all the time. Even when they did live there, I spent more time at Noah’s place than I did at home. Well, at least I did until I freaked out and pushed him away.

Wiping my tears away, I concentrated on thinking about nothing but my date tonight with Doug. I’ll deal with Alex later. Right now I needed to push Noah Bennet far from my memory. I needed to move on and this date tonight was long over due.

Copyright Kelly Elliott 2015


kellyelliottKelly Elliott is married to a wonderful Texas cowboy who has a knack for making her laugh almost daily and supports her crazy ideas and dreams for some unknown reason…he claims it’s because he loves her!

She’s also a mom to an amazing daughter who is constantly asking for something to eat while her fingers move like mad on her cell phone sending out what is sure to be another very important text message.

In her spare time she loves to sit in her small corner overlooking the Texas hill country and write.

One of her favorite things to do is go for hikes around her property with Gus….her chocolate lab and the other man in her life, and Rose, her golden retriever. When Kelly is not outside helping the hubby haul brush, move rocks or whatever fun chore he has in store for her that day, you’ll find her inside reading, writing or watching HGTV.

Chapter Reveal – GETTING HOT by Mia Storm


GettingHot AmazonRules of engagement:

1) You have the right to use force to defend yourself.

2) Fire may be returned to stop a hostile attack.

3) You may not seize the property of others to accomplish your mission.

4) Detention of civilians is authorized in self-defense.

Delilah Morgan and her older sister Destiny have been on their own for two years, since their parents burned down the family home and went to jail for cooking meth. She’s street smart and tough. Nothing about her says sixteen, and she’s not about to tell anyone, especially Bran, the hot ex-marine bartender Destiny has her eye on. He’s stable and successful and everything her sister needs to keep them off the street. The only problem, something about Bran inspires her and suddenly she’s writing the best music she ever has. About him.

Branson Silo knows what it means to be in the line of fire. Home for a year from his second tour of duty in Afghanistan, he thinks he’s safe…until he meets Delilah. Despite her sharp tongue that makes him want to take cover, he can’t deny the attraction. But when he hires her to play weekends at his family’s saloon, he finds out she’s more than he can handle…which is saying something considering he used to blow things up for a living.

When the grenade finally explodes and the shrapnel flies, will Bran be left standing? Or has he survived years at war only to be taken down by Jail Bait?

