Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Crave







Blurb:

Cole was hunting a suspect who not only killed his victims; he ate them. It took an alien to hunt an alien, and he was the right male for the job. He didn’t have time to concentrate on anything else; then Noah was assigned as his partner.

Noah didn’t do partners. The military drilled that into his head with the disloyalty and the dishonorable discharge they gave him. Now he was working a case where the subject was an alien, and so was his partner. The same partner he shouldn’t give the time of day too; since he was straight. There was something about Cole that touched him places he never thought anyone could reach.

Leta knew abuse, she knew how to hide it with a smile. More importantly, she knew recovering from abuse. How a sound or the sight of a figure could make you jump or stop paralyzed with fear. What she didn’t know was love. Her life was hard enough without Cole and Noah insisting on protecting her. They thought her life was in danger; it was a new nightmare. No, the real nightmare was what she was feeling for them.

No one knew what was happening or where the threat would occur; they also didn’t expect the spark of attraction. It couldn’t last because in life it was always two not three. Let the games begin.


Excerpt:

Prologue


Cole

          I followed the kid down the alley. He was maybe somewhere between twelve and fourteen. It was difficult for me to tell the age of most humans. Even harder before puberty hit them. His eyes flicked back and forth over the alley never looking back far enough to see me. Add in the fact that I make no noise, there was no way for him to tell he wasn’t alone.
          His shoulders dropped in a way that spoke of acceptance. I had a feeling that the last place he wanted to be was in a rank alley. The question I kept asking was why was he here? The answer made my gut turn. There was only one thing a kid his age could be doing in a place like this.
          He stopped then pressed his back against a cement wall before sliding down. His ass ended up on the cold ground. Then his head found his hands before his shoulders started to shake.
          I stopped when I was convinced he wasn’t going to move. I allowed my wings to come out. They took me to the top of the building directly across from where he was. I have better than human eyesight so watching him wasn’t a problem. I bent and unpacked my rifle and attached the scope. I wanted to make sure I was prepared in case I needed to kill.
          I got comfy on the ledge of the building and waited. A shiver went through the kid’s body; he was cold. I wish I could say it didn’t bother me, but it did. He was just one of too many kids who were neglected, abused, and cold. Not just on this back-water planet but on planets over the known universe.
          I knew because I had been to those planets. I watched the rich, the ruling class, the people in charge. It didn’t matter if they were riding in the finest cars, ships, or hover crafts. The inattention to the people was rife everywhere. I’ve seen the cities that shimmer with glass. When the sun touches them, the beauty is blinding. I’ve been to the planet covered in water where the song of the people is hauntingly beautiful. I’ve seen the city’s made of wood that would rival the ones made of glass. And I’ve been here on this planet of cement and dirt with sand that can kill and oceans that flow. In the end, I realized that they’re all backwater planets.
          When no one stands up for what’s right, then no one can claim civility. So why did I end up making this planet my home? It’s so far away from civilization. I decided to stay here because I hungered to make a difference and this planet is still so untamed, lawless, and full of pride. It can’t see when it hurts its most valuable resource. The people.
          The footsteps coming down the alley weren’t quiet at all. I turned and looked through the scope. A white male was walking with confidence. He had to be around thirty maybe several years older. There was a smile on his face that made me want to take a step back. I watched as he spotted the kid. The smile kicked up a notch. My finger rubbed the trigger, but I made myself wait. The guy could have some altruistic motive for meeting the kid here.
          There was no doubt that he set this meeting up. The way he was unsurprised at seeing the boy said everything.
          “Ryan, you came.” There was no need to keep his voice down. No one would hear him beside the boy.
          “I came just like you told me, Mr. Anders.”
          “Good Ryan, stand up.” The kid stood and looked at him briefly before casting his eyes down at his feet.
          “Now Ryan haven’t we talked about this? You are to always look at me.”
          “Yes, Mr. Anders.”
          He went to stand over the boy. His impressive height made the boys shoulders sag, but he looked up.
          “You know what to do.” Ryan dropped to his knees and began fumbling with the guy's belt.
          I could kill him now. Save the kid one more trauma, but I would be adding a different trauma. I pulled back not sure it was worth it. I knew where to find the kid later. As much as I wanted to kill this fucker, I stayed my hand. The kid pulled his dick out and started sucking.
          Mr. Anders, I could feel the sneer in my head as I thought his name, placed his hands in the kid’s hair. The kid, Ryan, started choking on the dick in his throat, and I breathed through what was happening. Why? Because shit happened like this through the galaxy.
          Ryan moaned, not with pleasure. I could hear his sounds of pain as the man above him grunted. Finally, he came forcing Ryan to swallow his come. When he got free, he gagged, but one look at the man told him he'd better not throw-up.
          “Next time we’ll do something new.” His eyes were on the kid’s ass. “Get out of here.”
          Ryan stood but before he could run the man called his name again.
          “Your secret is safe. I won’t tell the cops where you are, but if you miss meeting me even one time.”
          Ryan nodded his head at the threat and ran back the way he came. The man laughed as he adjusted himself.
          The man was nothing but wasted space. Still, the kid’s DNA was all over him. That’s how they liked to convict people on this planet. It was like they didn’t realize that most times there was more to the story than DNA.
