Monday, July 9, 2018

Xander Release Day a7 Giveaway








Addie's mission had been sabotaged and she'd been shot multiple times. She wouldn't die from her wounds because she was an immortal, but she did hurt, and she needed time to heal. The Winchesters had taken her into their home while she was passed out from her injuries. Now that she was awake, she needed to leave. She was being hunted and they would all be in danger if she stayed. Xander Winchester had just received the best news. The publisher loved his book so much that they were not only publishing his book, they were offering a movie deal to boot. He couldn't wait to tell his family at dinner tonight. The scent from the woman hit Xander hard. Her beauty was something that he'd never seen before. Even as he took a step toward her, his mind was telling him to tread carefully, while his body and wolf were telling him to go forth and conquer. He had a feeling that listening to that part of him would get him killed quicker than stepping in front of a bus. Or an entire line of them. Xander should have known better. Should have taken to heart what his mind was telling him....





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KOBO https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/xander-10

I Tunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/xander/id1399692644?mt=11

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Renee  your packaged will be mailed out this week .

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Renee Johnson



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Happy Reading ,













Caleb Winchester didn’t care for his boss, in fact he despised him. He hadn’t meant to quit that day—the words ‘I quit’ spilled from his mouth without thinking—but once said he had no regrets. He was a good ad executive, he could find another job.

Quinn Dorsey and her father, Alexander, had seen Caleb’s work and that was the artist they needed for their dog food labels. When the agency couldn’t deliver the ad campaign they ordered, and then lied about Caleb working on the project, they went looking for the man himself.

Caleb hadn’t expected his customers to seek him out, but when Alexander shows up at Caleb’s house with his daughter, Quinn, Caleb is floored—she’s his mate and she’s been marked by another alpha.

Caleb’s not going to let an alpha beat him out of his mate. This lunatic has been marking females left and right, but if Caleb claims her, he risks not only his life, but the life of his mate and family as well….







Gabriel Winchester was finally opening his own practice. After finishing the final details, and meeting his first patient, he sat back in his unfinished office and closed his eyes, just to rest them, he told himself. When he opened them, a burly stranger was there, and he wasn’t that friendly. The man was looking for a Rayne McFarland and “I don’t know who she is” wasn’t an acceptable answer, so Gabriel called his brothers through their link for help.

Rayne was on the run from her father, and knew when he caught up with her she’d be dead. Rayne could speak to the deceased and they warned her every time her father’s henchmen were near. What she didn’t count on was falling in the woods and injuring herself.

When his brother, Owen, brought the unconscious woman into his office, Gabriel’s wolf knew immediately who she was to them. Ready or not, Gabriel had a mate, and while he knew he could handle the threat to her, he wasn’t sure he could live with her ability to talk to the dead.







Clare Macintosh didn’t know what was going on. Her brother, Conrad, had been called in for a meeting and they’d already been waiting over an hour. They were leaving, they had waited long enough.

Owen Winchester had called for the meeting with Conrad. He had no idea the young man was handicapped, but what he had to show him would make his life easier, or at least he hoped so. The trunks Owen had found in the barn of his new home belonged to him. Conrad was the only living relative he could find of the previous owner. Owen was a bit surprised to find Conrad had a sister and she was his mate to boot.

All Clare wanted to do was take her brother and hide. Her parents, Con and Ava Macintosh, weren’t nice people, and neither were the people they stole from. Even though Clare had distanced herself from them, it wouldn’t stop their associates from seeking revenge. She didn’t need the handsome stranger pushing his way into her life.









Winchester Brothers

Caleb http://amzn.to/2E7eFp3
Gabriel  http://amzn.to/2tK6Lgf
Owen http://amzn.to/2oeLnfd
Xander https://amzn.to/2KHcP2A













Prologue
Tyler saw his big brother coming toward him. Xander hadn’t seen him yet, which was okay with him. Xander would probably just walk away and go someplace else where Tyler wasn’t. Not just with Tyler, but everybody. He’d been like that since Wendy had died. She’d been his mate. “You gonna talk to me?” Xander stopped and said that he didn’t want to talk to anyone. “No, I guess you made that kind of clear. I’m worried about you. Everybody is.” “I’m all right. It’s a big blow to my heart, even though I didn’t know her at all.” She’d been killed when someone raided the store she’d been in with her momma, killing them both as well as several other people there. “When we were at the funeral, Dad had to help me away, do you remember that? I sort of feel like that all the time now. Broken.” “Yes, we all do.

Dad said that she didn’t suffer any. I don’t understand people, Xander. To kill anyone, that’s so sad, but to do it for nothing more than because they didn’t have the right kind of honey for his cereal is just plain stupid.” Xander sat down next to him. “I could smell her, even with all those chemicals. But I knew right then what she was to me.” “I don’t know what I’d do if that happened to me. Dad said you wasn’t taking it hard then, but you seem to be now.” Xander nodded. “I guess you had time to think on it, huh?” “Yeah. Mom and Dad, they got it right, you know that? They tell each other all the time that they love each other. I was gonna do that too.” Tyler didn’t know why people would even like a girl, much less love one, but he did agree that his parents were mushy like that. “I’ll never get to have a kid of my own either. Not that I want one right now, but I thought that someday I’d want one. A whole bunch of them that I could play with, like Dad did us.” “I don’t ever want to have any sons, Xander. Boys are all I have right now in brothers.

” Xander ruffled up his hair, like he always did. “Someday I guess I might want sons, but you guys are always being bossy and stuff. I hate that.” “We’re just trying to make sure that you do things right, little brother.” Tyler nodded and thought of all the things that had been going on of late. “You know, Mr. Cartwright, he told me that someday, I was going to think back on him and wonder why he’d been wanting to be a part of our family. I told him that I knew why. My momma baked the best pies in the world.” “She does at that. But I don’t think he does it for that reason. He’s lonely and sad sometimes, have you noticed that? Anyway, I think that he comes over not for the food, but because we’re nice to him. And he’s nice to us.” Xander laid back on the ground. “I’m about done being mopey, as Mom called me. I just had it hit me what all I was going to miss. But, I guess that’s the way the fates wanted it. Come on, let’s go and get
us some dinner. Mom said we’re having the catfish that you and Mr. Cartwright caught yesterday.” Tyler didn’t care all that much for catfish, but he knew better than to turn down meat.

They didn’t have it often—sometimes they’d go a whole week without any. But when they did have it, they ate it like it was gold filled. Being wolves, they needed it. But there was usually plenty of other stuff to go with it, and Mom always had some hot bread to fill up the voids when there were any. There might not be tonight. He’d caught ten catfish yesterday and Mr. Cartwright had caught himself a dozen, then handed them over to Tyler to give to his momma to cook up. Xander walked alongside of him, shortening his steps so that he could keep up. Tyler had all these dreams of somedays. That’s what he called his list, Somedays. Someday he was going to have it all too. Someday he was going to have a nice car. Not new—they weren’t worth the payments, Dad said. Someday he was going to own him a house. Really close to his parents, he decided just then. Someday he was going to be rich too.

Just so he could make it easier on his mom and dad. Someday, he thought lastly, he was going to meet him a nice girl, even though he didn’t like them, and have him a bunch of kids. Someday. Not now, but someday. “Do you suppose that the fates—or whatever it is that sets us up like this—you suppose that they take in account that your mate might have something happen to him or her?” There were times, like at this moment, that Tyler thought his older brother was too young for his brain. “You know what I mean, don’t you?” “Yes, I understand you. But I honestly don’t know, Xander. I mean, they know everybody’s fate. You know, that’s their name, right? I would think that they’d know that from the minute they set you up.” He didn’t think that was nice, so Tyler tried to fix it. “But I’m only a kid and you’re almost a big adult. Well, you are big. Like bigheaded. Big footed. What sized shoe do you wear now?

Or do you just go on out to the field and kick two cows in the bottom and wear them?” Tyler wasn’t stupid nor was he very fast, but they took off running as soon as his brother growled. Laughing too hard to go far, he felt his brother’s big wolf take him down and lick him all over his face. They were having so much fun, he’d forgotten why Xander had come to find him in the first place. It was dinner time. It was always nice having Mr. Cartwright over. He always brought a treat, as he called it. Sometimes it was the stuff to make ice cream. Other times it was just a big cake that had been on sale or something. Tyler thought the man was just being nice. He’d been in the store a lot with his momma and hadn’t ever seen a sale on those sized cakes. But he ate whatever it was because it was always good. “Mr. Cartwright won’t be joining us tonight, sons.” He asked his dad why not. “Well, today was the date that his wife passed on, and he goes and sits with her for a spell.” Tyler glanced at Xander but said nothing. “Why don’t we gather up some of those flowers that are gonna die anyway and take them over to her grave for him?” Caleb always had the best ideas. Tyler wished he
had one or two like he did.

“We don’t have to stay, just show him that we care that he’s hurting.” “Wonderful idea, Caleb.” Tyler wanted to kick his brother under the table, but he’d not do that again. He would make him pay later. Almost as if he knew what he was thinking, Caleb stabbed him with his eyes. Caleb was the oldest, and sometimes when he was being big brother, he’d just beat him to a pulp for the fun of it. Not really. Tyler would sort of make him mad, just to see him running after him. Caleb was the best big brother there was. They took the flowers to Mrs. Cartwright’s grave and were invited to stay by Mr. Cartwright. But Mom said they had supper on and wouldn’t be bothering him. Mr. Cartwright kissed his fingers and laid them on top of the pretty headstone that Dad had helped carve, and said he’d join them. “The time for mourning is done. I have to.... It’ll be easier with you guys around, but I have to stop acting like I’m gonna come out here and she’s going to be waiting on me.” Dad told him that they’d be powerful sorry if he went with her. Tyler had no idea what that meant, but he wisely kept his mouth shut. Grownups were touchy about death, love, and such. That night when he and Dominic were in their room, he asked him what he thought about what Xander had said—about there being someone else out there for him. Then he told him what he’d told his brother. “I think that’s what Mom would call you being insensitive, moron.

