Monday, November 13, 2017

Larson: McCullough’s Jamboree Release Day



Virginia is a bestselling paranormal romance author. She does much better with her stories than with people. When she’s in her “writing zone,” she won’t even eat unless her mother hands her a plate and reminds her to do so. She wouldn’t be making the trip to the McCullough’s if it wasn’t absolutely necessary. Go, see the child, make sure he has a good home. That is the plan. Simple…not.

Larson is having his own issues. Being blamed for the murder of one of his clients, which he didn’t do, has him closing up shop and laying low for a few days. His mom insists that he show up for dinner to meet their visiting guests. Larson would rather stay home, but she’d have his hide if he did. 

Larson sees the beauty from across the room and makes his way to her. Before he even reaches her, he catches her scent. She is his mate. Now what is he supposed to do? He has his life just the way he wants it and a mate wasn’t figured into that equation. On the other hand, the way she flushes when she returns his stare has him thinking anything but pure thoughts. Maybe having a mate wouldn’t be so bad after all.


Amazon USA  http://amzn.to/2mosrfI





Amazon Paperback  Coming Soon 



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

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

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

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





Who rescued who was still a little vague, but they escaped just the same. The lab called him SA-8, and they had made him into a very powerful weapon. But to Reese he was just Josh, a boy that could do amazing things, but a boy none the less—not a lab rat. That was two years ago—the lab had been relentless and lethal in their pursuit. With her big rig running on fumes, and their last dime spent, they wound up on a small town in Ohio….

Parker McCullough found an abandoned big rig parked on his land. It had been there a few days, and he wasn’t quite sure what to do about it. Calling the authorities seemed like the logical thing to do, but when he tried to do so, his cell phone went flying from his hand and a teenage boy appeared from nowhere. Parker thought the boy was an Elite Shifter, and after hearing a little of the boy’s story he wanted to help.

Reese didn’t know who all these people were, but if she and Josh didn’t get away from them, the “others” would find them and they’d all be dead, just like all the other people who had tried to help them along the way…. And now the gorgeous shifter, Parker, had her trapped in the kitchen claiming to be her mate…. She didn’t have time for herself, and she didn’t want to see them all die because they’d helped her and Josh—Reese was out of options.








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

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

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

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





Mystery Paperback Winners so far 2017

Karmen Davis
Loan Smith
Karmen Davis
Barnadette Jorden Robinson 
Karmen Davis 
Janet Rodman 
Shona Wesley
Kathy Apa 
Edith Woolls 
Donna Chizewsky
Lorrie Engelbrektson
Debra Lipe
Tia Blackey
Renee Johnson 
Kim Kushibab
Renee Johnson


SWAG WINNERS 
Lorrie Engelbrektson
Shelia Hardin
Elisee Jackson
Ashley Phu 

{ Winners you should be getting you stuff this week in the mail }

For  winners if you have not gotten your signed  mystery paperback please 
contact  my PA  for info  she will have the tracking numbers 



