Monday, November 30, 2015

Gerard By Kathi S Barton Release Blitz & Winner Announced 11/30/15

Susie Benjamin had been denied nine jobs in three days. She had served five years for a crime she didn't commit, and it didn't seem to matter to these jerks that she'd been exonerated and wasn't an ex-con at all, just a victim of circumstance. If she didn't find a job soon what little money she had left would be gone.

Susie was a panther shifter and no one had ever told her the rules of her kind. Mason Douglas was quick to bring her to task for her not reporting that she was in town to him, the local Alpha. She'd work her sentence off on the ranch, but then she'd be gone. She wanted to be as far away as she could get before her father could find her again.

Gerard Douglas knew his brother had a new panther on the ranch, but wasn't in any hurry to meet her. Heck, he barely had time to sleep as it was he was so busy. But when he caught sight of her at the river it was all he could do to keep his distance. She wanted him too, he could tell, but he'd never seen anyone so skittish.

Susie knew from his scent they were mates. But he'd be better off without her because if her father found out he'd kill them both....

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Chapter 1  
“I don’t understand this.” Susie looked at the paperwork in front of him, then at the man who was questioning her application. “It says here that you’ve spent some time in jail and that you’ve been…what does this word mean? Exonated?” “Exonerated. It means that the charge of murder had been wrong and I was let out because they figured out that I didn’t do it. I should never have been in jail at all, and that’s what they’re saying now.” He nodded but still looked confused. “The next paper is a copy of my release. It tells you right there that I was—” “Yeah, you said that.” He stacked the papers up, including her application, and then handed them to her. “I don’t think this will work out with us. We have customers coming in all the time and they don’t want to be waited on by an ex-con. You’ll have to go someplace else. Just don’t expect anyone else to be as nice about you and your paperwork as I was.” Standing up, Susie wanted to scream at him that she wasn’t an ex-con but a real person, and more than that, she’d not done a damned thing but be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Instead, she picked up her bag and coat and moved out of the office. Now what, her mind screamed at her. She had to find something soon or things were going to get really bad for her. This was the ninth job that she’d applied for in the last three days. Her money, what she’d gotten as a compensation for being wrongly accused, was going out faster than she had anything coming in…which was not a single dollar. Even living as cheaply as she was, she’d be broke in another month. Less if she had to move out of the hotel she was staying in, because they had a two-week limit on how long someone could stay there. Every place else was double what she was paying now. Nothing, it seemed, was going her way. Making her way back to the hotel, she bypassed the front office and just unlocked her door and entered. She didn’t owe any money for the room just yet, but the guy at the counter this time of day made her feel dirty, like she’d been bathing in slime for an hour. Putting her things on the bed after locking the door, she sat in the chair and closed her eyes.  Five years she’d been in prison. Not a long time by some standards, and less than she had been sentenced to by a long shot. Her life sentence had been overturned, and she’d been let out a month after someone on the outside had admitted to the murder of the three people in a house she’d never been in, as well as a few others things the man had, up until then, gotten away with. He’d apparently had details that were never made public, and when he’d admitted to it, saying how proud he was to not get caught, she’d been told there had been a mistake. “A fucking big one if you ask me.” Susie Benjamin had never done a thing wrong in her entire life that would have gotten her into trouble. And certainly nothing like what she’d been accused of. She’d always been careful of what she did, what she said, and even what she’d written down. Having parents that were less than stellar had made her 

into a very cautious woman and extremely terrified of the cops. She supposed she might have been a little too cautious at times, but there was little she could do about it now. Her mother had been in and out of jail most of Susie’s young life. Then when Susie had turned ten, her mom, along with three other people, had robbed a convenience store and had killed the young man behind the counter as well as a few other customers. It had been planned, they said, and since they’d brought guns with them that were loaded with extra casings, it was considered premeditated. She’d been found guilty and sentenced to twenty-five to life in prison. Which, when it came down to it, had been a life sentence, because she’d died there. And because Susie had been a minor, the courts had called in her father to care for her. It had been like going from the pan to the oven for her. Ernest Benjamin, Ernie to those few who were stupid enough to call him a friend, had been no better in caring for her than her mother, and he’d been meaner about it. The third time he’d hit her with his belt, she left. It had only taken them a week to find her and bring her back to his loving arms and his leather belt. And it never got any better after that. In fact, she’d say it was a good deal worse. Over the next five years, Susie would run away monthly. Sometimes she’d be gone for a couple of weeks, but mostly she’d be found and taken back for a more severe beating, as well as being locked in her room without food or water. Not that it caused her many problems. Getting out was easy since she was small and strong, but he’d hurt her enough on her sixteenth birthday that someone finally took notice of her situation. He’d broken her arm, beaten her so badly that she’d had hundreds of stitches as well as the concussion that made her sick when she blinked. But being put into foster care wasn’t that much of an improvement. The home she’d been sent to first had been all right. She had to help around the house a lot, but that didn’t bother her much. Then one day the man of the house had been hurt at work, and the wife had no more use for watching kids that would never be hers. She was dumped—no other word for what had happened after that—back into the system and into many homes with mean bastards or drug users for foster parents. Then there was the freaky little thing that she could do that made her a target for bullies. Being a cougar was hard to hide when she got pissed. She had learned to control her, but it wasn’t done overnight. That, unfortunately, wasn’t all that she could do, but no one had found out about that. But her father knew, and that was bad enough. Her ability to read animals and some people had gotten her into some major issues with her father. For some reason, he was under the impression he owned her, which, she supposed, he did as the leader of their leap, and she thought that he should simply go fuck himself and die. Her plan didn’t work out so well. The foster care, or the lack of it, lasted just until she was eighteen and able to move out on her own. And in that time she’d gotten her education—something that she wanted more than anything—and a job. It wasn’t a good job, and the people she rented the house with took most of her checks, but the tips were all hers. Sometimes they 

