Sunday, August 2, 2015

Royce The Hunter Series Chapter 13 is ready to read


Chapter 13
“Are you even listening to anything I’m saying to you?” Royce looked over at his brother. “You’re not, are you? Damn it, I’ve been talking to you for seven minutes and you’ve been—”
“You timed me? You actually know it was seven minutes. Who does that?” Royce watched Curtis flush. “You didn’t. Then how did you even come up with seven minutes?”
“I was guessing. And like you care. Where were you just now or do I even want to know?”
Now it was Royce’s turn to flush. “I wasn’t anywhere. Now, what was this you were saying about the last quarter? I’m listening now, so let’s get this meeting finished.”
Royce felt himself drifting off again ten minutes later. His brother apparently noticed it too. “Okay, tell me what the hell is going on with you. I’m not going to waste any more of my time if you’re going to be in la-la land the entire time.”
“Kasey won’t tell me anything.” Christ, he sounded ten. “I tried calling her about when the appointment is and she won’t answer her phone.”
“I hate to sound like a broken record here, but again, why do you care? She’s a grown woman who knows how to take care of herself. I’m sure she’ll do fine by the kid too. You’ve made it perfectly clear to her and everyone else who’ll listen to you that you aren’t interested in her or the baby. So either move on or change the way you act.”
But he did care. Not that she hadn’t made it easy for him not to; he was beginning to care very much. He looked over at his brother. Did he want to open that can of worms with him? Yes, he decided that he did.
“I want to start over with her. I know that it sounds lame, but I want to take her out, maybe go to a movie or something. I don’t…I haven’t a clue how to do that. I’m afraid that I’ve pretty much made it so she won’t ever speak to me again.” He looked over at Curtis, wondering if he thought this was funny. “I don’t even know when her birthday is.”
“January tenth, I saw it on her application. Why? I mean, if it’s the baby, I can probably persuade her to let you have visitation rights. If she keeps it. And before you blow up about that, she’s only looking at all her options, not making any decision just yet.”
Royce got up and started pacing the room. “I don’t have any real concrete reasons. She has a smart mouth that both irritates and intrigues me. She’s very beautiful, though that isn’t all of it. She’s headstrong and smart, she is passionate and funny. I actually find myself wondering if the kid will have her temperament and hope that it does.”
Curtis cleared his throat before he spoke. “Are you in love with her, Royce? Or is this just a case of having something that’s been denied you?”
Royce nodded. He understood what his brother was asking. “I’m not in love with her. I like her, I understand her…well, most of the time. She makes me think of things I’d never… Are you aware that her mother raised her without any support from Kasey’s dad?”
Royce had called a private investigator and had a thorough search made on the entire family. Jason York and Susan York included. He’d found out a great deal, more than he’d ever thought about the little family.
“Yes. Her father is making demands on her. He wants whatever insurance policy money that Kasey had from her mom’s death. He seems to think his daughter is holding out on him.”
Royce hadn’t known that. “Is he threatening her?” Curtis nodded. “Will he hurt her, you think? I’m sure you’ve done something about it, right?”
“No. She won’t let me. And believe me, I tired. I had someone watching her place up until she had the guy arrested for a peeping tom. Then the next night she pulled a gun on the next guy. Scared the shit out of him too. I had an ex-Navy Seal in my office telling me how scary it was to have this little bit of a thing holding a gun to his head and his nuts. He said she even fired the gun at his groin and told him that next time the gun would be loaded.”
Royce laughed. It wasn’t really funny, but he could see her doing that. Curtis reached into his briefcase, pulled out a file, and threw it on the desk.
“That’s her medical record from the doctor she’s seeing. If you tell her I gave them to you she’ll stop the information. If you even hint that I’m helping you, I’ll make your life not worth living.”
Royce opened the file and looked up at his brother. “You’ll help me? You’ll help me try and make it up to her?”
Curtis stood and took his case with him. “For now anyway. I like this girl. I didn’t want to, but I do. She’s agreed to let me go to her next doctor’s appointment. They were going to do an ultrasound, but she can’t afford it. And before you claim that you’ll pay for it for her, I think you really should rethink that. She’s very…proud, and anyway, I don’t think she’d take the money from you. I’m guessing you have about two weeks to try and see if you can convince her you want to be there too.”
After Curtis left Royce started reading the file. He was on the second page when he started making notes. Not notes like he normally did when he decided he found something he wanted, but notes on things he wanted to remember. Things like her birthday and her age. He made notes about the schools she’d gone to and the awards she’d won. The colleges she’d attended and what her grades were like. He’d even made notes on the type of places she’d visited and a mental note to ask Curtis how he’d found out. By the time he was finished, he had a better understanding of her. Not a lot, but enough to maybe get him on her better side. He picked up the phone and started on “Plan Kasey.”
“Hello, I’d like to order some daisies to be delivered.” And the first thing he had to do was grovel.
~~~
The knock at the door startled her from a nap. She’d been working on a term paper for someone and it had been so boring that she’d fallen asleep correcting it. She had no idea what the paper was supposed to be about. Something about hamburger, of all things, and what medicinal properties it had. She hoped this person failed
She opened her door to a bunch of daisies. Not just the run of the mill white ones, but brilliantly-colored ones too. Also baby’s breath and greenery wrapped up in a large ribbon and a big vase.
“Miss York?” the man holding the flowers asked her. Her squeal of delight made him laugh. She’d never received flowers before and was so excited she grabbed them out of his hands before she even acknowledged him.
“Yes, that’s me,” she finally told him. “Oh aren’t they lovely, all happy and colorful? Who are they from?”
She was searching for a card when he told her he didn’t know but could she please sign? Taking the little clipboard and the flower-looking pen, she scribbled her name. She put the flowers down without finding a card when she went to find her purse.