                                                                         Happy Reading,


You can find and follow me here





www.goodreads.com/author/show/4787929.Kathi_S_Barton


                                   Next New Release Is Nov 27th 2017 Sorry No Pre Orders




Larson looked at the headlines again. There was something so final about it that it hurt his heart to think that his friend was gone. Not just him, but his wife of twenty years as well. Thomas and Donna Simmons had been found on an inflatable boat three days ago. Defensive injuries were all over their bodies, as well as several gunshot wounds that had more than likely had them suffering all the way to the end. The newspaper hadn’t given him as many details as Lauren had, but the paper had said that their deaths— murders—were being looked into. And where their boat had disappeared to. They had been shot in the head, both of them, and put on a dingy, he thought it was called. “I’m sorry.” He nodded at Lauren when she spoke. “I have some people looking into things since there are a lot of unexplained events. Also, and I don’t know if you know him well, but their partner is saying some pretty damning things about you.” “Me? What does he think I did to them?” She said it was about money. “I was his investor and nothing more. I mean, 6 Kathi S. Barton we were friends too, but I never borrowed anything from his partner. The last time we spoke, he asked me to sell off some stock that he had and I did. It’s all recorded too.” “Hang onto it…the recordings, I mean. The partner is saying that a week after Tom and his wife went away, you called him and told him that there was a deal just too good to pass up. He in turn told you that Tom was away and that he didn’t make those sorts of decisions. But you insisted.” Larson shook his head and told her that the partner had called him. “Well, like I said, hang onto those recordings. Also, you should think about closing up for a couple of days.” “Why?” She told him. “You think he’s going to make trouble for me? That somehow, he can tell others that I’m a cheat and a liar? Why would he do that? I didn’t do anything wrong.” “I know that, but you know how people can be. They’re untrusting and will latch onto anything that they can to make someone else have less than them. It’s the way the world works. As much as it sucks, you know as well as I that it does happen.” His phone rang then and he answered it, but almost as soon as the man on the other end, Harley Wells, said his name, he made sure that things were being recorded. And he put it on speaker phone so that Lauren could hear as well. “Mr. Wells, I didn’t expect to hear from you. Did you need some investing done?” Lauren slid a note to him about warning the other man he was being recorded. “You did listen to the options, didn’t you? I mean, this is a very good place to have your money grow.” “Yes, I listened to all the options. Is this your way of asking me if I know that I’m being recorded? Besides, you can’t use it, not now that I’ve put it out there that you’re being sued 7 Larson by me. Anyway, I want you to know that I want that money back, and the shares put back where they were.” He asked him how he thought he couldn’t use the recordings. “Because I’ll just say that I didn’t call you. That you’ve doctored this whole thing, much like you did for my partner. He shouldn’t have sold off that stock. I was hoping to use it.” All sorts of things jumped into Larson’s mind, but looking at Lauren, he knew better than to say anything to Wells. Instead, he read the next note that she slid over to him. He didn’t want to ask but she pointed to it again. “Did you kill off Tom and his wife? For their shares?” Wells said that he had and that he’d do it again, but he’d be more careful this time. “Careful how? I’m assuming that you think you’re the beneficiary to their estate.” “I will be.” He laughed again. “Thomas do Jenny think October left me Vince.” Larson asked him what he was doing when he started just saying words with no rhyme or reason to them. Lauren sliced her fingers over her throat and he hung up. “I don’t know what just happened here.” She nodded, but he could see by the look on her face that she was worried. Or thinking. Either one of them, he wasn’t too happy about. “Lauren, please tell me that you’re going to figure this out.” “Oh I am. And you don’t have to worry too much about him. I’d steer clear of him for sure, but I’d not be answering my phone for the next week or so.” He asked her if that would make him sound guilty. “Perhaps, but in the end you’ll be fine.” “And that garble of words, what was that?” She told him he was making words to sound as if he’d made a tape of their conversation. “Why would he need to do that? I mean, I’d not even have the first clue about that.” 8 Kathi S. Barton “But I would.” He asked her what she meant, thinking that he knew what she was saying but wanting her to confirm it. “If I were in a position to use a recording of someone’s voice to get them caught, then yes, I’d do it. And he would know that. It’s no secret to anyone now as to what I’m capable of. Everyone thinks I work with the president. That I’ve gone out of my way to make sure that he’s safe. Then there is the added fact that I made sure that our former president went to jail for a very long time.” “Why me? Why is he coming after me? I didn’t do anything that wasn’t asked of me. I’m honest as the day is long. Why is he telling me that he murdered them, and is going to go after their estate? Especially since he knew he was being recorded.” She said that she didn’t know, but she was looking into it. “I’m going to lose my business, aren’t I?” “No. Once this gets out, that he’s done this, then it’ll go back to normal. But until then, I think you should have your business closed up, just for now, and go work on your new house.” He thought about his home and all the work that was being done on it. “Where are the recordings that you use?” “I put them in the safe every night. I don’t even use them a second time. Ever.” She told him that was smart, but she wanted them. “All right. I can do that. Lauren, he killed that couple.” He turned in his chair to get into the safe that was under the carpet at his feet. “Yes, and while they don’t know it, I’m afraid that their kids are next.” He realized then that Wells had mentioned the children by name and told her. “Yeah, I have a detail on them now. They’re with their grandparents for the time being, but there will be more guards around them at all times now. And don’t talk to them. I know you want to go there and see them, tell them you had nothing to do with their parents’ deaths, 9 Larson but he’s more than likely waiting on you to do that. We have to play this very close to the vest.” For the rest of the afternoon he took steps to close his business. Larson knew that it was only temporary—he hoped—but he was still depressed about it. As he called in the service to have them answer the phones, he handed over all the recordings that he had in his safe to Lauren. She said she’d make sure they were safe. Going to his new home, he watched his dad and grandda as they worked at taking the railing down. It was cast iron, and the previous owners had painted it a bright blue. It was chipped for the most part, but Dad had told him that he could have it looking as good as new in no time. They were going to dip paint it black to match the shutters, the real kind that actually covered the windows. Larson was glad to see something going right. “You here or going again?” He told Dad what had happened. “Well, I’m thinking that if Lauren says she can fix it, then she can. I got me some helpers in the back yard, tagging what you don’t want to pull up. I guess this place had a nice rose garden years back, and they want to come in and mark them for you so you don’t pull them up. Said they’d help you make them pretty again.” He headed to the back yard, a place that he was beginning to think was never going to look good or be finished. But the moment he spotted the two women, he began to have hope. In the time they’d been here, not only were ribbons on some of the plants, but there was a large brush pile next to the patio. “Hello, Larson. My goodness, you have a wonderful place back here. I cannot wait until you put some of these beauties in the next garden show. You’ll win for sure.” He nodded at Mrs. Frank and told her what he’d found out about 10 Kathi S. Barton the gardens. “She, the missus here, she didn’t care much for people. I think her only solace after her son passed was this place. She sure did love to have her roses around. Did you find anything in the house that belonged to her?” “I’m not sure there was much left. The house had been empty, from what I understand, for a very long time.” Mrs. Frank told him to have a look-see in the barns. There was stuff in there. “You think so? I mean, why would it still be here after all this time?” “She didn’t have no one left when she got up there but for a sister that was as mean as the owner was nice. So this sister was some upstart that had it in her head that she was going to live here and carry on being queen of the town. Nobody liked the old biddy, and she only lasted a year, probably less. But she took all the things that were in the house and put them in the barn, last I heard.” He watched what she was doing as she continued to talk. “And when I heard that one of you McCulloughs had bought this place, I was tickled pink. You go on now, and you and me, we’ll have ourselves a look. Might be some things in there you can use for your place.” They walked to the big barn. It wasn’t tall like the one on his brother’s place, but it was huge in that it was one level of sprawling wood. He found the light switch just where she said it would be and turned them on. As they lit up, one after the other, he could see that someone had taken care to make sure that nothing was ruined. There must have been a dozen or so cats around. And every one of the boxes was set up on bricks that he was sure matched the ones on the patio just beyond the rose gardens. “I guess they’ll look up to you.” She was still laughing as she led him to the back of the barn. She was pointing out that someone had put boxes in this area, and each one of them was 11 Larson marked with what was in it as well as which room it had come from. “Looks like she put everything in here, doesn’t it?” There were over a hundred boxes of varying sizes. There were trunks too…most of them had faded labels on them, but he could make out some of the words. As soon as he realized that there was more in the next stall, he called his mom. She of all people would know what was good to keep or toss out. She said she was in town with the baby but would come by. “My mom, she’s coming to look this over. You think that anything in those trunks will be any good? This one here says it has wedding stuff in it. What do you suppose that is?” Mrs. Frank told him it might be a wedding gown for his new mate when she came along. He didn’t comment. Larson was terrified of having a mate. “She sure did have a good old time with packing this stuff up, don’t you think? It might have been easier on her just to leave it in the house. That’s my thinking anyway. Well, if you’ll be all right here, young man, I’ll go back to my garden. I don’t mean that it is, but I expect you to invite me out here when it’s in bloom. Maybe we can have a garden party when that happens. If you want.” Larson told her that