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. 







Monday, October 2, 2017

Hudson: The Manning Dragons Release Day & GiveAway


Winnie wasn’t happy with Cooper at all. She had only done as ordered and had spent five years in prison because of it. Cooper was supposed to protect her, but he didn’t. Now the dragon king wanted her to protect them all from the new slayers in town? How was that fair? The sooner she completed her mission, the sooner she could move on and leave it all behind her.

Hudson had been told that Cooper had hired a man by the name of Wendall. He just wanted to meet him so he could measure his worth, but when the door opened, the woman behind it was writhing in pain. He only meant to help her, but the moment he touched her, her pain became his as well.

Winnie had been appointed by the Dragon Board to be their protector long before last names were given. She had hunted her first, expecting to be paid by coin, but was rewarded instead with magic and a title. She didn’t have time to take a mate, much less a Manning. She had too much work to do.

The word “no” wasn’t in Hudson’s vocabulary. Winnie was his mate and he’d do whatever he had to claim her.

With slayers lurking in the shadows, Winnie has her hands full, and can’t let a new mate distract her. She had to remain on her toes or all would be lost….










Cooper Manning and his five brothers were true dragons. Centuries ago, when the humans had turned on their kind, their father sacrificed himself to save his sons by casting a powerful spell which allowed them to walk among the humans. Even centuries later, Cooper couldn’t seem to let go of the past and despised most humans.

Carson Langley was exhausted. After being forced to work thirty-six hours straight, she unwittingly complained to the new plant owner, now she knew she was fired. There was nothing left to do but go home and cry about it later.

Cooper was sent by his brother to retrieve the helpful woman and bring her back to the plant, and he wasn’t happy about it either. It didn’t help that when she answered the door she shared his sour mood, and when he touched her hand, the magic that surged between them meant only one thing—she was his other half, and she was human.... Cooper was seeing red.

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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

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



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Stop. Cooper stopped moving and waited for Carson to speak again. To your left is a young woman. I want you to stick close to her for a bit. She’s in danger, and you have to save her. Sure. And while I’m at this and she calls the police, will you bail me out of jail? I’m sure that she’ll be thrilled to death to have a big hulking man standing close to her. Carson didn’t seem all that amused at him, and he could almost taste her anger. I’m sorry— Look. I didn’t ask for this shit. The least you can do is— When she stopped talking his dragon roared up around him. Wait right where you are. I can feel...Cooper, in a few seconds, like five or less, this black car is coming around...Cooper, shield her. And Rose is with you. Pushing the woman and her burden to the glass front of the store they were near, he felt the bullets spray over them. Glass shattered around them. The mannequin in the window looked like it had been on the front line of a war, the way its body took the bullets. The pain took his breath away even as the squeal of tires sounded in the distance. Cooper heard Rose telling him to not move, to stand still. Cooper felt the hot blood of his body running down his back, his legs too. The woman started to scream, and it hurt his already pounding head. “Hush.” Closing her mouth, she looked up at him, and he saw the baby cradled in her arms in some sort of carrier that strapped it to her. “The baby? Is it all right?” “Yes, I think so. He’s just afraid. So am I. You saved us.” He just nodded, staring back at the little guy in her arms. He could hear Carson yelling at him, but he couldn’t answer her just yet. Every part of his body ached. “Cooper?” He looked at his brother by turning his head slightly. It hurt, and for the life of him, he couldn’t remember his name. “Hudson. It’s Hudson. I’ve called an ambulance, and the police are on their way too. Carson knows that I have you and that you’re alive. Just don’t move right now and we’ll make sure that he’s not returning to finish the job.” “I can do that, I think. Hudson, what happened? And the woman and her baby? Are they really all right?” Hudson said that he had her, and Cooper realized that at some point, he’d been moved and she and her baby were gone. “I hurt, Hudson. Help me.” “I am. Okay? You’re going to be fine, I promise you. Just let me lower you to the sidewalk.” Yes, he thought. That sounded really good. “Come on, buddy. Don’t faint on me just yet.” “Okay.” It was surreal. Blood was everywhere, and he was sure that it was all his. He looked up at the broken glass and then at his body. There were shards of it in his arms and shirt front. Putting out his hand, he was relieved when Rose landed on him. “I got hurt.” 