amounted to more than her checks. Then when she’d turned nineteen, they came to her hovel and arrested her for murder.  The knock at the door, firm but not loud, startled her from her morbid thoughts. “Susan, there’s a call for you.” Susie didn’t move from her position on the chair, but did glance over at the phone that had not rung since she’d been there. It was the only number she’d given out when she applied for jobs. Really, it was the only one she knew. “It’s about the job at that bar down on Seventy-Nine.” Susie still didn’t move. She’d not been anywhere near the state route, nor had she applied at a bar. She didn’t drink and certainly didn’t want to have anything to do with serving up drinks for men who got mean when they were drunk. When the guy at the door pounded on the door again, she moved to the bed to pick up the first thing she’d bought when she’d gotten out. The bat was her only defense now, and she wasn’t afraid to use it.  The pounding got harder then, and she was sure the door was going to break under his fists. “Open the fucking door, Susan. I know that you’re in there. I saw you go in.” The voice sounded familiar, but she didn’t know who it might be, as fear was making her too nervous to think beyond what he’d do when he got inside. As the pounding on the door got harder and louder, she moved to the back of the room and away from the room’s only window, and near the bathroom door should she need to escape there. “You fucking cunt, open this goddamned door and let me in. I know that you have some cash, and I want it.” Then just like that, she knew who it was. Her father, Ernie. Still not going to the door, she reached for the phone just as he moved to the window and started beating it to shit. The service at the front desk answered right away. The window wasn’t going to stand up to his abuse any better than the door had.  “You need to let him in so I don’t have to call the cops. I don’t need nothing like this going on here. This is a good family hotel and we don’t cotton to having domestic fights between families. Get him to shut up.” Nice, was all Susie could think about. And calling the cops would be less than preferable than her being beat to shit? No thanks.  “Call them. He’s not coming in here. At least not unless he breaks down your door to do so. Or…fuck.” The window burst inward, and he tore the curtains down just as she was putting the bat on her shoulder to use. “Come in here and they’ll be taking you away in a body bag, you motherfucker.” “That’s no way to talk to me, bitch. I’m your boss and you’ll fucking do as I say, or so help me, Susan, you’re gonna regret me having to make you.” She wanted to laugh at him but didn’t. Prison hadn’t been good to him either, apparently. He was bruised on his face, nothing that had improved his looks, and his mouth had sores on it, like he’d had a blister and he’d worried it to death. When he started into the room again, screaming at her about what he wanted, she pointed the bat at him and made him pause. “I want what’s coming to me. And I know you got it. That there paper said you were given completion or some shit like that. Ten grand will go a long way to making me a happy daddy.” 

“I’m not giving you shit. And it’s compensation, you dumbass, not completion.” He grinned at her, and she felt her skin crawl. His mouth was full of rotted teeth. And if that wasn’t bad enough, his lips were dry and peeling and there were sores, big ones, on his cheeks and forehead she could see now that he was closer to her. “What the fuck is wrong with you now?” “Nothing. But there will be with you when I get in there. You’ve been a disappointment to me since I squirted you in your mother. Where is she anyways?” He put his foot out to step into the room and then was gone. Not in that he fell back, or even into the room, but simply gone. Not trusting him or what he might be up to, she stood there with the bat ready in the event he returned. Then a woman was standing there messing with her hair. Her smile reminded Susie of the grandmother in those dumb card commercials. Like she was as happy as a lark. “You all right?” Nodding slowly, she watched the woman carefully. There wasn’t anything about her that was threatening, but Susie knew better than to trust anyone that she’d not touched at least once. “I won’t hurt you. I was going by and saw him trying to get in, and couldn’t let that happen. My name is Georgie Douglas.” “Yeah, and why should you care if he got in here or not?” The woman only nodded and moved away from the broken window. Then she knocked on the door. “You come in here without being invited and I’m going to knock you into next month. I don’t need your help.” Going back to the broken window, the woman turned to her right before looking back at her. There was something very calming about the woman, as if she was just as nice as she looked. But again, Susie wasn’t trusting her and stood her ground. “My nephew’s wife said that she’s on her way. Normally she doesn’t go out on calls because the mayor doesn’t do that sort of thing, I guess, but she was riding with one of the cops that have been called. Your landlord called in that you were making a disturbance.” Great, the mayor was coming, but Susie only watched her. “You’re not very trusting, are you?” “No shit.” The woman looked pained for a second but said nothing. “What did you do to Ernie? And you should really watch out in case he comes back. Because he will now that he knows where I am. And if you hurt him, which I applaud by the way, you will be in as deep as shit as I am.” “He’s going to be arrested. But he won’t be coming back here. Come out of there and let me see if he hurt you, please. I feel just horrible that he was able to break this window before I could come to your rescue. Not that you need it. Which reminds me, why didn’t you just take care of him yourself? You could have.” Susie wanted to move…felt like it was the only thing in the world she wanted to do, but she shook her head and felt better. “You’re very strong, aren’t you? I mean…well, you shouldn’t have been able to toss off my compulsion like that. You’re a cougar, aren’t you?” “So?” She felt her cat move along her skin but didn’t let her out. She had a great deal of control over her now, not like the little she’d had when she was younger. “So are you. But that doesn’t mean that we’re going to be the best of friends.” 