would be fine with him, if the house was finished. She just laughed and walked away. Larson didn’t know what she thought was so funny, but he pulled one of the boxes off the shelf and cut the tape. It was old too, probably as old as he was, but when he opened it, he just stared at the contents. Boxes of seeds were in the box, along with when to plant them and what they were. He picked up the first one of about three dozen and read the label. Basil. He wondered if the seeds were any good after all this time, and opened the box to see them. Inside was a canvas bag of them that had been 12 Kathi S. Barton tied with leather. He discovered that they were all like that as he began to pull a few of them out. He wondered what Mrs. Frank and her ladies’ club would think of that. By the time his mom had shown up, he’d opened three more boxes, each one of them better than the last. And he had so much more to look through. His mom handed him little Samuel and opened some herself. It was going to be fun, just finding out what had been kept for the house. ~~~ “Mom, where are you?” Her mom was her lifesaver, and she grabbed her hand as soon as she was close enough to touch. “I can’t do this. I can’t believe I ever thought I could. We should leave.” “No. We have things to do here, and you can do this. If it gets to be too much, we’ll take a walk. The building is certainly big enough for that. Besides, I’d really like to meet these people. I know that we can’t take him home with us, but I’d like to know that he’s in good hands.” Virginia pointed out that they’d had them investigated. “Yes, but that doesn’t mean that they’re nice people just because they have money.” They had arrived late last night in this little town. The plane had been delayed twice coming out of California, but that wasn’t all. Her luggage had been misplaced, along with a couple of her mom’s things. As it stood right now, not only did she not have any clean underwear, but she had nothing to put on her feet but flip flops. And it was too cold for that. The company that owned the airline was sending over a credit card for them to use to buy some things, but she wanted her own stuff. It was why she had bothered packing it after all, damn it. Her mom tisked at her when she cursed again, then said, “I need to do something. Sitting around here is making 13 Larson me uneasy.” Virginia and her mom were to meet with the McCulloughs in an hour. But she had to find a place to get some of her necessities, as well as figure out when they could go home. “How about we hit that little shop there on Main Street? It looks like it might be open for business. I’ll buy you lunch.” “All right.” The shop had no name as yet, nor did it seem to be a place that showed up on her phone. But it had some lovely displays in the window, and she had already fallen in love with the pretty pitcher and bowl set that sat on a dry sink. “I think I’m going to enjoy having a little getaway here, if only I didn’t have to meet any people. And I mean any person. I like my quiet and the fact that no one is around me. But here…I mean, it’s so quaint, don’t you think?” It was. The entire main drag was decorated for the upcoming holiday…or what she thought of as a holiday. Thanksgiving was her second favorite time of the year. It was cold enough for a jacket, and the crunch of leaves under her boots made her smile. But here, it looked as if they had gotten a dusting of snow a few hours ago, and then there were the dark clouds overhead. This little town acted like this was the best thing to ever happen here. There were decorated pumpkins, as well as pretty candles. There were real cornucopias that had small pumpkins in them as well. One shop had brought in a large roll of hay, painted it bright orange, and given it a turkey face with cloth feathers out the back of it. Virginia was making mental notes of it all, just to use in a book sometime. “Do you suppose that they have any magical creatures about, and this is their way of making sure that things are friendly?” She laughed at her mom’s statement. “I know that you don’t believe in such things, but I think it’s possible. And 14 Kathi S. Barton you certainly write about them enough.” “I like the way I can go into my own little world and make up whatever I want about them. Not being real, that just gives me more to work with. Besides, creatures are around, but not very magical, I think. I mean, who would believe that anyone would be able to do some of the things that are in my books? No one, that’s who.” She held the door open for an elderly man and woman, and smiled when he tipped his hat at her. “Mom, this is going to be in my next book, somehow, someway.” The antique shop was busy. Two women beside the counter were having a great time talking about some other woman, but in a good-natured sort of way. Virginia supposed conversation with the woman behind the counter had been going on for some time too, from the way they’d gotten comfortable about it. Virginia noticed that in addition to the antiques on display, there were also things like old doorknobs and stained-glass panels. Virginia wanted it all, from the old silver napkin holders to the beautiful hand-stitched hand towels for the bathroom. She was fingering a beautiful doily when the woman from the counter came to speak to her. “Beautiful, isn’t it? Most of these things were left by a little antique shop that went out of business. The owner of the building bought it, and now I’m helping her sell these things at a more reasonable price.” Too much information, she thought, but Virginia told her that was nice. “You’re new to the area, aren’t you? I’m thinking that you’re not from around here.” “No, I’m not. My mom and I are just passing through.” Virginia walked away from the display, afraid now. As she went in search of her mom, a woman walked in and started 15 Larson to laugh loudly. “You should see what Larson has found, Becky. The barn is full of things we can help him out with if he decides he doesn’t want all of it.” Virginia smiled at her when she told her hello. “On my, but aren’t you a beautiful woman? I bet your mother is just as pretty. You have the most gorgeous hair.” Virginia was charmed. Not many people could put her at ease like this woman had, and in only a few seconds at that. She thanked the woman and told her how much she loved the shop. Nodding, she took her back to the display and handed her one of the many treasures on the table. “That is from the early twenties. I had to look up what it was for. Do you know?” Virginia turned it over and over in her hand, but hadn’t any idea. “It’s a glove stretcher. I’m supposing that it happens after you wash your gloves that they might shrink, but this might be the oddest thing I’ve ever had in here. And there are a lot of odd things.” As she showed her around, the other woman pointed out some of her favorites, and other things that she’d had to do some research on. By the time they were at the bowl and pitcher set again, the women still hadn’t introduced herself. Virginia met up with her mom just as she was headed to the counter with her own purchases. “My goodness, Mom. You’ve bought everything.” They were all three laughing when she glanced at the clock above the cash register. “I’m so sorry, but we must go. I have an appointment in a little while. This has been such a pleasure. And if you wouldn’t mind wrapping up that display in the window, I’ll pay for it now and pick it up later.” “An appointment?” Virginia nodded as she pulled out her credit card. “You’re Miss Basil, the author, aren’t you? I’m 16 Kathi S. Barton Bea McCullough. I have a meeting with you as well.” Every part of Virginia wanted to run. She had no idea why, but she had a feeling that she’d been set up. Which was ridiculous. Mrs. McCullough had no idea that she was in town already, much less in her shop, but shaking the feeling had her nervous and scared. Looking at her mom when she said her name, she felt her mind begin to close down. Her hands were shaking and she felt her breathing start to back up. The pain in her chest was heavy and scary. Just when her vision started to pinpoint, light dancing behind her eyes, she felt the sting of a slap across her face and looked at Mrs. McCullough. “Are you all right now?” She nodded and started to step away when she felt her feet tangle up. “Hang on now. You need to get your footing right. You scared me. Just take a few deep breaths and you’ll be just fine.” “Yes. I have panic attacks now and then.” She was seated in a firm but comfortable chair just as a bottle of water was handed to her. “My mom hasn’t ever hit me, but that worked. Thank you.” “Like I said, you scared me. I thought you were having a heart attack. Your mom explained that you have panic attacks though.” Virginia nodded and sipped the water. “If you don’t mind me asking, why? I mean, you came here for this meeting, but you looked like you were being taken to the gallows.” “I’m not good with change and people.” Bea sat down across from her and Virginia smiled at her. “In fact, it’s caused me quite a few problems with the business I’m in. I don’t go to signings anymore because of the way they make me feel.” She was beginning to feel foolish and wanted to leave. But Bea, as she asked her to call her, told her to sit still, her husband was on his way. Nodding, she watched her mom at 17 Larson the counter as she paid for her things. “I’m sorry you’re so nervous around people. My son, Larson, he’s like that too. He can handle a few people around him, but not a crowd. I think that’s why he works with his computer instead of going out in the public much. He has his brothers do that sort of thing for him.” Virginia asked her how many children she had. “Six boys, and now three daughtersin-law as well. My husband and I wanted a little girl so badly, so we kept trying. Then Colin started eating big people food by the time we had our last child, and we decided that we’d be better off with six boys we could feed rather than a pretty little girl to starve.” “There is just my mom and me. She raised me all on her own when my father took a powder.” Her mom said she was enough of a handful when she joined them. “Now she and I live together, and she’s still taking care of me. When I’m working, I sort of zone out to the rest of the world, and she keeps me cleaned up and fed. And the tea coming.” “I’ve read a few of your books. What the library has, anyway. And I’ve only just ordered the new one coming out. I’m excited to read it.” Virginia thanked her. “You should come to dinner tonight at our home and we’ll skip the meeting, that way you can get to meet my family and we can talk too. I’m to understand that you don’t want to meet your nephew. He’ll be with the nanny tonight. Too noisy with them all there. Say you’ll come over and we’ll have a party of it.” “I don’t know.” Her mom was nodding, so she gave in. “I don’t know anything about children, Bea. Not even enough to change a diaper, much less all the other stuff that goes along with them. And as for taking care of him, I can barely take care of myself most of the time. I think he’d be better off with people that want him and will give him a good start in life.” 18 Kathi S. Barton “You’ll be fine. And don’t worry about it, honey. I’ll send a car for you around five thirty and you can meet my clan.” Virginia nodded and told her they’d be there. When she was back in her hotel room, she couldn’t believe she’d said yes. She needed to get her head examined.