 Chapter 1

I shouldn’t have fucked her last week. That was my mistake, and I feel like a douche—something I’m not used to.
I watch Destiny tuck a long strand of platinum hair behind her ear with her pen as she finishes taking drink orders at the table near the door. She shoots me a secret smile when she turns and makes her way over, and I mentally shoot myself for getting caught looking. This train’s already careening down the track, barely holding onto the rails, and when I pull shit like this, it only picks up momentum.
“We got Hendricks?” she asks, slapping her order on the ancient mahogany bar between us.
I look over the order. “Closest thing I got is Tanqueray.”
The smile falls off her face and she blows out a sigh. “I’ll ask him.”
I follow the curve where her tiny waist blooms into a killer ass as she turns and heads back to the table.
She’s hot. That’s what it boils down to. When I took her home last week, it was after her first training shift with Carol. We’d sat at the bar and knocked back a few after closing and I got caught up in everything she had going on. I totally missed the signs. I didn’t see that she was looking for more than a hookup until after it was too late—until she didn’t leave after we’d done the deed.
The only guy at the table with three women—some total wannabe with a dark suit jacket over a turtleneck and pressed jeans—scowls and gives Destiny some lip. I can’t hear what he says over the piped in Kat Country, but she shrugs and says something back, then offers me an apologetic squint when the guy pushes up from his seat. He starts my direction on polished loafers, but his eyes widen slightly and he pulls up short when he sees me.
The reaction’s not unusual. When I left for boot camp six years ago, I was already in decent shape. I was Oak Crest High’s first ever (and only, as far as I know) four sport athlete all for years—football in the fall, wrestling in the winter, and baseball and track in the spring. Which is probably a big part of the reason my grades weren’t good enough to do anything but enlist. But the Marines made all that training look like fucking Romper Room, and it was only a matter of weeks before my bulk didn’t fit into any of my old clothes anymore. Since Pop owns the local gym and my sister Brenda runs it, when I’m not working behind Mom’s bar at the Sam Hill Saloon, I spend most of my time lifting weights. I’ve managed to stay in pretty decent shape…which means guys like this pansy ass are generally intimidated. Course, the tattooed six-foot-three thing doesn’t hurt the intimidation factor. Since I let my dark flattop grow out, I look more like a biker than an ex-Marine.
After a beat, his shiny shoes start moving again but he stops three feet short of the bar, out of my wingspan. “Tanqueray or Tanqueray number ten?” he demands, putting on a “big man” show for the women he’s here with.
I step aside to show him the rack behind me and he flinches a little at my movement. “For top shelf gin, Tanqueray’s what I got.”
He closes his eyes for a moment and exhales his disappointment, then scans my top shelf again. “Tanqueray isn’t even in the same league as Hendricks.”
I shrug. “You want the citrus, I’d go with the Seagrams. Something drier, I’ve got Beefeaters.”
He rolls his eyes toward the ceiling as if my suggestions are all so far below him he’s afraid of getting a nosebleed if he has to look all the way down at them. “Just give me the Tanqueray. Make it a Tom Collins so I don’t have to taste it.”
He stalks back to his table and drops into his seat as I start on their order.
Destiny comes over and watches me mix. “That guy’s a jerk,” she say with a flick of her eyes back toward the wannabe professor. “Thank God he’s Carol’s to deal with in fifteen.”
“You’re giving Carol the tip?” I say with raised eyebrows.
Her lip curls. “Guys like that don’t tip.”
I lift my eyes to him as I shake his Tom Collins. “He give you a hard time?”
“He thought I should’ve known what kind of Tanqueray we have.” Her face scrunches. “I didn’t even know there were different kinds.”
I glance at the table again. City folk for sure. Probably up here in the foothills for something at the college. “Guess he didn’t realize he’d wandered out of his natural habitat.”
She busts out a laugh as I pour his drink into the highball. “So, I was thinking…” she says when her laugh dies. “I could swing by your place when you get off. If you want.”
“Listen…” I start, setting the drink on her tray. But just as I open my mouth to tell her I don’t do relationships, Mom shoves through the swinging door from the kitchen. Five years in the Marines and two tours in Afghanistan, and I’ve yet to come across another single person who intimidates me…except my mom. She makes some of my Marine COs look like kindergarten teachers.
“Hey Vicky,” Destiny says. “Has Carol punched in yet?” She tosses her eyes at Mr. Hendrick’s. “I’m giving her that table as soon as she does.”
“She just clocked in,” Mom answers, glancing suspiciously at the table. “What’s the issue?”
Destiny shrugs a shoulder and picks up the tray of drinks I slide across the bar to her. “That guy needs to get over himself. Carol’s better at dealing with people like that.”
It’s the “take no crap” chromosome in the Silo family gene pool. My cousin is almost as intimidating as Mom. She has a way of putting pricks like that in their place without them even realizing how it happened.
Just as I’m thinking it, I see her pass by the porthole in the wooden door to the kitchen, pulling her dark curls back into a ponytail. A second later, she pushes through the door.
She looks at the three of us and her eyes narrow as she slings her short, black apron under her bulging belly and ties it. “You guys do know that when everyone clams up and stares at you when you walk into a room, that’s a dead giveaway they were talking about you, right?”
“All good, cuz,” I say, lifting one hand in surrender while picking up my bar rag with the other.
She gives us a glare that could fry bacon. “I’m not fat.”
“No, you’re not,” Destiny says, handing her the tray of drinks. “But I’m punching out and I need you to take that table.”
Carol’s gaze shifts to the table in question. “What’s wrong with them?”
“The guy’s a sanctimonious prick,” I say wiping down the bar. “He needs to be reminded his shit still stinks in the way only you can.”
A slow smile pulls at her mouth and she takes the drink tray.
“He’s the Tom Collins,” Destiny says. “The chardonnay is for the girl on his right and the Cosmos are for the other two.”
She bats her eyelashes and starts toward the table. “Coming right up,” she says, all breathy and sweet.
Mom turns to me once she’s gone, her frown deepening. “I came out here to remind you to put a note in the drawer if you pull petty cash, Bran.”
I give her a dubious smirk. “Really, Ma? I’ve been doing this for almost a year. Think I’ve got the drill down by now.”
“Well, the drawer came up exactly sixty short last night. So how else do you explain that?”
I feel my brows lift. My drawer’s never off by anything more than a few pennies. “You sure you didn’t pull it for the wine order?”
She scowls at me and crow’s feet crease the corners of her eyes. “I might be old, but I’m not senile yet.”
For her age, I have to say Mom looks pretty damn amazing. She met Dad sometime in the stone ages, when she used to dance at a strip club in San Francisco, and even still, I can see why he picked her out of the crowd. She’s got a deep worry line at the inside corner of her right eyebrow, but otherwise her face is deceptively youthful. The only thing that gives her age away is the skunk stripe that starts on the left side of her forehead and winds through the sea of dark hair pinned onto the back of her head like a the first swirl of cream into black coffee.
“I didn’t take any cash, Ma. Seriously.”
She sighs wearily and rubs her eyes. “It’s been a long day. I’ll check the numbers again tomorrow morning when I can think.”
I lean down and give her a peck on the cheek. “’Night, Ma.”
She hooks her elbow around my neck and yanks me in for a hug. “See you tomorrow, baby boy.”
She’s the only one I’d ever let call me baby or honey or any shit like that because, like I said, I’m a little scared of her. I watch her disappear through the kitchen door.
And then it’s just Destiny, waiting for an answer.
I take a deep breath and blow it out slowly as I turn to her. “Listen, Destiny. There’s no question you are fucking amazing, and I had an awesome time the other night…but I feel like you might have gotten the wrong idea about what this is.” I drop the bar rag and splay my hands on the bar between us, holding her gaze. I may be a dick, but I’ve got a moral compass that points in the right general direction most of the time. She deserves to be told straight up. “I’m not the kind of guy that does relationships, and even if I were, you wouldn’t want one with me.”
