SICKO by Amo Jones
Release Date: September 1st
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He was my foster brother.
He swore to protect me.
They all failed.
I’m an open box of passé photographs, snapped in chaste daylight, but filtered in sepia. I’m the past that he tried to forget, and he was the future I needed. When he left six years ago, I screamed for him every night. But then it all stopped. My screams were suddenly muffled by cruelty, and further coaxed by pain.
But he has come back. He’s not the cute big brother I had a furtive crush on, or the bad boy, rich brat that I hated to love.
He’s the ruthless vice president of Wolf Pack MC, and he doesn’t answer to Royce Kane anymore.
He answers to Sicko.
I weep loudly from the pain. His other hand comes to the back of my neck as he presses me further into the blankets. “Cross your fingers together at the back of your head.”
Oh god. I do as I’m told, mainly because I don’t think I want to fuck with this side of him, but another part of me wants to see just how far I can push him. He flicks on the bedside lamp, but it’s dim. Too dim. Offering a soft sepia shade to room.
“You let go, and you feel this?” Cold metal slides down the crack of my ass and I tense.
About the Author:
Amo Jones is a USA Today & Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author, totally winging this author thing (she’s probably doing it all wrong). She likes cake, loves wine, and her religion is magic (Slytherin). She’s a profound work-a-holic, but when she’s not writing, you can find her chilling with her kids & Husband at the nearest beach, with a cocktail in her hand.
New Zealand is not a state of Australia and rugby is the best sport ever played.
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RESTRAINT by Adriana Locke
Release Date: August 3rd (Amazon & KU
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Blaire Gibson knows better than to have one-night stands.
She prides herself on her decision-making skills. It’s the one asset that has never let her down. But even the best thinkers have weaknesses. Hers is a delicious business mogul with a quick tongue. Unfortunately for her, that tongue is good for more than just talking.
Holt Mason doesn’t need to justify anything to anyone.
He wants Blaire. He pursues Blaire. And he gets Blaire because that’s how his life works.
Until it doesn’t.
What begins as a single night in a hotel room spirals into an unusual agreement. As late nights provide the space to trade secrets and walls come tumbling down, more is shared than just pillow talk.
They both should’ve known better. They should’ve shown restraint. Because when guards are dropped, hearts get hurt.
*RESTRAINT is a brand-new standalone romance from USA Today Bestselling author Adriana Locke.
There’s a look in his eye, something behind the brazen façade, that intrigues me. I haven’t given a man more than a dirty look in longer than I can remember. Who has the time? Who has the energy? Who wants to deal with that bullshit?
But as I stand on the porch of this beautiful home in the middle of a perfect southern evening, I remember Sienna’s instruction to enjoy my vacation.
“You don’t know enough about me to be right,” I volley back, continuing the banter because I can’t help myself.
“I disagree.” He shifts his weight, folding his arms across his chest. “I’ll tell you three things about you besides the obvious. If I’m right, you’ll go to dinner with me.”
I think this over. I didn’t tell him anything about me, not even my name. There’s no way he can actually come up with one thing, let alone three, that’s deep enough to warrant a dinner date.
If nothing else, it’ll be a fun little experiment and a chance for me to prove that men don’t know everything.
“Fine,” I say. “But you have to impress me. Hair color, eye color—those types of things don’t count.”
He grins. “Absolutely not. There’s no fun in that.”
“All right. Shoot.”
“Your name is Blaire,” he says, catching me off guard. “You like gummy bears but feel like it’s a childish thing to enjoy, so you try to be discreet about your obsession. You prefer the red ones and hate the green ones. You like shopping but hate spending loads of money on things you think are a waste.”
My jaw almost hits the floor.
“And,” he says, taking a step closer to me, “you don’t date because you don’t have time. You also find men to be barbaric, adolescent creatures which, may I add, I find offensive.”
“How could you possibly know all that?” I demand.
The heat rolling off his body clamors into me, upping the beat of my heart tenfold. I hate my reaction to him and I hate even more than I can’t control it.
“Lincoln said your name. You dropped the candy from your purse in the airport and I just happened to notice you had it hidden in a little pouch. All the red ones were gone and it was chock full of the green. Your lipstick was a type my mother uses, so I know it’s expensive as hell,
but your earbuds earlier weren’t a name brand so I put together you don’t value them as much.”