Monday, October 30, 2017

Gideon Dragon’s Savior Release Day & Giveaway



Gracie couldn’t believe it, she’d been attacked by a griffin. The pain was so horrible that she’d have to get better to die. Maybe it was better this way. Maybe death would end the tremendous grief in her heart. At least in death she wouldn’t have to listen to her sister Cora’s constant harping. 

Gideon and his dragon counterpart Ominia weren’t sure how to handle Gracie. She was their mate and they were happy to have found her, but her intense grief over the loss of her family had them stumped on how to proceed.

The encounter with the griffin had more effect on Gracie than she knew. His magic now flowed within her. Gracie could now see and speak with the dead, and the former king, Anthony had a message for the new King of Dragons, Asher.

Now thrust in a world of dragons and magic, Gracie’s head was spinning. And how was she to handle two very handsome and amorous mates? Things like that just didn’t happen to her.













Two Men Joined By Fate…

Asher and Kiaran were joined at birth by the dying decree of the Dragon King―literally. Asher had his own bit of magic as a 3,000 year old immortal, and Kiaran was his dragon shifter. Out in society Kiaran was a part of Asher―absorbed into Asher’s body―only being able to separate in dragon form. At their birth home, the two men could exist apart from each other as men. They protected each other, and would until their dying breath if it ever came to that. They shared everything…that is until Essie came along….

Essie was doing her best to hide from a mother that didn’t even recognize her own daughter. The witch had poisoned her with a scratch and if Essie wasn’t healed soon she’d die…. Sick or not she didn’t want anything to do with that handsome, overbearing barbarian, Asher, nor that rude dragon that protected him. She was doing just fine on her own.

But Asher had other things on his mind and after a while brings Essie around to his way of thinking and makes her his wife, but Kiaran brought up a valid point―Essie was his mate too….

Could Essie find it in her heart to love both men equally? To share the bed of both―together?

Asher’s five brothers and their dragons watched the scenario unfold with bated breaths. The subject had never been broached, and all their futures hung on the outcome…. 




Lindsey Decker is hiding in the woods when the dragon shifter, Casdon, finds her on their property. She’s tired, hungry, in a lot of pain, and absolutely determined not to ask for any help. She just needs to stay hidden before that idiot Cox finds her and probably kills her this time. The cave she found will provide some protection if she doesn’t freeze to death first.

Jedidiah Benson and his dragon shifter Zak are at odds. When Casdon tells the family of the injured woman hiding in the caves, Zak knows immediately upon finding her that the girl is his and Jedidiah’s mate, but Jedidiah refuses to even look at the girl proclaiming he wouldn’t know what to do with a mate. Zak has no reservations and knows if they don’t do something fast she’ll die.

Lindsey wakes between two gorgeous men and isn’t sure if she’s dreaming or still in a fevered state. The things she wants to do with these men, both of them, should feel wrong, but instead feels it’s her destiny.

Lindsey is destined for more than two mates. Lindsey is a beacon for the lost dragons. It’s time for their return, but it’s still dangerous for them to do so. They’re being hunted, and no one is safe….






Ariannona has but one simple task to complete and the long journey she began 3000 years ago will be ended. Her reward? She was promised that she would see the king and queen again.

Elam’s not sure what to think about the beautiful woman coming back to the house with his counterpart Casdon. She has a message for Casdon alone, and the message itself makes no sense to Casdon. One thing is clear though, she is Elam and Casdon’s mate.

Ariannona expects to die once her message is delivered, and isn’t happy to learn that the former king and queen tricked her to get her there.

A dragon hunter is still loose on nearby lands and none of the dragons are safe, especially Casdon. He’s taking shots at anything he sees moving.



Lelani Wayne trusted no one but her familiar, Roger. And even he, at times, got on her last nerve. She didn’t like being around people. People made her nervous, and when a witch as powerful as she was got nervous, it could be disastrous for anyone in the vicinity. 

A powerful witch, Erin Wayne, knew she was going to die, and reached out to the closest being she could find to take her powers and memories. She connected with Kiaran, Asher’s dragon counterpart. The jolt of the transfer took all the Benson’s to their knees.

The Benson’s were on a mission to finish the reconstruction of the castle. Shane, and his dragon counterpart, Keion, were doing their share to make it happen. But when Shane saw his very pregnant sister-in-law, Essie, bringing lunch, and a stranger approaching her fast, he couldn’t get to Essie fast enough. The baby was coming—now.

Lelani was looking for Kiaran to get her sister’s memories and warn him that the Herald, a group of witch hunting zealots, might have traced the memories and be after Kiaran as well. What she didn’t expect to find was Shane and Keion, two very big, handsome, virile men, invading her personal space claiming to be her mate. That made her nervous….