Georgie only smiled at her, and that was when Susie heard the sirens. Her body tensed up to the point where she wanted to run. It was as ingrained in her as much as breathing. Cops meant trouble, and trouble meant jail. Not necessarily, but it seemed that way to her and her cat. When the cops came to the door, it exploded open with no more than someone pushing against it hard. A man entered, his gun drawn and his face hard, and she knew that he, too, was a shifter, but not a cat. Wolf. When he pointed the gun at her and told her to drop her weapon, she did so without having to be asked twice.  The woman who came in behind him told him to back down. “Did you hear a word I told you on the way here? That the woman in the room was not to be…put that fucking gun down before I hit you.”  The gun was lowered, but he didn’t put it in his holster. Instead, he turned and looked at the woman with a sneer on his face. “You should know that I don’t take direct orders from you.” The woman nodded and then did the most amazing thing. She punched the man in the face, and he fell to his knees. As he was getting up, to no doubt hit the woman, she spoke, her words as soft as a gentle rain. “You do and you’ll be dead before you take your next piss.” He paused, fear only a little evident on his face. “You know who I am, and let me tell you that I’ve already contacted your alpha and told him what you’ve done.” “He’s on his way out too. I’m telling you that you’re just a little speck on my way to the top of the heap.” She asked him if he really believed that. “I do. He’s done nothing but coddle the pack for years now, and it is time for someone with a backbone to bring it around. He’s happier to hang around with you cats than he is to see to our needs. He has to go, and I’m going to be the one to take him out.” “I’ll be sure to tell him your opinion.” Two more cops came into the room with them, and the woman turned to them after taking a step back from the cop on the floor. “I want him arrested. I’ll give you the charges in—” The wolf lunged at the woman, and before Susie could think what a horribly terrible idea it was, she let her cat take her and leapt at the cop. He was dead before she finished shifting, her claws raking across his throat even as she took him to the floor. His head rolled toward the woman as Susie’s cat backed them into a corner. She was in deep shit, she just knew it. ~~~ Mason entered the station as calmly as he could. When Aunt Georgie had reached out to him a little while ago, she’d told him to come to the station but not to make a big deal out of things. He’d felt Emma’s anger and then her fear, then nothing. It wasn’t until Aunt Georgie had told him that she’d bumped her head but was all right now that he could reach out to his wife. Emma had some explaining to do. Don’t make me have to explain why my big bad husband had to come in here and make it all better. If you do, everything I’ve worked for will be for nothing. He asked her calmly, or as calmly as he could, what had happened. I was stupid. I turned my back on someone when I knew better. But I’m fine. 

That does not leave me with a warm and fuzzy feeling, Emma. I felt your terror and it nearly took me to my knees. Please, I beg of you. What happened? She told him she’d explain it to him when he got there, but not to make a scene.  The first person he saw when he came into the front of the station house was his aunt. Her smiling at him had him thinking that someone needed to be punched. Not her, of course, but someone, and soon. She was entirely too mean to hit and not expect to be hit back. “She’s fine. Shook up a bit but fine. She’s back there talking to the woman who saved her butt. That man…oh my Mason, he was going to kill our little Emma, and if that…if that other woman had not changed and took him, I’m not sure how it would have ended.” This wasn’t helping him or his cat. Mason had been out on the range with ten men when he’d nearly cut his hand off because the knife he’d been using slipped. They’d been putting up a fence that had been knocked over by a fallen tree and he’d been in charge of cutting the old wire off. Had Gerard or Jace not been there, he wasn’t sure what he’d have done. “Can I see her now?” Aunt Georgie told him she was calming the other cat…the one that had saved her. “What other cat? You mean another cougar is here?” “Two actually. Her father and this young woman. I saved her first, so you know. I’m telling you that so you don’t find out later and get upset with me. I was there visiting a friend of mine who has only just moved to this area, and I heard the commotion. She and her family have been wanting to move to this area for some time, and they’ve put a bid on a house close to the ranches. But there was this man, as I was saying. He was going to go and hurt the girl. I just had to act. Good thing too. I think he was going to kill her.”  Mason only stared at his aunt. He was getting more and more confused by the second. Two cougars were here? And who was the woman and man? He started to ask her what the hell she was talking about when she smiled at him.  “You’re confused. I’m sorry. To be honest with you, I’m a little shook up myself. But let me explain. There was this man who was trying to hurt who I found out later was his daughter. She wasn’t having him in her room, so he busted out the front window. Then he—” “Aunt Georgie.” She smiled at him. “I love you very much, but you’re driving me insane with this roundabout story. Either get to some point so my cat will be happy or…you know what? Never mind. Am I going to get to see Emma any time soon?” Then Mason felt her. She was coming through the door just as his aunt started again about her friend. As he moved around his aunt to see his wife, Emma nearly fell into his arms. Mason held her for several minutes before she lifted her chin up to look at him. There was a small stain of blood on her cheek, but he knew that it wasn’t hers. Mason asked her if she was all right. “Yes, I am, thanks to the…I want you to know that this girl is the most stubborn woman I have…I thought you said that I could make people talk to me when they didn’t want to. And especially other cougars.” He said that was true. “Well, not with 

this woman. She’s as tight lipped as I’ve ever seen anyone be. And she just shakes off the compulsion like it’s nothing. I think she’s a half breed…is that what you call people who aren’t all cat? But I really don’t know. She could be a mountain goat for all I can get from her.” “I’m sure you’d know if she was a goat or not. Now, who is she?” Emma said she was still trying to work that out, but she did ask him to talk to her. “Talk to her about what? I’m assuming that you’ve arrested her or had her arrested?” “No. She did nothing wrong as far as I’m concerned. She’s free to go, but she just sits there staring at her lap like it’s got all the answers. The most I’ve gotten out of her is that the man that Aunt George knocked out is her father, and that didn’t come from her but from him. And let me tell you, he’s not shut up since he woke up. I have never met two people that are more ill-suited to be related in my life. She just calmly sits there while he spouts off about suing us and having your aunt arrested for poor treatment of him. Bastard. But I can feel her fear, Mason. She’s terrified of something or someone.” He asked her if she thought it was her. “I didn’t do anything to her. And if that were the case, why save me?” “I’ll talk to her, but I don’t know if I’ll have any more luck than you did. If she throws off the compulsion, she might belong to another alpha. Or has pledged to one. Whatever the reason, she should have let us know she was here and how long she was staying. It’s the law of our kind and she should have known that.” He was shown to the room she was in and turned to Emma when she started to go in with him. “This might be better if you let me handle her. I’m not sure what might happen, and if she shifts again she’s going to pull both our cats, and that won’t be good.” “Don’t hurt her.” Mason turned to look at her before he opened the door. “Just…trust me on this when I tell you that she’ll drive you to want to hurt her, but don’t. There is something profoundly sad about her that I don’t think she’s handling as well as she’d like to think she is.” “Even though you don’t know her, you can feel this from her.” Emma nodded. “Are you thinking that this man, her father, should be brought in as well? I mean for me to talk to?” “Oh yeah, that’s a given. But for now, I think you should just go easy on her. And you should know that your aunt is looking into some things. She said that she could smell Calendar on her, the guy at the restaurant that you had words with the other night. I think she might have had a run-in with him too.” He grinned. The man had been making passes at his staff and then taking away some of their checks for no good reason other than they’d not have sex with him. Mason had fun showing him the error of his ways. Zach had even helped him. “This is no time to tell me how proud you are of yourself. You could have hurt that man.” “But I didn’t, and I’m pretty sure that when he finds out who my aunt is related to, he’s going to be falling all over himself to help her.” Emma only sighed heavily. “What is it, Emma? This girl, what is it that has you so worked up?” “I have no idea. For all I know she could be this terrible person who runs over small dogs in her free time. But there is something about her that makes me want to protect 