“I just lose them constantly,” I say, still sorting his observations.
“And now you lost our bet. Ready to go?”
My summer dress billows in the breeze, reminding me, once again, I’m not home.
This wouldn’t be like a dinner with a man I see regularly or could even see regularly if I wanted to. He lives almost a thousand miles from me.
What could one dinner hurt?
“Fine,” I say, stepping around him. “But I’m driving.”
About the Author:
USA Today and Washington Post bestselling author Adriana Locke lives and breathes books. After years of slightly obsessive relationships with the flawed bad boys created by other authors, Adriana has created her own.
She resides in the Midwest with her husband, sons, and two dogs. She spends a large amount of time playing with her kids, drinking coffee, and cooking. You can find her outside if the weather’s nice and there’s always a piece of candy in her pocket.
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Once he takes his pound of flesh from her, will she steal his heart?
I’m Jett, self-made billionaire.
I have everything I could ever want—except revenge.
Eight years ago, my best friend and I planned to start a business together…
Until I fell for his little sister.
After he found out, he stole my idea and made a fortune.
She took his side and stabbed me in the back.
Now he’s in financial straits, while I’m richer than I ever dreamed.
So I made Whitney a bargain: forty million dollars in exchange for a week of her body.
But now that she’s in my bed, what if it’s not animosity I feel?
What if I fall for her again?
SEDUCED BY THE ENEMY
“What’s your offer?” she demands.
“In a hurry? Why don’t we have a drink? I haven’t seen you in a long time.”
She scoffs. “Let’s not pretend I matter to you.”
I raise a brow at Whitney. She does matter…but admitting that would only weaken my position. “Humor me. After all, it’s my forty million dollars.”
“Fine.” She lifts one delicate shoulder like she doesn’t care, but I can read her. On some level, I get to her and she hates that. “Vodka cranberry. Make it a double.”
I acknowledge her with a curt nod, then I motion to the bartender, who takes our order.
“You’re not drinking with me?” She scowls.
“I never drink.” I haven’t since that summer.
Whitney’s gaze probes me for a long moment. “Because you’re a control freak?”
You have no idea.
I smile. “You can call me names and divert the subject all day. That doesn’t change why we’re here.”
“So you’re going to lend Vance forty million dollars to save his company—”
“Which should have been our company.”
“You lost that lawsuit.”
“Because your brother is a lying, thieving snake.” And you helped him, didn’t you?
She arches her dark brow at me. “Is all this charm how you’ve become so successful?”
Life has apparently roughed up my sweet princess and given her a stronger spine. I like it.
Breaking her will definitely be more fun.
“No. I’m successful because I’m ruthless.”
Shayla Black is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of nearly than eighty novels. For over twenty years, she’s written contemporary, erotic, paranormal, and historical romances via traditional, independent, foreign, and audio publishers. Her books have sold millions of copies and been published in a dozen languages.
Raised an only child, Shayla occupied herself with lots of daydreaming, much to the chagrin of her teachers. In college, she found her love for reading and realized that she could have a career publishing the stories spinning in her imagination. Though she graduated with a degree in Marketing/Advertising and embarked on a stint in corporate America to pay the bills, her heart has always been with her characters. She’s thrilled that she’s been living her dream as a full-time author for the past eleven years.
Shayla currently lives in North Texas with her wonderfully supportive husband, her daughter, and two spoiled tabbies. In her “free” time, she enjoys reality TV, reading, and listening to an eclectic blend of music.
“Holy shit,” Novah whispered, leaning into me. “Little boy blue blood is all grown up!”
I rolled my eyes. “You do realize he’s only a year older than you, right?”
“I’ve only seen him in pictures, Faith. Unlike some, I haven’t been graced with the younger duke’s company before this moment. Let me bask in his mighty presence.”
“He’s not a duke yet. That happens when his old man kicks it and passes down the title. And nobody is graced with that dick’s presence. He’s arrogant and so rich it’s made him beyond stupid, and he walks with a permanent pole shoved up his ass. Il duko has no redeeming qualities whatsoever,” I snapped and folded my arms across my chest to exaggerate my point.
