Monday, May 16, 2016

Landon Justice Series book Four Release Day 5/16/16








Synopsis


Landon Logan is a man haunted by a tragedy that he blames himself for but didn't do. No one can convince him otherwise--especially his well-meaning Grandda who happens to be dead. Landon is a necromancer.

Dillon Malone has a few abilities of her own. She can "find" things by touching the owner or touching something the owner has touched. This makes her a wanted woman.

Landon is so angry at his good-for-nothing parents that he storms out of their house with their maid in tow. Dillon is happy to leave with this brooding young man and soon discovers that the handsome hunk is her other half.

Dillon's happiness is short lived when her past reaches out to bite her, and she and Landon become pawns in her father's evil scheme. When Dillon's father has Steele's new baby kidnapped, all bets are off.


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Chapter One 






Landon could see the people below him walking around the quad like nothing was going on. There was a lot going on so far as he could see, and it made him nuts to think that no one else in the world could see and hear what he could. He glanced over at the letter he’d gotten from his parents’ attorney this morning and then back out the window. Happy birthday to me, he thought.
It occurred to him then, and not for the first time, that he should just jump. End his life. It wasn’t much of one…even at nine he knew that. And now...he figured that everyone might be a little better off if he did. He knew now that his parents thought so. They seldom, if ever, had anything to do with him other than to tell him what a disappointment he was to them, and that they wished they’d given him away as soon as he took his first breath. They certainly knew how to make him feel good. Picking up the letter again, he read it aloud.
“I’m to inform you, Landon Michael Logan the Sixth, that your parents have taken steps to not allow you back into the family home. Should you try, you will be arrested on sight. If you attempt to contact my clients, you will be arrested and charged with trespassing. They have, in their words, written you out of their lives.
“Provisions have been made for your care. You will be allowed to finish your school years there at the academy, and so long as your grades are not below par, you will continue to have money in your account should you need it, but this is limited to what they feel is necessary, not you. Tuition, as well as your books, will be paid for out of that fund as well.
“At this time you have not been taken out of their will. They feel that doing so will make it so that, should they pass away too soon, you will not be cared for in a manner in which they have said. In addition, they feel it would be an embarrassment to their good name should they cut you out without anything and people were to find out about it. But there are rules that apply to you for the rest of your youth that you must abide by, or there will be nothing. You will not, however, inherit anything from their estate.”
Landon knew that his name, or that of his parents, would have opened any doors for him should he want it to. But for him, it had only been a name. Nothing much to brag on, and certainly nothing prideful about it as with other families he’d seen at school since he’d been here. As long as he didn’t ask for or expect any comfort or love from the two people in the world who were supposed to provide it for him, Landon had hoped that they’d forget about him. Apparently, they had not. His father was abusive, both physically as well as verbally, and his mother a tyrant, only out to get what she could from others and never give a dime back, even when it was expected of her. His parents were the perfect couple for each other as far as Landon was concerned. Picking up where he left off, he read the rest of the letter.
“At that time you turn eighteen you will be given a lump sum of cash. This money will be all that you will receive from the estate. You will not under any circumstances tell anyone of this settlement, nor will you ask for more. There simply is nothing for you.
Then when you are twenty-five you will receive the rest of your money as has been willed to you by your grandfather. In the event that your parents should die at any time before the dates mentioned in this letter, this accounting will be carried out by their attorney and there will be no more funding after such time. At this time, you are their child in name only. A full accounting of the rules will come to you when it is time.”
If they died? He was pretty sure that they would if any of the things around him were any indication. There were dead walking around all the time. Landon looked over at the man who was standing there staring at him. His grandfather, he’d told him the first time he’d come to him, was the only man in the world that Landon had ever trusted.
“They disown you?” Landon nodded. “Selfish shits. What do they think you’re going to do as a kid? Find you a job or something? Not likely. I didn’t leave them that money...I didn’t leave it so they could be cold and heartless to you.”
“I’m pretty sure they think they have enough reasons. You know what kind of person I’ve been.” His grandda, a Landon too, only shook his head. Landon looked out the window again and continued. “I’m thinking of joining you. I just don’t know what I have to live for anymore. I think Mother and Father would be much—”
“You’ll do no such thing. Why do you want to go and do something stupid like that? You think they’re going to mourn you? They will not. They’d have to have a heart to do that, don’t you think?” Landon said he was tired of it all. “Yeah, I know that feeling. Got me a terrible case of the tiredness until I realized that you could see and have a nice conversation with me. What am I to do if you’re not around? Now that I got you here and I’m not ready to stop talking to you as yet.”
Landon watched a boy he knew running across the quad, with a bunch of the older boys chasing him. Two weeks ago that had been him. Since then he’d been hiding out in his room, only leaving when he absolutely had to.
“They’re not nice here. I mean, I’m not either, I guess, but they’re cruel to each other and even to themselves. I’m betting that not one person would care. I even doubt anyone here would notice me for days after I was gone. It wouldn’t be me that brings them looking, but the smell of it.”
“That’s enough there, Landon. I don’t want you feeling sorry for yourself. You should just get your ass to class and forget all that other crap. You know I got me a powerful need to see what lies that history teacher is telling you kids. If I was alive, I’d tear him a new ass, let me tell you.” Landon smiled and thought that a smile shouldn’t be painful like this one was. “Landon, son, don’t do it.”
He pulled the gun out of his pocket and held it in his hands. He heard the sharp intake of breath and wondered what his grandda would do if he were just to look him in the eye and use it. Landon had bought it several days ago, and had been surprised at how easy it had been to do so. His grandda came to stand beside him and Landon put it out to him, knowing that he couldn’t touch it, wanting him to see how serious he was about ending his life.
“They don’t like me. They never have. I know that I’ve not been the best of kids, but I only wanted them to see me. See that I’m a person too. But they never did, not when I was good nor when I was bad. I can’t take this anymore, Grandda.” His grandda told
him that he could see him. “It’s not the same. I wanted them to say they love me. That they want me in their lives. But what do they do? They send me a letter from their attorney and have him tell me that I’m not to ever come home again.”
The longer he stood there saying nothing, the more appeal it had to just put the gun in his mouth and pull the trigger. He knew that he could do it. He’d even read up on how his head would look when he was done. Not that it mattered really, but he did want to just end his life. Looking up at his grandda when he said his name, Landon knew that it was time.
“Goodbye, Grandda. I’m so glad that I had you in my life.” Putting the small gun to his head, he closed his eyes. Pulling the trigger was as easy as opening the door, and he knew that he’d be dead long before he hit the floor. But nothing happened. Pulling the trigger again and again, he opened his eyes to see his grandda looking at him.
“Got me ways of making sure you’re safe.” He asked him what he meant. “Took me a person and had him come in and take the bullets out for you when I saw that you had it. Can’t lose you, boy, you know that. You’re all I have in this here entire world, dead or alive. I can’t let you do this because of them. I had him take them out and put the gun back where you had it. Throwing them bullets away was the best thing I’ve done for anyone in a very long time. I can’t be letting you do this to yourself, Landon. You’re my grandson and I have a need for you to be around for a bit longer.”
Landon threw the gun at the ghost. He, of course, didn’t move, but Landon’s anger spiraled out of control. As he began tearing things up, curtains from the windows, his sheets from his bed, he began screaming how his life was his own and no one else’s. Then he saw the candle. Grabbing it up, he looked for matches as his grandda begged him to stop.
He wasn’t sure what happened then. Landon woke up with his head spinning and the room he was in filled with smoke. The curtains were burning, as were his sheets and his books, and the letter from his parents’ attorney was there as well. As he started for it, to...he had no idea, he heard the first screams and knew that the fire had spread. He’d caused the building to fill with smoke and now people were going to die. Because of him.
Landon had no idea how he’d gotten into the hallway. He was sick with the pain in his head, and his arm was hurting as well. Tumbling a few times as he tried to make his way down the smoke filled hall, he started pounding on doors to see if someone needed help out. The third door he came to was hot, but he opened it anyway. Pushing hard on the door nearly had him passing out, but he finally managed to get it open enough to see the boy lying in front of it.
Dragging the boy out by his legs wasn’t easy. He was heavy for one thing, and Landon was sick now. Throwing up twice as he moved down the hall, he noticed that there was blood in his puke, and that scared him. Not that he wasn’t ready to die, but that the boy with him would as well. Getting him to the stairs, he sat down, trying to get his bearings. Two boys came up the stairs toward him, their hands full of something that looked like trash bags. He pleaded with them to help him.
“Help me get him out of here.” They said they had things to do. “But he’ll die. I can’t let him die like this. Just help me get him out of here.”
“Sucks to be you, I guess.” They were laughing as they made their way around him and to the next flight of stairs. Landon had no idea who they were or why they were in this part of the building, but he could see that they’d escaped being burned by the fire and soot had gotten them. Their bodies were dark with it.
“Follow me.” He looked at his grandda as he stood over him, his body floating just about a foot from the stairs that he was on. “Going down with your burden is going to be easier than going up. Just make sure that you pull him by his arms and not his legs. You don’t want to hurt his head any more than it already is. Come on, son, you can do this. I’ll get you out.”
“I hurt him.” His grandda asked him how he figured that. “I set the fire. He wouldn’t have been hurt if I had just jumped like I wanted to.”
“You didn’t do this, Landon. Not you. Them others, they did this, not you.” Landon nodded and said that he had the candle and it had caused it. “No, you didn’t. You might have been in the blast when it...why do you think you had a thing to do with this fire?”
“I set it. It’s what I was going to do when you hit me.” He told him he’d never touched him, that he’d been knocked out of the room before Landon had found the matches, that the explosion or whatever it had been had done it. “I must have found them then. I set fire to my room.”
“You didn’t, I tell you. You didn’t do anything.” Landon picked up the boy’s legs and started down the stairs again, knowing that he was going to go to prison for this. And wouldn’t that just make his parents thrilled. “You didn’t do this, boy, I swear to you.”
The next explosion rocked him. Hitting his head again, Landon knew a new kind of fear. The staircase was filled with flames now, and he was going to be burned alive, he just knew it.