” He asked him how. “Because that was the time when a little fib would have made him feel better. You know, like when Mom asks us if she looks tired and she does, but we all tell her that she’s right pretty.” “But that’s not the kind of question that Xander asked me. He wanted to know the truth.” Or he had thought he did. “I did try and tell him that I was only just a kid. And him being an almost adult.” “There. See? You did it twice. You called him almost an adult. He’s not an adult and saying almost only makes it sound like you don’t think he’s going to ever be. I swear, there are some times, Tyler, that I think you were born under a rock or something.” He pointed out to his brother he was being insensitive too. “Yeah? Well, think how that made you feel.” For the rest of the night he did think about how it made him feel. Nothing. They were always calling him a moron, or something like that. Instead of thinking of it as a bad thing, Tyler thought of it as a learning curve. Yeah, he did learn that he was a might on the insensitive side. But his brothers were older than him, except Dominic, and the two of them needed to grow some. Not that he was sure what they were supposed to grow, but he’d heard that at the high school a few weeks back and was glad now that he’d found a way to use it. But, like the rest of them, he’d never say something like that, or curse in front of their mom. She was scary when she was upset about something.















Monday, June 25, 2018

Valyn Release Day & Giveaway








Jennifer Hale had been in the hospital handcuffed to the bed for five days. The winged man standing guard had not left her side since she’d been brought in, and the fact that no one else could see him gave her the willies.

The man robbing the diner where Jenny worked had shot her in the leg, and then she had killed him with his own gun. It was kill or be killed, but the local authorities hadn’t seen it that way—until now. They were releasing her and as of now she had no job, and no home to return to.

Valyn the Slayer was just tired. He had just one desire, to be put to sleep for an eternity. Ever since he’d lost his small charge, the simple act of living seemed too much for him. He had only looked away for a moment, now she was gone, and he blamed himself. And now “Boss” was telling him his mate was here….
“She’s a lovely girl. Broken too, if you want to know the truth of it. Perhaps you’ve heard her mentioned. She’s the woman that saved that diner full of patrons about a week ago.” He’d heard of it but didn’t know her name. “The bill collectors are hounding her hourly. However, they are not putting the calls through to her room at the hospital for fear of upsetting her. She’s made some very good friends while staying there.”

“What happened to her?” Boss told him what she’d done and how she’d been shot. “And the bill collectors? Why are they hounding her? I’m assuming that she has debt, but it’s more than that, isn’t it?”

“Yes, she’s now homeless and jobless. Also, with this other business of the credit card, there is no way that she can make anything work out right for her. Not without a great deal of help.” Valyn sat down on the wire wheel that had been left behind when the house had been rewired. “Valyn, you told me that you were broken and why you thought so. But this woman, she can help you in ways that I cannot.”

“You could if you would just put me to sleep.” Boss shook his head. “What if I don’t go and see her? Don’t take her as my mate? Because I don’t think my life could be any better to have her with me. I’m not good around people anymore. I don’t want to have someone depending on me for their wellbeing. It’s too much.”









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Happy Reading ,

























His love for her was forbidden…

Riss has been around since the beginning of time and watching his charges be born, grow up, and die has taken a toll on him. Until lately, being a Protector has always been enough… The Archangel Michael, Riss’s mentor and superior, decides with the help of their “Boss” to change things up a bit―like the rest, he doesn’t want to lose one of his best Protectors. Riss is assigned to guide and protect Kala. Riss is not happy about the changes and hopes this is his last assignment as a Protector before he can quit and live his last year on Earth and die.

She has nothing left to lose―except her life…

Kala has lost everything: her family as a child, her job, and now her apartment. She is also having weird dreams that she can’t quite remember…dreams revolving around a single white feather. Kala’s sexual fascination with the feather brings forth the most gorgeous man she’s ever seen―Riss. He came for his feather―he can feel everything she does with it throughout his body.

Sex with a human is forbidden and Riss has never even considered it―until now.

A madman, suffering from a delusional fantasy, has set his sights on Kala. He has already killed and will kill again. She will be his or suffer the consequences…

And Riss has been forbidden to interfere…





Agon
“She is not going to be my wife. In any way, Riss.” Riss nodded as Agon started pacing again. “I want to touch her. Feel her body close to mine and kiss her. I have a need to taste her mouth to see if it tastes as good as I think it might. Then there is my body. I cannot control it around her. I run so hot and hard that I feel as if the world knows that I need her in ways that are not right.”
“She will taste better than you can ever dream of, and her body will give you pleasure in ways you cannot imagine.” Agon stared at him for several seconds. “But you cannot touch her. She is your charge. If you do not wish to have her as your wife, then you must not touch her in any way. If you do…if you do, my friend, then there will be no turning back. For the touch of the woman you are to spend your days with will haunt you in ways that will make you want to end your life in order to be with her. Trust me on this. I am well aware of how your body will crave her, and you will stop at nothing to have her again and again.”
“I do not want her.” Riss nodded and could see that Agon was lying to him as much as he was himself. “She is beautiful and stubborn, but I do not want her. But I fear that it might be too late for me.”





Galin knows it’s his turn and he isn’t having any part of it. He makes no bones about making it clear to Boss either that he both knows what he is up to and isn’t going to cooperate. He doesn’t now or ever want a wife.
“This boy you are going to protect is somewhat of a problem child. He has had a great deal thrown at him, but—”
“Boy?” Boss nodded and frowned. “No, I’m sorry, but it should be a woman, not a boy. I’m not…you’re going to assign me my wife to care for. I don’t want one, but I know it should be female. What is this about?” He pushed the file back at Michael.
“You want a wife? It was my understanding that you have no wish to be wed. Am I correct on that?” Galin nodded and looked at the file with the picture of a young boy on it. He appeared to be in his early teens maybe, but he wasn’t much older than that. “Galin? Do you wish for me to reassign you? Do you have no desire to help this young man?”
“I thought I was going into the rotation to find me a wife. The way that you did for Riss and Agon.” He looked up at Boss and Michael, who had summoned him today. “I had thought that the Mystic’s were a way for you to get rid of us all, and marrying us off was better than having us die. I’m…I’m not sure what’s going on now.”
Dusty McGee has just lost her sister to horrific accident and finds herself saddled with a very angry young nephew to raise. Now, some self-proclaimed protector, Galin, tells her that although he doesn’t want to marry her he would very much like to take her to his bed. She’s had about all that she can stand.
Markum has set his sights on taking the boy to his realm, convinced this is the alleged boy the demons have been searching for, and Dusty is an added bonus…



Reyna Sharp, Renie to her friends, just wanted to work out the time she had left alone, with no one bothering her. When she was a baby her mother had given her away in a Faustian deal with a demon. She had until her twenty-fifth birthday then she was supposed to spend eternity in Hell.

Arryn was next on the list of Mystics to take a mate. He had just lost another charge, and wasn’t up for anymore heartache. He didn’t think his heart could take being attached to a mate only to lose her in a few short months…

The war between good and evil had gone on since the beginning of time. But even the underworld has rules…rules that aren’t meant to be broken…

Once he’s kissed her, there’s no turning back… No matter how hard he tries, Arryn can’t stay away, and the more Renie pushes him away, the more he fights to keep her. Can love really conquer all?







1. Riss https://amzn.to/2K62tJ1

2. Agon https://amzn.to/2yDQQUz

3. Galin https://amzn.to/2yFKsfm

4. Aaryn https://amzn.to/2MkbICl

5. Valyn











Jenny didn’t open her mouth except to put food in it. Drinking water was done through a straw, and she didn’t count that as opening her mouth. The woman in the room with her, another cop, asked her if she wanted anything. Jenny didn’t bother answering her. She’d been in the hospital for five days now, in a private room with a television and a nice couch, and chair. They were much nicer and in better shape than the ones she had in her apartment. But here she was chained to the bed, and not able to go home and be on her own not so comfy furniture. The winged man asked her how she was feeling. He’d not left her side once since she’d been brought here. And the fact that no one else could see him gave her the willies. She didn’t talk to him either, but he sure did talk to her. And most of it was about the day in the diner. “The man you killed—rightfully—would have killed all those people in that diner if not for you.” She huffed at him. “He would have, and you saved them. Whatever they’re holding you for, it’s going to be finished very soon. I promise you.” Jenny glared at him and he smiled. She had no idea why she found him to be charming. Most of the time she didn’t go for that. But this man, for some reason, made her feel safe and secure. It was really too bad that he wasn’t real.

She remembered every detail about the day that things had gone to shit. Every second seemed to be burned into her mind—even the face, the half face of the man that she’d killed by shooting him with his own gun. She didn’t think that would be anything that she’d ever forget. But, it was kill him or be killed. All she wanted to do was make enough money that she could have a good meal. Not even to go out to dinner and such, but to be able to afford enough groceries so she could eat better. To say that she wasn’t making ends meet would be a gross understatement. She barely had a roof over her head when the rent came due. Rolling to her side as best she could with her leg wrapped up and the handcuff on her leg, Jenny thought about what it would be like not to have to worry about every little thing that came along. Like a coat for winter that didn’t need to have furnace tape on it to cover the holes. Or boots that were just a little too snug and put blisters on her toes. Being hauled into court over this credit card, one that she’d never seen or used, had taken all she had, and a great deal that she didn’t. Perhaps, she thought, she should have let the man kill her. “Don’t think like that.” She looked at the man in front of her.

His wings were impressive, and she wanted to touch them to see if they were real. “You mustn’t think like that. You are going to be so much better than you are now.” Closing her eyes against the pain that his words brought her, Jenny felt the tears roll down her cheeks. Nothing was ever going to be better, and she knew it as surely as she was lying there. When the door opened, she didn’t even bother looking up.