The object of our musings hovered in the doorway to the conference room. He was conversing with Sally, our editor, and Henry Sinclair II, his father. Or, as his father was better known, King. Apparently, it was quite the amusing nickname among the British elite. Oh, how they must have chortled at the “cheeky” reference to their most famous royals. But to us, his American working-class worker bees, calling himself King Sinclair just made him sound like an entitled douchebag, too full of his own importance.
“Well I, for one, wouldn’t mind delving into those khakis the duke trainee wears so well and deep fishing for said pole in his pert, tight posterior, if you know what I mean.”
I took hold of Novah’s arm and met her eyes with my most serious expression. “It’s irremovable, Novah. That pole is wedged in deep, like oil-rig deep. You’ll need a fucking crane to hoist it out. A crane, Novah.”
Novah waved her hand in front of her face. “Jeez, Faith. Even that image has my thighs clenching.” She whistled low. “I could never be that close to his peach of a tush. I’d end up biting his firm, toned, polo-playing cheek. I know I would. Or at least give it a swift lick. I’m better off keeping my distance so as to not be arrested.”
“You’re sick.” I smirked as she crossed her legs tightly.
“I never claimed otherwise.”
“Right, minions!” Sally shouted, standing at the front of the room. The staff grew silent. Our editor clapped her hands with impressive speed. She forced a smile. It wasn’t a good look on her. She appeared constipated whenever she attempted “friendly.” Or as though she were battling a mild-to-medium case of hemorrhoids.
“Today’s a big day here at Visage.”
I held my breath, waiting for more, dread seeping into the very marrow of my bones. My skin itched in irritation seeing Henry “Harry” Sinclair III stepping out from behind his father. No, I prayed, hands lowering into a death grip on the arms of my chair. I looked up toward the heavens. God, I know we’re not always on the best of terms. I drink, cuss, and enjoy fornicating far too much for your liking, but please, please, please, do not say he is here for—
“As you may have heard, Mr. King Sinclair is slowly taking a step back from the running of HCS Media Group and focusing solely on his British investments. He is still very much ‘in charge’ on the global stage, but he has decided to start delegating the US enterprises to his son, Henry Sinclair Junior.”
I closed my eyes and felt Novah’s hand grip my thigh at this revelation. “So today I have the great pleasure to welcome Henry as the new CEO of Visage Magazine and the New York Journal and everything that falls under that impressive umbrella.” The people in the conference room broke out into somewhat enthusiastic applause, and I reluctantly opened my eyes. I’d hoped if I kept them closed, this would somehow turn out to be a bad dream. But as soon as I opened them, my gaze railroaded right into Henry’s or, as I liked to call him, the eternally entitled ball-sack.
Fuck my life. What had we mere mortals done in the world to deserve three of these Henry Sinclair jerks on the planet? His father was an asswipe of the highest order, and I’d heard the grandfather, who’d created the empire, had been the worst kind of human being. His grandson had apparently followed suit. Henry didn’t smile at me. His nostrils flared and his lip curled up. I wasn’t sure if he was silently passing gas or exposing the fact that he disliked me as much as I disliked him.
King Sinclair nudged his son from his malevolent reverie. Henry pulled his hands from his pockets, nodded curtly, and instantly became the leader I was sure he had been molded to be since birth. “Good morning, I’m Henry Sinclair, but please call me Harry. Only my teachers ever called me Henry.” He smirked a little at that. I blinked slowly in confusion. I had never seen him smile. This was a barely-there smile and, no matter how brief it was, it indicated Harry wasn’t always the dour bastard he appeared to be.
“I know most of you have never met me, but I’ve been living between New York and England for the past few years and am extremely happy to be taking over here at the New York Journal and therefore, of course, Visage.” Visage was the in-house style magazine, which went out every Sunday along with the Journal’s other Sunday offerings. The in-house magazines of such prestigious newspapers had always been considered the ugly stepsisters in the world of newspaper publishing, but I loved it here. Always had…until, I feared, now.