          I took my rifle apart. I was going after human prey, so I used human weapons. I let the man leave the alley before I followed him back to his house. It was only five, so I had some time. I took a perch on the house across the street and waited as darkness descended, and the streetlights came on.              This place was so much nicer than where the kid… Ryan was staying.
          My first rule of business was not to get involved. Do what needed to be done and move on. It always worked in the past. This boy though if I left him alone would only become a target for another older male, female, or a couple. It was always so easy to exploit the young. Even the ones who thought they knew what life was about.
          I checked my watch it was eleven pm. Most of the lights in the surrounding houses were off. The street was silent, and the children had gone to bed hours ago.
          I descended and made my way to the Anders residence. I did a slow walk around the house. The kitchen window was slightly open. No one had come in or out of the house since I arrived. I knew from the Intel I had on the man that he was single. No girlfriend, lover, or child. He liked little boys. The younger, the better. Mr. Anders had come before the courts three times. Each time he was released not enough evidence. That was the official record. He had a lawyer who wasn’t above greasing a few palms.
          He didn’t have that kind of money. Where did it come from? I worked the window up keeping a lookout for anyone who may be looking to take a shortcut home. There was only one home facing his backyard. The lights were off, but I made sure to monitor it in case someone was watching. When the window was up, I hoisted myself and the bag with my rifle through it. Not that I intended to use it. One look around the kitchen told me it had recently been upgraded with what looked like new appliances. A single pedophile who cared about his kitchen? It might not be unheard of, but I wasn’t buying it.
          The living room was the opposite. It was old, worn, trashy. Mostly, it was dirty. There was grime everywhere like he couldn’t take the time to even run a rag over the table or the television. This room said, decadent pedophile. Oh, I knew you could find them in upper-class neighborhoods and homes. The same way you found them mixed among the rich and the government. This room just looked like the male I had seen abusing a kid. The one I couldn’t do anything about if I wanted to take him out.
          I walked up the stairs not needing to see another room. There were three doors up here. One went to a second bedroom. One look in there was confirmation that I didn’t need that the man was sick. The next went to a bathroom. On the floor were the clothes that he wore earlier. The ones with Ryan’s DNA all over them.
          The third room was his bedroom. He never even looked at me when I opened the door. He was lying on his back with his hand fisted around his dick. A loud moaning sound came from him as he called out Ryan’s name. I wanted to throw-up, but I was more interested in making sure he never touched Ryan or any other boy again.
          My hand itched to pull my gun and end his sorry ass in the middle of his fondling himself. That kitchen didn’t fit with who Anders was. Instead, I pulled my gun and shot between his sorry legs. He started to scream, but I was already on him my gun pushed against his temple.
          “Scream, I want to blow your brains out.” He whimpered but didn’t say anything for the longest time. I could feel in the way he stiffened when he finally got some courage.
          “I can get you money, ass, anything you want. Even forbidden things.” He trembled when he said that.
           "Forbidden things?”
          He nodded quickly. His voice lowered. “Boys, girls, even slaves. Or if you’re into more exotic things…” He let the words hang there to tempt me.
          “How about I just kill you?”
           His laugh was high and maniacal. “Do you know who I am? He’s going to kill you.”
          Now we were getting somewhere. There was no way this piece of trash coward was acting on his own.
          “Who?” He shook his head and laughed even harder. I placed the gun back against my spine before I punched him in the stomach.
          “Who has been helping you?”
          “Wrong question,” he spat out. I punched him in the face before lifting him off the bed with my hand around his neck.
          I consider myself a patient guy. Any patience I had was gone. I sat through watching a man abuse a boy. That shit tore me up inside. Why did I do it? For Ryan of course. Have you ever seen the human court system tear down the witness? I have. I’ve seen lawyers abuse the victims as much as their tormentors abused them all in the name of the law.
          I dropped him on the floor and kicked him.
          “I want a name.”
          “Go to hell.”
          “Most likely when I die, but not before you.” He was talking of the place that humans said you went when you were bad. His version of hell was a fuckin’ picnic compared to the place I grew up.
          “I want a name.” I punched him in his precious dick. That did the trick. He was sobbing in pain. I drew back my fist.
          “Naresh, he’s going to take you apart.” He looked at me with that maniacal look on his face. As if he was picturing my death, and it gave him joy.
          I stood. The kitchen made sense now. I drew my gun and put a bullet in his head while he was still drawing in the breath to scream.
          The clothes were still on the floor of the bathroom. I stared at them like I thought they should have gotten up and walked away. I had a bag for them in my back pocket, I took it out and picked them up. No connection to Ryan could be left although with all the child porn in his second room; I doubt the cops would be looking for the boy.
          I went downstairs and made my way to the kitchen. There was a door that I bet led to the basement. I opened it and flipped the light on. There was no way I was going any further. The smell of it hit me. Then I looked, and I could see everything I needed from the top of the steps. I flipped the light off and closed the door.
          The window was beckoning me. I climbed out of it and turned to make sure I lowered it before I jumped down. When I was out of the neighborhood, I called in an anonymous tip. Then I allowed my wings out and ascended.
          Fuckin’ Naresh.