“The tip has been taken care of,” he told her when she tried to hand him five dollars. “You have a good day.”
After closing the door and locking it, she pulled the little envelope out that was buried deep within the over three dozen blooms and read it. She was still sitting there holding the card when her phone rang.
“You like them?” Royce asked her. She looked at the card again. “Kasey? Are you there?”
“You sent me flowers. Why?” She flushed when he laughed. “I mean, they’re lovely, my favorite actually, but I don’t understand the message.”
“I wanted you to know that I was thinking of you, that’s all. You like them then? I’m glad. The lady at the flower shop was sort of cranky about getting them to you today.”
“Were you demanding? That always puts my back up. Maybe you should try asking instead of demanding. It might get you more help than hindrance.” He laughed again and she found herself smiling. He had a great laugh and she wondered why he was— “What’s happened? You’re not usually in this good a mood when you talk to me. You’re up to something. Spill it.”
“I’m not up… I guess I deserved that. I just wanted to send you some pretty flowers. And the first thing I thought of was daisies. And the reason I called is I have a favor to ask you.”
“See, I knew it. I haven’t made up my mind on the baby yet. So if that’s all you called about then—”
“That’s not it either.” He sighed heavily. “I need a date tomorrow night and I was hoping you’d agree to go with me. It’s a charity function…some sort of art show that the committee I’m on is throwing to kick off the new art gallery.”
She still didn’t believe that there wasn’t something else so she didn’t agree just yet. “Who’s the artist and what’s the media? And what’s the dress code?”
“Media? You mean the type of art? Let me see…I just had the invitation… It says here ‘come and help us celebrate the grand opening of the Hunter Art Group. Buy and appreciate the work of renowned artisan Paul Gleason. Mr. Gleason and his collection of raku fired stoneware and his fine work in porcelain will kick off…’ Christ, this sounds like something my mother would set up.”
She laughed at his tone and wondered if he had any idea about this before today. “I’m sure it sounds like fun. Isn’t there anyone else you’d rather take and bore to tears?”
“No. It’s black tie. I’m sure they don’t expect you to wear a tie…though that might be kind of fun, but I’ll pay for your dress. And before you get yourself in a twist about it, I can take it off my taxes. I’ll call is a business expense.”
She wanted to go. She’d actually heard of Paul Gleason and his work. In college he’d been a visiting artist and she’d had to work that night and missed his lecture. She was nearly ready to say yes when he spoke again.
“Daniel and Curtis will be there. I think my other brother Jesse will as well. I don’t know if they’ll have dates, but they have to come too.” She heard someone speaking. “Okay, Daniel and Curtis have no date, Jesse has two, and my mom will be there.”
His mom. She was probably still pissed at her. Well, if she did keep the baby, she would probably have to play nice with his family so she thought she should start now. She didn’t particularly want to go with Royce, but with the others there she thought she might have a fairly good time. “All right, I’ll go with you, but I’m not your date. I’m just your…escort. And not the hourly type either. I want to see Mr. Gleason’s work and that’s all.”
She heard him take a deep breath. “Great. I’ll…how will you get a dress and me pay for it? If you want me to go with you to help pick it out then—”
“I’m quite capable of purchasing a dress, Mr. Hunter. But I will let you send a car to pick me up. I have a car, but I’m sure it isn’t what the hoity-toity people you hang around with are used to.”
“All right then. I’ll have a car at your house at four-thirty. My brothers and I are meeting for dinner at Muddy Misers. That way if this thing runs late, we won’t be starving to death afterwards. The dress. I can leave my credit card with Bobbie Noel. She said you know her.”
She wasn’t sure what else to say to him so she simply hung up. Now what? She really didn’t have a clue how to buy a dress. She pulled up images of exhibits on her computer and realized she was in over her head. After waiting one hour, she called Bobbie.
“I was wondering if I could ask you a favor. I need some help buying a dress for that art thingy with Mr. Hunter and I didn’t want him to know I don’t have a clue what to do.”
“If you’ll hold for one moment I’ll get that information for you. It has been a hectic afternoon and I’m straightening out some last minute things with my boss before I leave for the day. Could I meet with you at say…six-thirty?”
“He’s there, isn’t he? Okay, you’ll meet me at my house then? Or my uncle’s? Either is fine by me.”
“Hummm, how about yours? I can see to that and anything else you may need while I’m there.”
“All right. I’ll see you then.” Kasey hung up smiling. She really liked Bobbie and was happy for her friendship. She also thought that she was sweet on her uncle and neither of them seemed inclined to do anything about it. She thought maybe she’d do a little matchmaking while she was at it.
At seven o’clock that night Kasey was looking at dresses. She decided that this was perhaps the stupidest thing she’d ever done. She hated that this thing was going to cost a
fortune and they hadn’t even found a dress yet. She was just going through yet another line of dresses when she saw it.
The dress was beautiful. Not just beautiful, but sinfully so. It was a black silk sleeveless gown that she knew would fit her. She glanced at the size as she pulled it from the line of dresses and realized that it was going to be too large, but nothing that couldn’t be fixed. She hung it on the hook to see the whole effect when Bobbie came up behind her.
“Oh, my dear, that’s it. Please tell me that you plan to try that one on. It’ll make Royce drool all night.”
She didn’t comment on Royce drooling. “It’s very…sexy, isn’t it? I mean, it’s not too much? Or I guess too little, is it?” Kasey turned to look at Bobbie when she laughed.
“That’s the point, sweetheart. Try it on. If it doesn’t look good on you then we’ll keep looking. But I don’t think we’ll need to. I’m going to go over here to find some shoes to go with it.”



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Christiana McKenzie, Chris to her friends, was at her wits end. She and her sister, Angel, were born witches. Their mother had warned them that to use their powers would bring on another witch hunt, and they’d risk being burned, just like their ancestors. Her sister didn’t heed their mother’s warning and now Angel was dead. Angel had lived long enough to tell Chris that she’d left something for her with a man by the name of Bentley, then she died. Chris had to track down this Bentley no matter the cost…. 