COVER & EXCERPT REVEAL
MILLER’S TIME (Southern Charmer #2) by Ahren Sanders
Release Date: June 29, 2020
Cover Design: Leticia Hasser @ RBA Designs
Genre: Contemporary Romance
I’ve been lucky all my life.
Until the night I meet Lily. One look at the unbelievably sexy woman was all it took.
For the first time ever, I let my guard down and gave over control.
My lifelong spell of luck ran out the morning I woke alone in a hotel room.
Six months later, I come face to face with the woman who vanished without a trace.
Only, this time, her name’s not Lily.
She says it’s all in the past.
I say she’s dead wrong.
I’m not backing down.
She fooled me once.
It won’t happen again. She’s mine.
My world was defined by wealth and status.
It was perfect—until the carefully crafted web of lies was exposed.
The ugly truth was a shattering blow of deception.
Needing to reinvent myself, I ran, and ended up in the arms of a devastatingly handsome stranger.
Miller was the kind of man women dream about, which meant he was too good for me.
That’s why I walked away.
Little did I know that creating a new version of me would bring our lives crashing back together.
Miller Kendrick thinks I’m the woman he met that night.
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“What’s your gut reaction?” Pierce is all business, asking about the house in front of us.
I don’t respond.
“Where do you want to start? Inside or outside?”
He goes on, but I can’t tear my eyes off the woman standing in the middle of the huddle.
Ashlyn Rhodes is a fucking vision.
A vision I’ll never forget. That red hair, flawless face, striking green eyes, that fucking body… all of it hits me like a hammer to the chest. My hands itch to touch her, skim along her collarbone, down her chest, and tease until she whimpers. The sound of her pleasure faintly replays in my ears and I blow out a low, slow controlled breath to keep my composure.
I’ve had a lot of women in my life. More than most know. But only one sucker-punched me the way this auburn-haired knockout did.
For two days I knew her as Lily.
Worshipping her like no other, neither of us holding back. The woman was insatiable, and I was wrapped up. I tried to get to know her better, but she was a master in switching my focus. She was hypnotizing, stealing every ounce of my attention. Only once did she let down her guard and I saw a glimpse of the woman inside.
She was hiding something, and I intended to breakthrough.
Three hours later, I woke alone. She vanished, leaving me with nothing but a note. A note she signed with the name Lily.
But now I know the truth, Ashlyn fucking Rhodes.
Vaguely, I hear Evin drive up and speak to Pierce, but I stay aimed at the woman I haven’t forgotten in almost six months. They go back and forth about this job, rambling about the work involved. I almost speak up when Pierce makes a bullshit comment about referring to another contractor.
Then her laughter fills the air, and her eyes come to me. The crystal green locks with mine, her pupils growing wide with shock. Recognition flickers in her gaze and the surprise turns into something else. She sucks in a breath, and my skin prickles with the heat between us.
Evin makes a smartass remark, “This should be interesting.”
He’s not talking about the house. A grin spreads across my lips and I focus on my brother. “She’s a Prada Princess, huh?”
“You sure you’re ready for this?”
“I can handle it.”
“I’m going to give you a piece of advice.”
“Don’t want to hear it.” Because why should I take advice from my little brother that has made more mistakes than I can count? I don’t need him to tell me how to fuck things up.
“Too bad. Speaking from experience, every fucking ounce of effort is worth it.”
“Says the man it took seventeen years to get to this point.” It’s a low blow, but the truth is the truth. Plus, he has no idea of my history with this vixen.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ahren spent her formative years living in an active volcano. There her family made collectible lava art. She studied rock collecting at the Sorbonne in France. There she met the love of her life-her pet pig Sybil. She returned to the states and started writing. She is happily married to a guy who used to live under a bridge and she met while pole-dancing.
Now, meet the real me. I grew up in the south and consider myself a true “Southerner”. Most of the special locations mentioned in my books are reflections of my favorite places. Living on the Florida coast, my family spends a lot time at the beach which is where I usually can be found with a book in my hand.
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A Falling Stars stand-alone romance from A.L. Jackson
Coming June 1st
Get Caught Up on the First Stand-Alone in the Falling Stars Series!
Win an A.L. Jackson Collection box + $50.00 Amazon Gift Card! Packed with a Collector’s Edition Fight for Me paperback, tote, and goodies!