Sunday, July 29, 2018

#Firstchapter #Newrelease #secretbaby #stepromance It's LIVE! Grab this sexy Aussie alpha billionaire romance NOW!!!


IT'S LIVE!

AVAILABLE ON AMAZON AND FREE IN KU



Quick & Reckless

Book 3, A Quick Billionaires Novel
A steamy secret baby, step romance.

Sometimes being reckless can be a step in the right direction. 

Abandoned at the altar, humiliated in front of everyone she knows, Silver Belle (save the stripper jokes, she’s heard them all), flees her wedding determined to erase her ex-fiance from her memory. There’s a soul-mate for everyone? What a joke: there’s obviously none for her. She’s done with love. Done with doing the right thing. So when she meets Warren McAllister, a heart-stopping, drool-worthy Australian, she throws caution—and propriety to the wind—and makes him an outrageous proposal.

Warren’s always up for a challenge, so when a beautiful stranger in a poufy white dress dares him to join her for a weekend of passion to erase her past, he’s more than willing to sign up. Sex is just sex, after all. Only saying goodbye is harder than he expected, and he can’t seem to forget her, even after heading back to Tahiti for work. So when he returns a year later for his mother’s wedding, he’s excited to see Silver, ready for another tryst—and possibly even more.

Though their fling only lasted three days, Warren changed Silver, helped her, healed her. And he captured her heart. However, now she has secrets. Big “baby-sized” secrets that could destroy any possibility of a future together. She can only hope Warren will forgive her.