“Miss Hale.” She looked at the cop, Benny Anderson, the one that had locked her to this bed. “I’ve come to apologize to you and to take the cuffs off. We shouldn’t have ever put them on you.” “Is this a trick?” He shook his head and smiled. “If it’s all the same to you, I’d rather you didn’t talk to me. You’ve been hounding me for days now, and I don’t particularly like you.” “Really? My wife says that I’m charming, when I want to be.” She only huffed at him and the female officer left them. “Yes, well, you’re right on that one when I locked you up. But I did have a reason for doing it. You would have left here the first day you were admitted, wouldn’t you have?” “I can’t afford this. And I’m pretty sure that you know it.” Benny nodded and glanced to her left at the winged man. “Is he real?” Benny looked at her with the strangest smile. But he only nodded. A million and one questions came to her in that second, but she wasn’t sure that she trusted herself or this man enough to ask them. Instead, she looked at the winged man. “His name is Arryn. He’s a protector.” Jenny tore her eyes away from Arryn and looked at Benny again.

“He’s here to watch over you while you’re here. And there are more like him to take care of you when you leave.” Closing her eyes again, she thought of someone watching over her. It would have been a lot easier had someone been watching her since she left home ten years ago. Benny was talking to Arryn, and she tried to calm her mind down enough to think. It was difficult when all she could think about was how much this stay in the hospital was going to cost her. Arryn sat in the chair that was in her line of sight. “I’d like to talk to you about some things. Is that all right? Benny has gone now, but he’ll be back later with his wife. You’ll like her, she’s one of us.” She asked him just what that was. “I used to be a Protector, someone that watched over an assigned person or animal from birth until they passed onto the next part of their journey. But now, I’m call a Mystic. I’m training new Protectors on how to manage in the real world, your world, so they can figure out how to blend in when they’re here.” “I think I would have noticed winged people all around.” He told her that she wasn’t meant to see them. “I see. Actually, no I don’t. You want to help them blend in, but no one sees them. What does that even mean?” “We sometimes take a break. We take them when our charge, the one we’ve been chosen to watch over, passes from this life to the next level. It’s hard, spending a great many years with someone and not get to know and love them. So the break is necessary so that we can get back in the rotations and go with another being.” She asked him why she could see him. “You’re not dead, if that’s what you’re thinking. I could look, but I won’t do that again unless you stop talking to me. You can see me because of your future. You’re going to be the mate to one of my kind. Do you understand what a mate is?” “You mean a slave to someone. Thanks, but no thanks. My mother was a slave to my father, and I’m never going to go through that. Never.” Arryn told her that it
wasn’t like that. “Sure it’s not. And this other man, this other Protector, he’s going to take care of me? I bet that this job you say you have, it more than likely doesn’t pay much, does it? And that I’m going to have to find a job to support us both. As I said before, thanks but no thanks.” “It pays very well.” She didn’t bother asking him what sort of well he thought it was. “You’re very hard to reason with. Has anyone told you that before?” “No. I’m not usually so untrusting. But you being a winged man while I’m in a hospital room that I can ill afford while I wonder where I’m going to work, or even if I have a place to go back to, that makes me a little hostile.” He laughed. It was a beautiful sound, one that she thought she could hear a great deal and never tire of it. “Why don’t you go bother someone else? As soon as I’m out of here, I have a shit load of stuff to do. And being here, it’s not going to pay my rent or feed me. I don’t usually have enough to do the latter of that, but I need to find a job.” The door opened, and a beautiful woman came in. She glowed, like a million lights were shining on her. And when she smiled, it was breathtaking. Jenny was afraid to acknowledge her. What if she was as unreal as the rest of this? “Hello, Jenny.

My name is Lily. I’m the wife of Benny Anderson. The detective that brought you here.” Jenny shook her hand and felt something profound run over her body. It wasn’t painful, but it was certainly a lot of something. “Oh, you’re going to be so good for Valyn. He’s expecting you, but doesn’t know where you are or when you’re coming.” “Is that the man that expects me to wait on him hand and foot? If it is, I’d rather he didn’t know where I was at all.” Lily just smiled. It was becoming irritating the way they thought a smile was the cure all to everything. “I think you both should leave me alone now. I’m hoping to get myself out of here soon. As much as you probably expect me to say it’s been fun, it hasn’t. You two are bonkers.”

This time she heard different laughter. Looking around for the source, she knew that she’d gone off the deep end. But the man sitting in the chair, one that hadn’t been there before, was still laughing. He asked the other two to leave them alone, that he’d keep an eye on her for a little while. “You’re very lucky. And smart.” Jenny didn’t know what to say to him, so she kept her mouth shut. “I wanted to tell you about Valyn. He’s my—I guess you could call him my next project.” “If it’s all the same to you, I don’t want to be someone’s lab rat in a project.” He laughed again, and for some odd reason, Jenny thought that he didn’t do that very much. “Who are you?” “They all call me Boss. I have come to like the term. It so much friendlier than anything else I might go by. I’ve really come to calm your mind about a great many things. If you would allow me to, that is.” She nodded, not even sure that she could have told him no. “There’s a good girl. Valyn, he’s one of the most generous and kind men I have had the pleasure of working with. I think that you and he will get along famously. But he’s been heavy in his heart for some time now. I think you’re the one to pull him from it all.”
“I don’t want to pull anyone out of anything. In the event you might not know, I don’t have a pot to piss in, and not enough money to even begin to pay this bill.” He snapped his fingers and handed her the paper that suddenly appeared. It said that her stay here was paid in full. “What did you do? Screw around on a computer to do this? I won’t be a part of anything illegal. You fix it.” “The bill has been paid. There is no screwing around on anyone’s part. I paid it. And I’d do it again for you if you needed it.” She still didn’t trust him. “I’d like for you to listen to me for a bit. I would like to tell you what you’re coming into with Valyn.” “I see. You’ve paid off my bill so that I’d have no choice other than to go to this man and be his slave.” He asked her why she thought she’d be a slave. “I know what I am, Mr. Boss. A nobody that has nothing. And men that would want a nobody like me are usually either drunks, thieves, or a combination of both. I don’t need the extra pressure put on me. I don’t have it in me.” “You’re much stronger than you give yourself credit for. Why, you saved a great many people when you killed Edward. You have no idea how grateful I am to you.” She said it was only a few people.

“No. What you don’t know, and very few would, is that he wasn’t going to be killed by the police as he so wanted. But he was going to leave the diner after killing everyone, including you, and murder thirty-one more people before he killed himself. You also saved three police officers that tried to take him in, as well as two people that would have been so injured by his bullets that they would never able to walk again.” “You mean, he could have done those things. There isn’t any way that you’d know that for sure.” He only nodded, and Jenny believed him. Looking around the room, she spoke to him again. “Why is this happening to me? I feel like I’m on some kind of rollercoaster that never ends.” “A very long time ago you saved a small child. Do you remember that?” Nodding, Jenny looked at him. “She had no more idea than you did at the time what she was going to come to mean to a great many people. Her knowledge and will to get to the bottom of things has made her into a great woman. She has saved so many lives because of what she does. And that is all thanks to you. You could have let her lay there and die, but you carried the small bundle to the hospital and left her there to get care. When you yourself needed much more than she did at the time. Your parents had taken a whip to you for not making a good grade on a spelling test.” “It was the one and only time that I showed them my work from school. I got all A’s all the time. And the spelling test had an A- on it. That pissed them off and they hurt me. Again.

” Mr. Boss nodded, the look on his face full of sadness. “I was determined to run away. To hide from them until I turned eighteen. At nine years old that seemed like a lifetime away. But I saw her in the trashcan and took her there. I knew that she’d be helped.” “And she did get it.” Mr. Boss grinned at her. “You need to stop calling me Mr. Boss. Even in your head. I’m just Boss.”
Jenny laid her head back on the pillow. Watching the man as he sat there, she grew sleepier and sleepier. When he told her to let go, to rest and he’d be back, Jenny let the exhaustion that she’d been feeling since she was brought here take her under. ~*~ Valyn was just putting up the last piece of drywall when he felt someone in the room with him. Janie Preston had been coming up all the stairs twice an hour to ask him a question about this or that. He knew that she was nervous, working at a different job than she’d had before, but he wanted her to just yell for him rather than go up and down the stairs. “You can call the store for them to deliver anything that you want. Or do the click and pay thing that Renie set up for you. It’s okay if you overorder, we’ll fix it.” When she didn’t answer him, he turned to look. Boss was leaning against the door jam and smiling. “You can go away too. This is my down time and I’m using it wisely. Unless you came here to grant my request.” “Nay, I have not. And I told you already that I will not put you to sleep for an eternity. You’re doing a fine job with this. I remember once before you were a carpenter.” Valyn went back to work. “I’ve talked to your mate.” That got his attention. But instead of asking Boss anything about her, he continued working. Of course, he thought that was just as funny. Finally, having finished with the sheet, Valyn set his trowel down and looked at him. The man was in an entirely too good of a mood for him to deal with right now. “I’ve told you, several times already, that I have no wish for a mate. I’m broken.” He’d only say that to Boss, and it pained Valyn when he did. “You’ll have to tell her that you’ve made a mistake.” Cocking his brow at him, Boss just stared. Valyn, usually not one to squirm when being examined as he was now, wanted to lock himself in a room until Boss left. But he knew that he’d not leave until he said or did what he’d come for.

“She’s a lovely girl. Broken too, if you want to know the truth of it. Perhaps you’ve heard her mentioned. She’s the woman that saved that diner full of patrons about a week ago.” He’d heard of it but didn’t know her name. “The bill collectors are hounding her hourly. However, they are not putting the calls through to her room at the hospital for fear of upsetting her. She’s made some very good friends while staying there.” “What happened to her?” He told him what she’d done and how she’d been shot. “And the bill collectors? Why are they hounding her? I’m assuming that she has debt, but it’s more than that, isn’t it?” “Yes. She’s now homeless and jobless. Also, with this other business of the credit card, there is no way that she can make anything work out right for her. Not without a great deal of help.” Valyn sat down on the wire wheel that had been left behind when the house had been rewired. “Valyn, you told me that you were broken and why you thought so. But this woman, she can help you in ways that I cannot.” “You could if you would just put me to sleep.” Boss shook his head. “What if I don’t go and see her? Don’t take her as my mate? Because I don’t think my life could
be any better to have her with me. I’m not good around people anymore. I don’t want to have someone depending on me for their wellbeing. It’s too much.” “Nay, it is not. And you are very strong, just tired.” Valyn found that he wanted to cry. It had been too long ago that he’d even thought about having something for himself. “Go and see her. You don’t have to show yourself. But see that what I tell you is the truth.” “I can’t.” Boss nodded and said that he understood. Then he was gone. “I don’t need someone depending on me. Can’t you see that?” He was talking to air, he knew that, but he really didn’t want to have to deal, or whatever needed to be done, with another person. He’d had about all that he could work with in his time here on Earth, and he didn’t want to tackle having a mate too. Getting up, he stretched his back and walked to the second room that he’d been working on. The walls in this room were all right. In fact, the ones that he’d been replacing in the other room were fine too. But it was nice to be able to work with his body again.