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, BLEEDING STARS, FIGHT FOR ME, CONFESSIONS OF THE HEART, and FALLING STARS novels. Watch out for her upcoming stand-alone, CATCH ME WHEN I FALL, releasing June 1st.
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 http://smarturl.it/NewsFromALJackson or text “aljackson” to 33222 to receive short but sweet updates on all the important news.
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RISING (Slay #4) by Laurelin Paige
Release Date: May 12th
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Rivalry: Slay 1
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The stakes have never been higher, and she’s full of the devil.
Edward Fasbender is my husband.
Together, we brought down powerful men.
Now we have a chance to start over. To be the family neither of us ever had, to leave the past in the past where it belongs. Edward has a choice to make.
It will decide if we fall into the flames–or rise together.
She cried out, on the verge of orgasm, I suspected, but she managed to hang on, and a moment later she was collected enough to speak. “Even without the secrets, you scare me.” It was quiet, a confession of sorts. “You’re the only person who has ever loved me exactly like I am. The only person I’ve ever trusted entirely. That means you are
more capable of hurting me than anyone who has hurt me before, and that’s the most frightening thing I’ve ever imagined.”
My tempo stuttered as I digested her words. Knowing everyone who had hurt her, knowing the ways they’d hurt her—that was a mighty declaration. It rocked me at my core. Made me off balance. That was a form of submission, wasn’t it? Being vulnerable like that. Making me aware of my power.
About the Author:
With millions of books sold worldwide, Laurelin Paige is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling Author. She is a sucker for a good romance and gets giddy anytime there’s kissing, much to the embarrassment of her three daughters. Her husband doesn’t seem to complain, however.
When she isn’t reading or writing sexy stories, she’s probably singing, watching Game of Thrones or Letterkenny, or dreaming of Michael Fassbender. She’s also a proud member of Mensa International though she doesn’t do anything with the organization except use it as material for her bio.
She is represented by Rebecca Friedman.
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Today we have the excerpt reveal for ALL BECAUSE OF YOU by Theresa Paolo! Check it out and be sure to grab your copy today!
Title: All Because of You
Title: Theresa Paolo
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: May 13th
About All Because of You:
Sometimes you have to lose everything to find your happy ending.
Olivia Green had the picture-perfect life. Dating one of the most successful businessmen in New York City, living in a penthouse over Manhattan and a budding career, until one dreadful night when it was all ripped out from under her. If only she’d gone home like she was supposed to, she wouldn’t have known her future fiancé was a two-timing jerk. Now with no choice she is leaving the city to move back in with her parents in the small town of Morgan’s Bay.
Shane McConnell believed he had no family other than his mother, but on her death bed, she revealed the father who died before he was born, came from a large wealthy family. With nothing to lose he sets out to the east end of Long Island to spend a summer with his newly discovered family. What he doesn’t expect is the secrets and lies dating back to long before his father’s death. Nor could he predict the beautiful hot mess he met on the train would find a way into his closed off heart.
Both struggling with the realities of their new lives they unintentionally lean on each other. As their attraction builds and their undeniable chemistry explodes into passion, Shane holds onto his own secret that threatens his chance at love.
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“Kissing me out in the open on Main Street? Do you know what that means?”
He stepped closer, heat coming off him in delicious waves that surrounded her in a fiery blanket of desire. “What does it mean?” His voice dipped to a sultry whisper that had her desperate to throw her inhibitions to the curb.
“Next thing you know, the whole town is planning our relationship down to the wedding day and how many kids we’ll have. Probably twins. A boy and a girl.”
Olivia snickered at the squeak in his voice. “Don’t worry. You won’t impregnate me by kissing me.”
“But the town will think you’re carrying twins.”
“You’re learning.” She tapped his chest, and an electric current jolted through her veins. Shane wrapped his hand around her wrist and yanked her into the alley between Pie in the Sky and Book Nook. He backed her into the wall, strong male consuming her. His arms caged her in, and she arched toward him, desperate for his touch.