her.” He moved away from the door and took her into his arms. “Just don’t let her get hurt, Mason. By you or anyone else. For all her stubbornness, I think I like her. And she saved me from having to explain to you why I got hurt.” Kissing her again, he went to the door and let out a long breath. He was sort of nervous if he was honest with himself, but he opened the door and moved into the room.  A man was standing behind her, another cop…a wolf that he knew from the local pack. She didn’t look up when he came into the room, but he could see by the stiffness of her body that she knew just who he was. Either that or she was bracing herself for pain. Either way, he had to take charge right now. “Do you know what I am?” She nodded but didn’t lift her head. “Look at me when I talk to you.” As her head lifted, he could see the blood on her face. He didn’t see a cut, but there was enough blood there to tell him she’d been hurt. Walking to her, he lifted her chin up and saw that her nose had been bleeding recently, and wondered if it was from when Emma had been in here. Fighting compulsions, especially from a leader, was hard on a person. Telling the cop to go and get her a wash cloth, Mason sat down in front of her. “Tell me who you are.” He could see her fighting him. Christ, she was strong, and when she shivered he knew that she’d won this round. “Tell me who you are now. And what that man at the hotel wanted from you.” She lost, but at great cost to herself. The blood at her nose from the pain of what she was doing wasn’t all that happened to her. When she looked at him, he could see the anger too. She’d also bitten her lip through, and the swelling was making his heart pull. “Susan Benjamin.” He didn’t think she was going to answer all of his questions, but she put her hands on the table and glared at him. Instead of pissing him off, Mason found himself liking her. “I’m not an ex-con, and that man, my father, will kill me as soon as I’m set free. If he doesn’t do the deed himself, I will do it for him because I’m not going to do what he wants.” Reaching for Emma, he let her know what she’d said about not being an ex-con and asked her to look into it. He looked at the girl. “What are you doing in this town without telling me who you are and why you are here?” He could see the confusion on her face, so he explained. “I’m the leader of this leap, and by law you have to report to me, or whoever is in charge, of your presence.” “Why?” He really didn’t know for sure why, but he knew it was law. “Not that it matters. I’m going to move on as soon as I’m sure that Ernie is going to be under lock and key for a while.” “Ernie would be your father?” She nodded and wiped the blood off her upper lip. “You’d not hurt if you’d just answer the questions instead of being stubborn. You know that, don’t you?” “Fuck off.” He nearly laughed at her but only just caught himself. “Am I in trouble? Can I leave? Or are you going to keep me here under some trumped-up charges for killing that fuck?” 

“The other cop?” She didn’t even blink in his direction. “I have no control of what happens to you about the wolf you killed. His alpha is coming in here to talk to you as well. If he has any kind of punishment in mind, I can take care of that for—” “No. You stay out of it. That would be between the two of us, nothing to do with you.” He nodded, but knew as surely as he was sitting there with her that he’d intercede on her part. “What happens to Ernie?” “I don’t know. I’m not a cop, nor do I try and interfere with their laws.” The snort coming from Susan had him covering his mouth. She really was about as stubborn a person as he’d ever met. “What were you doing there? I mean, why are you here?” “Didn’t she tell you yet?” He leaned back in his chair and asked her who. “Your wife. The mayor. I’m assuming that as soon as you told her that I’m not an ex-con and what my name is, she got right on that. But let me tell you now. I’m moving on as soon as I find out where Ernie is and how long he’s going to be there.” “I’m afraid I can’t let you do that.” She glared harder. He had no idea why he’d said that she couldn’t leave just yet, and was afraid she’d ask him. “You broke the law, and even if you weren’t aware of it, you still did it. There will be repercussions for your actions, and as soon as you’re free from here, you’ll report to me.”  Mason stood up, and so did she. She was tall, nearly as tall as him. And he had a feeling that her cat was going to be big as well. He was going to have to ask Emma. When she did nothing more than stare at him, Mason had a sudden thought. She was terrified. “What will you have me do? Be tied to a post while you beat me? I won’t take it again. Or do you plan to put me in a cell, lock me away for another five years? If that’s your plan, then I’d prefer that you fight me and kill me.” Mason was so shocked by her words that he did not do or say anything. “I won’t be treated that way again. Do you hear me? I’m not going to live if you do that.” When she leapt at him, it was all he could do to keep her from hurting him. When he flipped her to her back and held her down with his weight, he thought for sure she was going to shift. He stopped her with a single command. And when she stilled, he watched her.  “You thought that if you attacked me, I’d kill you. Was that your grand plan? To have me kill you so that whatever kind of thoughts are going on in your head wouldn’t happen?” She only stared up at him. “Answer me, damn it. I’ve had a shitty morning so far, and you’re so not helping it.” Nothing. Not a single word passed her lips, and he could see what it was costing her. When he commanded her again, just to see how far he could push her, she passed out, and Mason felt that this was only the beginning of the feud between them. For some reason, he was looking forward to it. Calling to the guard to have her taken to his home, he hoped to Christ he wasn’t making the biggest mistake of his life. Or that of his family if she decided to take some of her anger out on them. But he had a feeling that once tamed, she was going to be a hell of an ally. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Phillip By Kathi S Barton Release Blitz & Winner Announced 11/16/15