To lift and stretch muscles that had not been used in a few decades. Going downstairs, he saw that Janie was making an order for the grocery store to deliver. He got himself a glass of tea after telling her that he had it. Janie asked him if he wanted something to eat, that she had a pot pie all ready for him to have. “Yes, that would be great.” She nodded and went to the oven as he sat down at the little table in this room. “I’m not having your meal, am I? I don’t want to do that to you.” “No, I’ve eaten already. It’s well after two, and I was just waiting for you to come down.” He told her he was sorry. “Don’t be. You are a smart man and would have, sooner or later, come here to eat. I was ready for you.” They talked about what he liked and didn’t like, which wasn’t all that much in the dislike column. He did tell her that he enjoyed salads a great deal, and that he’d like to have them on occasion. She beamed with happiness to have him give her something to make for him. Valyn worried about a great many things lately, and very little of it did he have any control over. “I’ve got myself a mate.” He had told her when he’d rescued her from the bank one afternoon what he was, and begged her to keep his secret. “She’s in the hospital after being shot by a would-be madman.” “The Hale woman?” He didn’t know her name and told her so. “Jennifer Hale is her name if it’s the same woman. She was shot by the man before she ended up killing him with his own gun. I heard that she’s recuperating, and should be released from the hospital soon.” “I don’t want her.” Janie didn’t say anything, but he could feel her confusion. “I’m not a well man. I’ve seen too much and done much more. I can’t have someone in my life that could be hurt by my unwillingness to be something that I’m not.” “And what is it you think she’d want from you, Valyn? She has nothing, from what I’ve heard. And she’s out of work, as the owner of the place that she worked has closed the restaurant down as of the day that Mr. Goodman came in.” He told
her what Boss had told him. “Oh, so you think that she’ll want all your money. From what I’ve been made to understand, you have more than you could spend in several lifetimes. Not that it makes it right if that is what she wants, but I highly doubt that. And I’m sure you don’t believe it either.” “I wouldn’t think so.” He ate a few bites of the pot pie before shoving it away. Janie pushed it right back at him and told him to eat. “I’m not a child that needs to have a mother figure making me eat.” “Then perhaps you should stop acting like one and get your ass in gear.” He was shocked by her words, and when she stood up and went to the computer, he had the overwhelming urge to cry again. “You have someone out there that could make every hurt that you have seem like nothing. A person that, from what I’ve seen, will love you despite your being a baby about things. And here you sit on your ass, whining about being broken.

Well, how do you think she feels right now?” “Why are you talking to me this way? You work for me.” She asked him if he wanted her to quit in order to talk to him like he deserved. “I don’t deserve any of this. I didn’t ask for her to come into my life.” “Then you’re going to be as broken as you think you are now.” Leaving the kitchen, Valyn made his way out to the yard. It was cold this time of year, but he so loved the way the earth seemed to go to sleep and let the winter take control. He wanted to think, to clear his mind, but he had a feeling that he wouldn’t. At least not until he saw this woman for himself. Instead of driving himself, which he was terrible at, he asked Renie to take him there, and she told him she’d be there in ten minutes. Valyn hoped that he wasn’t making the biggest mistake of his life by visiting this woman. But he knew as surely as he was standing there that she might just need him more than he needed her. And if it took all his money to make her secure in her life, then he’d gladly give it to her, so long as she didn’t come into his life and expect more than he could give her. Love, he knew, was no longer an emotion that he had.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Elliot The Sons Of Crosby Release Day Giveaway










Elliot knew the little boy, Cody, was in trouble. When he found the boy hiding out in his greenhouse, he could see that he was starving and battered. The boy’s little dog didn’t look like he was faring any better. When the boy’s father, Duncan, busted down the door of the greenhouse, Elliot had had enough.

Hannah didn’t have much use for her idiot brother, Duncan. And when she heard her brother had murdered his wife, and her nephew Cody was on the run from his father, she wasn’t surprised. She was surprised, however, and elated to find out her sister, Julia, was alive. Julia’s slimy ex-husband, Nathan, had Hannah believing Julia was dead.

Elliot was sent to bring Hannah back. Nathan had learned that Julia had left town and taking Hannah would be his leverage to make Julia do as he wanted. Elliot knew Nathan was on his way, and they had to hurry to keep Nathan from finding her. What he wasn’t expecting to find was his mate.

Hannah had had enough of men telling her what to do and finding out Elliot was a vampire didn’t make the situation any easier. He would take it slow and tread softly, or she would stake him, simple as that.

Finding out Nathan and Duncan had banned together spelled trouble for everyone. Even though Hannah was now immortal, Elliot still worried about her because she could still be hurt, and no one touched his mate if they wanted to live.





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Spencer Graham had been trying to get a hold of Jason Crosby for weeks, but he didn’t seem to answer emails, mail or the telephone. She had an idea that would make them a great deal of money, but she needed him to invest in her project before it was too late. So, barging into his home at 4 a. m. was the only solution as far as she was concerned. She didn’t, however, expect him to answer the door naked and proposition her as soon as she walked in the door. Spencer did the only thing that came natural to her, she knocked him on his ass….

Jason Crosby was nearly two thousand years old, and in all his days as a vampire, he’d never seen anyone quite like her, not that he thought that was a good thing. He didn’t. She was his mate, and he was only going the tolerate her because he had to….











Chase Crosby didn’t know what he wanted right now. He was trying to get a grip on who his new mate was. He was told she was an ice dragon, but that wasn’t right either, she was a protector of the ice dragons. He had so many questions, and all he could do was sit there while she was locked away in his freezer to recover from her injuries.

Emerald was a warrior, and she had no idea what she was going to do with a mate. Even though the vampire appealed to her, she was worried the people chasing her would hurt him or his family to get to her, and she couldn’t allow that.

A Homeland Security Agent had gone rogue and he was after Emerald. He didn’t know exactly who or what she was, but he was going to prove she’d been around for centuries, and it didn’t matter who he had to go through to get to her.



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Cody watched his meal go around and around in the microwave. He didn’t remember the last time he’d had a hot meal before coming here to stay, much less enough to fill his belly. Looking at the little table that Elliot had brought for him to use, he thought of all the times he’d sat at his own table, his mom sneaking bits of meat to him so that he’d have some too. Watching his dad have a full meal while he was made to watch him had made Cody all the hungrier. His mom was dead, and he knew not only who had done it, but also how. Cody tried really hard not to think about that day and the things he’d had to do afterwards. But there were times, like today, that they would come to his head and he’d not be able to think of anything else. The sound of a great crash had him turning off the microwave and grabbing the little phone that had been left for him to use. He had no idea what had caused the sound, but he’d rather be hidden than not. No telling when his dad might think to look in here for him. The greenhouse, he knew, wasn’t all that secure. “Boy, where the fuck are you?” His best friend and dog Buster came to hide with him when he heard his dad’s voice. Buster had been hurt by him too. “I’m talking to you, shit for brains, and you’d better answer me.” Cody opened the phone and looked at the numbers there. He was crying now, and he wasn’t sure he was going to be able to press the right buttons. For some reason, he knew that he’d only have a single chance at calling for help, and he pressed one of the buttons. “What the fuck do you want? Its five in the morning, moron.” He didn’t know the woman’s voice that answered, but he didn’t care. “Did you hear me, fucktard?” “I’m at the greenhouse. He’s here.” The woman changed her voice after that, and he could hear her talking to someone else. Cody was afraid that he had a wrong number and tried again to tell her how scared he was. “He’s here, and I don’t wanna die.” “You’re not. Just stay hidden, Chase and I are coming.” He didn’t know who that was but figured that if the number was in the phone, it was someone that would really help him. So long as it wasn’t put in it wrong, he guessed. “We’ll be there before you know it.” He surely hoped so. As it was right now, his dad was screaming for him to come in and he could hear him breaking stuff. Mr. Elliot was sure going to be mad when he got here. Cody would have to tell him that he could help him clean it up. If he got to live that long. “You’re trespassing, you fucking idiot. Didn’t anyone ever tell you that when you have to break a fucking door to get in, you’re probably not going to be all that welcome?” Cody knew it was the woman on the phone. She sure did cuss a lot. “The police have been called, mother fucker, and you’re going down.” “My kid is in here and somebody is going to pay. I saw that mutt of his yesterday, then he disappeared. I’m guessing that somebody in here is going to jail and not me.”