~~~
Landon sat up in the bed. The dream of that fateful day as a child coming back to haunt him every night was taking its toll on him. His body was covered in sweat, and he could hear the echo of his screams in his head. Whether or not he had vocalized them, he wasn’t sure. But it was bad enough that they were in his head. Again. Sitting on his bed, the shaking began and he pulled a blanket from the floor, soaked now with his sweat.
Wrapping the blanket around him to keep the chills at bay some, Landon made his way to the bathroom to warm up. He nearly fell twice on his way, and had to go to his knees once when the tremors nearly had him throwing up. His body was frozen now, his head pounding so hard that he had trouble thinking beyond getting warm. Once he was in the bathroom, he turned the water to its hottest setting, and with his back to where the mirror usually hung, he leaned against the tile wall.
“I’m here, boy.” He nodded, knowing that his grandda would never leave him no matter what he’d done now or back then. “You gotta talk to somebody, Landon. You can’t keep this up. You’re killing yourself.”
“I’m fine.” Grandda snorted. It was no less than he expected of him. “You never did tell me how you like the house. Did you find your way around all right?”
“I like it right fine, and don’t change the subject. Get yourself cleaned up and come on out here, and we’ll have ourselves a pow-wow, you and me.”
There was no point in arguing with him. His grandda had been telling him what to do since he’d been about three and no one else was talking to him. Or listening to him. When he realized that not everyone could see what he could, Landon had lashed out, hurting those that might have helped him but letting his anger at being alone most of his young life keep everyone away. He’d figured that would keep his heart safer. Not that it had.
Stepping into the hot water, he was warmed immediately. From experience he knew that he’d be doing the same thing again tomorrow, so he turned the water to a relatively cooler temperature so that in the morning his skin wouldn’t be tender from his abuse today. Scrubbing his body several times, Landon leaned against the wall and thought about his life.
He was nearly twenty-nine years old, next week as a matter of fact. And it had been almost twenty years to the day since he’d blown up the building he’d been staying in, as well as two kids that he talked to daily, ones that haunted him still. And in all that time, since he’d been released from the hospital a month later, he’d not spoken a word to his mom and dad. That was until recently, when their attorney had reached out. They wanted to speak to him.
Getting out after washing his body again, he dried off, still not looking in the mirror. He would have had it removed as he had in every other place he’d been in, but he’d not figured out how to do it. Someone had adhered it to the wall, and other than busting it to get it down, he had yet to get it out of this room. Landon figured that he didn’t need any more bad luck.
Looking at his body was a constant reminder of that day. The scars, old and faded, seemed as fresh and raw as they had then. No pain was there any longer, but he did feel it all the same. Steele had been the only one to see them, and he’d told him that they were barely noticeable. But Landon knew they were there. And always would be.
Going to his bedroom again, he opened the huge closet and had to grin at what was there. Or in this case, what wasn’t there. The thing was as big as most bedrooms, holding not just things on hangers, but drawers for shoes and cufflinks, as well as watches and under things such as tee shirts and his boxers. Right now it had three tee-shirts hanging there, two pair of jeans that had seen better days, as well as a black suit in a bag that he’d not opened in more years than he could remember. Pulling out the worst looking of the shirts, he pulled it over his head after he’d put on his boxers and a pair of jeans. This was his attire on his day off. He headed to the kitchen, where he knew his grandda was waiting.
~~~
Logan, what most people called him, watched his only grandson move around the kitchen ignoring him. He was fine with that…for now. As Landon pulled out a big box of those flakes of corn he liked to eat, Logan suggested gently that he get him a banana to go with it.
“No thanks.” They both eyed the fruit that had been in the bowl turning darker and darker since Addie had brought it to him a few days ago. “I have to go into town today. Are you going to be joining me?”
“I don’t think so.” Logan was sort of afraid of the town. There wasn’t really anything there that would hurt him, but he didn’t like all the people. It was why he’d never met any of the others that Landon worked with. Logan just did not like the living. He’d barely tolerated them when he was one of them and avoided them even now. But he didn’t want the same for his grandson.
After he ate, Logan watched Landon put his things away and clean up the counter. He’d been alone too long, Logan thought. The boy was a better housekeeper than most women he knew. And when he finished drying his one bowl and spoon, Logan looked at the sad state of affairs that was his cabinets.
“You gonna get you some dishes today? Maybe a pot or two. I heard you telling that other man, Mitch, that you wanted him to come on by and have some dinner with you. What you planning to do, share the one plate you have and that bowl?” Landon said nothing, but Logan was used to that. That was another thing he didn’t care for, his grandson being so lonely. “You call that attorney back?”
That got a reaction. Not the one he wanted, but enough that Logan could see that he was thinking about it. He needed to get this resolved if for no other reason than to show his mom and dad that he wasn’t nearly as bad as they’d always thought. Or worse yet, as bad as they always told him he was. Landon was a good man; a great one as far as he was concerned.
“I didn’t plan on it. In fact, I’d forgotten all about it.” Sure he had, thought Logan, and I can pull a rabbit out of my ass. “I’ll call them tomorrow.”
“You’ll do it now. You might have won one of them clearing house things, and they might give it away should you don’t call and claim it.” They both knew it was his parents, and Logan had a feeling he might know what they were gonna say. He’d been visiting them too. “Landon, call the man and get it done.”
“I don’t want to.” He sounded five, and before Logan could point that out to him, Landon continued. “They want to see me. And then they want to sit me in a chair and point out all the things I’ve done since I saw them last. Twenty years is going to be a long list, don’t you think? I’m not ready for that. I don’t know that I ever will be.”
“You’re a damned grown man. What do you think you would do if they try to sit you in the corner like a child? You answer me that.” Landon said he had no answer. “Didn’t think so. You don’t like the way they’re treating you, then you can leave. But you’ve no way of knowing shit unless you go there and talk to them. For all you know, they could be wanting to welcome you back with open arms.”
“You know that’s not ever going to happen.” Logan knew that too. But a man could hope, couldn’t he? His son and that wife of his had done them both wrong. “And what do I do, Grandda, when they ask me what I’ve been doing with my life? Do I tell them I start each day with you harping on me? Do I say that I work with a bunch of men just like me that talk to the dead? I’m sure that’ll go over just fine.”
“I don’t know why not. You’ve made a living at it. And from where I’m sitting you’ve done a fine job at that too. Not the living part, but the money part. Why, you never have touched that money they paid you. Building yourself up from nothing, now look at you.” Landon snorted. “You don’t no more live than them ghosts you help. Hell son, when was the last time you were laid? I’m thinking it’s been a long while.”
“I’m not talking about my sex life with you. Especially not you. Christ.” He got up and put a load of wash in the washer as he continued. “In the event you didn’t notice, I just purchased this house and it’s taking up a great deal of my time.”
It was two more pairs of those ratty jeans he wore and five work shirts. He’d hang them on the bar when they were washed up and pull them down when he needed them. Work shirts never made it to the upper levels all that often.
“Yeah, I can see that. Laundry and dishes. Yesterday you run that vacuum cleaner until I plum thought you were going to wear a hole in the carpets. Then you dusted. If you ever want to change jobs in the future, you can make a right fine domestic.” Landon said nothing, but the shirt in his hand wasn’t going to survive the anger he was holding in much longer. So of course, Logan decided to push him a little harder. “You should get you one of them blow up dolls to screw. That way you can shove it in the closet when you’re satisfied and not have to think about it anymore. Much like you do most of your friends.”
The shirt ripped and hung limply in his hands. Logan wanted to get up and hug the boy. Hold him like he was sure no one had done in more years than was right. Logan watched his grandson struggle with his temper and his hurt.
“If I go and do this, you’ll go with me? See what they really are so that I can move on with my life?” He said that he would. There was no point in telling him that this might not turn out the way he thought, because they both knew better. But Logan was forever hopeful. “All right, but you’ll meet the others too. It’s a fair trade for what you’ve been doing to me all these years.”
“I can do that. But what about them boys? You gonna do something about them too?” Logan wanted to tell him to vanish them, but knew that he’d not do it. Landon had been tormented by the Bobbsey Twins, as Logan called them, since the fire.
“I don’t know. You know that they come and go as they please.” He did at that. Never here more than it took for them to upset Landon. Then they’d move on to some other trouble. And it mattered little to any of them that Logan knew just what had happened that day, and it had not been the way that Landon thought. And those damned boys knew it too.
The phone call from that pansy lawyer had upset Landon. Logan wanted to go through the device and choke the living shit out of the person on the other end. But he just sat there knowing that someday, not only would Landon listen to him about that day, but his son and daughter-in-law would as well. He’d been there. Logan had seen what had gone on that day and what had happened to cause it all. And it was not Landon. It had never been the boy. He also knew why he wasn’t there for his only grandchild, and he was gonna enjoy seeing their reactions to that coming out too.
Landon called to set up the talk. That’s what he knew it was gonna be too, a talk. He hoped that Landon would get in a few words of his own. Maybe a fuck you or a fuck off would be nice as well. Landon sat down when he closed his phone.
“I have to go there at one. They have an appointment open for me and I’m to meet him at the parents’ house. I have an appointment to go to my parents’ house.” Logan stood up to leave with him, not that it mattered. He could pretty much go where he wanted when he wanted to. “You really don’t have to go, Grandda. I was only...I was pissed off, and I didn’t mean you’d have to go. There isn’t any point in both of us having to suffer.”
“I want to. I need to.” Landon looked like he was going to say more. But Logan had a feeling he didn’t want to know what it might be. “I can see how well that son of mine aged. I’m thinking not so well. What do you think?”
“I think I’d rather you just pull my nails out with a pair of plyers than to go and see them both. And if you want to know the truth, I’m sort of sick about going there.” Logan knew that as well. “When this is done and you see what you need to see from them, you don’t bring them up to me again. Promise.”
“I promise, but on the condition that you have an open mind and don’t be going in there with your head up your ass.” Landon said he wasn’t make any kind of promises. “Then I guess I can’t either.”
As they made their way out of the house and to his truck, Logan had a shiver of dread. What if, his mind kept saying, and the list was too long for him to try and work out. What if Landon’s parents were as cruel as they’d always been? What if they were only bringing him there to hurt him again? The closer he got to the house, waiting on Landon, the more dread he felt. This was a mistake, he knew it. He just hoped the letter that he’d sent out would help his grandson more than he could.