Chapter 1
Silver

Stupid motherfucker. Selfish jackass. Prickless prick. If she ever saw that son of a bitch again, she’d rip his balls off with her bare hands and shove them down Candy’s throat. Lord knows that home-wrecking slut had other parts of Silver’s fiancĂ© down her throat at some point.
Fuckers. Both of them. And they could rot in hell for all she cared.
Handing the cab driver a hundred dollar bill and not even bothering to get change, Silver stepped out of the taxi, slammed the door and made her way toward the wide double doors of the hotel bar. She’d asked the cabby to take her to a bar, far, far away from the church. To a place where she wouldn’t run into anyone she knew and could just wallow, drink and forget. He’d nodded solemnly, taking in her state of dress and tear-stained face, and then driven roughly forty minutes out of West Vancouver and toward downtown.
The June weather was warm. Perfect wedding weather. Fuck weddings. Fuck grooms. Fuck commitment. Fuck life.
The hinges squealed as she heaved on the brass handle and pulled open the door. The bar was dark, but clean and inviting. There were no weird stains on the carpet, the smell of Lemon Pledge hung gently in the air, and the bartender appeared to have all his teeth and not be a lecherous weirdo. Things were looking up … slightly.
It was a newer hotel, so everything still seemed shiny and fresh. Yet, even then, there was an Old World vibe to the place. A grand piano sat on a stage near the back along with a microphone stand, there were dark booths lining each of the walls, and all the lighting was muted and intimate. The perfect place to get lost in one’s problems and not be noticed by a soul as the alcohol slowly numbed the pain. Dusk was setting in, so the outside patio seemed to be hopping, but inside was still rather quiet, and only a scattering of people rimmed the horseshoe bar.
Silver pulled up a stool at the bar. It wasn’t lost on her that she was drawing a few glances. She was hard to miss. But she hadn’t had time to run home and change. At least not to their home. She fought back tears.
I will not cry.
Their home. God. She couldn’t live there anymore. Not with the knowledge that Trent had probably fucked Candy all over their goddamn apartment. Besides her clothes, Silver was going to have to burn the rest of her stuff, or at the very least disinfect the bejesus out of it.
She shuddered at the thought.
“What can I get you?”
Silver’s head snapped up from where she’d been staring at the engagement ring on her finger to find the bartender, an attractive man in his mid- to later fifties, giving her the curious lone eyebrow quirk. “I’m guessing something hard and mind-numbing?”
Silver nodded. “Sounds perfect.”
The bartender nodded back and walked away for a moment. He returned seconds later with a clean lowball glass and a bottle of what looked to be decent whiskey. He poured an ounce.
“More.” Silver nodded, tapping the bar.
He added another ounce, then glanced up at her.
She nodded.
He poured.
When it was around four ounces she finally tapped the bar again. He sniffed through his nose and gave her a lopsided smile filled with sympathy before taking off to the other side of the bar.
Silver brought the glass to her lips and took a sip.
It burned.
She winced.
She took another sip.
It still burned.
But she liked the pain. It matched the pain in her heart. It matched the pain she wanted to inflict on Trent and Candy.
“People only drink like that for two reasons,” said a deep and sexy voice with what sounded like an Australian accent. “They’re either wallowing or celebrating. And I’m guessing right now,” his eyes traveled the length her, climbing her body with such lazy indulgence you’d think she was naked, “you’re the former.”
Yes, definitely an Aussie. Her skin broke out into gooseflesh despite the warmth of the bar. She could have sworn she felt his hand travel up her arm. But he was several seats over, and both his hands were cradling his beer bottle.
“What gave it away?” she asked with a snort.
His smile stole the breath from her lungs, and she swayed where she sat. Glancing briefly at her glass, Silver contemplated another sip. Was she already drunk? Or was he just that handsome?
“You here alone?” she asked. Glancing at her glass again, she shrugged, tipped it back and drained it. This time both the bushy brows of the bartender lifted on his forehead. She nodded. He was over in a jiff, topping her up.
Aussie man chuckled. Fuck, even his laugh was sexy. Throaty and deep, and just rough enough to suggest he may at one point have enjoyed the odd cigarette or indulged in a weekly cigar. He was tucked just far enough away, near the dimly lit corner of the bar, so she couldn’t quite tell how old he was or what color his eyes were. She knew his hair was dark, but if his eyes were blue, she was a goner.
“I’m here alone,” he finally answered. “Why do you ask?”
Silver’s eyes drifted to the vacant seat beside her. “I hate to drink alone,” she said.
Taking her invitation, he moved over three seats and joined her. One of the pot lights overhead was shining down on him now, giving her the perfect opportunity to see every inch of his big, hard body.
He was younger than she would have thought, given the deep voice, maybe twenty-eight or thirty? But his face didn’t hold an ounce of baby to it, it was all man. Chiseled and refined, with a dark, close-shaved scruff hugging his angular jaw.
His laugh stirred her from her scrutiny. “Ya done checking me out?”
Silver swallowed and removed her eyes from the V of his legs. Fuck, had she really been staring at the crotch of his dark-wash jeans? She was biting her lip, and her face was warm.
Yup, she had been.
Shit.
With embarrassment clinging to every cell of her body, she slowly lifted her head.
Double shit.
Those were some blue eyes.
“Hmm?” he hummed.
Swallowing again, she nodded. “Uh-huh.”
“Good.”
She rolled her bottom lip between her teeth again. Could she? Should she? She’d never done a reckless or spontaneous thing in her life, and look where that got her. Sitting in a random hotel bar on her wedding night, contemplating asking a hot, sexy foreigner to fuck her brains out on what was supposed to be the happiest day of her life. Yep, if this wasn’t rock bottom, Silver didn’t know what was.
“You, ah, you staying at the hotel?” she asked, nerves running rampant through her at the idea of what she was doing. She’d never propositioned someone before; hell, she’d never even hit on a guy before. But just like a bolt of lightning, that whiskey hit her in the brain hard and then whooshed right down until her toes tingled. She could do this. She was going to do this. Tipping back her glass one more time, and with new whiskey-fueled confidence, she signaled for the bartender.
He was back in a flash. “Careful, Miss. I hope you intend to cab home.”
“Cabbed here,” she said, flashing him a big, drunk smile.
He nodded solemnly as he poured her two more ounces.
“So.” She turned to face Mr. Sexy-Accent Man. “You staying upstairs? Got a room?”
His smile was slow and sexy, and the way it made every muscle inside her clench had Silver crossing her legs and squeezing before she knew what she was doing. “I don’t fuck drunk chicks.”
Her bottom lip dropped open. “I ... uh ... ”
Reaching back down the bar closer to where he’d been sitting, he snatched a big leather menu off the top of a pile. “Pick something to eat. I’m buying. You need to put some food in your belly, otherwise you won’t be able to walk, let alone talk or fuck in an hour.”
“I ... uh … ”
He flipped open the menu and started perusing. “I could go for a burger. You?”
She hadn’t even been thinking about food. After this afternoon, nothing but booze and lots of it had been on her mind. But then the more she thought about it, the more she realized she was starving. She’d been too nervous to eat this morning. Her aunt had said it was cold feet, the jitters, but now Silver thought perhaps it was intuition. That she knew, deep down, how the day was going to play out.
A burger sounded perfect. A greasy, gooey, cheesy burger with lots of fries. And onion rings. She didn’t have to fit into a dress anymore, so she’d eat whatever she wanted.
She nodded. “Sounds perfect.”