The woman laughed, and then he heard the strong voice of a man. Cody wasn’t sure what he was saying, but he wasn’t any happier with his dad than the woman was. “I don’t give two shits about this being private property. My fucking shit for brains kid is in here, and I want his fucking ass home. Now get him before I have to hurt you two while I’m at it.” This time he heard the man. “Yes, you go ahead and try that, then we’ll see who gets hurt. Besides, aside from the fact that you’re an idiot, what the hell do you think gives you the right to assume that you can break in here to have a look around? As you’ve been told, several times, this is private property.” If his dad spoke, Cody didn’t hear him. Just then, Elliot appeared and put his hand over Cody’s mouth. “We have a plan.” Cody nodded and stood up when Elliot asked him to. “I promise you with all that I am, he will never harm you. But I want you to go out there and show yourself. My brother and sister-in-law will be out there to help you.” “He’ll kill me.” Elliot reminded him that his dad was only human, and they were all vampires. “Okay, I can see that. But if you guys kill him, and I would if I was one, then I got nobody at all. I mean, he’s a terrible man and the worse father of all, but he’s all I got now. Maybe I should just—” “Don’t say that, all right? You’ll have me. And my family. Do you have any other relatives?” He told him about an aunt that lived in New York. “Good. We’ll contact her when your dad is in jail. Then when he’s there, we can help your mom out of being wrapped up under your porch.” Cody thought he’d rather stay under the bed for the rest of his life than go out there where his father was. His dad was a mean person, and Cody hadn’t had to do much wrong to have his dad wallop him but good. But he did trust this man. The week that he’d been here, with Elliot’s knowledge, he’d got to meet a nice woman, had food all the time, and he was clean. Brandy had seen to that for him too. She took him to her house for the afternoon so that he could get a shower and something that didn’t come from a zapper, as she called the microwave. Also, she did his laundry and gave him cookies and fruit so that he could eat that instead of the things that were bad for him. And she gave him the best hugs a little boy like him could have ever needed. Getting up, he took a long breath in and let it out slowly. He had very little reason to trust anyone. There were people, he knew, that were nice, but in his small experience, they were all mean and hit hard. But not Elliot. He was the nicest man he knew. Cody also knew that his dad would call him a pussy, or some other bad name, just because he could. And he also knew that Elliot or any of Elliot’s family could kill his dad without much effort. “He will never touch you. I promise you, Cody. Never.” He believed that Elliot would try to make that happen, but he also knew his dad. Nodding once to the man who meant the world to him, Cody made his way out into the greenhouse and looked at the damage that his dad had done to get to him.

Why? What reason did he have to break up so many things that didn’t belong to him? He knew why—because he could. That’s what he told Cody all the time. He said that if people didn’t want their shit broken, they should take better care about putting it out where he could break it. Like it was their fault or something. “There you are, you shit for brains. You’re going to get your ass blistered for this.” It wasn’t just a threat either. His dad had burned him before on his butt by sitting him on a hot pan he’d heated up on the stove. “You got chores that I expect you to do, too. I don’t care how bad you’re going to be hurting. Your mom, she ran off, and you’re going to take up her slack when I—” Cody wasn’t sure what made him feel so brave. It could have been the two people that were in front of him with his dad, or the man behind him that put his hand on his shoulder when his dad started to speak. But he knew, for now, this might be his only chance to get his mom some peace. “She ain’t run off and you know it.” His dad turned a dark red, like he was planning to explode or something. “You tied us to the chair and you put tape over my mouth. Then you put a big plastic bag over her head and made it real tight. I could see her face, I could hear her screams. Then you made me wrap her up in a tarp and put her under the front porch when you killed her. You said she’d be there until you could have me dig a hole to put her in when the dirt was unfrozen. Why would you do that to my mom? What right do you have to just kill someone like that? Huh?” The woman, she told him her name was Emerald, knelt down in front of him. He didn’t want her to turn her back on his dad and told her that. She only smiled at him, and Cody had a feeling that he should warn his dad not to mess with her. She was scary even with her pretty smile. “Is your mom truly under your porch?” Wiping at the tears that he shed when he thought of how much he missed her, Cody nodded. “And you know for a fact that your dad is the one that killed her? And that he made you witness it?” “He tied us both up and told us that he was going to teach us a lesson.” His dad growled, like he did right before he came after Cody for something. But Emerald told him to just look at her. “Dad killed her, and he was gonna kill me too, but I run off with Buster. After I had to wrap her up. It hurt me so hard to have to of done that to my own mom. You know?” Cody watched as the woman stood up in front of him. He’d never in all his life felt like he wasn’t going to be hurt by anyone until then. Mr. Elliot was behind him, the woman stood in front. And for some reason, he thought that he’d be more afraid of her than the men if he was his dad. But he was beyond stupid, Cody only just realized, and he’d get himself killed if he didn’t smarten up. Cody also knew that his dad thought he was smart already, and that would be the end of him. The sirens started blaring about the time his dad was backing away from Chase. He was a big man too, and Cody was sure that he worked out all the time. Not like his dad said he did, working out by beating him and his mom, but in a real job. Chase seemed to grow bigger when his dad told him to get out of his way.

“I wouldn’t leave here if I were you.” His dad asked Chase why not, he’d done nothing wrong. “You see, that’s where you’re wrong. We’ve had someone watching your home since young Cody showed up cold and hungry here. If not for the quick thinking of my brother, I’m sure that you would have had him joining his mom under the porch, too. Wouldn’t you have?” “I don’t know what you’re talking about. And if you want him, he’s yours. Got no use for him anyway. All he does is whine about shit and don’t carry his weight around the house.” Chase just looked at his dad and laughed. “You got no reason to be acting like you’re better than I am. I just came here for my boy. Whatever he’s told you, it’s a lie. He’s a liar and a thief too. I changed my mind. I’ll take him now and we’ll forget the whole thing. That way I don’t have to hurt you too.” Two police officers came into the greenhouse and asked Elliot if they still needed them. Cody wasn’t sure what that meant, but Elliot told them that he was going to let them take care of this. He thought that Cody had had enough death in one lifetime. The officers nodded and walked up to his dad. “Mr. Wayne, you’re under arrest for attempted murder as well as child endangerment. Those are all we can hold you on for now, at least until we can get out to your house and have a look around.” Cody’s dad said he’d not tried to murder anyone, yet. The officer nodded and pulled out his handcuffs. “You’ll come along easily, Mr. Wayne, or I swear to you I’m going to leave you here for the Crosbys to deal with. And trust me when I tell you, I’d not screw around with any of them. They’re the sort that takes care of their own, and protects them in ways a human can’t. They deal with threats quickly and without any kind of fanfare.” Cody looked up at Elliot when the hand on his shoulder tightened. His eyes were all bloody looking, and he could see his teeth—fangs, Cody guessed they were called— showing on his lower lip. Then when he shook himself, like Buster did when he came in out of the cold, he looked down at him with a wink and a smile. “My stepmom, Brandy, is here. You know her, she’s come to get you sometimes.” He nodded. “I want you to go with her to her and my dad’s house. You can trust them as much as you do me; you know that, don’t you?” “Yes, she’s a nice lady. I like her. But you’re not going to be hurt, are you, Mr. Elliot? You’re a nice man, but my dad, he’s not so nice, and he is mean when he doesn’t get his way.” Elliot knelt down to his level, and Cody had the overwhelming urge to hug the man. And when he did, wrapping his arms around his neck, Cody cried. “Don’t get hurt. Please? You’re my only friend in the whole wide world but for Buster. And he don’t count much—he’s a dog.” Cody was carried to the door and handed to Ms. Brandy. She bundled him up in a blanket and took him right to the car. Mr. Franklin was in there too, and he asked him if he’d gotten any breakfast with this boloney going on. “No, sir. I was heating me up one of them breakfast logs that Elliot calls them when I heard my dad.” He nodded and said they’d gotten none either, but they was up for it. “I don’t have any money to go out with you. I’m sorry. Mr. Elliot said he’d pay me today, and I guess he forgot.”

“He’ll get around to it, you can bet on that. But you don’t have to worry none about paying, son. We got you covered. Any man that can stand up to a bully like you did your dad, then he deserves a big man breakfast too. Took guts to do what you did, and now they’re going to be able to find your poor momma and help her too.” He didn’t think they’d be able to save his mom, but he nodded at him. Ms. Brandy told him that they’d get her to a place she could be buried. Cody understood that. He surely wouldn’t want to have these people mad at him, he realized. They were good as a family, as best as he’d ever seen, but they sure could be mean when they thought someone was hurting someone. And Cody was sure that they would fight for him too. For the first time in his young life, he felt loved and safe. His mom had loved him, but she was gone now. ~~~ Elliot was barely holding onto his beast right now. The woman, Rose Wayne, was just where Cody had said she’d be—wrapped up in a tarp that wasn’t even in that good of shape, and still with the plastic bag over her head. He wondered what sort of monster could do that to his wife. Not to mention, make his son watch. Elliot sat on the back of his truck and waited for the police to finish up. It was that or go to the jail and kill the man responsible for this. “You going inside with me?” He nodded at Joey Williams, the chief of police. “All right. But you keep your hands to yourself until I say you can touch. I know what you’re going in there for, and I have to tell you, Elliot, I’d not do it again if I didn’t have to. The place is a mess.” “He might want some pictures of his mom. Wherever Cody goes after this, he’ll still remember her.” Joey told him again not to touch anything. He looked at his friend, and thought it was odd that he was being so firm about this no touching thing. “Is there something that you’re trying hard not to tell me?” “The boy, how long has he been hiding out in the greenhouse?” Elliot didn’t answer him. That would be considered kidnapping if his dad had a good attorney, and it was common knowledge that he’d known he was there. “The reason I ask is, there is another body under the porch. It’s pretty far back under there, and we might not have seen it had it not been for the tarp being shiny. I don’t think we want Cody’s dad to know we found him for now. He’s not related to this family, but a little fella all the same. He looks like he might have been killed in the last couple of weeks.” “If he was put there in the last week or so, Cody might not have seen him. He has been with me, as you know. And the only reason that he came out of hiding even then was he was starving. I’m betting that he’s been gone for some time, at least a couple of weeks or more.” Joey nodded and sat beside him on the truck. “Who is it?” “One of mine. Pack. He’s been missing for a couple of weeks too. I’m not sure what happened to have him ending up under the porch, but I’m thinking that Duncan might have thought he was killing his son. And it was too late when he figured it out once he’d already started on the— Just don’t touch anything, all right?” He asked him why he’d think that about the death of the boy. “Emerald did some looking around in Duncan’s head for me. He’s got some nasty shit up there, she told me, and he might not