Monday, May 2, 2016

EliJah Release Blitz Calhoun Series Book Two & Winner Announce 5/2/16








Synopsis


Noelle was in somewhat of a pickle. She had researched the Calhoun firm―Elijah Calhoun in particular―before she made the appointment, but she was having second and third thoughts about hiring the firm after she got there. All her research indicated she could trust them, but big men scared the hell out of her, and the place was full of them.
Elijah had been running a tad late for work, so his brother Trent took his first appointment. Elijah never dreamed that the woman he had an appointment with was his future mate…and she needed his protection.
Noelle’s stepfather wasn’t their only problem. Elijah’s brother Sterling’s nightmares had gotten worse and somehow the creature that had marked him was controlling his actions as well…no one was safe….

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Chapter 1

Helenia stood in front of the mirror. She liked this new look. The younger people used so much color in their lives that she was sure that they’d had her in mind when they came up with it. The pink of her blouse, the green of her pants…she thought perhaps that she could get used to this style, unlike the other decades when women wore long billowing clothing and wigs that itched. Not to mention shoes that pinched so badly that she would sometimes go barefoot under her clothing so no one would know. Not that she cared, but it still gave her a sense of freedom. And Helenia was going to be free forever.

She was still trying to decide which other outfit she was going to keep when she felt the movement of air around her. Standing as still as she could, pulling shadows from every corner around her to hide herself, she turned and looked around when she knew no one could see her. Not humans at any rate.

“Hello, Helenia. It’s been a very long time.” Dante flicked at her shoulder when they both knew there was nothing on her. When he did so again, she grabbed his hand and held him tightly in her grip until he dropped to his knees. “You always did overreact. Let me go, Helenia. I do not care for being treated this way.”

“Perhaps you should have thought of that before you touched me.” She bent his hand back more until she heard the bones break. His screams went unnoticed by her and the patrons of the store. They were invisible to anyone but other supernaturals. “What are you doing here? You know that I do not like you well enough to have you around me even for a moment.”

“They’re hunting you.” She let him go and asked him who was hunting her. “The Board of Vampires, they’re looking for you. They have every vampire looking for any information about you, and there’s a bonus if they have an idea where you might be staying.”

“And you? You thought to collect on it, Dante? I should hope that you’re smarter than that. To know that to try and profit off of my demise, you’ll be dead before the next sunset. I have no more use for them than they do for me. I like it that way.” She looked around and saw that two others were watching them, vampires younger than Dante and not even close to being anywhere near as old as she was, and far less powerful. “Did you come with others? To hope to trap me?”