Joseph Bentley almost had everything finished: the house, the barn…everything. In a few weeks it would be finished and he would be able to move into the house and get the ranch going. But the progress wasn’t going fast enough to suit him―he was lonely. 
Micah had come out to tell him that the sister of the girl that died to protect him was coming to see him, and he was hoping that the nightmares since the incident would stop. Micah wanted him to come out to the main house and be there when she arrived. But the limo delivered the woman to Joey’s house instead of Micah’s. Joey couldn’t believe it, the hostile woman was his mate…and more than he could have ever hoped for…. 
Whether or not Chris wanted a mate or not was irrelevant, Joey wasn’t letting her out of his sight. And when she found out that her mother had lied to her―she wasn’t an ordinary witch―and that others would come to try to possess her. If they couldn’t do that, then they would kill her to possess her powers―she needed help. 
The Bentleys ban together to save one of their own, but will it be enough? Can they even fight the powerful magic that’s targeting Chris and Joey? 

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Andrea was scared. She knew something was going on downstairs, but didn’t know what. The voices she could hear were mean and loud. And suddenly she didn’t feel so well either. Her heart sank with the realization that they had drugged her―again….
Trevor had no idea if this was the right place or not, and if it wasn’t, he was as good as dead.…



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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Royce The Hunter Series Chapter 12 is ready to read

Chapter 12
Royce was standing outside Curtis’ office the next morning when he got in. Royce had actually thought about going to see Daniel, but he was still slightly pissed off at him. And his mom was in a meeting.
“I need to speak to you,” he said to his brother as soon as he stepped off the elevator. “Kasey isn’t giving me any choice so I need to do something so I have information about the baby.”
Curtis unlocked his door and went inside. He hung up his jacket and checked his messages, completely ignoring him. Finally, Royce snapped. “Damn it, I’m talking to you. Fucking quit screwing around and answer me.”
“Okay,” Curtis started. “You didn’t ask me a single question but barked information to me. Second, that’s a personal issue, not business. And while I did suggest you make a contract with Kasey to ensure your rights, I’ve since changed my mind. Third, I—”
“Did Daniel talk to you? Is that what this is about? I see he’s gathering you all together to make some sort of Anti-Royce Club. Well, I’m not going to marry her. I—”
“Good. I hope to God you don’t.”
That shut him up. He knew he would regret asking, but found he really wanted to know. Before he could ask, Curtis continued.
“We had dinner with Kasey last night. And before you ask, no, we didn’t go behind your back. She asked us. Well, she asked Daniel. Jesse and I went along because we were in his office when she called him.”
“Why? Why did she want to ask Daniel? To get you guys to be more pissed at me?” Royce felt stupid as soon as the words left his mouth.
“Will you just listen to yourself? Christ, Royce, you sound like you’re ten years old and nobody will let you into their club. We had pizza with her. She wouldn’t let us even mention your name or we had to leave.”
That bothered Royce too, but not in the same way. It seemed Kasey was going out of her way to have nothing to do with him. Small wonder, he thought. He was being…well, he realized last night he was being just plain mean to her. “So what did you talk about? Is she…Curtis, do you think she needs… I was going to ask if she needed me, but I think she made it pretty clear she doesn’t. At least not me, she doesn’t.”
Curtis laughed. “That’s the first thing you’ve said in a month that’s true. At least partly true anyway. I think she’ll do well as a single mom. Her mom raised her pretty much on her own while helping care for Kasey’s aunt. And I think Kasey will make a terrific mom.”
Royce looked at his brother and said what he’d realized last night. “She’ll do a better job without me. Don’t say anything,” Royce told him when Curtis started to speak. “I’ve been a complete and total ass with her. No, that’s not true either. I’ve always been an ass.”
“You’re not going to hear me disagree with you,” Curtis said, laughing. “I love you, but damn, man, you’re not nice sometimes.”
“Thanks,” Royce said without heat. “The thing is, she makes me crazy, not because she’s going to have my baby, but because she’s not the least bit impressed by me.”
Royce flushed when Curtis laughed again. “You mean she doesn’t worship the ground you walk on? Well, no wonder she makes you cranky.”
Royce started pacing. “Yesterday I went by to see her and she wouldn’t even let me in her apartment. She made me stand in the hall like…like an unwelcome guest. I suppose I was. And she told me if I came around again, she was going to get a restraining order against me. Nor does she want my money.”
“She probably doesn’t need it. Not now in any case. I gave her the money she had coming to her from her paychecks last night.”
Royce turned to look at him. “What money? I thought I’d already given her that money.” And he’d found out she’d used it to pay off her mother’s hospital bills and her funeral services. Bobbie had told him that yesterday. Apparently Leah had had no insurance before she’d been diagnosed and no one would insure her afterwards.
“She’s on medical leave, injured on the job. I figured you wouldn’t mind if she got her full checks at an average of the hours she’d been working for the past year. Minus the insurance policy, of course.” Curtis handed him a sheet of paper. “I don’t know much about babies, but that should cover most of the costs.”
Royce looked at her weekly hours. She’d averaged seventy-nine hours per week. “She must have been happy about this.” Then he frowned. “No, she was probably pissed off and gave you a hard time for even suggesting that she take it.”
“Pretty much. She said she couldn’t say no about all the overtime, not with White holding the full-time position in front of her like a carrot. She said that every time someone would get hired in, he’d tell her they had more experience or some such bullshit.”
Royce nodded. “I suppose you’ve looked into any others he might have done this to. Was he abusing anyone else?”
“Yes,” he answered softly. “Four others. All women. I’ve contacted two of them, the other two I’m still trying to find. I was going to talk to you today about it. How do you want it handled?”
“The same as with Kasey. Also…give them some sort of bonus. You decide on the amount.” Royce sat back down. “Is she all right?”