make it to the cell I have all planned out for him. She wasn’t all that nice about her search either.” “She is rarely nice, so you know. I love her to pieces, but she scares the living shit out of me most of the time.” Joey laughed when he did. “He has to stand trial for this, Joey. You know that as well as I do. If he comes up missing and people find out that I’d been harboring his son, it might not go over well for either of us.” “I told her that. She’s got them little dragons of hers watching him. I’m to understand from your dad that they’re not all cute and cuddly at all either.” He said that they weren’t. “I don’t suppose, while I’m thinking about it, your family had anything to do with the baby vamps out on Sixty, did they? If you won’t answer me I understand, but thanks if you did.” Elliot nodded. He still had trouble thinking about how the young vampires had been dealt with. The little dragons weren’t all that cute and cuddly, not by long shot. They were big and dangerous. Deadly too. When Joey asked him if he was ready, he nodded and made his way to the little house. As soon as he was on the porch, where the bodies had been found, he could smell it. He looked at Joey when they both stopped before entering the house. “I’m going to ask you again not to touch anything.” Elliot nodded. “I have to preserve the crime scene with this one. By the books. If your fingerprints show up here, I’m going to have to have you arrested as well, just so we don’t fuck this one up. We’re even recording everything from the time we got here. I sure hope to Christ that we got it all. And as much as you scare me, being a vamp and all, I don’t want to have to explain to Emerald that your arrest is only temporary, until we get it sorted out.” “What am I walking in on, Joey?” Joey looked out beyond the house to the tree line. Elliot did the same. “The family?” “Yes. They’ve been here since I called them to let them know that we’d found Tim, their son. The child did not go easy, so you know, and it happened in the house.” Elliot nodded. “Is there anyone else that this kid has to go to? I mean, he’s going into the system if there isn’t anyone to take care of him.” “He mentioned an aunt in New York.” Elliot looked back at the house before continuing. “Joey, are you all right? I promise I won’t touch anything if you’d rather not go in again.” “I have to. That’s the only reason I am. And with you there—well, I feel like I need someone else to witness this. Just to say that it’s as bad as I thought it was the first time. And Elliot, it’s as bad as it gets in there.” Elliot nodded. “I’m truly sorry about this.” The scent of blood hit him. It wasn’t fresh either. As soon as his eyes adjusted to the darkness of the house, he looked around. For the first time in his entire life, something sickened him to the point that he thought he was going to throw up. Christ, the kid had fought hard, he realized. He had no idea how the young pup had died, but he surely did try his best to come out the winner in his fight for life. The furniture around the first room was broken and shattered against the wall. Blood was splattered all over the walls and curtains, as well as anything around the room that was out in the open. Elliot looked at the place where

he was sure that the boy had been murdered, and stood there for several seconds just looking at the wide dark brown stain. He looked at Joey when he said his name. “You all right?” He nodded, then shook his head. “Yeah, just the way I felt the first time, and now too. What sort of sick fuck is this man? To do this not just to a kid that turned out to not be his, but to his wife too. I cannot wait to see him go down for this.” The rest of the house was the same. Blood marred every surface in each of the four rooms. The bathroom, where they both thought that Duncan had cleaned himself up after the deed, had been left to look like a massacre had taken place. The shower stall was stained in blood. The soap that lay on the small shelf looked like a block of red blood. Two towels were lying on the floor. They looked as if he’d not used much water to clean himself up, but just used dry towels instead of using water first. He could see him doing that—thinking that he’d just wipe it off, then seeing that it hadn’t worked, cursing as he got into the shower. Duncan’s torn and bloodied clothing lay in a heap on the floor next to the tub. Even it, Elliot thought, looked as if someone had bled all over the surface of the tiles on the floor and walls. “He realized about halfway through that it wasn’t his son, I would guess by the looks of things. He was violent at first, as you can see, but he got more so as it went on. I don’t know how he got Tim in here—drugs, I’m thinking. Or he hit him on the head and wrapped him up to bring him in the house. But once he realized that he had the wrong boy, he tried to cover his tracks by killing him. The kid didn’t give up either. At least that’s what I’m seeing. How about you?” Elliot said he could see that. “I didn’t know why he didn’t call out to his parents in this. They would have gladly come for him. But when I talked to them about finding Tim, they told me that he’d only been seven years old, and he wasn’t old enough to call on his wolf yet. It’s a real shame I can’t let them take care of this for us all.” They wandered through the house. It was sitting on a slab, so there wasn’t a basement that would have held more blood and secrets. Secrets that Elliot had decided he wasn’t keen on seeing, if there were any. As it was, Elliot wasn’t sure that he’d sleep well tonight. Not after this. There were no pictures of Cody’s mom. Nor were there any of the young boy. No things hanging on the refrigerator that Cody might have made. There wasn’t a single thing in the house that made him think that a kid lived there except for the blankets in the corner of a room and a small pile of dirty clothes. Elliot felt his beast stir under his skin at the monstrous acts of some people. Emerald contacted him just as he was coming out of the house. There are two things that you should know, one of which is going to piss you off more than you are now. The second—well, let’s just say that I’m not sure I’ll want any kids I have to go to the local school after this. He asked her if the school had known about the abuse. Not only did they know about it, but also that he’d not been eating well. Something about not being able to talk to the parents. I don’t know what their policy is on such things, but you can bet they know mine right now.

Honey, I don’t know if you are aware of this or not, but everyone knows what you’re thinking because you have no trouble putting it out there. She thanked him. You’re welcome. And what is the second bit of news? So far, so you know, I don’t know if this was the really bad or the really-really bad news. The first one is the bad. I thought I’d start with that. The second one is, I’ve been able to locate the aunt. She’s one of two of Duncan’s sisters, by the way. I did some looking into soon-tobe-dead Duncan’s head, and found out enough information about them to know that he hated them both, so they must be nice. Elliot laughed. The one is not able to come here and see about the boy, nor to make arrangements for her sister-in-law’s funeral. She said that she thought her sister was dead. I think Duncan has been playing them both against each other. I’ve given her the information to contact her. Also, all arrangements have been made, including sending the plane for her and help with her children. Her name is Julia Harney, and she said that she won’t see her brother. She’ll arrive here in a couple of days. So, the bad news—or perhaps good, if you want to take him for your own son—is that she’s coming to see Cody, but she’s not taking him in. Told me right off that she had four kids of her own and didn’t need one more mouth to feed. Not mean like—she just sounded like she was overwhelmed with life and just can’t take any more. Single mom and all, she’s barely making it on her own. What happens to him if he’s not taken in by family? Emerald told him she was looking to see if there was a grandmother or such, but she didn’t hold out much hope of anyone taking him. So, he’s going to be a ward of the state. After all he’s been through, now he’ll have to be in the system. That fucking sucks. You could adopt him. He had actually thought about it, in an offhanded sort of way. I’m sure that you won’t have any trouble taking him in. And once he’s there, it’s just a matter of getting the right paperwork done and filed. And you know as well as I do, he’s better off with a vampire than he would be some of the bloodsucking fucks that are out there waiting on someone else to abuse. And I’m referring to some of the foster care homes that, you know as well as I do, only make it worse for a kid. Yes. Over the years I’ve come to realize that there are few that can be counted on to do what they’re supposed to do with a child. But I’ll look into having him come live with me. Even if it’s only temporary for now. She told him where he was, that he was being examined by the hospital. He’s not hurting as much as he was. And he’s had a few good meals in him, so that’s going to be good for him as well. It’s going to make a big difference to a lot of people, this kid being safe, and his fucktard of a dad put away. By the way, have you thought about your mate? He asked her what she meant. I don’t know, but it’s been my experience that a mate will come out of nowhere for you guys. What if this woman with her children is the one for you? She was still laughing when he closed the connection. Some days he thought about strangling her. But he knew, just as soon as he was close enough to do something like that, he’d not have to worry about his brother hurting him. Emerald would hurt him in ways that he’d never thought of. No, he’d not hurt her, but he could think about it. Smiling for the first time since coming to this house, he felt better knowing that Cody was going to be safe for a while.





Sunday, May 27, 2018

Boyd: McCullough’s Jamboree Release Blitz & Giveaway








Boyd lost his mate before he'd really found her. He found her in college, but his studies were important too. He figured he'd have plenty of time to meet her, after his exams. But a tragic car accident robbed him of his future before it had begun…. At least that is what he had always believed.

Reilly was just trying to make ends meet. She wanted to get through the day with her slimy boss keeping his hands to himself. But when she got the call from the hospital that her dad had been in an accident, she had to go. Her boss had other ideas.

The pileup on the freeway had Boyd working overtime. All the injured had been coming into the hospital in droves. He had treated so many patients that he was just exhausted. When he stepped out for a breather, he saw her. She was the sexiest woman he’d ever seen, and when he approached her, her scent had his senses in a whirl and his cat reacted. The word mate flashed through is mind. But that couldn’t be right, it had to be lack of sleep making him think that.







Amazon USA https://amzn.to/2LCk74u
Amazon UK https://amzn.to/2GTigV7
B&N https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/boyd-kathi-s-barton/1128709199?ean=2940162126430

SmashWords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/828998

KOBO https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/boyd-3

I Books https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/boyd/id1385962632?mt=11











Colin McCullough gets the phone call that all military families dread―his brother Hawkins has been shot. Colin only wants to thank Hawkins’s commanding officer for saving his brother’s life, but he can never seem to get past the guards in the hospital’s hallway to personally thank the man.

Major Lauren Burcher is all Army and head of a special task team usually sent in to clean things up. This time, her team is ambushed by friendlies, and Lauren and her best man Hawkins McCullough barely make it out alive―they were set up. Someone wants them both dead.

Another attempt on Lauren’s life in the hospital fails miserably, and when Colin scoops her up in his arms to place her back in the hospital bed, he finds a gun pointed at his forehead at point blank range. In that moment he realizes this bad-assed scary woman is his mate.

Lauren wants no part of this mate business. Relationships get messy and this jerk is bossy as hell. And Lauren doesn’t take orders…she gives them. But it will take all of them, his family and hers, to keep her and Hawkins alive….