It seemed stupid to say that, but he really was hurting, and he was also, he figured, in a little shock. As she sat down, watching him carefully, he began to feel just a little better. Not great, but better now that he was sitting. “Yes, my lord. But you are not going to die. We saved you.” He looked around the best he could. “They did their job for you, and I am very proud of them.” The other faeries were gathering their dead. His mind was still slightly fuzzy, his memory of them being with him all but gone. But he looked at Rose and she looked so sad. These were her men, and they had saved his life. He wasn’t sure what had happened, not yet at any rate. So he looked to his faerie. “What happened?” Rose told him that Carson had called them to him. “How did they save me, Rose? I need to know what happened that brought them to me.” “The spray of bullets was aimed at your heart and throat, my lord. The woman was the target, as was her son, but with you protecting them, neither of them were killed. The man, he’ll be captured soon enough. The woman has minor damage, but she will heal. Had the bullets hit you in either place, they would have killed you with the amount of damage. The piercing of your heart with such a dagger as a bullet, or the spray of bullets going through your throat, would have removed your head. Many of your men, they gave their life for you today.” He asked her how many there were. “Sixty-seven. There will be great mourning and celebrating today.” He knew that they would mourn their deaths…it would be hard on the families they left behind. And they would also celebrate the fact that they had saved his life. He’d do something for them, as would Rose. Too many deaths, he thought. And he’d be sure to take care of their families too. Cooper asked her to let him know what it was they needed and he’d make sure they had it. He reached for Carson then. His heart was hurting from the loss, and he needed to connect with her to comfort him. She held his heart in her hands, and she would be the only one to help him when he was this down. He told her what had happened and that he was all right, thanks to her and his army. Hudson told me. I’m on my way to you now. Christ, I’m so sorry. Tell Rose that as well. He said that he would, and for her to be careful. I will. I love you. That man, he would have killed them both. I didn’t feel the baby until it was almost too late. I’m so sorry. But he would have hurt them badly, Cooper. Thank you for putting up with me and doing this for them. I know, honey. I know that. And I’m glad that you did this. I don’t know how either of us would have been able to stand by when we could do something. She was babbling, but it was all right. Carson had saved them, and him as well. Sirens were blaring, and he told Carson to head to the hospital, he’d see her there. The mom and the baby are fine, thanks to you. You go there and I’ll be there soon. “Cooper, you okay?” He nodded at Hudson. “I’m to stick with you like glue. Carson told me that I had to or else. And when she has an or else at the end of a request, I don’t think I want to mess around with her. So we’re stuck until she says differently.” “No, I’d not do that. I’m feeling a little better now. Thank you for being here for me and her. Rose lost so many men. I’ll have to do something for them.” Hudson sat on the 

sidewalk next to him when the medics went to check on the woman and baby. “What do you know so far? Whoever it was, he was aiming at them, not me.” “I know. Carson told me. Do you have a story?” He said that he didn’t, had not even thought about one yet. “You saw the car coming around the corner. Just that. Didn’t know the man or the woman. Carson said less is more in this. She said to just say that you only had thoughts for keeping the woman safe, that’s all.” Nodding at Hudson, he felt a little dizzy and decided to lay back. At the last minute, he turned to his side, so as not to cause any more pain in his back. The discomfort was manageable right now, but when the medics asked him about it, he knew that he had to be hurting worse than he was. Laying it on thicker than he felt, he told them he was in a great deal of pain, as well as his head hurt. He was moved to sit up to be examined by the medic when he came to him, and Cooper asked about the woman and her child.  “We have her, Lord Manning. She’s just fine. So is her son. Thanks to you.” The medic, he thought his name was Ben, laughed a little. “They caught up with her husband down the street a little ways. He is one pissed off man, I guess, because he missed her. What on earth would drive a man to try and murder his wife and son? If that don’t beat all, I don’t know what does.” “He didn’t miss me.” Ben said that he could see that, but he was able to take it better than anyone else. “True, but it didn’t lessen the pain. What are we doing now? I’m assuming that I’m not just going to be patted on the head and sent home, am I?” “No, sir, I’m afraid not. You’re going in the ambulance when it comes. We sent the first one on site in with the baby and mom, just to be sure we didn’t miss anything. Mom has a minor wound on her leg, nothing compared to you. I think I’ve counted twenty-two shots to you.” Cooper asked if he was kidding. “Nope. Could be more. I’ve not looked at your back just yet. Probably more. But you’re fine.” Cooper felt sick then. Twenty-two? Then he did just what his brother had told him not to do and fainted. Cooper felt the concrete beneath him bang hard against his thick skull, then he was out. When Cooper woke he was in a hospital. Not that it surprised him, but he did feel heavy. Looking down his body, he knew why. The room was quiet, and he realized that he was alone. Sitting up, he stared at his left leg and the cast that was holding him down. He wondered if it was a joke or something. It was a thick cast, and was being held up by some sort of crane like thing. His arm was also in a sling, but no cast. There was an ace bandage around it with blood stains on it, but he didn’t think about that right now. Instead, he thought about getting out of there.  Just as he was ready to yell for help, Carson walked in the room and launched herself at him. As she sobbed about how sorry she was that he’d been hurt, Cooper assured her that he was fine, and better now that she was with him. Then he asked about the baby and his mom. “They’re fine. Debbie has a few stitches, but nothing that’ll keep her down. The little boy, Robbie, he’s perfect. I’ve been playing with him while the mom was being x