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Prologue  
                                                                            
                                                                               
Eve sat in her chair and thought about what her life, what little there was left of it, had come to mean. It wasn’t like her to feel sorry for herself, but she knew that she was going to die, and soon, and she felt that she had a right to it. When she heard someone at the door, she smiled when she spied Sally there. The young woman had been coming to the castle since she’d been born, hanging on her mother’s apron like it was the life line that it was. And thankfully the child looked nothing like her beloved mother. “Mistress, you wished to see me? If it is about the brownie that startled me, I swear to you that I meant him no harm.” Eve said that wasn’t it, but she knew that Sally would not hurt anyone. “Thank you, my lady.” Bidding her to come closer, the young woman did so, not once, Eve knew, worrying about what the others might think of her being in the personal chambers of the queen. Sally was as good as she had ever seen a woman be, but she could be like a bear defending her cubs when pushed. Eve knew this about her as well. “I have a question to ask of you. A favor too should you answer me right. What do you plan for your life, my child? Is there a certain man that has come to you courting?” Sally flushed brightly and said that no, she was much too old for that. “You’re not old at all, Sally. What are you, ten and eight? Less I’m betting.” “I am twenty and eight, my lady. Too old for courting. I would be set upon by men that have sired their sons and now needs someone to look after them.” Sally laughed. “My mother, she shoed away such men when I was but a young thing. Now they fear that there is something about me.” “You are a wonderful person, and any man would be happy to have you as their bride.” Sally flushed again and asked about the favor. “I have a man in mind for you. A good man that has the heart of a lion and the brains of a scholar. He’d not think that I was speaking of him, should he hear us, but he is a good man and will do you well to marry.” “Do you think him addled or with a sickness?” Eve laughed and said that he was of sound body and mind. “Then why would he want someone like me? I am too old to bear him children.” “You aren’t, you know.” Eve touched her hand to Sally’s, holding her so that she could pass what she could to the young woman in the way of magic. “I have birthed my children, but I will not be able to see them grow into men.”  “Why not, my lady? You seem of sound body and mind too. If you don’t mind me saying.” Eve nodded and said that she and King Anthony were to die, and soon. “No. That cannot be. Dragons, they live forever, and you are one of the best.” Eve told her all that she knew, holding nothing back, not even parts that she knew would upset the younger woman. She told her of the witches that she had contacted. The other women, some of them not yet born, who were to come to her sons so long from now that it would seem as if she had lied. Eve even told her how she and her love 
were to pass from this world to the next, and what it would mean to their children. And that her own children would be paired with the sons Sally would have as well. Sally sat there, her body stiff and hard. She was thinking, Eve knew, processing the information that she knew must be hard to know. When she looked at her, Eve wiped at her tears when Sally did, knowing that what she said now would be the difference in a great many lives. “This man that you have in mind that I wed, he is important too, to all that is going to happen?” Eve told her that they both were. “Does he know about me? Your plan for us?” “Nay, only you. And my Anthony, of course. And you must never tell him that you knew. I should like for it to go as we have hoped, without interfering with any more lives.” Sally nodded. “You will have your father with you as well. He will live with you, helping you with our children. There are six of them, my own hatchlings.” “You have only to ask me, my lady, and I would gladly raise your sons as my own.” Eve told her that she knew that, but they’d need each other. “I see. Nay, I do not, but I trust you with my life. You are not just my queen, my lady, but a dear person to me as well.” “Thank you, Sally. You’ve no idea what that means to me.” Sally nodded and Eve bent to hand her the book. “In a few hours’ time Anthony will bring young Jacob here to speak to him. I would wish that you read what I have here so that you can help him to better understand when the time comes.” “I can do that.” She took the book and hid it deep within her skirts. Eve asked her what she was about. “I have a pocket here, in the event that I wish to carry more than my hands can hold. And with six sons to come to me and six more that I will enjoy raising as my own, I shall need bigger pockets, I think.” “Oh Sally, I wish with all my heart that I could be there for my sons, but I cannot think of another person, or better people than you and Jacob, to raise them for us. I know that you will do me proud.” Sally thanked her again and left her there.  Eve wanted to be with her babes, stay with them until the time came, but she knew as surely as she was sitting there that it wouldn’t help at all. When Anthony, her only reason for breathing, joined her in the big room, she held his hand as she told him that Sally would be there for them. “I’m so happy for that. I have talked to Elbert as well. He is a very good man. Raised a wonderful child on his own.” Eve agreed, and they left to survey the damage left by the magical storm. “I love you my heart.” “And I you, my blood. You and I, we will be together on the other side soon, I know this.”  He nodded and held her for a moment longer, her heart breaking with the knowledge that this was the last day that they’d be together as king and queen and as man and wife. ~~~ Sally watched the couple as they took to the skies. The damage that had been done last eve was great; the deaths of some of the villagers had been sad. She watched as 
Helena the Black came out from behind the castle, her head bleeding and her face pale from it. Sally would not aid her, not such a woman as her. Besides, she knew what she was about and cared not if she lived or died.  Making her way back to her job, she knew that there would be no supper this night, and gathered what she could to take with her when they ran. And run they would. There were only a few things that she could take with her, mostly smaller items, but she sat in the corner and read the book, from front to back, before she left. In the end Sally stayed there, knowing that sooner rather than later she’d be set on her course for the king and queen. “What are you about? Sitting there like you’ve no care in the world?” She looked at her father and smiled. “Ah, I see you have been to see the queen. And you will do this thing for her?” “Yes, Father, I shall. I will do what I need to help them.” He nodded and put a few more things in the basket that was on the large block of wood that served as a cutting board for him. “She said that we’d be cared for, should we follow the rules set forth.” “We will be. Are you ready to become a mother of so many?” She said that she was glad to have any child, but to help save the queen’s would be an honor. “You’re a good child, my Sally. So much unlike your mother that I am as happy as the day is long.” “Mother wasn’t a good person.” He said that she wasn’t. “I’m sorry for that, Father. To have been with someone for so long and not feel the pang of death when she passed.” “She will be missed, yes, but not in a good way.” Father smiled at her. “Young Jacob, he’s a good man. You could not do better had I picked him for you meself.” Father took the few things that she had in her pockets, save the book, and told her to take what she wanted from the kitchen. That after this eve, it would be wasted. Sally wandered around the big room, careful where she looked. To have such a thing, anything that she wished from here, she wanted to make it a good choice. Wrapping her hand around the knife that she had used more than any other, she put it into her pocket and looked at her father. “I shall pick mushrooms and herbs with this. And every time that I do, I will think of the queen and her king.” Father said that was good and he left, telling her that he was going to go to their home and supply it with things. “When you return, you will talk to the king?” “Yes. Things will be ready by then. You are to stay out of sight, my child. I do not wish you to be harmed by the goings on outside these walls. Promise me.” She did and told him to be careful as well. “I shall, forevermore. When I return, you will be taken to the king and meet your husband. Make yourself presentable and make me proud of you.” She wasn’t one to preen herself, but she did comb her hair and wipe at her shoes. She wasn’t sure what he would expect of her, but she’d give him all that she had. Jacob…she knew little of him, but was glad for the life they would have. She could only hope that she did a good job in raising the king and queen’s children. 







Monday, October 16, 2017

Randal: Calhoun Men Release Day & Giveaway


18+ Erotic Shapeshifter Romance, fantasy romance, paranormal fantasy Calhoun Men Trent Elijah Scott Sterling Randal Tanner (Coming Soon) Randal loved teaching at the elementary school, but there were a lot of underprivileged children attending and it tore at his heart for them to do without, especially at Christmas. Donating food to all the families was his way of helping make their Christmas brighter. Randal hadn’t expected a parent to take exception to his Christmas present and wield a gun in his direction much less use it. What was this world coming to? Laney Price had only planned to pick up her sister, Heather, from the Calhoun’s care and head back to Las Vegas. Everything was so messed up and nothing was going as planned. Her stepmother and her father were coming to take the child and there wasn’t much she could do about it. No child deserved to be put into their care. Randal knew Laney was his mate, and he couldn’t stop her from leaving, but he was going with her if she left. He wouldn’t force her to claim him, but he had a solution to her problem if she’d agree to it.