He stood then, his wrist healed already, and looked to where she was looking. He must have fed before coming to catch her, she thought, but it would do him no good. The two others, both males, started toward them.

“I don’t know them. They more than likely heard about the bounty on your head, and decided to collect too.” She asked him how much it was. “Twenty-five thousand points.”

“So much?” He nodded. “And all for me? What do they think is going to happen when they send babies for me? That I shall sit idly by and let them take me in?”

Vampires for the most part had no use for money. She had a great deal of it; over the centuries she’d managed to steal a great deal of not just cash, but gems and other valuables that humans used. But after a while, usually after a couple of centuries, a vampire would realize that having it for no other reason other than it was easy to come by held no appeal. She had hers to get humans, stupid animals, to do things for her.

So the Board had been giving out points, or credits, to use when they had committed some crime or had not followed a rule in the strictest sense of the word. Helenia had long since stopped trying to gather points. She was so far in the hole now that even if she got a thousand a day, it would not put a dent in her bad deeds.

“Noah is after you as well.” She looked at Dante just as the two babies, the younger vampires, were closing in. “He is the one that called the Board on you, from what I understand.”

“I thought him dead. He is such a pussy, even for as old as he is. Christ, to think that he finally grew some balls and turned me in. Not that it will do any of them any good. I am stronger than he is by far.” Helenia hadn’t had any dealings with Noah, but she knew what he was. A vampire that stayed alone and followed most of the rules.

The babies were nearly to her when she lifted her hand and blasted one of them with her power. He was nothing more than ash on the shoes of the people who continued to walk the sidewalks in the mall as if he’d never been. She supposed, as far as they knew, he had not. The second man, stupider than the first, lunged at her, and she simply snapped his neck. If this was the best that the Board had, she was going to live for another thousand years, easily. His ash dusted the outfit that she had on.

“I swear to you, Dante, there is no hope for nice things anymore. I get me something pretty to wear and these idiots just come along and mess it up.” He said nothing but looked around. She wondered if he was expecting more babies to come for her, and just grabbed three of the outfits she’d been looking at and left the shop. Dante was right behind her.

“What do you plan to do? Go back to your lair?” She said nothing as she moved in and out of shops picking what she wanted and sending it to her home across town. It was much easier than going around with a large bag in her hands, and it wasn’t as if she needed to keep any receipts. Helenia hadn’t paid for anything in decades. “I was wondering if you need someone to be with. I’m between homes right now.”

“Do you suppose that these shoes will match the dress that I got? No matter.” They disappeared as well. “No, I don’t want you around me. I prefer my own company to that of idiots.”

Two more stores, mostly clothing then a jewelry store, and she had all that she wanted for now. Honestly, Dante had soured it for her by telling her about the Board. She turned to him when he asked her again where she was going now.

“I should have thought that you’d know better than to try and collect on my being jailed, my friend.” He tried to look shocked, but it looked mostly like fear to her. “To think that after all this time, you still think me stupid. When all along, it was you.”

Helenia let her magic go and let her body return to its true self. She felt empowered by it, the shield off her face and her body released. Dante started to step away from her,

but she put her long claws into his chest and felt his beating heart. When he cried out, she pulled his heart from his chest, feeling the power of it like a shock to her system.

“So pretty, don’t you think?” She wanted him to see her eating it, taking the still warm thing to her mouth, but he disappeared, just like the other two had. Frowning, she dusted the ash off her hands from his heart when it, too, was gone. “Did you honestly think that I’d tell you anything, you moron?”

Going to her lair, she put the things that she’d taken in the trash. Like her outing today, they’d been ruined by Dante and his news. She could think of any number of reasons that the Board was after her, but it didn’t really matter. Helenia lived by her own rules. And soon she’d be in charge of everything, including the humans, and it wouldn’t matter at all what they wanted. She looked at her calendar and realized how long it had been in years since that night. He would be ready for her now, her blood rendering him weak enough that she could take his seed.

It seemed longer when she thought of the last time that she’d seen him. An alpha. Watching him all night long with the people he’d traveled with, she knew that he was going to be the one to help her create an army of monsters like her. Helenia smiled. She was under no delusions that she was anything but a monster. She had worked hard in creating herself to be one. And now that she was perfect, she wanted to make more in her image. And the alpha was going to help her.

Everyone knew that wolves carried a gene that was far superior to any other shifter. Vampires had it as well, in great abundance. But a wolf also had the ability to shift and to be stronger still with his other beast. It was this beast, the wolf, that she was counting on. Her creations would be wolf beasts, and she would control them all.

Making her way to the labs that she’d set up years ago, she knew that the man she’d put there, Basil something, would still be sleeping. He’d been asking to go home; his family apparently couldn’t do anything without him there. And if anything had happened to him between then and now, she’d have to start all over. So putting him into a deep sleep had been better for everyone, mostly for her own peace of mind. And his family was no longer around to make demands on him, so that had been a plus for both of them.

As she made her way by one of the big buildings, she saw an ad in the window. Staring at it for a long time, she finally stopped someone to ask them the date. There was no way she’d messed up that badly.