Phillip Lanning is beyond tired. The jobs they’ve been doing with their search and rescue company are just draining him. He needs a break and isn’t sure how to tell his brothers that he’s burnt out. When Nic appears in his apartment to tell him of another mission, this one happens to be his mate, and she’s sick to boot, Nic tells him that the only way she’ll live is if he converts her into a leopard. She doesn’t have much time left. Phillip doesn’t know what to think.
Charleston Grant, better known as Charlie, knows her days are numbered. The tumor’s pressing on her optic nerve and the doctors aren’t giving her long. And when she fell into possession of a coded book, she and her mom became a target. Charlie just wants to get her mom to safety before she dies. Nic tells her he can help her with that, to go with the Lannings and everything will work out.
When Charlie wakes, she knows something is off. She was supposed to die, but instead she can see. And the story she gets about shifters and immortality has her head spinning. Not to mention finding out that her mother isn’t really her mother and her life to this point has been one big lie. And the woman she’s been protecting has sold her out…Charlie is at her wits end. Now a surprise visitor, a fate, shows up and says that Charlie and Phillip were never supposed to meet…she had gone to great lengths to make sure of it…now both Charlie and Phillip are pissed. Who does this woman thinks she is?

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Chapter 1
 Phillip moved through the apartment without seeing anything. He was exhausted and he hurt. Going up the stairs to his bed seemed like too much effort, so he just stripped down to his boxers and sat on the couch. He felt the man in the room before he closed his eyes. “You should take better care when you are home alone, young Phillip.” Phillip didn’t even bother answering Nic. “I could have killed you and been gone before you even sat down.” “I’m too tired to fuck around right now, Nic. Go away.” The room brightened with light from the fireplace and he glared at the man. “Are you really going to make me pay attention to you? Have you any idea how tired I am right now?” “I do, and yes. You must pay attention to me. It is very important.” Phillip got up and moved to the kitchen, snagging a pair of pants from the laundry basket as he moved by it. He had no idea if the stuff was clean or not, but he didn’t want to talk to Nic half-naked. “Trouble is brewing. And I fear that you are going to be hurt most of anyone.” “What else is new? I’m so tired right now all I want to do is sleep. I’m beginning to hate this job, if you want to know the truth.” He opened his refrigerator and closed it quickly. “I think I forgot to dump stuff before we left this time.” “It is fine now.” Nic sat at Phillip’s table and a glass of something appeared in front of him. Phillip opened his refrigerator again and wasn’t surprised to find it not just fully stocked, but cleaned of all the old stuff as well. He took out the tray of luncheon meats and went to find a loaf of bread. “We have been searching for Grant for you. There is something that you should know. Plenty…but for now, this will be very important to you and your family.” “I’m sure, but right now unless it’s a matter of life or death, just give me the highlights.” Nic nodded and watched him as he put together four thick sandwiches. It was really too much for him, but he knew that Nic would help him out. After getting a large glass of water, he sat down and handed one of the sandwiches to Nic. “Tell me while I eat.” “Charleston Grant is not dead as we have assumed. Hiding, but not dead. There are others still searching for…Mr. Murphy was not the only one that has been looking. Charlie is human, and as far as I can tell, never had any encounters with non-humans.” “What do you mean, as far as you can tell? Have you seen him?” Nic smiled and shook his head. “What does that mean? You don’t smile like that unless you know something very creepy. Not that much of what you do isn’t sort of on the creepy side, but right now I’m too tired to figure it out.” “I do not know what you mean about being this creepy person. As for what I know about Charlie, as she tells people to call her, it is very little. Not by that name anyway.” Phillip nodded and had taken a large bite of his sandwich when what Nic had said occurred to him. Choking on the bread and meat, he had to take several deep breaths before he was able to dislodge it from his throat before he looked at Nic again. “She?” Nic nodded and smiled again. “Charleston Grant is a female? You’re sure about that?” “I do know the difference between a female and male, young Phillip.” Phillip nodded, not sure he wanted to know anything else about this woman. “She will need to come here, and soon. It is…it will be important to all that she is here and safe.” He wasn’t going to ask. Phillip didn’t want to know. Not really. She was someone’s mate, he just knew it. When Nic got up and poured him more water from the sink, Phillip wanted to ask him for something stronger but didn’t. He wanted a clear head. “Daniel let it be known that she had his book. And those men are after her. Her business was quite successful. She has a great deal of money on hand, all of it cash, and she can hide for as long as she wishes. However, she’s not very good at it and someone has let them know where she is. They are closing in on her now and she will be out of options soon. Not just from the men who are hunting her, but other things as well.” Phillip asked him what they had to do with it and regretted the question as soon as it left his mouth. “She cannot die. You need her.” “She’s my mate then.” It wasn’t a question, but Nic confirmed it anyway. “I didn’t think you’d be able to tell me that. I mean, I guess I just thought you’d let me find out on my own. Fumble around a little until we fall into the bed and then in love.” “It will not work that way with you.” Phillip got up to put his dinner on the sink and turned to stare at his friend as he continued. “Charlie will need special care from you. A great deal of it from everyone. She does not see.” “You mean she’s blind.” Nic shook his head no, then yes. “I don’t understand. How can she not see?” “I’m not sure how to explain it. I’ve never run into this kind of problem before.” Phillip didn’t know either, and if Nic didn’t, then it was going to be something he wasn’t sure he was going to understand. “She is ill. Very much so. Not from the running, but an illness. I have helped her a little, but she will need you to convert her so that she might live. Her mother is with her now.” “You think that will save her? And make her see?” Again, he said he didn’t know. “This is not the least bit helpful, you know that, right?” Nic stood up and stretched. “I did not want you not to have the opportunity to fumble around some. But I must go to her now. She is in danger as we speak. You and Misha, you will need to go and get them. Bring them here as soon as possible.” When he disappeared, Phillip cleaned up his kitchen. He was currently house hunting, having decided that after seeing how much fun his brothers were having in their homes. Living in an apartment wasn’t really something that he was enjoying. His neighbors could be heard at all times, and that was driving him nutty. Phillip wondered if he should wait until his mate came to…. “Well, fuck.” Sitting down, he stared off into the living room, which was darkened now that the gas fireplace was off, and thought about what Nic had told him. His mate was the elusive Charleston Grant, and she was sick. He knew nothing more about her other than…well, even that was an unknown to him. How she was ill. His cell phone ringing in the living room had him go to where he’d dropped his pants and answer it on the third ring. Misha didn’t sound all that happy either. “Nic was just here. Motherfucker scared the shit out of me showing up like he did.” Phillip told him he’d been there as well. “Did he tell you about this Charleston