It’s not like I expect her to whine or beg. I’ve only known her for a week, since Mom hired her for day shifts, but she seems generally more together than that.
What I also don’t expect is a shameless smile to spread over her face as she leans closer. “So, are you saying that pounding me until I scream your name is too much of a commitment?”
I blow out a laugh and give my head a slow shake. “This isn’t how I pictured this conversation going.”
She pushes away from the bar and unties her apron. “I’ll be back before closing. Maybe have a drink or two. And when you leave, if you take me with you, you won’t be sorry. If not…” She shrugs. “…no harm no foul.”
I watch as she disappears through the kitchen door behind Mom to punch out. Carol drops another drink order on the bar on her way to the kitchen and I go back to work.
The Friday evening crowd picks up and it’s not long before all the tables are full and patrons start lining the bar. I dim the lights—the closest we come to ambiance.
The Sam Hill Saloon has been here since the gold rush, when the town of Oak Crest was established as a mining camp. After they got married, Dad brought Mom out here and bought her this bar to keep her “busy,” since he didn’t want her taking off her clothes for horny men anymore. She got it in the divorce and has run it for the last thirty years, but the truth is, almost nothing here has changed for nearly three quarters of a century. There are pictures on the walls of grimy gold miners lined up at this very bar. Even most of the chunky wooden barstools and tables have survived. At some point, some owner lined the front wall under the windows with three booths, and Mom added a big-screen TV, but other than that, it looks exactly like the pictures. And there’s the faint stench of stale beer emanating from the floor planking that no amount of bleach will ever get out.
But it’s a landmark, and the only bar in town, so we’re usually busy.
I’m blending a pair of frozen daiquiris with one hand and shaking a martini with the other when out of the corner of my eye, I see a solo blonde slide onto the barstool at the end, near the beer taps. I finish what I’m doing and prepare the tray for Carol to pick up before glancing over and seeing its Destiny.
A guy in the middle of the bar makes eye contact and nods at his empty beer mug. I grab it and start filling without really looking up at her. “Didn’t think I’d see you again till closer to closing.”
“Sorry?” she says. “Are you talking to me?”
The voice is off—slightly raspy and a pitch lower than her usual. I look up again and squint at her, wondering if she’s already started drinking. She’s taken her straight hair down from the ponytail she always wears it in and it’s not as long as I remember it from the other night—the only other time I’ve seen it down. There’s also a fading blue stripe cutting through the platinum over her right ear that I’ve never noticed before.
“What can I get you?” I ask her instead of pushing it.
I’m already reaching for the vodka and cranberry to start on a Madras, her drink of choice last week, when she answers, “Rum and Coke.”
“That’s different,” I mutter, shooting her another glance.
She gives me a puzzled look. “Look, I really just wanted to find out if you hire entertainment.”
My face mirrors her puzzlement, I’m sure, as I try to process her statement. “Why?”
She hunches to the side and pulls something up from her feet. I see it’s a battered black guitar case when the narrow end peeks over the top of the bar. “Because I need a gig.”
“Didn’t know you played,” I say, pushing her drink across the bar to her.
That baffled look is back as she pulls it toward her and takes a swallow. I can’t help following the curve of her long neck downward toward a pair of large round tits perfectly outlined by her snug, low-cut T-shirt. She is definitely hot, and if we’re on the same page, then I’ve got nothing to feel guilty about. She wants me to fuck her till she screams? I’m perfectly capable of that. She sets her drink down and catches me staring. She cuts me that wicked smile again, causing my cock to stir. I return the smile, sending the innuendo right back at her.
She props her elbows onto the bar and leans forward, giving me a clear look down her shirt. “Considering that we’ve never met before, I don’t find that surprising.”
I’m so absorbed in images of my face buried in those magnificent tits that it takes me a second to process what she said.
My eyes snap to hers. “Wait…what?”
She reaches across the bar, offering me a hand. “Lilah.”
There’s a full second all I can do is stare, wondering if this is one of those split personality things you hear about sometimes. And in that second, through the dim lighting, I take in all the tiny details—a dark mole at the outer corner of her right eye; her eyes, silver instead of blue; the missing white crescent-shaped scar above Destiny’s right eyebrow; and lips, a little fuller than I remember—which are smirking at me now.
“You’re not Destiny,” I say as it all clicks.
It’s not a question, but she shakes her head. “No. I am most definitely not Destiny.”
“Twins?” I ask.
She cocks her head playfully. “What do you think?”
“You’ve got to be. You’re fucking identical except for the eyes.” I tap my forehead. “And you’re missing a scar.”
Her perfect blond eyebrow raises in amusement. “She’s the pretty one and I’m the smart one.”
I bark out a laugh as I reach across and shake her hand. “Bran Silo. Good to meet you.”
She doesn’t let go of my hand for a second after we’re done shaking—just long enough to send a clear message that she’s interested.
A knot forms in my gut, and I realize it’s guilt. Destiny and I have an understanding, but regardless, I’m pretty sure fucking her sister would be way outside the bounds of gentlemanly behavior. Not that anyone would ever mistake me for a gentleman. “Destiny never mentioned she had a sister.”
“Doesn’t surprise me.” She takes another drink, nearly polishing it off in a few big gulps.
I tip my head at it her glass. “Another?”
“My limit is one,” she says, pushing her glass toward me. “Just Coke this time, thanks.”
Carol sweeps by on her way to the kitchen, dropping an order on my bar. “Thought you left,” she says to Lilah without slowing down. “Careful or your favorite customer might ask for you,” she adds, jerking her head at Mr. Hendricks as she disappears through the swinging door.
I bark out a laugh as I scoop ice into Lilah’s glass and fill it with Coke. “Good to know I’m not the only one.”
Lilah shrugs. “Happens all the time.” She slides out of her chair, lifting the guitar case. “So do you want to hear me play or what?”
I look around the crowded room, loud with chatter, drowning out the background music. “We don’t generally have live entertainment,” I say, which is really an understatement. We’ve never had live entertainment. But for some reason, I’m not willing to shut Lilah down so fast.
When my eyes find her again, annoyed impatience shines loud and clear out of her gaze. “So that’s a no?”
I feel my mouth pull into a cocky half-smile. “I didn’t say that.”
She opens her case and pulls out her guitar, unabashedly climbing through the window I left ajar for her. I watch as she sets herself up on the stool and rests the guitar in her lap, gripping it softly but confidently. She starts strumming, and I expect her to be discrete, since this is basically an audition, but there’s not a shred of self-consciousness or embarrassment anywhere in her disposition as she begins to belt out lyrics—an old No Doubt song that I can’t remember the name of.
The way she plays, as if on instinct; the passion in her voice, and the fact that she’s really fucking good, starts to turn heads at the tables closest to us. As they quiet and listen, more tables still, and soon the only thing she’s competing to be heard over is the Kat Country on the speakers. But she doesn’t decrease her volume. If anything, as eyes find her, she becomes louder, feeding off the attention.
I reach under the bar and click off the stereo, then lean onto the back counter and cross my arms, listening as she finishes one song and launches into the next.
A guy at the bar pulls a five from his pocket and flags me down with it. I grab his beer mug, but he shakes his head. “Is there a tip jar?” he asks with a nod toward Lilah.
I pull a fresh mug from under the bar and he slips the five inside, then I set it at the end of the bar near Lilah. She cuts me a smile and her eyes slide down my body as she sings.
And fuck me. I lean my hands on the bar and press against the lower counter when my dick won’t yield to my will. Without a doubt, everything Destiny has going on, Lilah’s got that and more.
GH teaser 3
About the Mia Storm:

Mia Storm is a hopeless romantic who is always searching for her happy ending. Sometimes she’s forced to make one up. When that happens, she’s thrilled to be able to share those stories with her readers. She lives in California and spends much of her time in the sun with a book in one hand and a mug of black coffee in the other, or hiking the trails in Yosemite. Connect with her online at , on Twitter at @MiaStormAuthor, and on Facebook at

Chapter Reveal – BINGE by Jennifer Foor



Flynn & Aria Roberts have had plenty of ups and downs during their seven year marriage. Everyone warned them not to wed so young – that they’d be missing out on the key years when people grow from young adults to mature individuals.

The only thing holding them

together now is their

love for each other,

and even that is becoming questionable.

To save the marriage, and the family they’ve already started, Flynn and Aria come up with an unconventional solution to help them find what’s missing in their relationship.

The only problem is doing so involves rediscovering themselves completely, even if it requires them to be unfaithful.

Can a marriage survive when vows are broken, or will chance encounters prove they’ve been missing out all-along?

Fulfill your

deepest Desires

Give in to


I hated the idea of spending the next hour with a therapist, bearing all of my concerns as if she could somehow relate enough to help me. What I loathed more was knowing that it was the first sunny day in two weeks, and the woman was relentless about closing the blinds during her sessions. It was as if she wanted her patients to be depressed so that they’d keep coming.

I’d gotten into a habit of nitpicking lately. I suppose it came from being so miserable. They say it loves company, misery that is, not that I was asking for friends to hang out with and compare notes on our failed experiences.

I peered down at my jeans and Chucks, feeling as if I should have cared more about my appearance, especially since this woman clearly went all out. It didn’t matter what the temperature was, Dr. Ellis was always in a skirt-suit. With her auburn hair full of curls, she sat with crossed legs and my file strewn over her lap. While the friendly doctor flicked her pen, pretending to listen to me, I stared effortlessly at the rapid speed it repelled. I wondered if it made little dots on the paper each time. Then I imagined it falling apart from being handled so roughly. I imagined the tiny spring shooting into her hair and becoming tangled the instant it made contact. Anything was better than admitting where I was and why I was there.

“How would you say your relationship with your husband has been in the past week?”

I rubbed my hands on the thighs of my jeans while proceeding to come up with a lie to make it seem as if we were making progress. “Fine, I guess. We haven’t killed each other.” I found my answer to be amusing, while she kept the same resting-bitch face.

“Since last week, how many times have you had intercourse?” She would ask me this. It was the reason I hated coming to these meetings. Every week she asked the same questions. I guess she assumed that one time I’d provide her with a different answer. This wasn’t going to be the epic appointment where I made progress, not after the week I’d had. Besides, who would want to know that I had frequent sex in bed alone, while imagining being tied up by a stranger, or blindfolded and seduced by someone who only set out to please me. Flynn was always there in my dreams, watching and envying what I wouldn’t let him have. It was like I was punishing him in my mind, while getting off to my little bullet vibrator in the bed we should be sharing together.

Flynn and I were supposed to be working on things. Instead, we were still in the same place as when we started this – headed for divorce.

“That would be a big fat zero.”

“I see,” she said while jotting down something. “Have either of you put forth an effort?”

I leaned forward, putting my elbows on my knees while rubbing my hands together. I suppose I should have held my posture like a proper lady, but my give-a-damn had been busted for years. “It’s kind of hard to try something when being in the same room together makes me want to strangle him, hypothetically of course. It’s also impossible when your husband sleeps on the couch, and trust me, you’d be the first to know if I was getting it from someone else, because I wouldn’t need to keep up this charade.”

“Charade? I would hardly call these sessions that. I’m here to get to the bottom of your problems and help you overcome them. You came to me for help. I know at times it seems worthless, but in order to change you’ll have to put forth an effort, which I’m not seeing from either of you. I’d hate for you to waste your time if this isn’t what you want, Aria.”

I hated the way this woman looked at me. She wasn’t fooling me with her professionalism. I knew she found Flynn attractive. She probably went home at night and turned on her vibrator to get off on pretending to fuck my husband, and apparently she wasn’t the only one. The older we got, the better looking he became. I wondered if she was waiting for me to admit we were through so she could make her move.

I grinded my teeth together to keep from spatting out something I’d regret later. Had we not promised each other that we’d try, I didn’t know where I’d be. With a daughter, it wasn’t feasible to go out and prey on single men for attention. Sure, I missed being touched. I longed to feel desired again, but I didn’t see it happening, so I kept my deepest thoughts buried where not even this doctor would be able to pry them out of me. If she only knew what I fantasized about when I was all alone she’d think I was a crazy voyeur nymphomaniac who didn’t deserve to be in a loving commitment to just one person. In my defense it wasn’t like I’d always dreamed of being with multiple partners, but when I had little experience aside from my husband, my curiosity got the best of me. Maybe if I didn’t feel like my body was scarred from stretch marks, I would be open to exploring different things with Flynn. I just felt ugly – ALL. THE. TIME. It was as if he was becoming more attractive while I was constantly aging. Why would he ever want to try to be turned on by me after seeing my vagina doubled in size during labor? I think he referred to it as the Cumberland Gap. And yes, that is exactly how he described it. “I want to feel beautiful about myself. I want to be appreciated. I want to know without a doubt that Flynn is making love to me and not imagining someone else. I want HIM to be the person who can fulfill my needs, leaving me feeling completely and utterly satisfied.” The last part wasn’t supposed to come out, but now I was becoming overemotional, letting my fears and frustrations dictate what flew out of my mouth.