Johanna, better known as Joe, had been a day walker for her only friend, Noah, for centuries. An immortal with eight hundred years under her belt, she had become proficient in several languages and occupations. When her friend Noah talked about meeting the sun, she had every intention of following in his path. 

Joe had only gone to the Calhoun’s office to catch a ride to the estate. When she entered, it took her breath away to see the younger man on the floor and no one doing a damn thing to help him. 

Trent Calhoun had forgotten how to have fun. Diving into his work was what kept him happy. At 33 he had no life, so when he had a heart attack, his doctor said to change his ways or else.

When the gorgeous woman stumbled into his hospital room, Trent thought his dad was up to his old tricks again―that was until he caught her scent…. Now, because of his wolf, he’s face to face with an angry vampire….





 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….




Chloe Davis was giving up. She thought for sure the owners of the computer shop she worked for were responsible for her father’s death, but in all the time she’d worked there she’d not been able to find enough evidence to prove it, so as far as she was concerned she was out of there. Her boss, George, on the other hand had other ideas. As far as he was concerned she wasn’t going anywhere…by force if necessary.

Scott Calhoun was just trying to help his grandfather get the young woman to safety, the last thing he expected was for her to be his mate. And he wasn’t happy about it either. Scott was a Dom, and he liked his sex hard and rough and his women submissive…this woman was a spitfire, and he was pretty sure he’d scare her off with his demands…. As far as he was concerned he was a deviant, not mate material. 

But when Chloe and Scott come together, they both find more than they expected…Scott has finally met his match. Now, if everyone would stop trying to kill them, they might live long enough to enjoy each other.



Marty liked her life just fine. She was alone in the world, and waiting on tables would get her by until she finished college, but the girl she was training wasn’t working out. And the girl got her fired—now what was she supposed to do? She needed that job to survive.

Sterling Calhoun’s encounter with the she-devil was over, but the nightmares still lingered. The only thing that helped him deal with the nightmarish pain were his paintings. And through is Grandda he met Marty, his mate, but Sterling hadn’t been himself for a very long time…. 

Marty knew a few shifters, so she knew what it meant when Sterling told her she was his mate. Oh, hell no, this guy had to be nuts, the “mates” she knew were a strange lot, and she didn’t want any part of it….




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                                                                  Next Release Oct 30th 2017

Sorry there will be no preorder for this book







Randal had forty-three bags filled with enough food for the kids to take home. There were extras—he only had a class of twenty-four—but he knew that some of the kids, a lot of them as a matter of fact, had siblings at home, and he wanted to make sure there was enough for all of them. He looked over at his helper and smiled. Heather was having fun helping him, he thought. “Mr. Randal, when we get done here, can I go with you to hand them out?” He told her that was all right with him. “I know that Mark has no food right now, and his power has been off. They didn’t have the money for bills this time.”  It was getting better in town. The new plant was hiring more all the time. And even though there were faeries and brownies around to help with the cleaning, he had hired about fifty of the elderly to do it as well. It was working out for a great many people, the jobs as well as the influx of money to the local stores. But as Heather pointed out, some people were still having troubles, and some of them were just not going to help themselves. And as such, he’d only go so far in his help to them. “We’ll give him two bags for his home, all right?” She nodded and grinned at him. “You’re a good friend of his, so you tell him that if he gets hungry again before the break is over, to call us. Okay?” “Yes. I can do that. But he’ll have to see me in town. He don’t have a phone either.” He corrected her. “He doesn’t have a phone either.” “My goodness, look at what you two have been doing.” It was two days before Christmas and his grandda had been as jolly as he’d ever seen him. When he asked if he could help out, Heather ran to him, giving the old man a hug and kiss. “I heard that you would need a truck to deliver things in. I brought my old beater for us.” “Thanks, Grandda.” They loaded the bags of food into the truck and then in his Jeep when they had filled the truck. Grandma and his mom showed up about the time they were ready to head out. “You come to help out?” “Yes, and we have gift cards too.” He wasn’t sure about that and he told his mom that. “You just leave that to me, son. Some of these people are doing without, and we’ve devised a way to make it a merrier Christmas for a lot of them.” His grandma rode with Grandda, and his mom with him and Heather. The first house they stopped at was little Mark’s. His cheeks were rosy from the cold, and that was inside the house. But carrying the bags of food inside, he noticed something else. They weren’t going to make it on the little that he’d brought them, and he looked at his mom when she cleared her throat. “Mr. Dennis. The power company will be out in an hour or less to turn your heat and electric back on.” The lights flickered then came on just as his mom finished talking. “Very nice. Now, here are some gift cards for you. You’re to take them to the store that is on the card, and they have a nice filled bag for you and your children. Also, we’ve set up a sitter for you when you’re off, as well as a car for you to use to find you a 

job at the new plant. I have to insist that you go there and do that, Mr. Dennis. These children cannot make it on their own if you’re taken to jail. Don’t you think?” “Yes, ma’am. You’re right. I’ve been...it’s been hard here without the missus, and without them being at school all day, I don’t have anyone to watch over them. But with this, I don’t know what to say. Since my wife passed, it’s been so hard on us. I don’t want to be on charity, but we’re hurting mightily bad here.” His mom hugged the younger man and then held him while he sobbed about how he appreciated what was being done for them. “We didn’t have anything for dinner tonight until you showed up.” Randall went to this car and brought in two more of the bags of food, and heard his mom telling Mr. Dennis that there would be more in the coming days as well. When they left, Heather looked up at him with a huge smile. “You’re nice. I know that all the time, but you made them happy.” He picked her up and told her that was what families did, help someone that needed it. “My mom and dad didn’t. They only helped each other. I miss them sometimes, but not a lot. When is my aunt coming here?” “Today.” Randal put her in the booster seat. Not because she was young enough to need it, but she was underweight and couldn’t be without one until she gained a few more pounds. It had broken his heart the first time they ate together.  She’d asked him if she could have some extra wrap. It took his mind a couple of seconds to figure out what she meant when Wally, his new cook, told her that whenever she needed food, that she was to come to him. Apparently she was going to wrap up what she’d not been able to eat to save for when she was alone again. Which was never going to happen, as far as he was concerned. Laney Price was supposed to be at the house in an hour. Not his; she was staying with his brother, Sterl, and Marty, his wife. There were things going on regarding Laney that worried him. For one thing, he had a feeling that Laney was going to be his mate. He had no idea why he thought so, but he just knew that having this little girl in his life was going to bring him a whole new set of issues. Not bad ones, just things he’d have to take care of.  He got home later that night, exhausted but feeling pretty good about things when he walked around his home. It was a nice one, yes, but needed a great deal of work. Siting in the living room with nothing more than a chair and a small television, he reached out for Myra, the witch who had become a good friend of his. And when she appeared in his living room with him, he smiled. There was always something to smile about when she came to visit him. Whether it was for business or pleasure, she was a delight to him. “Hello, my dear. How are you making it?” He laughed, then told her his thoughts. “For you, in the event that you didn’t know, I’d do anything. You’re a good boy…all of you are, but you are special to me.” Her costume, because that was how he thought of them, was book covers. The titles of them, and the authors, were some of his favorites. Even her hair had some printed covers on it, and he got up to look them over. She was a treat, Myra was, and had she 