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

#Excerpt #NSFW #Secretbaby #stepromance Only 5 more days until Quick & Reckless releases. Book 3 of the Quick Billionaires Series




Coming July 29th to Amazon and KU

BRAND NEW BILLIONAIRE, SECRET BABY, STEP ROMANCE.



Quick & Reckless

Book 3, A Quick Billionaires Novel
A steamy secret baby, step romance.

Sometimes being reckless can be a step in the right direction. 

Abandoned at the altar, humiliated in front of everyone she knows, Silver Belle (save the stripper jokes, she’s heard them all), flees her wedding determined to erase her ex-fiance from her memory. There’s a soul-mate for everyone? What a joke: there’s obviously none for her. She’s done with love. Done with doing the right thing. So when she meets Warren McAllister, a heart-stopping, drool-worthy Australian, she throws caution—and propriety to the wind—and makes him an outrageous proposal.

Warren’s always up for a challenge, so when a beautiful stranger in a poufy white dress dares him to join her for a weekend of passion to erase her past, he’s more than willing to sign up. Sex is just sex, after all. Only saying goodbye is harder than he expected, and he can’t seem to forget her, even after heading back to Tahiti for work. So when he returns a year later for his mother’s wedding, he’s excited to see Silver, ready for another tryst—and possibly even more.

Though their fling only lasted three days, Warren changed Silver, helped her, healed her. And he captured her heart. However, now she has secrets. Big “baby-sized” secrets that could destroy any possibility of a future together. She can only hope Warren will forgive her.








