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.

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