Curtis smiled. “She’s wonderful, funny, brilliant. I don’t know when I’ve had so much fun. But she’s also very…no, she’s brutally honest, headstrong, and mouthy. Much like you, in fact. We were talking about it on the way home, how the two of you are the perfect match for each other and think it would be a mistake if you two were to marry. You’d kill each other within a month.”
Royce went to his office a little while later. He had plenty of work to do and several projects he needed to get started. Curtis got him updated on the Benton fire and what was happening there.
The Benton estate, seized because the fire was arson, was going to pay for the building to be replaced once the funds were able to be used by the shareholders. Plus, they were going to add an additional one million dollars in contributions. Neither knew where the funds were coming from, but were pleased with the outcome.
The case against White wasn’t finished because of the additional information from Kasey and the other women. Curtis said they were opening themselves up for a little
backlash, but he thought it would be all right. The firm contacting the women instead of the other way around would make them look better. Royce said he was worried less about image at this point and more about making things right. Curtis agreed.
Curtis also gave him some advice. “If you want to be a part of your child’s life, then I suggest you man up and shut up. She doesn’t need you, or any of us for that matter. But she does need a friend. When we had dinner last night, she let it slip that she’s lonely, that she doesn’t have anyone she can just call. The three of us, Daniel, Jesse, and I, all volunteered. You could be on that list too.”
Royce wanted that, he thought, but before he could say so Curtis continued. “But if you hurt her, drive her away, or even make her shed one more tear, we’ve decided we will hunt you down and hurt you in ways you can’t even imagine.”
Now Royce sat at his desk over an hour later. His screen had gone black and the pen he’d been holding had stained the blotter beneath it. He had to toss away four sheets of otherwise blank paper to hide what he’d done while he’d been deep in thought. Taking a deep breath, he picked up the phone before he changed his mind and dialed her cell phone.
“Kasey, it’s Royce Hunter. Please don’t hang up. I’d like to talk to you please.”
~~~
She closed her eyes. She didn’t think he knew how to simply talk. Bark, give commands, but not talk.
“All right,” she answered him finally. “But you piss me off again and I’m hanging up.”
“Okay, I understand. I wanted…I want…shit, Kasey, I’m an ass and I’m sorry. For everything.”
Kasey looked at the phone then put it back to her ear. “Okay, who is this and what have you done with Royce, the real Royce Hunter? You know, the one who snaps orders and demands results.” She was only half kidding, but he apparently took her seriously. She could hear the shame in his voice.
“I deserved that. And more. I’ve been a royal pain in the ass since I met you. My secretary is barely civil to me, my brothers have threatened to have me murdered, and my own mother is ready to have me kidnapped and taken to another country never to be heard from again.”
That pissed her off. “And I suppose that’s my fault too. Look, if you called me up so you could make nice with your friends and family, that is so not my problem. I have—”
“Christ, will you take it down a notch? I didn’t say it was your fault, damn it. I was just telling you that… Hell, I don’t know. I just wanted you to know you’re not the only one I’ve made mad lately.”
She nearly laughed at his beaten tone. But she wasn’t ready to forgive and forget just yet. If she ever would be ready. “Why did you have sex with me that night?” The question was out before she could sensor it. He was quiet for so long she didn’t think he’d answer. But when he did, she wasn’t sure how to deal with it.
“Honestly? I’m not sure. I wanted you. When you stopped me in the lobby that morning I thought you’d be fun—someone to have some dinner with and maybe, if I was lucky, a good lay.”
“Gee thanks. I’m trying to do my job and you’re only impressed with my bust size and a piece of my ass.”
“You know, I just realized I’ve never even seen your breasts. Never touched my mouth to your lovely flesh. I want to do that right now, Kasey, very much so.”
The silence was profound. Kasey wasn’t sure if she wanted to laugh or brain him. “Perhaps we should move on to something else,” she said to him. “I don’t even know why you called.”
He didn’t say anything for several seconds and she was sure he was going to go back to the subject of her breasts, but he didn’t. She listened to him as he told her the rules she was going to have to follow and she had no idea why she thought he’d written them down. She decided to test her theory.
“What was number four again?” Like she cared, but it was the last one she’d written down when he started reciting them.
“Number four? Oh, let’s see…oh, you’re going to have a checking account that I will provide—”
“You did write them out. What did you do, sit at your desk all morning and make up this list of things you wanted to dictate to me and thought that I’d just simply do them?”
“Yes. And why wouldn’t I? It’s just as much my responsibility as it is yours. And that being said—”
“Yes,” she snapped at him. “That being said, I’m not your responsibility. You’ll either back off or I swear I’ll bean you the next time I—don’t you have anything else to do other than drive me crazy? Some old peoples’ home to foreclose on or something?”
“I do not foreclose on things, especially not retirement homes. Why won’t you ever let me finish a sentence? You are forever cutting me off when I’m trying to—”
“You never try to do anything. You simply put out your demands then sit back while other people hop to it. And if you said anything that I wanted to hear, then maybe I’d listen to you.” She sat up straighter in her chair before continuing. “If and when hell were to freeze over then maybe, just maybe, I’d come to you for help. But until then…fuck the hell off.” She closed her phone up and laid it on the table. She was so tempted to throw it at the wall and watch with great satisfaction when it shattered, but knew that she’d be the one to clean it up and then she’d have to replace it. She picked up her mug. The temptation to destroy it was nearly overwhelming. Instead, she put it down and burst into tears. She was contemplating screaming when her house phone rang.
“Miss York, it’s Doctor Miles’ office. We wanted to confirm your appointment for tomorrow.”
Kasey laid her head on the table and listened to the woman tell her what she’d need to bring, all the while wondering if she was going to be delivering in prison or not. Murdering Royce Hunter was becoming more and more tempting every day.