“I think you’re not giving Flynn enough credit. It’s obvious your husband desires you. He’s said as much during our sessions. Perhaps your self-esteem struggles are keeping you from seeing that.”

Of course she’d blame me. If she only knew what it was like to see Flynn looking at other women, or to talk until I was blue in the face with no response from him. If she could prepare all of his meals only to have him refuse to come to the table to eat because he was watching something on television. If she could be on the end of the phone call when he was out with his friends instead of being at home with his daughter. Flynn was terrible with priorities. He came first in his mind, and we were just leftovers, hoping to have a millisecond of his precious time. They say marriage is a two-way commitment. What is it called when only one person gives one-hundred percent of their time and energy? That was my marriage. I gave, and he took. That was the gist of it. Flynn could construe his stories to this doctor as many times as he wanted, but the truth would never change.

The moment he left her office he went back to being a douche, a part time father, and a shitty excuse for a husband. “I agree that my body issues prevent me from feeling sexy enough to want to be intimate, but that’s not our only problem. Just because I’m not willing to seduce my husband, doesn’t mean I’m ready to throw in the towel.”

“Intimacy is an important factor in any marriage. I’m afraid if you’re unwilling to be physical with each other there’s nothing more I can do for you. It may sound absurd to someone in your situation, but you have to be willing to at least try to be with your husband. Part of being a marriage counselor is to help you get through this. I’ve met with both of you together, and now separately. While your husband shows empathy for your marriage, I get the sense that you no longer feel the same.”

If she only knew that he was full of shit when he met with her. Of course he’d lead her to believe he was this great guy who was suffering because his wife wouldn’t screw him. It only made me want to choke him more.

I played with my hands. This was our eighth session. Once a month we met with her separately. I was supposed to be making an effort, but it’s impossible when you don’t feel good enough about yourself. “It’s not that I don’t love Flynn. I do – that’s the only thing I’m sure of right now. We just can’t find a common ground. It’s hopeless. He doesn’t make me feel wanted, even when he’s trying to get laid. Why should I give in when I know it’s all an act. I want to feel needed. I want to see his eyes light up when I walk in the room. It’s the little things that are missing in our relationship. It’s like he’s gotten comfortable and forgotten that I also have desires. We’re not in this together anymore. I feel alone even when he’s near.”

She started aggressively writing something down on a separate pad of paper then ripped it, and reached across the wooden coffee table to hand it to me.

I looked down at it. “What’s this?” I half expected it to be the number of a furniture company where Flynn could purchase a new comfortable couch for his lazy ass to sleep better on. It was obvious she enjoyed his private sessions more than mine. All I did was complain about Flynn. It wasn’t getting me anywhere. My sessions were a joke. Flynn’s last two private appointments he’d come out acting all happy, as if he’d gotten head or possibly more. Ever since then, I’d been reluctant to even continue my sessions. At this point I couldn’t figure out what were misconceptions in my head, or actual reality. I was so messed up and didn’t know where to turn. Behind closed doors my husband was someone who never tried, yet when he spoke to other people everything was honky-dory. It made me resent him all the more.

Dr. Ellis’ reply wasn’t what I’d expected. It actually made me question if she’d been listening to me at all. “That is the address of a bed and breakfast near the beach. It’s run by a young couple. This time of year is pretty slow. If any part of you wants to save your marriage, I suggest you spend some one-on-one time together, out of your normal routine. You don’t have to go there, but go somewhere. Spend time communicating. The two of you need to get know one another again. You need to remember why you fell in love, and how to figure out how get it back. I can’t make the decision for you, or tell you what you should be feeling. I can only suggest a solution I think you’d both benefit from.”

“I’ve known him for years. In fact, I know him better than anyone,” I corrected her. I didn’t need a life lesson on Flynn. I also didn’t need to take a trip with him to get to know him better. What I needed was to go away alone and get my head on straight. What I wanted was to be desired by someone who didn’t ignore me on a daily basis.

She shook her head with a smirk across her face. It made me feel as if she were questioning my statement. The jealous side of me wanted to slap it right off. Then I had to rationalize about how I could be assuming things that weren’t even happening.

“That’s not what I’m referring to. Couples change. You can grow together, or in your case, because you were so young, apart. The only way to fix things is to start over, as if it were your first date.”

“What if I don’t want to date my husband?” I began to count how many times, while during a heated argument, I’d told Flynn if I had to do it all over again I’d never look in his direction.

“Just give my advice some thought. We’ll meet again next week, if you’re still interested in making this work. I have hopes that some quality time together could start repairing what’s been lost. You both need to relearn how to communicate with one another again. I know it seems tedious, but I can promise it’s not. You can never know too much about the person you’re married to. An open line of communication could do wonders for your self esteem issues as well.”

So what if I had problems with feeling beautiful. Didn’t every woman stand in the check-out line at the grocery and wish she could look like the model on the magazines? I was envious they could keep their figures after having children.

It wasn’t until I reached my car that I took in what Dr. Ellis suggested, and then I wondered if I was even willing to give it a go. If I had a choice, would I do it all over again? This question was something I thought I’d known the answer to, yet the idea of giving up on Flynn was painful. As much as I couldn’t stand how he was, a part of me assumed that without him I’d have nothing. Then there was the lingering fact that I still loved the man, even with all his flaws.