person and the mom? That they were in trouble? And that we’re going to have to help them?” Phillip wondered if he’d told his brother about her being his mate and decided to wait and see. “He said that Grant would have to come to the compound to be safe. You suppose that he might be wrong?” He was hoping but knew that Nic was right. “No. He told me that you and I would have to go and get them. That they’re in some deep shit. I don’t mind telling you that I want something to go normal for a change. Normal would be good.” “I agree.” Phillip knew then that Misha didn’t know anything but what the rest of them knew. “When does he think we should go?” “In the morning. He’ll be here at nine to pick us up. I guess that Thomas is going to go too, to help with bringing him here. I guess he’s sick or something. Did he tell you what from?” Phillip told him that he’d not said. “I guess you should stay here then, for a little while anyway. Just to help keep this guy safe.” Phillip didn’t think that once he saw the woman that he’d be able to go anywhere, but said nothing like that to Misha. After a little more conversation about what time he was going to be there, they hung up. Phillip turned on all the lights in his small apartment and looked around. This place was much like his other brothers’ homes. Not the married ones, but the single ones. Andrew prided himself on the fact that he only had a bed in his place, and nothing more than a stool that he ate at the counter with. There was a fridge, but he was pretty sure that he’d never even plugged it in since it had been delivered a few weeks ago. Phillip knew that if he went out on the deck at Andrew’s place, he would see that the only thing that was out there was a big box with his grill inside, and nothing else. He’d not even bothered putting that together. Rider might have had a little more stuff fixed up, as he actually lived in a house and not an apartment. It was being built now and as rooms were finished, Rider was living in them. Phillip thought it was crazy, but then it was Rider. Rider would have hated living in boxes because it was something that he could control by emptying them, but he’d be no more set up in anything other than a bachelor pad than Phillip or Andrew. There would be nothing on the back of the couch, no throw blanket like those that were forever on the backs of Misha’s and the other two married brother’s couches. And he’d bet anything that even though Rider had a house, there wouldn’t have been any kind of decorations left over from Christmas. He would have put that crap away the day after. Much like Phillip had done. Phillip decided to go online while he was already awake and make a better effort toward getting him a house. Or a mate a house. He wondered if he should get one on a single level or…Christ, he didn’t have any idea, but looked anyway. Just as the sun was coming up, he’d marked four of them. Two he really liked, one he was so-so about, but the fourth one was the one he really wanted. It wasn’t too far from his family’s homes, and he thought the acreage was perfect for him and the rest of them should they come over to run. There was even a lovely lake on the property that had a boat house as well as a boat should he want to purchase it. Leaving a note for the realtor, he made his way to the bedroom to shower and change. Wondering what one should wear to meet their mate for the first time, he pulled out a pair of jeans, his usual mode of dress, as well as a Lanning tee-shirt. Going back to his closet, he changed it out for a nice button down and turned on the water in his bathroom. While the water heated up, he looked in the mirror. He’d been beaten around this time, more than the rest, when he’d gone into the water to catch the body that had been floating down the fast moving water. The cuts and burses on his body would heal as his broken rib had already. He was alive, and thanks to a little extra magic from his brother and his wife, Phillip would live for a very long time. But Phillip was, like he was pretty sure Carter was, sick of the depressing assed job all together. The accident up the river had dumped several bodies into it, and there had still been three missing when he pulled the older man out. It was better than the twenty-six that had been missing before they’d gotten there. But Misha had told the people they were done in and had to leave. It wasn’t like them to leave before all were accounted for and Phillip, like the rest, had been surprised by the move. Until they got on the plane. “I talked to Linyah and she said it was done. There would be no finding the bodies simply because they weren’t there. It was a scam.” Rider had asked him what he meant. “Two men are claiming their spouses were on the bridge when it collapsed. They’re hoping to get in on the money that is going to be flowing when the attorneys get started on this.” Phillip had been shocked. Not as much as Murph had been, but then she was new to this kind of search and rescue. And being a former cop, she’d wanted to go and find the men and have them brought to justice. Thomas assured her that it was being taken care of, and Phillip was sure that it was. Phillip was nearly to his brother’s house an hour later when he heard from his realtor on the house that he wanted. He could afford it, no problems. But he would not pay the asking price if he didn’t have to. The realtor agreed with him, pointing out that rarely did anyone ask what they really wanted for a house. “Let me do some talking and I’ll get back to you sometime today. I have some insider information on the house and it’s been on the market for some time. I will tell you that the owners are very motivated to sell, and perhaps we can get a much better price.” He told her to do what she could. Pulling in the drive, he assured her that he’d be available if she needed him. Before he left Misha’s with Nic and Thomas, he asked Hannah to look into the address of the house he was interested in. He wanted some first-hand knowledge on the place, and even some reassurances that the place wasn’t a total mess. She assured him that she would, and Max said that he would as well. The little guy was going to hang out with them today, as Murph and Carter had some things to look into about her dad’s estate. Phillip wasn’t looking forward to this. ~~~ Charlie felt the air around her move gently and tilted her head back to feel the sun on her face. It wasn’t like her to be idle, but she knew that she was being watched right now and let herself relax. Her mom would never do anything to hurt her. Nor would she let anyone hurt her. But they’d been on the run for a while now, and she just knew when they were being observed now. “You should know that men…four of them…are coming toward us.” Sitting up, she tilted her head. “To your left, love. Just beyond us about twenty feet or so. I have my gun out, so you know.” “Don’t shoot them yet, all right?” Her mother would shoot them, too, if they made a false move. “It might be that guy I was telling you about. He’s really tall and his hair is fairly long.” “I think it’s him. He’s with three other men. One of them is big, like strong big. The other two are as well, but younger. Those three are related. They look too much alike not to be.” Charlie knew that the two of them were safe. For now. But in a few days, less more than likely, they’d have to move again. Nic had assured her that they were being cared for and that no one would bother them. She didn’t have any idea why she trusted him, but he’d helped her with a few things and she had it in her head and heart that he was one of the good guys. And he’d promised her that he’d watch over her mom when things were settled in a couple of days too. Charlie had had enough of the pain in her head and wanted it to end now. Charlie knew that she only had weeks to live, more than likely less than that if the way she was feeling was any indication. It had been coming on for a while now and she knew, as did her mom, that it wasn’t going to be long. Mom just had no idea how