Who rescued who was still a little vague, but they escaped just the same. The lab called him SA-8, and they had made him into a very powerful weapon. But to Reese he was just Josh, a boy that could do amazing things, but a boy none the less—not a lab rat. That was two years ago—the lab had been relentless and lethal in their pursuit. With her big rig running on fumes, and their last dime spent, they wound up on a small town in Ohio…. Parker McCullough found an abandoned big rig parked on his land. It had been there a few days, and he wasn’t quite sure what to do about it. Calling the authorities seemed like the logical thing to do, but when he tried to do so, his cell phone went flying from his hand and a teenage boy appeared from nowhere. Parker thought the boy was an Elite Shifter, and after hearing a little of the boy’s story he wanted to help. Reese didn’t know who all these people were, but if she and Josh didn’t get away from them, the “others” would find them and they’d all be dead, just like all the other people who had tried to help them along the way…. And now the gorgeous shifter, Parker, had her trapped in the kitchen claiming to be her mate…. She didn’t have time for herself, and she didn’t want to see them all die because they’d helped her and Josh—Reese was out of options.



Mackenzie’s shift at the hospital had just begun when they told her that a patient friend of hers was back in the ER and asking for her. When she entered the curtained room, the last thing she expected was for a McCullough to be sitting next to her patient. It wasn’t Hawk, thank god, but the man looked enough like him he could have been his twin. Hawkins McCullough was on her shit list, and if this man was related to him, she didn’t want anything to do with him.

It didn’t take long for Dustin McCullough to figure out that this feisty doctor was his mate. And when he found out that his brother had hurt her, it took a great deal of strength to keep his cat from killing him.

Mackenzie was at her wits end. Random attacks to her person and bullets flying had the entire McCullough family in an uproar. And just when they thought they had everything about under control, Hawkins drops a bombshell that had them all stunned.

Can Mackenzie find it in her heart to forgive Hawk before it’s too late?







Recommended for 18+ Erotic Shapeshifter Romance. Book 1 of the McCullough’s Jamboree Jaguar Shifter Series. This full length novel can be read as a stand-alone. McCullough’s Jamboree 1. Colin 2. Parker 3. Dustin 4. Larson 5. Boyd (Coming Soon) 6. Hawkins (Coming Soon) Virginia is a bestselling paranormal romance author. She does much better with her stories than with people. When she’s in her “writing zone,” she won’t even eat unless her mother hands her a plate and reminds her to do so. She wouldn’t be making the trip to the McCullough’s if it wasn’t absolutely necessary. Go, see the child, make sure he has a good home. That is the plan. Simple…not. Larson is having his own issues. Being blamed for the murder of one of his clients, which he didn’t do, has him closing up shop and laying low for a few days. His mom insists that he show up for dinner to meet their visiting guests. Larson would rather stay home, but she’d have his hide if he did. Larson sees the beauty from across the room and makes his way to her. Before he even reaches her, he catches her scent. She is his mate. Now what is he supposed to do? He has his life just the way he wants it and a mate wasn’t figured into that equation. On the other hand, the way she flushes when she returns his stare has him thinking anything but pure thoughts. Maybe having a mate wouldn’t be so bad after all.






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Stoking the Flames II: Tales of Legend, Lore and Everlasting Love  Now Live 







Find everlasting love in the clouds. Go back in time. Spring into the future. Soar on the wings of magic.
Discover Legends of Fate, Destiny, True Mates, and Forever Love that’s written in the Stars.

Take flight with fifteen amazingly talented bestselling authors as they bring these special Dragons to life. In each life-changing journey you will see that the heart gets what the heart wants, happily ever after is so much more than simple words at the end of a Fairy Tale, and Dragons prevail no matter the time, place, or obstacle.

This is Stoking the Flames II – spread your wings and soar with our Dragons. Once you’ve touched the clouds, felt the wind in your hair, and held the power in your hands, you will forever fly high.



Amazon Global: smarturl.it/4v505w
Kobo: https://bit.ly/2HU9LLW
iBooks : https://apple.co/2qOwq4C
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Lauren didn’t like not having answers. She supposed that was an understatement, but things just weren’t adding up for her. As she began writing down what she knew and what she didn’t, the sticky notes began taking on a bizarre color scheme that only she could figure out. When Colin came into the office with her, she stood and started sticking them on the wall with the pictures that she’d hung up. “Are these the people that you’ve been searching for?” She told him that the world was searching for them, it seemed. “Yes, well, whoever they are, they’re wanted in four countries, you told me, and that wasn’t even counting the countries that they’ve not been found out in.” “Yes, well, I’m working on that one too. There are several deaths that I can have tagged to them, but nothing to stick so far.” She hung up the notes and then stepped back. “Things aren’t adding up in their usual fucking order like I like them to do.”