rayed. How are you?” Cooper told her he was fine, but looked down at his body again. “You scared the crap out of me when I lost the connection with you. Had Hudson not told me that you passed out, I might have torn into someone there. Are you really all right?” “I promise you, I’m just fine. But, I need to ask, why do I have all this on me? I’m assuming for the police.” She told him that the news stations were there as well. “I guess I understand, but it’s a little much, don’t you think?” “No. I don’t. They took a total of thirty-nine bullets out of you, Cooper. Thirty-nine. They could wrap you from head to toe if they wanted to.” He laid his head back. Christ. “Rose lost some men. I told her whatever she needed, it was hers. Also, I asked her for a list of the names and their families. I thought we could do something for them. Okay?” “Yes, of course. Flowers. They’ll need flowers for the garden that they’ll plant in their honor. It’s been a while since we’ve had this many lost. I’m sure that Rose could use the help in any way we can give her. She knows all her men and their families. She will come to you. A task this large will need some helping. I know that it seems like an odd thing, but they’ll need blankets too. They can use one of the ones in the cabinet, and they’ll cut it down for themselves.” Carson nodded. “What about the mom and baby? They need anything? I mean, that man, he wanted her dead in a powerful way.” “They’ll need a place to stay. She said no, they’d be fine, but I’ve made it happen for her. I guess she was also looking for a job, which is also taken care of. We’re going to take her to the distribution center when she is up and around.” He liked that idea. “Babysitting is going to be an issue. Not because we don’t have anyone, but because everyone wants to do it. Myself included.” “She have any family close?” She told him that she had a dad, and he was coming to be with her. She’d sent a car. “You are a wonder, my dear. Thank you for taking such good care of them both, and me.” “Debbie’s husband, Robert Jersey, is in jail. He’s being held on four counts of attempted murder, as well as a few other things, like firing a gun in city limits. His crew, as he calls them, are also being held without bond. Two of them are just kids, no older than Simon, who, by the way, is worried about you as well. So is John. They’ll be in later.” He asked her about the four attempts. “Well, Debbie and her son, you, and a clerk in the store was nearly killed as well.” “Okay, that makes sense. But thanks to you, everyone is all right. I hate to think what might have happened had you not been on top of things. I love you, Carson.” She told him that she loved him as well. “When can I break out of here? I’m behind in stuff at home, and I feel fine. Please tell me that I can leave soon?”  She was shaking her head at him. “They’re going to keep you a couple of days. For the press. And the boys want to come in to see you as well, as I said. Don’t be surprised if they’re a little standoffish. Remember, their mother died in this hospital.” Cooper said he’d like for them to come, but if it was too much for them they could see him when he got home. “All right. They’re here with your family now. They all need to see you. I think they got a good scare from this.” 