been anyone else, he would’ve thought she was flirting with him every time she was around. “I was wondering what I’d have to repay you with if you were to finish my home. I think, but I’m not sure, that my mate is on her way here, and I want to have things ready for her.” She sat down and he joined her on the nice couch that hadn’t been there before. His had been old and ratty; this one was new and softer than warm butter. “You know this house as well as I do, I think. But it needs to be done. Not just with me in mind, but her as well.” “You are much smarter than I thought, and I already knew you were brilliant. I know the woman coming too. She is going to give you a hard time, just so you know.” He said that he’d not have it any other way. “Good boy. Now, I can only do so much to this house without her impressions of it. She has been without for far too long for you to just give her it all at once. You’ll overwhelm and frighten her a great deal if you do.”  “I understand. She is aware of us, I think, correct?” Myra said that she knew of shifters, but not what they were. “Okay. I guess that’s good and bad. When she arrives, what do you think I should do?” “Be yourself. You are a charmer when it comes to that. And smart when it comes to women. Of all the Calhoun men, I think that you’ve had less experience with good women than you have bad ones, but you’re going to be fine. If you listen with your head as well as your heart.” He nodded, but didn’t move. Randal did want to ask her questions, but he was sure that he’d not get any answers to them. This was, if she was his mate, up to him. And with what Myra had said, he was sure of it. He looked around the living room and noticed while he’d been thinking, the room had shifted and was dressed. Randal had called a room being finished and ready for people dressed since he’d become a teacher. He loved dressing his room for the new school year. “Your home, like those of your brothers, is magical now. I think you will need it.” He asked her if bad was coming their way. “Yes. I cannot tell you what it is, but you will be fine if you listen. Not just to your mate, but to your family as well. I think it’s been pointed out to you before that you are the most trusting of all of them.” “Yes, and while it burns me a little to think I was so easily pegged, I’ve come to realize that I’m all right with it. But I have taken precautions so that no one thinks that after they try something.” She told him he was clever, and it wouldn’t hurt him to be prepared at his school too. “I am.” Something occurred to him then, a thought that he didn’t much care for. But before he could ask her about it, the doorbell rang. He made his way to it, thinking that it was mighty late for someone to be coming around in a snowstorm. When he looked out the little glass on the door, he looked at Myra. “Should I be worried?” She nodded, then shook her head. He noticed that she’d changed. That now she was dressed entirely in Christmas decorations. Even small trees hung from her ears. “You’re not very helpful, are you?” 