soon it was going to be. The tumor in her head had gone too long without anyone knowing it was there for much to be done about it. And now it was too late. It had taken over the part of her brain that would eventually shut down all her body, and she’d die. Nic had promised her, after the second time he’d come to see her, that he’d make sure that she did not suffer when the time came. Nor would her mom have to see her in that condition. It was the only reason she was willing to meet with these people today. They were going to take her mom to someplace safe. “Mrs. Grant? We’re here to help your son.” The voice was very cultured, and Charlie waited for her mom to correct the speaker. When she didn’t, Charlie started to speak when the man did again. “We’re here to see Charleston Grant. We’ve been told that he’s in some serious trouble that we can help him with.” “It’s a her, Misha.” The other voice, the other brother she assumed, sounded pissed. She wasn’t sure why, but Charlie thought that she didn’t care for the man. “It’s Charlie Grant, and she’s the younger woman, aren’t you?” “I am.” She’d answered him before she could think that she shouldn’t. “And you would be Mr. Lanning? The one that is going to take care of my mom?” “I’m here to see you, yes, and if this is your mom, then she’s welcome to come with us too.” Charlie stood up and felt the shadow of the man tower over her. She was tall, almost six foot, but he felt bigger than her. “I’m Phillip. This is my brother Misha and my other brother Thomas. And I’m to understand that you know Nic.” Nic touched her shoulder, and she heard a soft growl. Charlie felt the hair on her arm dance at the sound and wondered what the hell that was. Before she could ask, Nic was laughing and letting her go. “Charlie? What do you mean, he’s to take care of me? I do not need taking care of, young lady. I’m very capable of taking care of myself.” Charlie felt her eyes, useless now that the tumor was pressing against her optic nerves, fill with tears. She was going to miss her mom so much when she died. “Charlie?” “They’re going to keep you safe from Mr. Murphy and his goons. They can do it better than I can now.” Her mother touched her, warm and comforting. “Mom, you know that they’re coming. And when they do—” “He’s dead. Daniel Murphy is long gone, but you’re right that more than just him are after you both.” Charlie hadn’t heard that the bastard had died, but was too busy trying to think how to convince her mom she’d be safer with these men to think about it. When the man spoke again, she knew that he was closer to her, and she felt her body wanting to sway to touch him. “I’m going to…we’re going to take you back to our house and keep you safe.” “I’m not going anywhere but back to the apartment and hide out.” She had more plans, but her mom didn’t have to know that. “So if you’ll take her now, she’ll be fine and safe for me. Nic and I have an—” “I can no longer keep you safe.” She turned to the sound of Nic’s voice. “You will need to go with these men now. Both of you. He will…Phillip will need to care for you both now.” The other man—Misha, Charlie thought the man’s name was—laughed. It wasn’t like he was making fun of her or the situation, but that he’d found something incredibly funny. And for some reason she was pissed about that too. “I will not be going anywhere without you, young lady. I have spoken to you this….” The sound, very distant yet sharp, had Charlie turning her head toward it. She knew the sound…a gunfire report, and something that had been hit. “Mom, where are you?” “Here.” Taking her mom’s hand after fumbling for a precious second, she backed away from the men. “Where is he, Charlie? Can you hear him?” Close was all she knew. The sound—a gun being readied to fire again—made her skin crawl up around her ears. Backing up, she hit something solid behind her and cried out. The arms at her elbows had her pausing. The whispered voice at her ear made her shiver. “Where did you hear it from?” She told Phillip to the north. “All right. I’m going to wrap my arms around your waist and we’re going to move. As one. Your mom is with Misha, and Nic and Thomas have gone to see to whatever it is you heard.” “I can’t go with you. Nic said he’d help me.” The arm at her waist was firm, and she put her hand over it. “Don’t let anything happen to her. She is all I have in the world.” “Not anymore.” She had no more idea what that meant than she did a great many things lately. But before she could ask him what he meant, she felt movement, fast and very dizzying. Holding tighter to the man that held her, she closed her eyes. It didn’t make much difference, but she did feel better for it. When the movement stopped, she held onto the man just a little longer simply because it felt good. He moved his mouth near her ear, and she could have sworn he nibbled on her. Then the heat of his body was gone from hers. The smells were different. She knew that the dump that they were hiding in, her mom and her, was in horrible shape. The smells alone made her think of old abandoned buildings, and even if her mom had not described it to her, she would have known it wasn’t in the best of neighborhoods. But this place did not smell anything like that. Pine, like a Christmas tree, was strong in the air. She could smell vanilla and sugar too, and wood burning in a fireplace. Charlie reached out her fingers to move and touched the man again, and had no idea why she knew it was him. When he curled his fingers into hers, it felt as right as anything she’d ever done before. She pulled her hand from his, and he didn’t fight. “Where is my mom?” He laughed a little, and Charlie felt embarrassed. She’d been sharp and harsh and that wasn’t like her. “Can you please tell me where my mom is? And for that matter, where I am?” “You’re in my brother’s home…Misha’s house. Your mom is here, too, but in a different part of the house. I think she’s with my sister-in-law, Hannah. That would be Misha’s wife.” Reaching out again, she took his elbow when he offered it to her. “We’re in the living room. Right in front of you is a sofa. It’s about three inches to your left.” The warmth of the fire had her moving toward it a little, and he told her to be careful, it was huge. As her toes touched the hearth, she knew he was right…the fire blazing from the area was enormous, and she put out her hands to get warm. It seemed that lately she was never warm enough…or for that matter, rested enough. “Why am I here and not with her?” Phillip said that he wanted to talk to her. “About what? I want to go and see her to make sure that she’s all right before I go.” “And where do you think you’ll be able to go? You can’t see to drive, not that I think your blindness would stop you. I bet given enough time, you’d do just about anything. And since I’m pretty sure that you have no idea where you are, you’re not going to be safe out there once you go. How am I doing so far?” She wanted to hit him, and she was pretty sure he knew it. “Also, as I said, I wanted to talk to you. About what you are to me and what sort of things you might know about my kind.” “Your kind? You mean men?” He told her no, he was more than that. “How did I get here without you driving me here? And I want to see my mom.” Charlie felt weak all of a sudden. It was coming on her more and more often of late, and she reached blindly for something to sit on. The man put his arms around her again and she had no choice but to lean heavily on him. Blood—she knew what it was without being told—poured from her nose. He picked her up suddenly. Charlie might have protested, but she knew she wasn’t getting over it this time. That was another thing, it was taking her too long to recover. Letting her body go, having no choice on that either, she felt herself being swallowed up. She heard the man saying her name, shouting it really, but there was little to nothing that she could do about it as darkness took her away.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Jedidiah by Kathi S Barton release day 11/2/15