My drive home brought everything back into perspective. I started imagining our failures. Yes, we’d made a beautiful little girl, but was it worth it to stay together for her? I knew some couples did, though I couldn’t fathom it myself. I was at a point where I hated Flynn. My love for him still existed, but I despised the person he’d become; the one that popped open a beer after work every night leaving his dirty boots on and track mud all over the floor I’d just vacuumed. The same man who didn’t care about his actions or how they affected other people. The person who stopped caring about me and everything else that mattered, because he was too consumed in himself to notice.

Everyone told us we were fools. They said no two people should marry as young as we were; that it was doomed to fail, because we were kids ourselves. In so many ways I wished we would have listened. Had I known then what an up road battle into a clusterfuck of a life it would turn out to be, perhaps we could have saved a lot of people grief, and probably money.

It’s amazing how as little girls we dream of finding our Prince Charming and to live happily ever after.

It doesn’t take a genius to see the disappointment in my parent’s eyes when I call them upset, or even in some cases show up at their door with bags full of my things, swearing I’m done playing Flynn’s head games.

I suppose they’re used to the fighting since we’ve been doing it from day one. At seventeen I thought I was lucky. He wasn’t only handsome, but smart, and brave as well. Flynn Roberts was the good boy with the bad reputation. He was able to have any girl he wanted back then, and probably still could to this day. For all I know he could have been screwing around on me this whole time. Maybe that’s why we’ve never been able to really communicate. Maybe he hides behind a wall of secrets.

It’s easy to sit back and point fingers at someone else, rather than admit I’m the one at fault. I can’t help it. When that alarm goes off in the morning I cringe, not because he’s going to try and touch me, God forbid that happen, but rather that I know I’m going to have a repeat of the day before it.

He’ll expect me to help him out the door. If he’s sick I’ll have to call into his job, and nurse him back to health, because let’s face it, he’s a freaking child when he doesn’t feel good. Give him a runny nose and he can’t get out of bed. How pathetic is that? Is it all men, or just the one I’m married to?

I’ve asked my therapist- she claims that I’m nitpicking. To be honest I don’t even know if I care anymore. I look forward to the moment he leaves, and try to avoid him when he steps back in the door.

You’re probably wondering why we married, or how we got this way. I asked the same question each time he turns to walk away from me. I question what I saw in him back then. Apparently love is blind. I married a man who’s only ever put himself first. If he doesn’t get his way I’m a bitch, or a terrible wife. For seven years I’ve listened to this, and for those seven years, I’ve let it happen.

I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve cried myself to sleep at night, praying, pleading for God to help me. I asked why I couldn’t be a better person. Why couldn’t he love me more?

I honestly let him brainwash me into thinking I was the whole problem in our marriage. I felt as if I wasn’t what he wanted in a woman, and eventually a mother.

We had our first child when I turned nineteen. At the time he’d gone off to college, leaving me behind to live with his parents. He’d come home on weekends to his knocked up wife, which I honestly believed he’d hid from most all of his classmates.

At first his parents were in charge of our relationship. Since he’d gotten a scholarship, they weren’t going to allow him to give it up for me or a new baby. Yes, I’m dead serious. This really happened. My mom and dad wanted me to have an abortion, but I refused. They begged me to reconsider being with Flynn. They told me it would never work.

I ran away, well just to his parent’s home. When they found out about the pregnancy they questioned our relationship, and then pretty much forced us to marry. God forbid they have an illegitimate grandchild.

From the get-go, their animosity toward me was pretty well-known. Nothing I did was good enough for Flynn’s mother. She’d pick at the littlest of things, making sure to put me down until I felt incapable. She caused so many fights between us, especially when Flynn wasn’t home. I couldn’t even begin to count how many nights I called him at school, bawling my eyes and begging for some sort of resolution.

During my pregnancy I focused on our future, promising my unborn child a good life. It was evident how important it was to provide our child with a stable home. In order to do that, I needed to respect how a college education could give us that opportunity.

I’d like to say I tried my best to be patient and understanding, but as the months passed I saw Flynn less and less. He started staying on campus, attending parties, and doing other activities that didn’t involve me.

Not only was I jealous, but over-emotional as well. Combine the two of those together and I was a mess.

I’d call his phone until he either picked up or turned it off. He’d call me every name in the book, and I’d return the same language right back. Then, when I felt as if nothing could repair the damage, he’d show up. The makeup sex was always the best, and for a while I was content.

One night, on a Friday he wasn’t due to come home, I awoke from a terrible nightmare. It upset me so much that I knew I wouldn’t calm down unless I spoke to him to be sure he was okay.

When a female voice answered the phone, I felt like my whole future had ended. Being sick wasn’t even the half of it. In the background I could hear him talking, calling her baby, and asking who she was talking to. At the time I didn’t know he’d been drinking, though I also didn’t give him a chance to explain.

In a pair of pajamas, with a huge belly, I took his mother’s keys to her vehicle and drove to the college, determined to look him in the eyes and let him know we were over.

To this day I still don’t know what happened in that dorm room. After someone let me inside, I climbed the stairs and knocked on the door until he opened it. Sitting in a chair off to the side was a blonde female. She was in a bra and a pair of jeans. At first she looked at me like I was in the wrong place, but when Flynn acknowledged me she quickly exited the room.

That was the night that could have changed our future. Maybe I was wrong to give him an ultimatum. Perhaps I didn’t have a right to control his life, but I did it anyway. I made Flynn choose me over going to the university, because I knew I’d never trust him if he stayed. At the time I didn’t see it as being selfish. Now, seven years later, I feel as if it was the biggest mistake of my life. I almost wish he would have found the love of his life at that school, because it was quite clear it wasn’t me.