“It will not harm you, but you should guard your heart.” He wasn’t sure if she meant literally or figuratively, and didn’t get the chance to ask before she disappeared. Randal looked out the glass again and then opened it slowly. “Can I help you?” The man standing there wasn’t anyone that he knew. Nor did he think it was anyone his family might know. He turned away from Randal then, and he noticed that there was a woman on the lawn. It was Mrs. Watson, Billy Watson’s mom. “What’s this about?” “You think we need your charity?” Randal said nothing but did reach for his brother, Scott, who he knew was with his wife Chloe, the chief of police. “You come into my house and give them food like we got nothing? You bastard. I got money enough for my shit.” “I didn’t give it to just you, Mr. Watson, but that was the Christmas gift that I gave all my students. It was something I do every year.” He asked him again if he’d thought he needed charity. “It’s not charity, it’s a gift. Would you like to come into my house? Mrs. Watson looks to be cold.” The man went to his wife and Randal watched him to make sure that he didn’t hurt her. When he wrapped his arms around her and helped her into the house, he felt better, though he didn’t call off his family yet, but he did feel better about it. “I told you to stay in the car.” Mrs. Watson shivered and wrapped the blanket that had been on the back of the couch around her. “Thank you, sir. I’m surely sorry about this, but I got my dander up.” “Understandable.” When they were seated in this living room with the roaring fire, he thought of what Myra had warned him about when Mr. Watson stood up and drew a gun. “You’re still mad.” “Of course I am. What right did you have thinking that any of them kids needed you to step in and bring them food? You think we’re all a lazy bunch that needs the charity of an upstart like you? I told her that you were an uppity bastard when you bought some of them kids in your class their supplies. You and your family, you just loving rubbing it in that we’re all poorer than you, don’t you?” Randal told his brother to hurry and why. “You got nothing to say?” “Oh, I have plenty to say, but I don’t think you’re going to listen so I’m not going to waste my breath. But I have called the police as well as my family in.” Mr. Watson told him that he’d done no such thing. “You go on believing that while you have a gun pointed at me for no other reason than you think I’m doing you wrong.” “Sit down.” He nodded and made his way to the living room again, making sure that he left the front door not only unlocked but open just a little as well. He wasn’t thrilled about having anyone hurt in his house, but he did make sure that if need be, someone could come in and save him. Randal wasn’t macho enough to think that he could do this on his own. There were places to hide in his house. When he’d taken it from Chloe, she’d shown him the panic room as well as the other features that her dad had put in to keep the people there safe. But the kitchen was too far away, and he didn’t think he could outrun a bullet. Because as surely as he was sitting there, he knew this man had a plan. 

~~~ “We have to make a stop.” Laney was tossed to the side of the car when Sterl made a U-turn in the middle of the street. “My brother has a visitor that isn’t being nice. We just want to make sure that he’s all right before we take you to our house.”  She’d read a great deal about the family before coming out here with these two. They were wealthy. And had she not just spent the last two hours with them, she might have thought them snobbish. But these two were far from it. Laney had learned a great deal from them too.  They were wolves. Both of them were shifters. And while she wasn’t afraid of them, she did have her moments of fear when she was around others like them. Laney had even told them about the guy at work who took great pleasure in chasing her around the parking lot when she got off work. The fucker knew better than to mess with her now…shooting at him with her small gun had stopped that sort of playing around, but he hadn’t stopped threatening her.  The house that they pulled up in front of had several police cruisers in front, as well as a couple of cars. She stayed back when asked to, but watched what was going on. Whatever it was, the three men standing to the side of the house were pissed off, and she knew at once they were brothers to Sterl. They looked a great deal alike. Then the elderly man got out of his car and she laughed. Christ, they were like clones of him. Then she saw her stepsister. Heather had been so tiny when she’d seen her the last time. An infant, she guessed now. But she held onto the hand of the woman that had been with the older man like she was never going to let her go. Laney felt her heart take a hard twist in her chest when she realized that she didn’t know her.  “You should go and see her.” Laney didn’t look at Marty, but did shake her head. “Mom told me that she talks of nothing else but you coming to see her. I think it would do her and you a world of good to be together right now.” “I don’t know why…she doesn’t know me any more than I know her.” Marty told her that they were family and that was all that mattered. “We don’t have any sort of relationship. Not even a little one. I sent her cards when she was younger…not that she’s old now, but I knew that my sister and her deadbeat husband were using the money for other things. So I stopped.” The little girl turned to see her and let go of the woman’s hand to run to her. Laney scooped her up into her arms, forgetting all about her resolve to not let her get into her heart. Heather made her way there all on her own. After kissing each other several times—it still didn’t seem like enough—Laney hugged her. It had been as if the years had never happened, that they’d been together all this time. And when Heather told her, over and over, how much she had missed her, Laney cried with her, telling her how much she had missed her as well. She supposed that it was true that blood was thicker than water and tighter than a snare on a drum. “Mr. Randal and his mom are taking good care of me. I have food all the time and a bed. It has so many blankets on it that I get lost sometimes.” Laney told her she was 

sorry. “No, don’t be, Aunt Laney. I like them. They’re very soft and warm. Did you know that Mom and Dad are gone?” “Yes, that’s why I’m here. I’ve come to see about your welfare.” She looked confused. “To make sure that you’re all right and that you do have enough to eat, and blankets.” “I do. I love it here. You should see the Christmas trees that are in the houses. They’re bigger than all of us.” Which wasn’t saying much. For a six-year-old, Heather was tall like her, but not big compared to the men that were walking toward them. “The Calhouns, they’re my new uncles. I can call them that because they said I could. And I call Grandma, Grandma too.” She tried telling herself that she wasn’t jealous of the men and women in Heather’s life now. Laney knew that a big part of it was her own fault. She had distanced herself from them all. But it was do that and survive with her dignity and her life, or be sucked into their hell right along with her dad and sister. Laney knew that she would have not only been broke, but broken as well. When the younger version of the man that had been with Heather came out, she felt her heart beating a little faster and her body warming. The instinct to go to him and see if he was all right startled her. The blood, she told herself…it was the blood all over his front and face that had warranted such a response from her. When Heather struggled to be put down she let her go, but watched her as she ran to the man. They talked, the man kneeling down to her level so that he could let her touch him. Comfort…Heather was offering him comfort, even though she was much smaller than him and he was covered in blood. Making her way to the porch where the man was, she was shocked to see how tall he was. About five or so inches taller than her own six-foot frame. “Hello.” She nodded at his greeting. “Not the way I would have welcomed you here, but I’m glad that you made it safely.”  “What a strange thing to say.” The elderly couple just laughed, and she had a feeling that she wasn’t in on a joke, or whatever it was they were making fun about. Laney was tired and she was also stressed, and when she was, her temper flared up. “My sister and I, we’re grateful for all that you’ve done for us, and if you don’t mind, I’d like to get back. A hotel would suit us better, I think.” “If you think so.” She wasn’t sure why he was grinning at her the way he was, but she didn’t care for it, or the looks of the others. “I wanted to be the first to warn you that your father and stepmother are on their way here. I think they have it in their head to take Heather back with them. I’m glad that you’re aware that she’s your sister and not your niece, but they’re coming and I want you to be safe. We all do.”  She turned to look at him when she started for the car. “Who told them that I was here? Did you? Was it in order to make me pay for something that they’ve done?” “No. I don’t know what they were told about your sister, only that she had passed. The next of kin was notified, and that was the number that the police had. I’m sure had they known about them, they would have made every effort to call you instead.” He sat down; more like he fell down to the steps that led up to his porch. “I’m sorry. I’ve 

been.... I’ve had a stressful few minutes here. But I didn’t know to notify them, and I wouldn’t have anyway. I have no idea why, but I figured that you’d be better at taking care of Heather than them any day of the week. Was I right?” “Yes. My stepmother…Rosemarie, she’s not a nice person.” Laney glanced at Heather, who was with the Calhouns again. “My stepmother, Sally Anne’s biological mother, has been a bad influence on my sister all her life. And my father, my biological father, isn’t much better. If they get Heather, even for a night, they’ll hurt her and bury her someplace that no one will be able to find, just to take the money that might come to her. I don’t know why I believe that, but I do.” “I figured as much too. We have some connections that have had their lives looked into. Also, you should know that the FBI is out looking for them too. Not in any kind of hurry, mind you, but they’re here so that when they arrive, they’ll be watched better than the locals can do. Just to make sure that when they do take them in, it’ll stick.” She asked what they had done just as someone handed him an ice bag. “Other than some of the outstanding bills they have at home, in their state, there is also the fact that they’ve been filing a tax return with the little girl’s name on it as their child.” “She is their child.” He nodded and it occurred to her what he meant. “My sister was doing the same thing with Heather.”  “Yes.”  He told her he was sorry and got up and ran into the house. She wasn’t sure what had happened but she followed. As soon as she entered the house, she knew that this was a home made for a family. It was soft and soothing, the paint on the walls, the decorations in the rooms that she could see.  Laney heard him in the bathroom, throwing up. Knocking once on the door, she asked him if he was all right. His garbled answer didn’t satisfy her since he threw up several more times, so she opened the door. The man was a mess, and his head leaning into the commode didn’t do much for him at the moment. When he looked at her, his face pale and sort of green, she handed him a towel and sat on the little chair that was sitting there. Trent, she thought his name was, as well as Sterl came by the little room to see if he was all right. When he didn’t toss up his cookies anymore and sat on the floor, she thought he might make it. When the other two men left them, she asked him if he was really all right. “I’m not sure. Have you ever been shot at?” She nodded at him. “I have too, but tonight was…he wanted to kill me because I had the nerve to help him out with a few extra groceries at his home over the holidays.” “Some people I know, most of them, either want more than you give them or they don’t care to be labeled. I know what you were doing, but perhaps you might have made him feel bad for it.” He said he’d figured that out about the time he’d shot him. “You were actually shot? Where? Has anyone looked at it?” She tore at his shirt when he pointed to his shoulder. There was a small wound there, but for some reason she was positive that it had been worse before. When he put his hand over hers, she looked into his eyes.  

“I’m going to be all right.” She nodded and continued to stare at him. “You’re really very beautiful. I know that I’m rushing things here, but can you kiss me? No, never mind. I wouldn’t want to kiss me either. Not after this.” “Why not?” She realized that she was somewhat disappointed and pushed herself up to her feet. “I’m sorry that you’re hurt, but I really have to be going now. My sister and I, I think we’ve taken up enough of your family’s time.” She was out the door and into the car in seconds. If anyone spoke to her, she didn’t know what they might have said on her flight to the car she’d come here in. Heather joined her a few minutes later, then the Calhouns. Laney thought the faster she got home the better. Something was really strange here, and it was affecting her too.