Stay Tune for Next Week Chapter 13


Books In the series 


THE HUNTERS -





                                


 I hope you are enjoying this book 


                                         
          



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Christiana McKenzie, Chris to her friends, was at her wits end. She and her sister, Angel, were born witches. Their mother had warned them that to use their powers would bring on another witch hunt, and they’d risk being burned, just like their ancestors. Her sister didn’t heed their mother’s warning and now Angel was dead. Angel had lived long enough to tell Chris that she’d left something for her with a man by the name of Bentley, then she died. Chris had to track down this Bentley no matter the cost…. 
Joseph Bentley almost had everything finished: the house, the barn…everything. In a few weeks it would be finished and he would be able to move into the house and get the ranch going. But the progress wasn’t going fast enough to suit him―he was lonely. 
Micah had come out to tell him that the sister of the girl that died to protect him was coming to see him, and he was hoping that the nightmares since the incident would stop. Micah wanted him to come out to the main house and be there when she arrived. But the limo delivered the woman to Joey’s house instead of Micah’s. Joey couldn’t believe it, the hostile woman was his mate…and more than he could have ever hoped for…. 
Whether or not Chris wanted a mate or not was irrelevant, Joey wasn’t letting her out of his sight. And when she found out that her mother had lied to her―she wasn’t an ordinary witch―and that others would come to try to possess her. If they couldn’t do that, then they would kill her to possess her powers―she needed help. 
The Bentleys ban together to save one of their own, but will it be enough? Can they even fight the powerful magic that’s targeting Chris and Joey? 

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COMING JULY 31ST 2015


Andrea was scared. She knew something was going on downstairs, but didn’t know what. The voices she could hear were mean and loud. And suddenly she didn’t feel so well either. Her heart sank with the realization that they had drugged her―again….
Trevor had no idea if this was the right place or not, and if it wasn’t, he was as good as dead.…



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                                    NEXT NEW RELEASE  AUG 7TH
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Friday, July 24, 2015

Joseph Bentley Legacy Book Two Release Day & Winner Announced 7/24/15





Christiana McKenzie, Chris to her friends, was at her wits end. She and her sister, Angel, were born witches. Their mother had warned them that to use their powers would bring on another witch hunt, and they’d risk being burned, just like their ancestors. Her sister didn’t heed their mother’s warning and now Angel was dead. Angel had lived long enough to tell Chris that she’d left something for her with a man by the name of Bentley, then she died. Chris had to track down this Bentley no matter the cost…. 
Joseph Bentley almost had everything finished: the house, the barn…everything. In a few weeks it would be finished and he would be able to move into the house and get the ranch going. But the progress wasn’t going fast enough to suit him―he was lonely. 
Micah had come out to tell him that the sister of the girl that died to protect him was coming to see him, and he was hoping that the nightmares since the incident would stop. Micah wanted him to come out to the main house and be there when she arrived. But the limo delivered the woman to Joey’s house instead of Micah’s. Joey couldn’t believe it, the hostile woman was his mate…and more than he could have ever hoped for…. 
Whether or not Chris wanted a mate or not was irrelevant, Joey wasn’t letting her out of his sight. And when she found out that her mother had lied to her―she wasn’t an ordinary witch―and that others would come to try to possess her. If they couldn’t do that, then they would kill her to possess her powers―she needed help. 
The Bentleys ban together to save one of their own, but will it be enough? Can they even fight the powerful magic that’s targeting Chris and Joey? 