While sitting in front of our small ranch style home, I peered down at the address of the bed and breakfast the therapist had given me. Did I want to even bring it up to Flynn? Could the two of us be alone for a whole weekend without wanting to strangle one another? Did I want to know what it felt like to have him touch me without cringing? Was there any kind of sexual chemistry even left between us? Could Flynn ever learn how to please a woman first instead of being so damn selfish?

I hated even considering how bad it could turn out, but I was tired of living like this. I knew there was so much neither of us had ever experienced. We were naïve and curious, so much that we couldn’t find a happy medium. Was it so wrong to want to experience hot, unadulterated sex with someone who could appreciate me the way I was? I hated the idea of being with someone else. I didn’t want my family to break up, but this wasn’t healthy.

Before exiting my vehicle, I crumpled the small note and shoved it in my pocket. My marriage was over, and the sooner I came to grips with it the faster I could plan the divorce.

ADD BINGE (a 7 Year Itch Novel) to GOODREADS


Jennifer Foor is an award winning Contemporary Romance Author. She’s best known for the Mitchell Family Series, which includes ten books.

She is married with two children and spends most of her time behind a keyboard, writing stories that come from her heart.

Chapter Reveal – BLURRED LINES by Jen McLaughlin


Blurred Lines by Jen McLaughlin will be releasing January 26th, but first we have some exclusive content to share. FINNClub team members will be sharing special details from the book this week, in order to share their excitement for the new novel.

Today we have the first chapter from Blurred Lines.




Blurred Lines – Chapter one

I parked my car in the driveway and just sat there, staring up at the house I shared with my fiancée, Sarah. It was dark outside, and somewhere in the distance, a dog barked. It sounded pissed as hell, but that wasn’t why I didn’t get out of the car. It wasn’t why I was sitting here, feeling empty as hell and just as lost.
The truth was, I wasn’t going inside because I knew my fiancée wasn’t in there alone. I’d seen the car parked down the road, conveniently hidden behind large shrubbery. If I was any other man, it might have worked. I might not have noticed it when I drove by on my way to my next meeting. But I’d know that fucking car anywhere.
It was Sarah’s ex-boss’s car.
The same one she’d once dated.
When we’d met, they’d been freshly split up. He’d broken her heart, and she’d sworn him off forever. We’d dated a suitable amount of time before getting engaged. My parents had liked her, and so had I. It had been an arranged marriage of sorts, but in my circles, that wasn’t such a strange thing.
Our fathers were political affiliates. We were expected to marry. Once upon a time, I’d hoped to have more. I’d hoped to have the kind of love that consumed your soul.
I still hadn’t found it.
So, I’d asked Sarah to marry me. She’d said yes. I’d thought she loved me. I’d been fairly certain I would grow to love her. But if she really loved me…
Why the hell was her ex-boyfriend’s car outside my house?
Slowly, I opened my car door and made my way up the driveway. My heart thudded in my ears, and I knew what I’d find when I opened that door. There was no doubt my fiancée was naked and having sex with another man.
And yet, I went inside anyway.
The door creaked when it opened, and I froze, half expecting to hear frantic shouting and retreating footsteps. Nothing moved. I crept inside the rest of the way, leaving the front door open. As I walked, I found a man’s sweater on the floor. I stepped on it. Another step and I scored a pair of men’s pants and a skirt.
There was no doubt anymore, if there ever had been, that my fiancée was cheating on me. I didn’t need to go any farther. I had confirmation. But still…
I kept going.
For some reason, I needed to see it with my own eyes to believe it. I’d truly believed Sarah was an honest woman. One who wouldn’t sleep with someone behind my back. I’d thought she would be a good partner for life. A trustworthy one.
I reached the couch. The couch I’d picked out.
Sarah was kneeling between her ex’s feet. She was naked, and so was her ex. The man’s bare ass was on my fucking couch. I didn’t know what upset me more: that, or the fact that she was giving the dude a BJ.
She never did that with me. Said it was undignified.
So was fucking a dude on my couch.
And, yes, I knew that the fact that those two things bothered me just as much as the actual betrayal did was fucked up. But I hadn’t loved her. I’d wanted to…
But I didn’t really know what real love felt like.
Fisting my hands, I cleared my throat. “I’m home early.”
Sarah shrieked and flew to her feet, grabbing the throw blanket off the arm of my couch and covering her body with it. Which was absurd, really. We’d both seen her naked before, obviously. The man also stood, grabbing a pillow and covering his half-hard dick with it.
“You can keep that now,” I said drily, not taking my eyes off Sarah. She was pale and shaking. I forced myself to remain calm. To act as if this hadn’t completely taken me off guard, even if it hadn’t broken me like it should have. “So, I take it the engagement is off, then?”
“Riley, I’m so sorry.” Tears streamed down her cheeks. “I didn’t want you to see this…”
“Obviously,” I said. “Cheaters rarely do.”
She shook her head, her blonde hair flying everywhere. “No. I’m not a cheater. I just—”
“Seriously?” I threw my arms out. “If this isn’t cheating, what the hell do you call it?”
Her cheeks flushed. “I love him, Riley. Really love him.”
I froze then, absorbing the knowledge that she’d felt the same way about me that I felt about her—and I hadn’t even known it. I’d naïvely thought she actually loved me, instead of just, well, accepting me as a suitable partner. How had I missed that?
“I thought you loved me,” I said softly, scratching my head. “I didn’t know…”
“I do.” She came up to me, resting her hand on my heart. The same hand that had been cupping another man’s balls moments before. That skeeved me out, so I stepped back from her touch. “I love you, Riley.”
“But you’re not in love with me,” I said, swallowing hard.
I might not love her till my dying breath, but the reality of what was happening hit me pretty hard. We were together for three fucking years, and it was over now. We’d just mailed the wedding invitations out last week.
And she’d been fucking him.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered, tears falling down her cheeks.
I had no doubt she was. She was always a nice person, which was why this came as such a shock. I never suspected this of her. Hell, we’d made love last night, and she’d spent half an hour talking about wedding dresses and centerpieces.
I locked eyes with her bright green ones. “When did this start?”
She crumbled. “A week ago.”
The dude finally spoke up. He took a step forward. “Look, man, I’m sorry, but—”
Without thinking, I cocked my fist back and punched him right in the fucking face. He’d broken her heart, and now he was going to do it again. She might think he’d changed, but any man who would fuck another man’s fiancée on his own couch was not a changed man. He was scum, pure and simple.
And she’d fallen for him again.
“Don’t speak to me,” I snarled. I went after him, even though he stumbled backward and tripped over a fallen pillow. “Don’t you ever fucking—”
“Riley, don’t!” Sarah called out, sobbing. “Please. Don’t hurt him.”
I fisted my hands, my breathing coming out harsh. She’d cheated on me with this lowlife, and she was worried I’d hurt him? I whirled on her. “If you loved me, even if you weren’t in love with me, you wouldn’t have done this, Sarah. Not to me.”
She covered her face and cried. “I’m sorry.”
“Yeah.” I shook my head. “You made a big mistake, Sarah. I would have treated you right. I never would have…never…I wouldn’t have done this.”
“But you don’t love me,” she whispered. “You never have.”
“I care about you. I respect you.” I looked at her again. “I would have treated you right. That’s more important than love. And it’s safer, too.”
“I know,” she said, shrugging hopelessly. “I wanted more, though.”
And she thought she’d find it with this guy? I looked at him again. He sat on the floor, butt-assed naked and shaking. Pathetic. Turning my attention back to her, I forced a calm smile. My lawyer smile, as I liked to call it.
The one that said: I have no problem with taking your ass to court and whooping it publicly, so you better enter a plea bargain. I’d never given it to her before.
“Well, then, I wish you the best of luck. Goodbye.”
Sarah stumbled after me, grabbing my arm. “Wait. What will we tell everyone?”
“Tell them whatever you want.” I shook off her hold. “I don’t care.”
She grabbed for me again, but I pulled back. “But—”
“I said I don’t care, okay?” I held my hands up. “You were right about one thing—I never loved you. So, I don’t give a damn what you say to them.”
She covered her mouth and cried. I felt nothing. Not really.
But I didn’t want her touching me. Not anymore. This was the second time I’d found my significant other in bed with another man. The first time had been in college, and it had hurt like hell. I’d actually loved her…or I’d thought I had, anyway.
Now I was starting to think I was incapable of love.
Sure, I’d loved a girl once, but she hadn’t loved me back. She’d been in love with her now-husband, and they were the only couple I knew actually in love. Like, the kind you see in movies. Finn and Carrie had it, but I never would. Not in this lifetime.
I stumbled out the door, tugging on my tie as I went. It felt tight. As if it had come to life and decided to choke what little life I had left out of me. I was tempted to let it.
I was stuck in a job I hated, at a firm my father owned, and now I was single, too. And for the second time in my life, I’d been duplicitously cheated on.
Was it something I’d done? Something that was missing in me that made my women look elsewhere? Maybe I was broken. Maybe I should stop trying to find a partner and just accept the fact that I was better off alone.
Maybe I should just stop trying.
But first? I’d call off the meeting that I was already late to…and I’d get drunk as hell as quickly as possible. I’d get so drunk that I’d forget all about Sarah and the naked man on my couch. So drunk that I’d forget all about how broken I was, because instead of being heartbroken over her betrayal, I was angry that we’d have to deal with the mess she’d made.
I was mad I’d have to tell my mother that I was no longer marrying the woman she’d handpicked for me, and deal with the drama that came with it all. But I wasn’t upset I lost her…
Not at all.