“October tenth.” She told him to tell her the year and when he answered her, she nearly fell backward. It hadn’t been one year as she’d thought, but four. Fuck. There was no telling what her alpha had gotten into since then.

~~~

Noelle was intimidated by the big office, mostly because of the guards in the lobby. They were big and armed. Not that she planned on doing anything wrong, but she had a fear of men that were big.

But she was running out of time and this man, the one she was coming to see, had been the one that had come up on her search as the most trustworthy. She hoped so.

When she stood in front of the big desk, she had to clear her throat twice before she could make any sound come out of her mouth. Nerves were making her sick.

“I’d like to see Mr. Calhoun please.” The woman asked her if she had an appointment. “I do. For today at ten.”

It was just shy of nine, but Noelle hated to be late. When the woman asked her to have a seat and that she’d call him, Noelle went to sit on one of the big chairs that looked like a family of five could have used. She watched the people coming and going.

An older man came in and started talking loudly about the weather. She was sure that he talked that way all the time, loud and with a great deal of humor. And everyone here seemed to know him. He stopped by the desk as she had, but he wasn’t asked about appointments but sent up to the elevator with a smile. Noelle wanted someone to like her that way.

Noelle had, for the most part, been alone all her life. She worked and socialized when she had to, but she preferred her own company to that of other people. It more than likely was because of her family and the way that they’d jump out of the smallest places to hurt her.

When her name was called, Noelle made her way to the desk. It was just after nine-thirty by then, and she had to pee. But this had to be done today. Mr. Calhoun’s secretary said that this was his last appointment before December, and that would be too late. Going up in the elevator with the guard, she held tightly onto her plastic bag and hoped she was doing the right thing.

“Hello, Miss Alexander. Mr. Elijah Calhoun isn’t in yet, but his brother Trent is. He wanted to know if he could help you.” She knew that name as well. But he was no longer working here, she’d heard. Noelle asked her about it. “He helps out when necessary. And since Elijah is running slightly behind, he thought he’d help him out.”

Nodding, she was shown into a large office. As soon as she saw them, the older gentleman and the big man behind the desk, she wanted to run. They were too much and too big. Noelle turned to leave and the older man spoke.

“Come on now, sweetie. You’re not gonna deny an old man a chance to sit with a pretty girl, are you? And Trent here, he is just glad to see me today because he won’t have to eat all them delicious biscuits that his lovely wife made him. I’m his daddy, TJ Calhoun, and we’re about as harmless as they come.” She looked at him, then at the steaming plate on the desk. “Come on back and have a seat, and let us see what we can do for you.”

“I won some money.” She didn’t know why she’d blurted it out like that. Noelle had been holding that secret for five and a half months now. “I don’t want anyone to know that I did.”

“All right then. Why don’t you have a seat and we’ll figure this out?” Trent stood up, and she moved closer to the door behind her. When he sat down, she watched him carefully. “I won’t hurt you, Miss Alexander. I promise you that.”

Nodding but still not moving, she wondered why she was even doing this. She’d been making it on her own, without the money in her bag, for years now. This money, all of it that she’d won, would make it better for her, but she was terrified of what it might

bring too. But to have a house of her own with a yard was something that she’d been thinking about for years.

Making her way to the chair, she sat with her bag in her hand and tried to think. “I was sixteen when my stepfather left me at a party. He and my stepmother had other children of their own, and they felt that my check from the welfare office would suit them better if they didn’t have me around needing any of it. Sucking them dry is what they said I was doing to them.” She glanced at the elder Calhoun when he made a noise, and felt her face heat up. He asked her how she was both their stepchild. “My mom died after marrying him. Then he remarried a few months later and she had children of her own. I didn’t know it at the time, but they were his children, both of them. Ron is twenty now, and Daniel is two years older. I’m telling you this so you understand why I’m...I’m afraid, Mr. Calhoun. I don’t want them to come back and try to hurt me again.”

“You think they will?” She was sure of it and said as much. “I see. And this money that you won. I’m assuming that it’s a great deal. That it’s not just a scratch offs.”

“I have those as well. When I would win some money, I would put it back in an envelope until it was close to expiring. I never cashed it all in, just enough to get by on. It was my emergency money, I guess. Every week I would buy one scratch off and one of the bigger lottery money tickets. I haven’t stopped that since I won. The article I read at the library said to go about your business like nothing happened. So I did.” He asked her how much she’d won. “The Powerball. I won the one from five and a half months ago.”

Neither of them said anything for several seconds. Then TJ laughed, and looked at his son when Trent asked him what was going on. His dad was still laughing as he explained to Trent.

“She won the big one. The forty-million-dollar jackpot, didn’t you, love?” She nodded and dug the tickets that she wanted to cash in from her bag. “Holy milk balls, Trent, she’s the winner that they’ve all been looking for.”

She looked at Trent when he asked her if that was true. “Yes. I won and I have to turn in my ticket or it’s going to go away.” He took the envelopes that she’d put into the plastic bag she used as a purse most of the time. It was all she had to carry it around in, and felt silly for it being so mundane. “I read about your firm at the library and everyone said that you can be trusted. I don’t want anyone to know who I am.”

“All right, let me look a few things up here. Just...I have to call in our attorney to help me get this right for you.” She shook her head, but he said it would be fine. “It’s my brother, Tanner Calhoun. Did you read about him too?”

“Please don’t make fun of me.” She wanted to snatch her things back from him, but he stood up again and she sat still. “I’ve never hurt anyone. I work and keep to myself and don’t bother any of them. But they come and take whatever I have on me and then beat me for it. I’m not sure what they’d do about this money. More than likely kill me.” She looked at them both before speaking again. “I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want the money.”

When he sat in the chair next to her, she whimpered. Men, big ones, scared her. Trent didn’t move, but TJ got up and walked out of the room. She had no idea what he was

going to do, probably call the police now that they had her tickets, but she didn’t care. She wanted to go back to her place.

“You say your family takes your money and they hurt you? Have you ever called the police? Filed a report on them? We can do that now if you want, Noelle. I can do it for you.” His voice was soft, full of something that she’d never heard from anyone when they were talking to her. Compassion. “Tell me so that I can find them and beat the living shit out of them. My wife, Joe? She’ll have to visit me in jail, but I think she’ll think it was worth it to see you safe.” She laughed when he did. “There you go. See, I might be big, but I’m as gentle as a puppy.”

“My stepfather is Howard Merrill. My stepmother wasn’t any better. Her name was Gloria Merrill, but she died a few years back. I think she was in a car accident or something. I can’t afford the newspaper all the time.” She looked at Trent and felt...she wasn’t sure what she felt except no longer afraid, for some reason. “He thinks I made him lose his job. I guess in a way I did. But when he lost his job, he lost everything else too. Like my government money. He didn’t get his pension either, which I suppose is the way it should be with him being fired and all.”

“You think that he’ll try to take your money that you won.” She nodded, then shook her head. “Ah, so you think that he’ll take your life while he’s at it.”

“He will. Like I said, he feels that I owe him for some reason. He’s not been happy with me for a long time.” That was an understatement. “I have a place that I’ve been living in for a while. But I want my own home. A yard. I really want a yard.”

“I understand that more than you can imagine. I’ve talked to...had my dad talk to Tanner, and he’s on his way in. He works for a friend of ours, but he said he’d help us out. I know investments better than I do the letter of the law for this sort of thing. And my wife is coming in as well. She said that she was going to come by today, and she should be here soon. I want to try and get this worked out for you so that you can get you a house as well as be safe.”

“I know what you are.” He said nothing, and she looked at her hands in her lap. “I know that you and your family are wolves. I can’t always tell what a person is, but I can tell when someone isn’t human. I am, but I know that you’re not.”

“No, I’m not. Are you...is that why you’re afraid of me? Is your stepfather a wolf?” She shook her head and told him that her family was human as well. “But one of them hurt you, a wolf or some other shifter.”

“Yes.” He didn’t pry, and she didn’t feel it was necessary to explain. He was going to help her get her money, and that would be the end of their relationship. “There are other tickets too. Not as much as the big one, but I’d like to have that money as well. It’s what I can pay you with.”