“So did I.” Cooper found that he really needed to be with them too. His family meant the world to him. When the door opened a moment later, Cooper felt better. Just having them there made the inconvenience of the casts and being in the hospital much more tolerable. ~~~ Winnie heard her name called and went to the long tables that had been set up for job interviews. The man sitting behind it had a personality like a flea-bitten donkey, and he sort of had the look of one too. And Winnie so badly wanted to change his attitude. Or kill him. Either would make her feel better, but she needed a job.  He held out her application. “You didn’t fill this out correctly. Go back and sit down and fix it before you can move on to the next part of this process. If you pass, that is. I have final say in who gets to go to the next part of getting a job.” She asked him what she’d done wrong. He jerked the form from her and turned to the second page. “It said mark what languages you know, not the ones you don’t. So fix it.”  Then he shoved it back at her so that she had no choice but to take it. The man was getting on her last good nerve, which she didn’t have a lot of to begin with. Letting out a slow breath so she didn’t snap, she worked on giving him her best smile.  “It’s correct.” She tried her best to hand it back to him, but he wouldn’t take it. “I understood the question and I marked it correctly.” “You expect me to believe that you can speak seven languages?” Winnie said no. “Just as I thought. You need to—” “There was only space for seven listed. I can speak twenty-three, including sign language.” He looked ready to erupt and jerked it from her once again. “If you want, I can write those down too. I don’t mind at all.” He tore her application in half. Winnie stood there for several moments, telling herself it wasn’t worth it, nor was he, until she felt she was calm enough. Picking up her application, Winnie turned and made her way to the door. Fuck this shit. She’d have to more than likely murder someone else if she had to work there. She’d been let out of prison yesterday, and had been told that she was to show up here and fill out an application. Well, she’d done that, all the way up to the very end of what she’d been told to do. But there was no way in hell she would try and appease an asshole, no matter how badly she needed to find something to do. “Miss, you can’t take that with you. You’re supposed to turn it…What happened?” The woman had been at the other tables, the interview tables, when Winnie had come in earlier today. Winnie supposed she wasn’t going to make it that far. “Come with me.” The intrusion in her mind started then. It wasn’t painful, but very clumsy. Glancing at the other woman as they made their way to her table, Winnie figured that she had nothing to lose and spoke softly to her. “You need more practice if you’re going to enter peoples head and not have them know you’re there.” The woman stopped and stared at her. “Or you could just wait for someone to answer your questions. That’s how I usually handle it. Then if that doesn’t work, I flip into their mind. But that’s just me.” 

“I’ve not had this shit long. I keep referring to it as magical shit, but it’s kind of nice most of the time. And I’m sorry. I try hard to get better at it, and all I wanted to know was if you had been hurt by anyone here.” Winnie said that she could see that, but she needed to work on it. “I got it when I got myself a mate.” “Did you want something? I can answer it if you don’t try to get into my head again. I will hurt you.” She didn’t threaten the woman, but merely told her what she’d do. Surprisingly, she said that she’d not do it again. “Thank you.” “Donald, the guy at the application line, he pissed you off. Why?” Winnie shrugged. “He’s pissed me off a few times as well. I think he won’t be here tomorrow. Would you mind telling me what happened that your application ended up in several pieces?” Winnie told her that it didn’t matter now, just to forget it. “I don’t think he’s much of a people person. I mean, I do have a habit of pissing off people, but I didn’t do it today. At least not to him. I need a job.” The woman introduced herself. “Hello Carson, I’m Wendall Fitzpatrick. I go by Winnie.” “Wendall?” Winnie smiled at her, remembering her story that was as made up as her life history was, and the man who had made it up for her. “Oh, this must be good. Why is a beautiful woman like you named Wendall?” “Dad had it in his head I was going to be a boy, I guess. And when my mom passed away just after I was born, he was so grief stricken that he didn’t ask. So he filled out the birth certificate thinking I was his son. I guess it wasn’t until a few days later that he figured it out. Needless to say, he wasn’t happy.” Carson asked if he was happy now with her. “I think he was. He was, I guess. He passed away a few months ago. You’re very kind to talk to me. But I really need a job, and—” “I’m hiring you.” Winnie told her no, it was all right. They’d ended up back at the interview table by then, and when Carson sat down, so did Winnie. “I know that. It’s why I’m hiring you. Tell me, what happened?” “With Donald? He’s a prick about my application and how I answered a few of the questions. It really doesn’t matter.”  Carson didn’t ask her which ones, and Winnie didn’t volunteer any information. Winnie just waited for her to ask about her stint in prison and what she’d done when Carson looked over her application. But she only put all the pieces in a folder and stood up from the table. Winnie figured she’d be shown the door now. “Do you have a shift preference? I’d like to have you on days, where we can get the most use out of your talents, but we can work around whatever you need.” Winnie was sure that she was joking…there wasn’t any way she’d be hiring her. “Of course, perhaps we can get you on days that run over into a little bit of second shift too, if you can.” “Days is good. Did you read my application?” Carson said that she had. “No, you didn’t. I mean, if you had, then you’d be walking me out, not asking about what shift I want. I have a record. Did you know that?” “Yes, I saw that. I’m assuming that you’ve paid your debt to society and that you’re very sorry.” It was said with a huge grin that stumped Winnie. She told her that she 