Once burned…

Finding my fiancée naked on my couch might’ve been a good thing, if her ex-boyfriend hadn’t been with her. For the past eight years I’ve been a witness to the power of true love, but after getting burned I’d decided there wasn’t any hope for me finding it for myself. Until I met Noelle Brandt in a hotel bar. Maybe it wasn’t the most romantic meeting, but the moment I met her I knew I had to have her. The more I learn about her, the more I know I’ll do whatever it takes to keep her.

Twice shy…

I’d already found the love of my life, but I’d lost that love forever. And I’d been lost ever since. But one night a wounded man makes all of that go away. He makes me laugh, live, and feel alive. When he tells me he has no intention of letting me go, I finally begin to believe in the power of true love again. That is, until I find out who he really is…and by then, it’s far too late to correct the mistakes we’ve already made. By the time we both know the truth, the lines have already been blurred beyond recognition.





Jen McLaughlin is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of sexy New Adult books. Under her pen name Diane Alberts, she is a multi-published, bestselling author of Contemporary Romance with Entangled Publishing. Her first release as Jen McLaughlin, Out of Line, released September 6 2013, and hit the New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal lists. She was mentioned in Forbes alongside E. L. James as one of the breakout independent authors to dominate the bestselling lists. She is represented by Louise Fury at The Bent Agency.
Though she lives in the mountains, she really wishes she was surrounded by a hot, sunny beach with crystal-clear water. Though she lives in the mountains, she really wishes she was surrounded by a hot, sunny beach with crystal-clear water. She lives in Northeast Pennsylvania with her four kids, a husband, a schnauzer mutt, and a cat. Her goal is to write so many well-crafted romance books that even a non-romance reader will know her name.

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