“I’m not going to charge you for helping you, Miss Alexander. I think you’ve been hurt enough.” She wanted to cry, to beg him to hold her. There was something so comforting about him that she wanted to let him take care of her. But she knew better than to trust that kind of feeling. “Tanner is here. I don’t want you to be alarmed when he comes in. He has a tendency to not knock, but to come in like he’s been shot from a rocket.”

The door to the office slammed back against the wall. The man who came into the room was talking, as if whatever conversation he’d been having with Trent the last time he’d seen him was still going on. He spoke to Trent about changes in the market and how he was getting his office set up slowly. He looked at her and stopped talking.

“Well, hello there. Aren’t you about the prettiest little thing?” She shook her head and felt her fear double. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to embarrass you. But you are very pretty. I’m Tanner Calhoun. Trent said you need someone to advise you on some lottery winnings.”

When he sat down on the edge of the desk, she had a feeling that Trent had told him to back off. Tanner grinned at her before he asked her about the ticket. She knew then that she might be able to do this. These men wasted no time in getting to the point.

After he was shown the ticket, he asked her a lot of questions about it. The other tickets, mounting to just under ten thousand dollars, were given to the secretary to verify. Tanner said it wasn’t as if they didn’t trust her, but they wanted to make sure they weren’t going to have any problems when they were taken in. The big ticket was put in a safe so that no one could take it from her now that a few people knew about it. A copy of it was made for her to keep, as well as a receipt stating that they had it in their safe for her.

“Does your stepfather have any idea that you’ve got any money? I mean, from your winnings? Did he lend you money for anything? Pay your rent somewhere, or any of your bills? At any time, did anyone help you out with a bill or something?” She told Tanner no, that she didn’t tell anyone. “And your bills? You paid those with your own money, nothing ever coming from him?”

“I’ve made sure that I made my own way. I’ve never been on welfare either…I promised myself that I’d be independent as much as I could. And my stepfather was better at taking than he was at giving. Never the tickets. I never had them on me when they, my stepbrothers or him, found me.” She looked at her hands again. “My stepbrothers weren’t like that when I lived at home with them. They were spoiled, but they never bothered me. I’m still not sure that they do this because they want to.”

“I’m sorry about that. No one should treat anyone badly, especially not a female. But knowing that about him makes it so much easier now. And the fact that you bought it after you left home and were out of his care means he has no claims on it at all. Those are things that I want to keep from happening.”

For the next hour she went over the paperwork. By the time she was finished, not only was she exhausted, but she was also richer. The money from the tickets had been taken all over town and cashed in by different members of the family, so that nothing was ever going to come back on her. She’d never had so much cash on her at any time in her life. And then Joe, Trent’s wife, showed up.

“Hello, Noelle. It’s been a very long time.” Noelle looked at the door, then back at the woman who had been there the day she’d been kicked out of her family. “Don’t. Please don’t run. Noah will be so happy to see you.”

“He won’t.” Joe said that he would. “I hurt him that day. He might...he’ll want to hurt me back.”

“No, he won’t. He looked for you for years after you left. And he’ll be glad to see you, I promise.” She looked at the door again, wondering if it was too late to take it all back. “I know your scent now, Noelle. You won’t be able to hide again. But I promise you, Noah never wanted you hurt by this either. I’m not sure how you think you hurt him, but I’ve spoken to him. He’s glad to know that you’ve come back around.”

Terror like she’d not felt for a very long time skimmed along her skin. Her hands hurt from clenching them. Her head hurt from trying to sort through all the things that were running through her head. She’d hurt Noah because her father had been an important man in his business. Howard had told her that when and if he ever found her that Noah would make her pay for making one of his best employees have to be fired.

The door opened again and she screamed. She had no idea who might have come in or why, but her terror was too much. And when someone grabbed her, Noelle lost whatever hold she had on her fear, and the darkness swallowed her up.




Monday, April 18, 2016

Darin The Pride Of The Double Deuce Release Blitz & Winner Announced 4/18/16





Mercedes Crosby is a veterinarian and a damn good one. She's just what Susie Douglas needs on her horse ranch, and Mercedes wants nothing more than to take the job and get out from under the thumb of her ex-husband, Nash Crosby. But trust in people is something Mercedes lost the moment Nash forced her to marry him at gunpoint. If the job sounds too good to be true, it probably is....

Darin Douglas is struggling to make ends meet as he opens his new bed and breakfast, The Douglas House. He has his first booking coming in in a few days and wants everything perfect, so he brings the family in to sample the first menu and to show off his new place. His brothers bring the already reluctant new Vet with them to dinner to meet the rest of the family, Darin and Zack. Darin met the Vet's young daughter earlier that day and already loved the little girl, but he is surprised but not disappointed when his cat recognizes Mercedes as his mate.

Mercedes, on the other hand, is scared witless. She had found out a few hours before that paranormals really existed and she was living among them. Now, this big handsome brute is telling her that she belongs to him and his cat...ah, hell no.

Nash Crosby isn't finished with his ex. They aren't divorced until Mercedes and that brat of hers are dead....



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 Of A signed mystery Paperback is  Luci Korn   congrats please check your email on how to claim and PS don't forget to check your spam folder also 



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Chapter 1
“Nope and double nope. I’m not going to do that for you, and I’m even more surprised, or pissed off you might say, that you even asked me to. Where do you get off asking me to...? I do not kill animals because someone is tired of them. Nor do I know anyone that might if I don’t. Christ man, what if that were a child?” Mercedes went to the door and opened it for the man and his dog. “Get out. And if anything happens to that dog, and I do mean anything, I’m going to have you brought up on charges.”
“For a dog? Fuck woman, it’s a dumb animal. Nobody gives a shit if they get hit by a car. And if you think I give one shit about what kind of charges you think you can put on me, then you’re way stupider than I thought you were.” He jerked the dog along behind him as he made his way to the counter. With a short nod, Mercedes knew that her receptionist would take care of the man. And the dog.
Closing the door behind the two of them, Mercedes sat down on her chair and closed her eyes. This had been one hell of a week and it was only Tuesday. When her phone rang, she didn’t even bother moving to answer it. She knew that someone would pick it up. As she sat there, Mercedes thought of her life so far.
She was a nearly thirty divorced mother of a ten-year-old little girl. No house, no car, and she was still paying off her ex-husband’s debt like she’d had a thing to do with it. When she’d gotten her divorce from him he’d put a great many credit cards in her name and maxed them out. Nash hadn’t been too happy that she’d been upset about him beating her to shit all the time. Go figure.
While she had a good job, there was little in the way of income that was free and clear for her, and she doubted even if she lived to be ten thousand that she’d ever see that day. She didn’t have a car, no money for extras like socks or a thick winter coat, and some months she didn’t even have enough food for both her and her daughter to eat.
When a knock at the door startled her to sit up, she nearly begged to be left alone. The bundle that came in the open door made her feel like she was queen of the world. Seeing Bonnie changed her mood just like that.
Bonnie was her life, and the fact that her father had had to give up all parental rights to her was the best thing that had ever happened to either of them. Holding Bonnie in her arms as she told her about her day, Mercedes wondered what the hell had happened to her to land her in such a state?
“You’re not listening to me.” Mercedes told her that she’d had a day and a half. “You work too hard. When do we get to go on that vacation? Soon, right? Can we leave tomorrow instead of Friday? I don’t have any homework to turn in because of it being nearly Thanksgiving and all.”
“It’s not a vacation, but a job interview. I told you that.” Bonnie nodded and handed her the things from her backpack. “This farm that we’re going to, it might not be anything that we want. Or something might go wrong and I’m not good enough for them.”
“Never going to happen. You’re the best.” Mercedes wished she had half the confidence in herself as her daughter did. “I’ve got my things all ready to go. And I even
washed up your jeans for you so you could pack. I just have to put them in the dryer when we get home.”
“Our ride isn’t to arrive until Friday morning. So no, I don’t think we can leave earlier. Besides, we have to close up the apartment before we go, and since I’m working late tonight, we’ll have our work cut out for us tomorrow as it is. You can wait the extra day.”
There was a car coming for them. Mercedes wasn’t really sure what that meant for their travel plans, but Palmer had assured her that they were a very nice family with a great many horses that would need her help. Mercedes wondered how she and Bonnie were going to survive a trip all the way across the United States in a car, but they’d endured a lot together and this would be just one more thing. And Bonnie thought it was going to be an adventure.