“Hawk was just here. He said to tell you that he’d be back in a couple of days. It’s too much for him. I have no idea what that is supposed to mean either.” She told him. “How can we be driving him insane when he doesn’t hang around us all that much now? I mean, he was in here for about two minutes before he took off again. How am I supposed to be driving him crazy?” “You’re around. And don’t ask me questions if all you’re going to do is try and prove to me why I’m not right. We both know that I am, and the sooner you get that in your thick skull, the better off you’re going to be.” They both laughed. “What do you see when you look at this?” He had helped her a few times when she’d had something staring her right in the face over the last few months. Mostly it was because he was fresh eyes and wasn’t tainted by her jadedness. And she knew that she was. Lauren didn’t trust anyone, and didn’t like people twice as much as her trust level was. Colin got up and looked over the board. “The blue notes, what are they?” She told him they were facts. “And the yellow ones? I’m assuming you have this color coded. It’ll help me to figure it out if I know it all.” “Yellow is for unknown factors. Such as I don’t know how the fuck they’re being funded. The blue ones are place markers. As you can see I’ve only put numbers on them. The questions are eluding me as well.” He nodded, and he continued to look over her board of pictures and notes. “The red ones are names that I know that they’ve killed. And as you can see, some of them are straddled between two names. So I’m not entirely sure what I’m looking at here.” “Is it the same person that might have killed the ones you
have straddled between two names?” She looked at the board and asked him what he meant. “The people that you have under two names. You think they might have been killed by two different people. Maybe it’s just one person that looks like two to throw you off. I mean, are you sure that they’re not one and the same murderer?” “Why do you ask that? I’m not saying that you’re wrong, but I never thought of that yet.” She looked at the traits of both men and women on her list. They were similar, but not terribly so. But when Colin pointed out that the names were nearly the same, she then noticed a few other things about them as well. “This one stays in the same type of hotel. High end and lots of room service. They always go out for drinks with their intended victim before taking them back to the room to murder them.” She took down the second picture but laid it aside. She didn’t know which one the right person was, but it was getting easier to see them now. “These two people always wear a wig that is made not from manmade hair, but of different animals. The only reason we know this is because the latest victim pulled out a lot of their hair when he was trying to defend himself. He had a lot of defensive wounds.” “These two have the same initials as well.” She nodded and put the picture with the other one. “Don’t you think these are the same picture?” “I thought that as well, but I’ve concluded that they’re not. Unless they’ve had some work done since the first one was taken.” She showed him the nose and how it was shaped, and the lips. “I guess they could have had collagen put in, but I don’t know how that affects the body as well as say, a doctor
would. I’ve called Boyd over to look at them.” Lauren was a mess working on this one. It was something that she’d pulled from the cold files at the police station. She wasn’t working for Jarvis as much right now—he was trying to close his end of being president right now. He still had two years to go, but he wasn’t running for reelection, so she wasn’t sure what she was supposed to do now and when he was finished. She told Colin what she was thinking. “I thought you were a lifer.” She said that she’d be a dead one if she didn’t have something to do soon. “Yeah, I figured that was why you asked for the files to be sent over. If you want, I can show you how to use a sander and you can help us out.” “No thanks. I have all my fingers just where I want them.” She moved a few of the folders and sat down. “I’ve talked to Boyd about Sandy, and he said that she’s not his mate. They get along well but decided that they’re not going to be involved. I had no idea that he’d lost his mate years ago.” “I didn’t know either until he told us at dinner a couple of weeks ago. He said that she was a student at the college when he was. But he’d had his head so buried in studying that he didn’t notice her until it was too late.” She asked him if there was a chance that he could have been wrong about the other woman. “No, I don’t think so. He knew it was her. Had the overwhelming need to be with her but knew that he had to study too. Then when he came out of his study session one night, she’d been killed by a hit and run driver. Mom took it very hard too, I think.” Bea had too. And so had Rich. He must have told their son he was sorry a thousand times at dinner, then had to go
out on the deck to get himself under control. Rich wanted his kids to be happy, and thought that having a mate, each of them, was the only way they were going to be. Anastasia had come to her last night and answered a few questions about mates, things that she hadn’t wanted to ask Colin about. Like could they get a second chance sometimes. “Yes, anyone can. But I have a feeling that our young Boyd doesn’t care to look for it.” Lauren had asked her why. “He’s so set in his ways, don’t you think? I mean, it’s like he’s found her, she’s gone, and that’s all she wrote. The guy could be a poster child for anal retentive men.” “I don’t think he’s that bad, but I do see your point.” Lauren thought of his office as compared to her own. “He puts me to shame every time he has to come here. He tisks at me like an old woman and tells me that I should have more respect for my things. I just put my gun on the table and tell him I do, for the ones that could save my life.” When Colin left her to go back to his job of working with his brother and dad, she sat down at her desk and looked around her office. There wasn’t much more she could do on this, but she knew that sooner rather than later, she’d figure it out. Since she was working on several other things now, she thought about Christmas which was in two weeks. There were decorations all over the house right now. A great many of them were where they should have been, gracing the staircase or hanging on the tree, but other things were still in boxes and hadn’t been put up. Lauren was excited to have a family Christmas. It would be her first one in a very long time. The tree alone had her coming downstairs in the middle
of the night and turning it on. The decorations on it, all of them, twinkled around the room like a sparkler on the Fourth. Then there were the packages, more every day, that were under it. She’d not gone snooping in them—she knew what they were…they were for their children. But she was just as excited as any child for this coming holiday. They were going to have Christmas Eve at their own houses, with their own families, then on the big morning they were headed to Colin’s parents’ house, her parents too, to have a long, fun day with them. Then there was food all day, as well as massive amounts of football. She herself had fallen in love with the sport long before she knew that his entire family would schedule a meal around their favorite teams. Looking at the time, she gathered up what she needed and waited for Boyd to come over. He and Mac were closing the clinic after today to take a much-needed vacation. Mac and Dustin were planning a nice getaway after the holiday, and she and Colin were going to spend a couple of days in Washington with Jarvis. She’d never spent a holiday with the president before and thought it might be fun. At least she wouldn’t be working the entire time. Boyd showed up about half an hour later, saying that he’d just delivered his one hundredth baby. The man was a wonder, she’d give him that. One hundred babies brought into the world, and he acted like it was the first time every time. Smiling, she brought him into her office to work and loved that he didn’t disappoint her in pointing out what a slob she was. Boyd could make her laugh quicker than any of the McCullough men. ~~~
After Boyd and Lauren finished up his help to her, they sat at the big desk and looked over the work she was doing now. He couldn’t offer her any help on her notes and pictures, but he did tell her that the two people in the picture were one and the same. He said that she’d have to learn eyes. Not that she didn’t know a great deal about people, but the eyes never lied to you. “I’ve been looking at houses. Dustin is helping me find something reasonable.” Lauren asked him if he was looking for big. “I wasn’t, but there isn’t much of a choice in the smaller houses that I was looking for. He said that bigger is better.” “Yeah, he would. I was noticing the house that they’re working on now. That’s a little bitty thing, at least compared to all the houses that the rest of them own.” Boyd laughed with her. He told her that the house was sold already. “That was fast. I had no idea that it was even on the market yet.” “It’s not, but they were working on it the day before yesterday and a couple came in to look around. Before they knew it, they were picking out carpet colors and paint colors for them. I guess they got a loan yesterday, and now they’re working with them to make it their home.” “That’s good for them, I guess. Why smaller, if you don’t mind me asking?” Boyd had been telling his family that he wouldn’t have a mate coming his way. He had told his family so far, and decided that he might as well tell everyone else too. He mentioned it again to Lauren. “I’m sorry, Boyd. I never thought that you guys could just not take your mate. And you told us that she was killed too. That really sucks. But in talking with Anastasia, she said that there is always a chance that you could find another mate. It has happened before.”
“I know. I thought I had plenty of time. I guess I do now, but I no longer have anyone to spend it with.” He didn’t like feeling sorry for himself, and tried to think of something to talk about. Anything else but a mate. “I should get going. I know you have a lot of work going on here.” “Actually, I’m just helping out on some cold cases for the moment. You and your brothers, you all have contributed something to the cause. I’m just biding my time until something comes along with Jarvis. But I have solved one of them so far.” He asked her about it. “They thought it was a robbery gone bad, but I found receipts in the man’s things that said that he’d sold off all his worldly goods then killed himself. A good job of it too, meaning that he did it in a way that really did point to murder.” “And what does it matter? I’m not belittling your work—I think it’s fantastic. But what does it matter to the system if he’s murdered or killed himself?” She handed him a sheet of paper, and on it were the same names and dates. “I don’t understand this.” “Insurance claims. They want his insurance, and if he was murdered, it would have been doubled. I was asked to figure out if I could find the murderer. Instead, I found that he killed himself. They’ll not get it now.” He told her that he thought that was sort of sad, and cruel too. “Yes, it is. And I agree with you that he fucked over his family. But that’s the truth of the matter, and that’s what I found. Now the case is closed, and no more man hours will be wasted on it.” “Do you think that was his purpose in making it all neat and tidy?” Lauren nodded. “All right, I guess, but he must have had his reasons, that’s all I’m saying.”
“I’m sure that he did.” She shoved the file under the other files on her desk and Boyd stood up. “You want some help house hunting? I’m about done here, and I could use a break. And if you’re really nice to me, which I don’t know why you wouldn’t be, I’ll let you buy me lunch.” “Sounds good to me.” They were out the door and in his car before he realized that he hadn’t been planning on house hunting today. “Dustin hasn’t lined up any houses for me to look at. I have nowhere to go.” “I know. But you seemed sort of down and I needed to get out. We’ll wing it.” Boyd stared at his sister-in-law. “All right, all right, I know I don’t wing it well, but I really did need to get out of the house. So, where do we start? I’m thinking that we hit a realtor and go from there.” The office of the only agent in town wasn’t busy, and he was able to get someone to give him a list rather than follow them around all afternoon. Boyd supposed that it was because of Lauren. She’d said no, they didn’t need the realtor to go with them, and no one disputed her claim that they had this. He was still laughing at the expression on the woman’s face when Lauren told her no. He’d bet few people told her that and got away with it. Much like Lauren. They hit two houses before they stopped for lunch. The first one had too much work that needed to be done on it. And Dustin had already told him that he had five houses that he had to work on before summer, as they were homes for vets. Dustin and their family did that when they could, helped injured vets with homes that would suit their needs. They were eating their lunch as they looked over the map they’d been given. Lauren crossed two of the dozen or so
houses off the list right away. She said they were too far from the family for him to think about purchasing them. “Perhaps I don’t want to live close to all of you.” She snorted at him. “You know, you’re not as pleasant to be around as you might think. I mean, I’ve had wild cats with more friendliness than you display all the time.” “Yes, but I can save your ass if you need it, and you know that I will tell you the truth, even if you don’t want to hear it. But I can also lie right to your face and you’d never know.” He asked her how she thought that was a good thing. “It is. Like the shirt you have on. I could have said to you, Christ, Boyd, that’s a shirt an old man would wear. And you’d change. But I held my tongue.” Boyd looked down at his polo and then back at her. “What’s wrong with this shirt? You have one on that is just the same. Only mine is blue and yours is black. By the way, do you own any other color than black?” “No, I don’t. And you could use some color in your life too. I’m too set in my ways to change my style. But you, you should wear colors.” He pointed out that blue was a color. “Nah, it’s a mood. Blue is a mood. You should wear green or yellow. You’d look good in yellow.” He didn’t even know what to say to her. There were times when he had no idea if she was giving him a hard time or not. Like her being able to lie to him and he wouldn’t know if she was telling him a lie or the truth. So instead of engaging with her, he ate his burger and fries. Before he was finishing off his malt, she had marked two more off the list and had circled four of them. Paying for lunch, he looked around the diner. It was a
place he’d been coming to since he’d been a kid. And it really hadn’t changed all that much. In two weeks the new owner, Reese, would close it down and have the entire place updated, expanded, as well as adding an ice cream area for the local kids. This was all done on the sly—she wouldn’t know it was hers until Christmas morning. Jon and Parker had bought it for her. “You think they’ll keep the bar stools?” Lauren asked him why he’d want them. “I don’t know. It’s something that the six of us would sit on when my parents would bring us here for a treat. There used to be a soda fountain machine in here until it died with the old ways. I guess I’m a little nostalgic for my childhood.” Lauren popped him in the back of the head. “Get over it. You need to focus on the here and now, my dear brother. And when you get a house, I expect to get full credit for you buying it. Even if you have to lie about it.” They were still laughing as they made their way to the next house. He didn’t care for the neighborhood, but he was willing to give it a chance. But the closer they got to the place, the more uncomfortable he felt—like dread or the feeling of impending pain. When he sat in the car, just staring up at the house, Lauren asked him what was wrong. “I don’t know. I can feel something here.” She asked if it was just what he’d been thinking, and he turned to her. “You feel it too then?” “Yes. Like I’m going to open that door and sixty men with guns and knives are going to come out and fuck up my wonderful day. I hate having to kill someone before dinner. It gives me heartburn.” He asked her what she thought it did to
the people she killed. “I never thought of that, not that I care, but I never thought of that. Thanks.” Instead of moving on to the next house, they got out to see what was making them feel like that. As soon as they stepped up on the porch, the smell of fresh blood flooded his nose. He looked over at Lauren when she cursed. She pulled out her gun and he stood there as she took her booted foot and slammed it against the doorway. The stronger smell hit his nostrils first. Blood and a great deal of it. Then he could feel something akin to sorrow. Boyd stayed by the door when he was told to and waited for her to tell him to move. But before he could reach out to his brothers, not even sure what they were going to be needed for, he saw the movement near the stairs and nearly ran toward it when Lauren stopped him. “Do you know what stay here means?” He said that he did and pointed to what had moved. “It had better be something more than a dead rat or I’m kicking your ass all the way to the car. This is not how a person finds them a house.” Not only wasn’t it a dead rat, though he had seen it move so that ruled it out right away, but it was a body. A man’s body that was still breathing, though barely so. As he told Lauren to go and get his medical bag out of his car, he started assessing the man for injuries. The blood was everywhere, and he seemed to be bleeding from every part of his body. “What’s your name?” The man moaned and pointed to the stairs. Looking up, Boyd could see that he might have come through the railing. He didn’t tell him his name, and Boyd began searching for any kind of identification on him. “What the fuck are you doing?” He told her that he was
looking for alert bracelets or even a necklace that said maybe he had something else wrong with him. “Another thing I wouldn’t have thought of. But then, I don’t know that many people that I’d care enough about to check on that.” He knew that she was kidding around. There were plenty of people in her life that she loved enough to check for things like this. And Boyd was pretty sure that he was one of them. When he found that the man was on a blood thinner, he tried his best to find the biggest source of blood loss. Even small cuts could make him bleed more than usual. About the time he got the IV in, the paramedics showed up. Boyd knew that even though they’d gotten to him fast enough, he still might die from his injuries. He had a feeling that the man was lucky they’d not driven off and had stuck around to inspect the house. Boyd rode to the hospital with the man while Lauren talked to the police. The house, it seemed, wasn’t going to be one that he’d buy anytime soon, if ever.