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Chapter 1 Chris wasn’t sure what to think. She’d been trying to find this Bentley person for a month now, and all she’d been able to find was a big fat nothing. Glaring at the list of names that her secretary had found for her, she wondered, not for the first time, why her older sister had been killed. Chris turned just as someone came into her office. She did not want to deal with Jackson today. “Miss McKenzie, I have a message from the billing department that says that you’re not turning in all your hours. Is that true?” Chris sat at her desk, calming herself before she flew across the room and murdered him. “You know that we only get paid when you bill the correct amount of time?” “I’m well aware of how billing works, Jackson. I have worked here longer than you have. And why are they telling you my business?” When he sat down, she groaned. “Don’t you have something else to do? Like push little old men under buses? I’ve heard that you might be pretty good at that.” It was a rumor, of course, that he’d gotten his job because someone in the firm had been killed by a bus. Everyone, her included, thought he’d done it. He and this other man, Jim Carter, had been in the running for the partnership, and he’d just eliminated his competition. The longer Chris knew Jackson Hill, the more she thought him capable of just about anything. “I’ve already turned in my hours for the week.” Chris glanced at her calendar and saw that it was only Thursday. “I know what you’re thinking. But it’s fine. I’ve talked to Duncan and he said that if my hours went over, I’d have to eat them. They won’t.” “And if they go under?” He snorted at her. “Whatever, Jackson. I have work to do and it’s not getting done with you in here. So move it. Go to your own part of the building and leave me to mine.” He took his time standing up, and she noticed that he was staring at her desk like he was trying to memorize it. She knew what he could see. Nothing. Her desk was covered in paperwork, both business and personal, but all he could see was what she let him. A neat, clean desk with thick folders labeled with numbers. “You’re entirely too secretive, love. Why don’t you trust me?” Chris leaned back in her chair and said nothing. “Why don’t you and I have dinner tonight? We could go over some of the questions you might have about my personal life, and then we could go back to your place for a night of great sex.”
“Never going to happen, Jackson.” He asked her why. “Because I don’t like you. I doubt that having sex with you would improve my opinion of you. And, as it happens, I have a date.” “Do you now? With who? Someone I know? No, that’s not possible. Everyone I know would never encroach on you. They know that as my partner in this firm, you belong to me.” Chris stood up and was glad that he took several steps back. “I’m kidding you, love. I’ve never said a word about us.”
Chris was furious, but she pointed to the door rather than direct her magic to him. It would have been hard to explain, and she was much too busy right now to try to placate anyone that would care to inquire as to why he was dead. Chris doubted that anyone would care a button, and they’d more than likely give her a medal for it. When he left her office, she closed the door using just a bit of her magic and stared at her desk. Where was this man, and why had Angel thought he could help Chris? Picking up the list that she’d been working on, she called the next name. All the Bentleys that she’d managed to eliminate had been marked through, and there were only about two dozen of them left. Who knew there could be so many of them all over the United States, and not a one of them with the name Micah? “Hello, I’m looking for a man by the name of Micah Bentley.” The sound coming through the phone was like a low growl. “My name is Chris.” “He’s probably working.” Her heart started to pound in her chest. “I don’t think he’s supposed to be back before…I don’t even…do you know what time it is, lady?” She glanced at her computer, then at the number. It was three hours earlier in the man’s house. Telling him she was sorry, Chris heard the man—because there was no doubt that was what it was on the other end—laugh. “Look, it’s okay. I have to get up anyway in about two hours. Micah is…he has his own home now. I can give you…no, that will only piss him off. Give me your number and I’ll have him call you.” Chris gave him both her personal number and her office number. “He might not call you right away. I think one of his daughters was sick last night and they were up. He called me about three to— yeah, like you’re interested in that.” “I just need him to answer a few questions for me. Tell him it’s about my sister, Angel.” The silence at the other end had her standing up. Chris had no idea what was going through the man’s head, but she knew that he’d heard of Angel and more than likely knew what might have happened to her. “She told me before she died to contact him and that he’d have some answers for me.” “Micah said to give you his number.” His voice was no longer sexy sounding. Now it was hard, almost like he was pissed at her. “He asked that you wait five minutes before you call. He wants to get in the shower to wake up.” “All right.”
The line went dead. The deep silence on the line made her think that had it been a house phone, one that actually hung up. She thought she might have heard the sound of it as it vibrated though her head when he’d slammed it down. Putting down her phone, she sat there and stared at the clock across the room on her wall. The short burst of someone knocking was all the warning she got before her dad walked in. He was a partner at Roger, Roger, and Rocklin too, but few people knew they were related. Her dad’s last name was different than hers because he was her stepfather, and few knew that. When Allen Black sat down, he frowned. “What is it? Did you hear what Jackson is telling people?” Chris asked him what he’d said. “The moron is saying that you need your space today. He thinks you might be a little menstrual. I hope his dick falls off.”