Milly, the receptionist, came to the door to tell her she had a phone call. After telling Bonnie to keep it down, she answered the phone. She was both surprised and nervous to hear Palmer on the line.
“Hello, darling. I do hope you’re ready for this trip. I know that everyone here is excited to meet you. I’ve told them so many good things about your work ethic.” She told him that she was. “Good. Good. The car will pick you and Bonnie up at nine on Friday. Then you’ll be taken to my plane and brought here. I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I do. And we’ve put you two up in the bed and breakfast. You’ll be the only ones in it, and I’m sure you’ll give us some feedback on that as well. It’s new to the area. One of the families that you’re going to be working for owns it.”
“I thought we’d be driving.” He said that would take too long. “I see. And when we get there, what if things don’t work out? I mean, this is just an interview. I want to be able to come back if there is a problem.”
Palmer was quiet for some time, and she wondered if he was going to tell her that there wasn’t an interview any longer, but they were bringing her out anyway. When she said his name, he asked her to hang on a moment, as he had someone in his office.
“Are we going to fly out?” She told Bonnie that it looked like it. “I’ve never been on a plane before. Do you think they’ll have movies and stuff?”
“You’re taking your things with you so you can watch what you want anyway.” The line clicked again, and she started to ask Palmer if everything was all right when a woman spoke.
“Yes, everything is perfect. Hi, I’m Susie Douglas. My husband and I own the Douglas Ranch. I think there’s been a mistake.” Mercedes felt her heart break, and she told her that she understood. “Now don’t be getting your panties in a twist. I didn’t mean to say that you’re not going to come out, but I think we forgot to tell you that we’ve already hired you. Palmer said you were the best and, to be honest with you, we sure could use the help. While most of the horses aren’t sick, some of them are breeding and it’s been a little hard on us getting to them in time.”
“How many horses are we talking?” Silence on the other end made her think that there was more than the dozen or so she’d thought were there. “Mrs. Douglas? How many do you need me to come and see to?”
“See to? Not that many, a couple of hundred I guess. Not that many are breeding, but we need to get them a clean bill of health so they can be sold, and that’s been hard on Jimmy, the local vet, to do. He isn’t all that nice to the ponies either, so that doesn’t help. But there are quite a few of them that are sold, and we need someone to come out and say they’re healthy before they leave.” Mercedes asked her daughter to go see Milly as Mrs. Douglas talked about what they needed.
“I don’t think this is going to work out.” Mrs. Douglas asked her why not. “Because I won’t sign off on a health questionnaire knowing that you’re selling less than healthy animals. I might be down on my luck, but I won’t lie to help you make money.”
“Good.” Mercedes frowned at the phone and started to ask her what she meant by that when she spoke again. “I didn’t ask you to sign off on their health records, did I? Nope. What I said was, I needed the paperwork to say they were healthy. Now to you that might sound like the same thing, but I will tell you that I can tell when a horse is sick or not a hell of a lot faster than you’d ever be able to. And as for you being down on your luck, I understand that as well. But I have no intentions of selling off our good name for a few extra bucks.”
“I’m sorry.” The woman at the other end laughed. “I think we might have gotten off on the wrong foot here. I’m not sure what’s going to happen there, but if you’ve changed your mind then I can—”
“You’re coming. Now, if you want. As far as I’m concerned you’re hired, and we’ll put you to work tomorrow if you want to get on that plane tonight and get here. We’re about done in here. And with the number of horses we have, you might want to quit anyway.” Mercedes asked her again how many she had. “At any given time there are as many as four thousand horses here. Double that in cattle, and we’re bringing in a few extra animals to help out with the children as well.”
Ten thousand animals? What the hell were they running out there? A breeding ranch? But Mercedes remembered that Palmer had told her that they were running a racehorse ranch, where men who had more money than brains came to buy stock.
“I have a daughter, you know that, right? She’s all I have in the world and I have to see to her needs first and foremost. We don’t know anything about the area or schools. I have no transportation either. Then there is housing and where we can live. Are there doctors in the area that are trustworthy?” Mercedes was making herself notes. A big dollar sign made her pause enough to ask about her salary. “I have to make enough money to get us settled. We have bills and we’ve been trying to pay them off.”
“Hang on a second.” When she was put on hold again, she thought that the woman was going to tell her that she’d have to make due. But Mercedes had already determined that she needed to make more than she was here or there was no point in leaving to move them across the states. “Okay. My husband and I are coming to you. Tonight. I know that you have to work until around five and that you’re probably getting ready to pack and shit, but we’ll come out there and talk to you. Bring the contract you can have looked over too.”
“I don’t have an attorney, Mrs. Douglas. And I can’t afford to find one to look over this contract. I’m trusting you won’t screw me over, because Palmer said I can trust you.”
She laughed, and Mercedes wanted to tell her again that she didn’t think this was a good idea.
“We’ll be there around four-thirty. Someone is making us reservations at the hotel and we’ll have dinner. Palmer said he’d come, too, just to break the ice.” Mercedes told her fine, but she wasn’t making any promises. “No worries. And my name is Susie. Mrs. Douglas is too formal. We’ll see you in a bit.”
After putting down the phone, she sat there for a few minutes. The woman was like a tornado, and Mercedes wondered what it would be like working for her. More than likely she’d be swept up in whatever she had going on. If she worked for her, Mercedes thought there would never be a dull moment.
~~~
Susie hated to fly. And even more she hated to meet with new people. But this woman, for all her problems, was going to come and work for them. Susie had no idea why it was so important to her, but she needed Mercedes there on the ranch to help out. Looking over at the family that had come with her, Susie wondered if this had been a bad idea. She decided this was the best way to scare the poor woman to death if she wasn’t already afraid of them.
“You should see her little girl. That Bonnie is a sweetheart. And something of a gifted child. That’s another reason that she’s so far behind on things. Putting Bonnie in that private school is costing her big time.” Susie only nodded at Palmer. There was more to it than that, but she was going to wait for Mercedes to tell them. Gerard had had someone look into the woman before she’d agreed to hire her. “She doesn’t like the shortened form of her name, by the way. I’m not sure what that would be, but she won’t answer to anything but Mercedes. I think her ex called her anything but her first name and made it sound like a curse rather than an endearment.”
“He’s not going to be happy with this. I have a feeling that he’s sort of possessive of his ex-wife and tries to rule her regardless of the papers that say he can’t.” Gerard leaned back in the seat they were in as he continued. “The man has to be loving that Mercedes is getting him out of debt. And the fact that he can go by her place once in a while to let her know what a disappointment she was to him. The man is going to have to learn to live without his punching bag sooner or later.”
“He’s going to be no problem as far as we’re concerned. And if he makes a nuisance of himself, we’ll take care of him.” Mason nodded as he handed them a file. “There are some things on our new vet that I want to make you all aware of. First and foremost, she’s good. Damned good, as a matter of fact. Top of her class in college. No problems from any of her clients. And the firm that she works for thinks a great deal of her. But that could be because they run her into the ground for little to no extra help in the financial department. She wants to be partner and they know it, so they fuck her when they can.”
Susie glanced at Gerard and when he nodded, Susie spoke quietly. “I want to also make you aware of the things going on in her personal life. Her ex-husband is hurting them more than just with him coming by her place and knocking her around a little. He’s somehow gotten access to both her place she’s staying and her bank accounts. I think that he has someone watching her for him when she’s at home. And more and more lately, he
dips into her money when he finds that she has more than he thinks she should. He has buddies at the bank. Also, he’s hiding funding from her. He gave up all rights to his daughter, but he’s not paying child support to her because he claims he has no money.” Palmer asked her how she knew this. “I’ve seen her. Once. I traveled out there to have a little talk with her to try and feel her out, and I never got past the first touch of her. Her problems aren’t going to go away soon.”
They were aware of what she and Gerard could do. Not all of it but a great deal. Some of it was just too fucking scary to share. Like the fact that they could touch a person and then know the people that they’d had contact with, the ex-husband being one of people that Mercedes had been touched by that day. The man was going to be an issue whether she moved out where they were or not.
“Do you think he’s going to be a problem then?” Susie nodded, and Mason leaned back on the seat again. “A police problem or a leap problem?”