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....

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Eve moved back and forth between the small room and the larger one where her children lay nestled in their protective shells. The kingdom was being ripped apart; her mate, father to her children, was being murdered even as she made preparations for the children she’d never see born. Making one more trip, the one that would give them the key to get to what she had worked so hard to make sure they had, Eve lay down and spoke to her sons. “You will each, someday, come to be in love. It is the most wondrous feeling of all you will ever feel. If only I could see you then…the grown men that you will be, with the loves of your lives with you carrying on our names and the dragon line. And sons of my good friend Sally…she will help you in ways that I could never do. If only….” Shifting into a more comfortable position, her heart nearly as dead as her body, she touched her fingers to each of them, then picked up her second born. He was meant for things that would bring much to others…happiness mostly, but some sadness too. But he would be great in his life, bringing magic to those that he loved. Touching her fingers over the crown of his shell, Eve smiled. “Zak, you will love like none other. Your mate will come to you terrified and full of hate. Not of you but of another, one you will see die by the hand of another, but she will need you no less for it. You and your other half will bring her to love you back.” Setting him down, Eve spoke to the others before laying her head down on the warmed stone. “When I was born, so many centuries ago that I have long since forgotten the year, there were so many of us. Dragons were plentiful, mates and families grew, and more came yearly. Then one year in my youth, a woman—a witch—came to us, warning us all that things were going to change. That soon, all of us would be killed by men, humans. Caroline was not just correct in her telling, but she even went with us when we traveled.” She put her hand around Kiaran and held him to her as she spoke. “No one believed her but my father. He packed us up that night, and we left as the skies were turning pink for the new day. As we flew away, another family, this one of greater magic than ours, came with us. That was the family of your grandparents, the sire of your father and his mate.” Her body was dying, slowly but without pain now. As she lay there thinking of them still, her family and how much they had endured to keep her safe, she thought of the couple who would care for her children, Sally and Jacob. “I knew her family long ago. And that of Jacob. His family was a part of the humans that we had lived with, as was hers. Sally you will come to love as a mother, for which I should be jealous of her but am not. Her grandmother, like her granddaughter, was one of the kindest women I ever met, human or otherwise. She would bring me sweets when she had any to spare, and I would, in kind, take her meat when I was out hunting. It was fair trade for what we gave to each other. Her granddaughter is no different in her love and understanding of us dragons.” Closing her eyes, Eve felt Anthony’s pain and his urgency to have the young couple understand what he needed 

from them. “He is a good and wonderful man, your father. So much like his own sire that it takes my breath away to know that he is all mine.” She looked at her children, and then at Zak. Smiling, she touched him again, giving him a little more than she had the rest. “You will survive more than most. Love harder than anyone, and be hurt for it in a way that no one will ever be able to see. Zak, my second born, child of my heart, I will give you a gift. A gift that only a woman of your heart will understand and be able to touch. You will have a child like none other. A child born of magic from all dragons.” Touching him now, she knew that she had only moments to live. Tears burned her cheeks as she thought of all that she would miss. Holding Kiaran to her heart, her body slipped away into death, and she knew. Her last thoughts were that her children would be safe.  Just before her last breath left her body, her heart burned in pain. Not because of the arrow that had pierced it, but because her one and only love was dead as well. Anthony had protected them with all that he had, and she was more in love with him then than she’d thought possible. “Anthony, my love. I will miss you. Until we are together again.” Eve let her body go. Her heart stopped beating, and she did not move again. It was done. Everything was set, and she was done. 

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