had, and was sort of sorry. “Good. Now, I have a job for you. Supervisor of pick light. It’s very easy to learn. I mean, if I can, anyone can.” “I think you’re smarter than you let yourself know you are. But I murdered someone. Just pulled a knife out and cut him to shreds.” When Carson asked her what he’d done to her first, Winnie stared at her. No one had ever asked her that before. “You’re intelligent, speak several languages. You’re looking for employment, and you didn’t lie to me. Did you?” Winnie said that she hadn’t, but didn’t think she could anyway, but that she was missing the point. “No, I don’t think I am. Something happened, and you ended up on the wrong side of something. Or someone. Besides, everyone needs a second chance. Don’t you think?” Winnie followed her, her mind a tumble of questions. Mostly it was why Carson was taking such a chance with her. When they entered the office, she was shocked to her very core. Cooper Manning was there, and Winnie knew with certainty that she was in a new kind of hell. “Lord Manning.” Winnie looked at Carson, everything sort of falling into place now. “Carson Manning, I’m assuming.” “Yes, this is my wife.” He didn’t stand up. It was then that she noticed the baby in his arms. “I’m babysitting while his mom has a look around. Have a seat, Winnie.” “I’d rather not.” He simply pointed to the chair across from him. “Please allow me to leave here. I’ll not bother you again if you would do the same for me. Had I known that you were—” “Sit down, Wendall.” She did so, but was ready to run if the opportunity presented itself. “How’s Patrick? I tried to find him.” “Dead.” He told her he was sorry. “Are you? I did what I was told, and he was left alone. The man deserved to die, yes, and I killed him, but it cost me more than the five years of my life. And for what? So that you could go on with your life? Have your entire well-being just fine and dandy? You told me that I had to kill that man, then you left me there.” “I had you released, and had you sent here. I thought you’d enjoy your freedom a bit longer or we would have been prepared for your coming. I had assumed, sadly, that you’d spend some time with Patrick. I hadn’t heard of his passing. For that, I am truly sorry. But—” “Shove it up your fucking ass.” She stood when he did, handing the baby off to Carson. He took a step toward her and she felt his dragon. “Kill me, as is your right. Kill me and end this. I won’t fight you in any way.” Cooper paused mid-step, then asked her what she’d said. Telling him no, begging him to end her life, she braced herself for whatever he did. She would welcome it. Winnie could fight back. Could hurt him and his dragon, even as depleted as her magic was. But she wouldn’t. Dead was much preferable to living, to her. “I cannot do that. I’m sorry, but I need you, and want you here. Your services have been needed for a long time, Winnie.” She told him that she wasn’t going to work for him, not ever again. “Yes, well, if I have to order you to help me, then I will. Lives depend on it too much for me to allow this to go.” 

“And what I want…as usual, my needs do not matter to you and your needs.” He said that they did. “Nay, you will make me. That isn’t what I want. I wish to be returned to prison. Now.” “Excuse me.” They both looked at Carson when she spoke. “I don’t have a clue what the fuck is going on here, but someone does need to explain to me what happened between the two of you so I can tell you how stupid you’re being. And then we can move on to more important matters.” “Carson, love, this is Wendall Fitzpatrick, hit man for the Dragon Board. She has been around…well, nearly as long as me.” Carson looked at her. “She would say she’d been cursed to be around me. She’s told that to me enough times in my life. But she has saved more dragons than anyone, ever. And she ended up in prison when she, quite by accident, killed the wrong man.” “Because he told me to.” Cooper nodded and smiled. “So I’ve been stuck in a fucking prison, where I was put when no one showed up at my trial to save me. And in the meantime, the man who was kinder to me than even my own parents ever were died of a broken heart.” “I’m sorry.” She turned to leave, knowing that she couldn’t stay, no matter what he said now. “The slayers are here. They’re after my family. My brothers and my sons. We truly need you, Winnie.” “I don’t care.” Which was a lie, because she did too much, that was the problem. And it mattered little who this man was and what he’d done to her. “If I take care of this, will you never bother me again? Never in any way? And I do this my way.” “Deal.” He’d agreed too quickly, and she turned to look at him. She knew there was more to this than a simple slayer. She didn’t know what right now, but she had a feeling that she’d just been had. “My family would like for you to stay with us.” “No. I do this my way, and that does not include mingling with the Mannings.” He nodded, as if he had figured she’d say that. Going out the door, she knew she was going to regret this, that she needed to have her head examined. Reaching out for help from anyone she could beg from, she wasn’t surprised to have Rose answer her call. Winnie had wondered if the little warrior was still with Cooper, and now she knew. She just hoped that Rose would be helpful, and not report every little thing she did back to her boss.