“Both,” Gerard told them as he continued with the information they’d gotten from her. “He’s not going to be happy when he finds out that she’s moving. He likes her under his thumb. And he does have her there. Mercedes is afraid that he’ll take her daughter from her and that he’ll hurt her. Not legally, but simply to take her because he knows that it’ll hurt Mercedes. He doesn’t want her either, but he likes having control over Mercedes. The only reason she was able to file for divorce was because he was in jail just long enough for her to get a judge to grant her one, and when he got out, he was fucking pissed.”
“And the money that she owes, is it because of the divorce or something more?” Palmer didn’t look like he needed anyone to answer him, and when he spoke again, she was sort of proud of him. “He tried to ruin her. Or has he?”
“Close to it. She lost her house, her car, and can’t get a loan. When she told me that she couldn’t afford an attorney to go over the contract we’re taking her, she wasn’t kidding. They have nothing. Less than nothing. Next month the school that her daughter goes to is going to tell her that they can no longer carry her. She knows this, but can’t stand the thought of losing it for her little girl. It’s not only a good school, but a safe place for her too.”
“We’ll bring her back with us.” Susie nodded at Palmer. “If I have to pack her up myself, I’m bringing her back with me.”
“We all will. But I think we’re going to have to go at this slowly. Think of her like a skittish horse or cow. She’s terrified to trust anyone anymore, and when this ex finds out she’s flown the coop, he’s not going to lay back and just let her go.” Mason asked her what she meant. “He’s a man used to getting his own way. He’s Nash Crosby.”
Palmer didn’t have any idea who that was, but Susie knew that Mason did. And so did Ed. Ed Clarke was the one that had told her and Gerard about him when she’d asked him about the divorce papers that she’d had sent to her. Crosby wasn’t just bad news, but he made her own father look sort of saintly.
“Nash is...how should I say this? He is a man who is used to getting his own way, but it’s more than that. He’s a thug. And the worst kind of one. When he was younger, there was speculation that he might have been involved in the car accident that took both
his parents’ lives and that of his sister. Six months after they were gone, his grandmother died in a house fire.” Ed looked at his notes as he mopped his brow with his handkerchief. “Then about eleven years ago, he married Mercedes Gillespie. Her family had some money, but not a great deal. Mercedes was in her last year of veterinary college and making a name for herself even then. By all accounts, Mercedes didn’t care for the man, had on several occasions gone to the police about him. Then one day there was an article in the paper that they were to be wed. Six months later, Bonnie was born.”
“You think he raped her, got her with child, and then forced her into marrying him? That might have worked some years ago, but not now.” Mason looked at Palmer when he laughed nervously. “Please tell me that I’m wrong about this.”
“You’re not. And she might not have married him had her father not been ill at the time. His death happened a few months after they said their vows. We think he might have been hurting her father, and that might be the reason that he got her to say yes. I guess we won’t know for sure until she tells us.” Susie didn’t even look at them as Mason continued. She knew, but it wasn’t her story to tell.
“So we’re here to bring her to safety, not hire her.” Mason told Palmer that they were going to hire her, had already as far as he was concerned. “Then I don’t understand. Why all this cloak and dagger stuff? I really like this woman, but why do we need to know about her personal life like this?”
“She’s going to be living on one of the ranches and we don’t want anyone hurt. We have to consider what sort of baggage she’ll be bringing with her in the form of that ex of hers.” Gerard continued as Palmer agreed with him. “And if she’s not happy, the horses and the cattle will know it. We can’t have her stressed out when the horses have enough of that on their own.”
As they were landing, she sat next to Gerard again. Susie had only touched the woman once, but it was enough to bring her to tears over what she was going through. Not only was the woman in desperate need of a break, but she was on the verge of losing even her home if her ex had anything to do with it. Nash was going to be a problem for them all.
The hotel was nice, and she wished that Darin had been able to come with them. He’d been hitting all the B&B’s around the country to find out what he wanted in theirs. The construction was nearly finished on the building, and the decorators had already finished up on three of the floors. In about a month, less she thought, they’d have all the rooms ready and Darin would have Douglas House up and running.
The restaurant, too, was nearly complete, and the new chef had been thrilled to death to take over the lower level for his own. Susie was still trying to keep herself from freaking out every time a bill came in, and finally, Gerard had told her not to open them anymore. It was expensive to start from scratch, and he assured her that they would be fine.
The business was going much better than they’d ever hoped it would, too. They were selling horses almost faster than she could train them. Several ranches had made the trip to their ranch to not only buy, but to place an order for other horses as well. Their monthly income was by far more than most people made in a lifetime.
They had expenses too; huge straw and hay bills, vet bills in the five figures weekly. Grain and feed was being delivered daily, and they still had to supplement that with an extra truck once in a while. But she was doing something that she loved, and they were doing well with it.
As soon as they were settled in their room, she called Darin to let him know about the room, even sent him a few pictures. Calling the doctor to ask her where they could meet, Susie was surprised when the little girl answered the phone. After telling her who she was and why she was calling, Bonnie started to cry harder. The noise in the background had her reaching for the others as the little girl sobbed in the phone.
“My daddy is here now, and he said that we weren’t going anywhere. I don’t know how he figured it out, but he’s really mad at us.” Bonnie cried harder when something sounded like it broke behind her. “Can you please come here and get us? Hurry, please? I don’t want him here.”
“They’re coming. Where are you? Can you see them?” She told her that her mommy had told her to hide. “Good girl. You stay on the phone with me, and my family will take care that he goes home. Then you’re going to come here with us and we’re going to go to my house. We have a lot of ponies, and they’re excited about you coming out.”
Susie thought it important to keep the child on the line. She was afraid, and so was Susie. When another crash sounded very close to the phone, Susie brought up the trip again.
“Mommy said that we’re going to fly away if we can.” Susie told her that would be wonderful. “And that I can see the cows and horses that she’s gonna take care of. If you hire her.”
“She’s already hired.” There was a scream and then a man yelling for the little girl. “Don’t go to him, Bonnie. Your mommy won’t like it if he takes you from her.”
Bonnie screamed, and the line went dead. Before she could reach for Gerard and the others, Gerard said they were there, and for her to call the police. She picked up the phone again with shaking hands and dialed the number. They said that they were on their way and that someone had already called them.
“There’s a little girl in the house. She’s ten and terrified. I think someone is trying to hurt her.” The dispatcher told her that they were on the way, and would be there soon. “I hope so.”
Susie was just going to go to them when she heard from Mason. He used the phone to contact her, and that terrified her more than she could have thought. When he spoke, his voice was calm and even, but she knew that he was beyond pissed off.
“I’d like for you to meet us at the hospital. The bastard has...we’re still trying to find the little girl, but the woman is beaten to shit.” Susie said she was leaving now. “Have our things packed up by the staff, and everything taken to the airport. We’re not hanging around to see if he comes back to finish the job.”
“How bad is she?” Mason said that the medics were there now, but she was talking to them. “She’s gonna be worried about the bill. Tell her that she’s insured as of three days ago when we hired her. And have the bills sent to our house.”
“I’ll take care of it.” She thanked Mason and asked to speak to Gerard. “He’s talking with the police, honey. As soon as he’s done...he’s fine, but he got hurt too.”
She felt her legs shake, then she had to sit down. As she slid to the floor, she felt his touch, Gerard’s touch, and his love as it surrounded her. Susie knew that Mason was still speaking to her, but the only person she cared about right now was the one in her heart and head.
I’m fine. It’s a good thing that he hit me. She asked him how. Because he assaulted me, and even if our vet doesn’t press charges, I’m going to. This way he’ll be in jail still by the time we land at home.
So you’re telling me you took one for the team? He didn’t say anything. How badly are you hurt? And so you know, I’m going to do ten times worse when I see you.
Only a black eye and maybe a broken nose. She growled low at him. If you want, I’ll let you beat me a little before I take you hard on the floor. After, of course, I eat you.
I dislike you very much right now. He laughed. Come here to me, Gerard. I need to see you for myself.
I love you as well. When we’re done here. Meet us at the plane. We’re out of here. She felt his anger. Sharp enough that she could almost taste it. We have her. She came out when her mom told her to. The little girl has been hurt too. I’m going to kill this bastard.