Chris really didn’t like the guy before, and now she really hated him. “Next time you see him, tell him that he’s on my list. He asked me to have dinner with him tonight and then we’d go to my house for sex.” “Good God.” Chris laughed, then glanced at the clock again. “I’m sorry, am I bothering you? You’ve looked at the time a lot since I came in.” “No. I got a lead on this Bentley guy.” Dad leaned forward and asked her in a low voice what it was. “I have to call him back. In two minutes. Would you like to be here?” “Yes, if you don’t mind.” Chris knew that even though he was their stepfather, Allen loved them as much or more than their own father might have. And when Angel’s body had come to her, he was with her. They were moving her things from her apartment to his house in an effort to consolidate their money right now. When it was time, Chris picked up the phone and called Micah. Her hands were sweaty and her head was pounding. After the fourth ring she nearly hung up, but a woman answered and she was laughing. “He wants to know if you set a timer.” Chris didn’t know what to say so said nothing to the still laughing woman. “His mom is coming to help out, so just hang on a bit. Micah said he’s about done.” The phone was set down, and that was when she heard the child howling. And when it was abruptly cut off, Chris could imagine that a bottle had been put in the child’s mouth to shut it up. The laughing woman was talking to someone else, and that was when she heard who she would bet was Micah talking. “I know what I said. And I’m going to do it, just not as quickly as I said I would.” He didn’t sound the least bit repentant of whatever it was he was supposed to be doing. “I’ve been a little busy, in case you hadn’t noticed.” “Oh, I noticed. You’re very busy playing with that new system you got for your birthday, and building that playhouse for the girls. You do know that it’s going to be a few years before they can even walk to it, much less play with it, right?” The woman squealed and Chris smiled. “Stop it. Stop right now before I tell your mother.” The laughter continued until the phone was dropped. Then the man that she knew was going to give her some answers answered the phone. Chris felt her eyes fill as emotion, stronger than anything she’d ever felt before, took her breath away. Her dad took the phone.
 ~~~ 
Micah said hello again before someone finally answered him. He’d been expecting a woman’s voice and was thrown off when a man spoke. But he explained quickly who he was and why it was him talking to him instead of Chris. “As you can imagine, we’re all very broken up over the death of Angel. She’d been away for a while, yes, but she was due to come home to us soon. You were the last person to see her.” Micah pointed out that he’d been one of the last people to see her, as he’d not killed her. “Yes, that’s right. Her body came to us just moments after her…we’d like to talk to you. Person to person if you can manage it.” “I can’t right now. I’m a new father and we’re trying to get our lives figured out.” Micah looked over at Reggie as she fed Alexis her bottle. Mom was feeding Anne and
he felt his heart swell with love for them all. “I don’t know where you are, but if you were to see your way here, I’d make sure you had everything you needed. Angel…she saved my life, I think.” “I would say that she did from the look of things.” Micah had gone back to the scene with Joey that day. There was nothing there. No body, no blood, and his clothing had been taken away, along with everything in the office where he’d been talking to Angel. Even her car, the one that she’d been about to drive off in, was gone. “Do you know what she was? My daughter, did she tell you what she was?” “No. I saw her and her sigil. I’ve tried to figure out what it was, but there is nothing that I can see. She let down her guard at one point, but all I saw was that she was brilliantly white and that she was dressed in a kind of armor. To be honest with you, I’ve begun to doubt my sanity lately over this. It’s as if…well, it’s been very odd.” “Odd how?” Micah watched his daughter and wife as he thought of the man’s question. But before he could form an answer, even if he had one, the man spoke. “I’m not sure how long it will be before we can come to you. I’m not sure where you are, but I think Chris knows. Perhaps you can give us a few days to sort out our end. Things are a little…a little tight here, and we have to see what we can do.” “I can send a plane for you.” The man said nothing, and Micah felt like this was the right thing to do. “Just tell me when and where, and I’ll have it there for you. You can stay here too. The house is big enough for guests, and you won’t have to worry about that either.” “That’s very generous of you, Mr. Bentley, but we can’t put you out.” Micah assured him that they wouldn’t be. “I’ll talk to my daughter and get back with you then. I don’t mind telling you that this is a great gift you’ve given us. As I said, things have been a little tight around here lately, and we’re trying to recoup our losses.” After he hung up, only just then realizing that not only hadn’t he gotten the man’s name but still had no idea what Angel had been, his mom handed him the now sleeping Anne. He looked at Reggie when she said his name. “What do you think?” “What?”
 “I don’t know, this and that. Inviting them here. Do you think that’s a good idea? I mean, for all we know they could be mass murderers and kill us in our sleep.” “They could be, but I’m pretty sure that our being panthers would win over a mass murderer. And you have to stop watching that stupid station. Mom is as bad as you are about doom and death.” She giggled and kissed the top of Alexis’s head before standing up to take her to the bed. He followed and was disappointed that he’d not been able to feed at least one of them. It was what he looked forward to all day, holding them while they ate. “As for inviting them to stay here, I don’t know why but I feel like I can trust them. Angel was…there was something about her that made me feel like she was telling me the truth.” And Angel had been right about the others too. Sadie Greer—otherwise known by any of a dozen other names such as Maggie Sands, Sandy Woods, and the list went on—had been the second in command to a large money laundering operation. Her partner, Sam Sandalwood, also with an impressive list of aliases, had been arrested with her. But things had happened at the station where they’d been held. “When do you think they’ll be here?” Micah pulled Reggie into his arms and told her he didn’t know. “But you feel this is the thing to do? Do you think it will help you with the nightmares? Maybe they can shed some light on them.” “I don’t know.” The nightmares had been horrific, some so bad that he’d woken up screaming. He never knew what they had been about when he woke, and no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t go back to sleep afterwards. And the effects of it were hurting him, he knew it. “Well, if you don’t mind, I’d very much like to make this a family affair. Everyone here and staying here until they leave, or we find out they’re all right.” Micah thought it was a great idea and told her that. “Also, I’d like to ask you a favor. Not a big one, but still, I need it from you.” “Anything, you know that. All you have to do is ask and it’s—” Reggie put her hand over his mouth and he grinned at her from behind it. He kissed her fingers and smiled at her. “I don’t want you to make promises like that. I’ve told you that before.” He nodded, knowing that she’d have whatever she wanted. “But I need