Excerpt


“Warren … ” she sang.
He put the phone back and ran, actually ran the short distance to the bathroom. But he stopped himself just before she could see him, set his lips into a cocky smirk and then casually rounded the corner.
Well, fuck me. Tonight is going to be a hell of a lot harder than I thought.
His dick throbbed painfully against his pelvic bone.
She was exquisite. Lying there in the bubbles, her hair still pinned up, exposing that luscious neck, her breasts bobbing all soapy in the water. He’d never seen anything so fucking beautiful in his life.
“You rang, m’lady?” he said jokingly. “More peeled grapes? Perhaps a palm frond to fan you with?”
Her eyes drifted up to his from where she’d been staring into the bubbles. “My night you said? My night to take? To get whatever I want?”
His throat bobbed. Where was she going with this? “That’s what I said. That’s what you asked for.”
“Then what I want is for you to get into this tub with me.”
Fuck, she was something.
One sculpted eyebrow lifted on her forehead. “Now.”
She didn’t have to tell him twice. His jeans were off and his shirt tossed to the floor in less than thirty seconds. Then he just stood there, hard as fuck, naked as fuck and waiting for her to tell him to get into the water and what to do. He’d never been a submissive before. Never submitted in life, let alone the bedroom, but something about Silver told him she needed this right now. She needed the control. And she’d told him flat out that she wanted to take without guilt. He could give her that.
Her eyes were pinned to his cock. Without lifting her gaze, she ordered him to get in.
He stepped up the tile stairs and then swung his leg over the side. It wasn’t the most graceful entry, but he wasn’t sure there was one. She leaned forward, encouraging him to slip behind her.
Oh, for fuck’s sake. His cock nestled right next to her ass. He had willpower, lots of it, and he was a gentleman, but having those perfect little round mounds knocking his already pulsing dick was going to be absolute torture.
But he did as she wanted and slipped in behind her silky frame. She was small. Smaller than he remembered. The big, poufy Q-tip dress had made her seem so much bigger. But yet now, here, in his arms, she seemed almost doll-like. Long limbs, narrow waist, curvy hips. She was fucking perfect.
With a breathy and feminine sigh, she collapsed her back against his chest. He couldn’t stop himself, and he smelled her hair. Fuck, even that smelled incredible.
“What do you do for work, Warren?” she asked, breaking the silence and startling him.
“You first.”
“I’m a kindergarten teacher.”
Well, if that didn’t make her all the more adorable and sexy. He could just picture her in jeans and a blouse with finger paint on her cheek as she and twenty kids held hands and sang “The Wheels on the Bus” or something.
“You like kids, then?”
“Love them. You?”
“I’ve got nieces and a nephew I like. And my other brother just told me his wife is pregnant.”

“But you don’t want your own?”




Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Once Upon a Rebel Fairytale Boxed Set - Pre-order 99 Cents Kobo, Nook, iBooks


Cinderella has a dark secret. The Little Mermaid loses more than her voice. And Little Red Riding Hood isn't so little anymore.

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The princesses, queens, kings, and villains of your childhood return in these adrenaline-spiking spins on your favorite bedtime tales.
But reader beware: these fairytales are not for the faint of heart.

Friday, July 20, 2018

#FirstChapterFriday - Rand: Son of Tallav by @CailinBriste



Rand: Son of Tallav 
By Cailin Briste

Universal Buy Link:  https://books2read.com/rand 

Two shamed souls, a mutual enemy and an attraction they can't control...

Randolph Meryon is a man no woman can resist despite the whip he brandishes. Compelled to return home after his sister’s death, he struggles to fit new responsibilities into the hedonistic lifestyle he prefers to live. It’s a task he finds difficult enough without adding in the tangle of unanswered questions his sister has left behind and the sugar-cookie sweet nanny caring for his niece. He hasn’t had a taste of sweet in a very long time.

Jen O'Malley, shunned by her family, struggles to find work without their backing, meeting barriers wherever she turns. A position as nanny with the scandal-riddled Meryons seems like a lifeline. She’s relieved until she arrives and becomes enmeshed in a web of intrigue, unable to discern the identity of the spider at the center.

Chapter One

Briarcliff, Tallav
The slender slice of moon did little to light the edge of the cliff, over which the desperate bleating of a lamb sounded. Rhiannon, Tallav’s second moon, had yet to rise and brighten the night sky. Why the gardener’s boy sought Penny out on the patio rather than running to get the overseer, she didn’t question. He was a child and probably ran for the nearest adult. Peering over, she could make out a patch of dirty white caught in a bush. At least the lamb had slid into the branches, it’s fall blocked from the vertical plunge of the cliff to the river below.

How had it gotten here? The early lambs weren’t old enough to be out of the lambing shed, which was nowhere near the cliff. She slid carefully down the slight grade of the rim and tried to calm the animal while she waited for help to arrive. She’d sent the boy on to the overseer with a request to bring rope.

Careful to stay out of range of the lamb’s thrashing, she spoke to it in gentle, crooning tones. The animal quieted, no longer flailing but still bleating plaintively. The creamy tan color of the lamb’s body was more difficult to see in the dark, but the face, white with black speckles, stood out. To her horror, she noticed one of those dark marks was in the shape of a heart. This was the orphan lamb the overseer had allowed Sophie to help feed. That lamb was bedded down every night by the overseer himself in the enclosure built next to his office in the main barn. Someone had to have brought this lamb out here. She’d damn well find out as soon as she rescued it from its precarious predicament.