In one fell swoop, he captured her lips, and lava exploded in her chest and dispersed in heated waves. His mouth moved against hers with a carnal lust so passionate and demanding, she lost sight of everything else. All she could focus on was the hard press of Shane’s lips and the hard bulge in his pants meeting the apex of her thighs.
A moan escaped her throat as his hands cupped her face and tilted her head. His tongue swiped lovingly at the crease between her lips, and she parted, welcoming the slick feel. It was a sensual dance of tongue and teeth, licking and nipping, giving and taking. He tasted of sweet coconut and confidence, kissing her with a potency she would never forget.
The way he kissed her, ravenous and precise, it was as if he’d been doing it for years. She melted in to his lips, letting him take control, and not because she felt he needed to dominate, but because she wanted him to.
His body pressed into her, her back melding to the cool brick wall. It was fire and ice, heaven and hell, and she didn’t want it to end. She grabbed his t-shirt, holding him close, absorbing every sensation flooding her body.
He kissed a trail from the corner of her mouth down her neck and back. The stubble on his face left tracks of passion. She didn’t care. Tonight, when she was in her bed, all she would be thinking about was this kiss.
A giggle broke the cloud that surrounded them. “Don’t mind me. Continue just as you were.” Olivia didn’t need to turn to know whose voice that was—Jean Kelly, owner of Book Nook.
Olivia dropped her head to Shane’s shoulder, embarrassed heat prickling her neck and cheeks. Shane held her, and Olivia felt his arm raise in a wave.
“Have a good day, you love birds,” Jean said, and Olivia covered her face with her hands.
“Is she gone?” Olivia asked a few seconds later.
“She’s gone.” Shane’s warm breath caressed her ear. “So… what do you want to name our twins?”
About Theresa Paolo:
Theresa Paolo lives on Long Island, NY with her fiancé and their fish. She is the author of NA and Adult contemporary romances. Her debut novel (NEVER) AGAIN, released in Fall 2013 with Berkley (Penguin) and the companion novel (ONCE) AGAIN released Summer 2014. Mad About Matt, the first book in her new Red Maple Falls series, released March 2017.
She loves to write heartfelt romances with a dash of fun and a side of spice. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, brewery hopping, daydreaming, wasting time on Pinterest, trying to get 10k steps on her FitBit or can be found chatting away on Twitter and Facebook. She also writes YA romance under Tessa Marie and has no idea how to smile for a picture.
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HARVEST OF SIGHS (Thornchapel #3) by Sierra Simone
Release Date: May 1st
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START THE SERIES TODAY WITH
A LESSON IN THORNS (Thornchapel #1)
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FEAST OF SPARKS (Thornchapel #2)
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The genius and the sunshine girl. As children, we fought bitterly and often, bickering every chance we got.
But then we grew up.
Then we came back.
Delphine Dansey carries her heart on the outside of her body; she’s looking for love and chasing dreams. She’s spoiled and selfish, the kind of beautiful that’s made for money and fame. But somehow she’s ended up in my keeping: a pretty submissive I can’t seem to resist, a lover who obsesses and tempts me.
I thought I’d locked my heart away a long time ago, along with all my other weaknesses. But some doors won’t stay closed, no matter how hard I fight to keep them shut. She unravels me, just like our friends are unraveling, just like Thornchapel itself is unraveling.
All year long, we’ve been sowing lust and jealousy and pain, heedless of the consequences. But a harvest is inevitable, and so now we must reap our sorrows.
And our sighs.
*Harvest of Sighs is Book Three in the Thornchapel series.*
“Dammit, Auden, let me the fuck go.”
“Use your safeword, and I will.”
I open my mouth.
I can’t make the words come out.
May I, I think. May I, May I, May I. But still my tongue won’t move; the sounds won’t push past my lips.
Auden’s mouth curls up at the corner. “That’s what I thought.”
“Fuck you,” I retort.
“No,” Auden says heatedly, his hands tightening on my wrists, “fuck you. Just yesterday you promised—you promised me that you were mine, you promised me forever together. You swore. And now you’re running away again? You couldn’t even keep your promise for twenty-four hours?”
I sputter, tripping over the words as they tumble out of my mouth. “There is no promise, Auden! Things have fucking changed! And you lied about it! Jesus fucking Christ, Auden, you lied about it.”