this. I want you to go out and help Joey. He’s been asking for you to go to his place, and I also know that you’re not going because of me. I can’t, not yet.” “I know, love. And it’s not just because of you that I haven’t been out there, it’s everything. I worry about you and the girls. I hate leaving you alone.” She snorted. “Okay, so you’re here with everyone else, but I still worry.” “Just go. He needs you as much as I need you out of the house. Please? Besides, I’m going to the diner today. It’s the grand-reopening next week, and I want to make sure that everyone is ready.” Micah didn’t point out that everyone was ready now, but nodded. “I’m nervous no one will show up, and what will those people do?” “I doubt very much that no one will show. You’ve been badgering people for two weeks now about the opening and— Ouch! That hurt.” She started to pinch him again, and he backed up. “Stop that. What are you trying to do, bruise my poor old body?” “I have not badgered a single person. And I’ll have you know that Jimmy is nervous too. The poor man called here twice yesterday because he couldn’t remember something. He forgot how to turn on the grill, and then he called to ask me where the pancake recipe was. I tell you, he’s going to have a stroke, and then where will I be?” “You’d be right there cooking for him until he was better.” He grabbed her hands when she reached for him again. “If you behave and let me leave here without another bruise, I’ll go now. Joey is nervous too, and it’s doubtful that you can take over for him. Plus, he has a big court thing going on tomorrow.”
“I know he is nervous. He called here last night and talked to your grandda. I think he’s headed out there as well. I understand that the barn shell is up, as well as they’re starting on the inside of the house.” Micah nodded. It was going to be a beautiful house. “And the horses, have they arrived yet?”
“Not yet. He would like for you to come out when he gets them.” Reggie said she’d think about it. Micah knew that she was still hurting from what had happened at the property. She’d killed two men bent on killing her and his mom, and had she not done what she’d done, they’d both be dead now. As it was, Reggie wasn’t able to go there until Joey had his own house finished. “He got himself some barn kittens, as well as a dog.” “A dog?” He grinned and nodded. “What’s going to happen with that? The poor thing is going to be confused every time he smells the cat in Joey.” “That’s why he got him as a puppy. If he can get this to work for him, I think we should get a pup for the girls when they’re old enough. They could have him to train and play with.” She only patted him on the cheek as she walked away from him. Micah was having a blast being a dad. The girls were mirror twins, born to a woman who had died moments before they’d been born and who had not been able to see her daughters or even to name them. Her husband and other family members had been killed immediately, and Micah’s grandparents had contacted him to see if he and Reggie wanted to take them. Otherwise they would have been put into the system, and who knew what would have happened to them there? He was nearly to his truck when Grandda came out of the house with a large box. Micah helped him load it in the back of his SUV and then waved goodbye to his grandma and mom as they watched them drive away. Micah looked over at his grandda as he just sat there, seemingly pissed off. “Your grandmother is a pain in the ass.” Micah laughed when Grandda looked around to see if he’d been overheard. “Well, she is. And if she was here, I’d tell her that. Did you know that she’s got me on this diet? Why? I’ve lived a good long time without nobody telling me what to eat and not to eat.” “I’m sure she just wants you to live a little longer. Anne and Alexis would tell you the same thing if they could talk.” Grandda looked at him with a twinkle in his eye. “You’re not going to get anything out of me in the way of food either, so just back off. I’ve been given orders too. She said if she even smelled mustard on your breath, she was going to hang me out to dry. And don’t even ask me what kind of mustard she’s talking about. We’re not going to the diner today.”
 “I just was helping out the man, that’s all.” Micah had heard the story. He and Jimmy had tried every recipe on the menu—all the pies, cakes, and other confections before starting on all the soups and sandwiches. By the time Grandma had gotten there to pick up Grandda, he’d been nearly sick he’d been so full. And they were complaining about the fact that they’d not gotten to the french fries and steaks as yet. “He wanted to make sure that he had them down pat before they opened.” “I’m pretty sure that had you just taken a taste of the things he offered you, it would have been fine. But I heard you’d eaten three banana pies yourself, as well as two cherry ones and three bowls of potato cheese soup, as well as five different subs.” Grandda smiled at him. “That’s not a good thing you did. You know that, right?”
“I know. But damn, it was fun. He kept telling me I was doing him a service. I gotta tell you that it’s been a while since I’ve been a service for anyone.” Micah knew the feeling. He’d been feeling a little left out himself lately. “I gotta find me a job, son. If I don’t, I don’t know what I’m going to do. The grandbabies are great, but they don’t have it in them yet to go fishing and play some ball with this old man.” Micah decided to talk to the others. His grandda had been a cop, like his dad had been. And he was sure that had Dad not been killed so young, the two of them would have been having a grand old time with the babies. And if not for the fact that they couldn’t hold a bottle, much less a pole, they’d be fishing with them too. Christ, Micah missed his dad right now. “We’ll think of something. And you coming out to Joey’s with me, I do appreciate that. Reggie said you talked to him yesterday.” He nodded. “Is he okay? The house is on schedule, right?” “It is. A little ahead if you ask me, but he’s…well, I’m thinking he’s a tad lonely out there. He had Garth and Tony out the other day, and when they left he said the trailer he’s staying in was just too quiet. I’m thinking I might stay with him a couple of days, see if I can get into some trouble with him.” Grandda stiffened when he looked out the front window. “Holy Christ, he must be using magic to get this place done.” Micah looked out the window too. He’d been glancing at the gates when he went through them and didn’t see the house at first. But he could see what Grandda was talking about. The house was framed in, the outside walls were up, and the porch, a huge wrap around, was having the railing put up. From where he sat, Micah thought the house looked finished. They both got out of the truck just as Joey came out of the house. He did not look happy.