“I didn’t lie.”
“You didn’t tell me.”
He sniffs. “That’s not lying.”
I glare at him. He glares right back at me. “That’s a juvenile justification and you know it,” I say.
“I was going to tell you.”
“When? After you’d fucked me again? Or after Lammas? Or maybe ten years from now when I finally worked up the courage to ask you to marry me?”
Auden’s glare softens into something boyish and vulnerable. He blinks long-lashed eyes at me. “You want to marry me?”
“Oh my God, Auden, that’s not the point,” I groan. “The point is we can never get married, and we can’t be together, and we can never be together again, and you knew and you didn’t tell me. You let me—you let us—yesterday, we—”
I can barely get the words out. He and I have done something unthinkably bad, something so wrong that even the word wrong isn’t heavy enough. We were more wrong than wrong—we were corrupt and unholy. Immoral and depraved.
“I know what we did yesterday,” Auden says, his voice as gentle as the grip on my wrists is firm. “I don’t see the problem, and I don’t see why you can’t keep your promise to me.”
I stare at him a moment, totally confounded. “Auden…am I talking at thin air right now? Am I not making sense? Is
it my accent? Should I switch to yours?” I say the last part in my best I wear a regatta blazer to actual regattas voice, and he makes a face.
“Don’t do that, you’re terrible at it,” he says. “Listen, it’s not like—this isn’t like you’re thinking. I didn’t wait to tell you because I was trying to trick you, I waited because I wanted to find the right way to explain it all. Say it the right way so that you wouldn’t run away from me when I told you, so that you wouldn’t sever your heart from mine. I didn’t want this to be the end of us. And why should it be? Why shouldn’t you belong to me?” he finishes with a wild urgency.
I search his face. His stupid, handsome face, where even now I see glimmers of yesterday’s revels. A small bruise in the shape of Rebecca’s bite on his jaw, visible even under the shadow of his day-old beard, a small scratch disappearing into his cinnamon-colored hair from his run through the trees. The vibrant flicker of those hazel eyes—the eyes of the forest.
Never in a thousand years did I think God would be this sadistic or this pitiless, to put me in a position where I have to refuse this man.
“You know why I can’t,” I say finally. “We can’t. We just—it can’t be, Auden. You know this.”
His eyes stay stark and raw on mine as he says, “But I want you.”
“But I want it,” he says, and with his eyes like that and his voice so low, there’s no mistaking what it is.
“You can’t want it,” I whisper, and his grip tightens on my wrists as he pushes them out to the sides until my arms are spread on either side of me and my wrists are pinned to the wall. It’s like I’m about to be crucified, like I’m already on the cross, but without the nails and the thorns, because Auden himself is all the nails and thorns I’ll ever need.
“Oh, can’t I?” he says. “Because I do, St. Sebastian, I do want it. I need it. I don’t care what that makes me, I don’t care what that means for my immortal soul. I’ve known you were mine since I kissed you in the thorn chapel, and I’ve known that you wanted to be mine since you let me bite your lip until it bled.” His eyes drop to my lip piercing now, and I can feel how much he wants to pull on it and kiss it. I can feel how much he wants that labret running along his shaft, how much he’d love to see it
gleaming in the dark while he fucks me. “You can run away all you want, but it’s too late. You already swore to me. I’ve already known what it was like to have your heart in my hands, and it’s simply too late.”
He ducks his head enough to move his lips over mine—something both more and less than a kiss—something like a promise made with touch instead of words.
And fuck me if I don’t want to promise something right back.
“It can’t be too late,” I whisper. “Even if you did wait to tell me until you got what you wanted.”
Auden doesn’t lift his mouth from mine, and I feel his words as much as I hear them.
“And what did I get, my little martyr? What do you think I wanted?”
I wish so much I weren’t still hard as I answer him. “You wanted to fuck me.”
“No,” he says, tugging on my lip piercing with his teeth. “I wanted what I still want.” He kisses me again. “I want forever, stubborn boy. Only that.”
About the Author:
Sierra Simone is a USA Today Bestselling former librarian (who spent too much time reading romance novels at the information desk.) She lives with her husband and family in Kansas City.
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