Above her, loose rock skittered with the sound of someone descending. She tipped her head back and shouted, “Don’t come down. Just drop the end of the rope.”

“We won’t need a rope.”

The low, throaty words confused her. That wasn’t the overseer. She lost sight of the darkened form above her when she sat up to roll over on the clumps of rock and grass beneath her to get a better look. A solid thud struck her back, sending pain lancing along her spine and around her rib cage. The lamb renewed its thrashing when she slid into it, knocking it backward. Squealing in terror, it tumbled out of view.

Heart pumping, Penny windmilled in a futile attempt to keep from falling forward. She straddled the bush with her legs, the sharp ends of broken stems lacerating her exposed face and hands, snagging in the long-sleeved pajamas she wore. For an instant, her momentum stopped. In desperation she clamped her fists onto the bush’s base, ignoring the sting of abrasions.

A second strike from her assailant’s booted foot hit her high to one side of her backbone.

Something snapped inside.

Pain flooded her shoulder.

Jarred forward, she began a slow-motion tumble headfirst over the bush.

Fingers and palms tore while branches slid through her grasp until the strain on her good shoulder from the somersault forced her to let go.

Oh God. I’m falling. Sophie. Oh God. I can’t die and leave Sophie.

Her temple struck a jutting rock, and darkness claimed her.

Above, a figure scrambled to the top of the cliff, humming a cheery tune. The wordless melody stopped at the sound of someone rushing toward the precipice. By the time the overseer arrived, the spot was empty. No lamb. No Penny. Just moonlight casting the side of the cliff in shadow in the waning heat from a late summer day. With an exclamation of frustration and an oath that he’d see to that boy for pulling pranks, the overseer left.

It wasn’t until the next day, when no one could find Penny, that the overseer mentioned his fruitless trip to the cliff edge. Her body lay on the rocks, half in and half out of the river. Officially she was a casualty of misadventure.

* * * *

The Whip Hand, Beta Tau
Randolph stroked the disheveled softness of Eva’s hair before firmly gripping the back of her neck. “You did very well, Eva.” A shudder and sob were her only response. The time he’d spent with Eva over the last week had been a refreshing change from the business expansion consuming him for over a year. Although he might not have taken on Eva’s remedial training if her master hadn’t been a member of the Beta Tau board of directors.

Her body writhed when he drew a finger over the marks he’d left on her back. One or two spots were seeping blood. He swirled the tip in the fluid before scraping his nail across the abrasion. The sight of Eva, arms shackled above her head, undulating before him, sent a jolt of pleasure through him.

“Your master doesn’t hurt you often, Eva. Perhaps that’s why you believed you could manipulate him. He brought you to me to break that habit.”

“Yes, Sir.” A whimper escaped her lips.
Randolph threaded his fingers into her hair and pulled her head back, noting the tears inching down her cheek. “This is our last session before I return you to your master. The pain you’ve experienced was not a punishment. You’ve learned your lesson and learned it well.” He brushed his finger through the damp trail on her face. “This was for me. Your tears are your gift to me. I’m a sadist, Eva. I enjoy hurting you. But I haven’t taken you over the edge of what you could bear. If your master sends you again, I will break you. Do you understand?”

Unnnhhh.” The sound flew from her.

Randolph jostled her head. “Say you understand.”

“I understand, Sir.” The words came out with a squeak.

“Good,” he said, unwinding his fingers from her hair. He allowed the chain attached to her shackles to lengthen with a flick of his wrist before again engaging the locking mechanism. Gripping both her hips, he pulled her back until she was bent before him. He smacked her bottom. “Do not come. Your orgasms belong to your master. Correct?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Say it,” he ground out.

“My orgasms belong to my master.”

Randolph stepped away, allowing her master to step forward and take over. He didn’t watch the happy reunion when he exited the scene. He made his way to his office, brushing his fingertips through his neatly trimmed smoky brown hair. His cock had gone semihard, but Eva wasn’t his type and she wasn’t his. If she were, he would have taken her much deeper before fucking her.

His type. He had to smirk at that. His type hadn’t really been doing it for him lately. Probably the stress, which in theory should be diminishing. The addition of a private play space to his new suite had been a gift to himself a long time in coming. He’d finally indulged himself. The combination of play space, office, and apartment allowed him a level of privacy he’d never had. Perfect on days like today when he was too tired to face the onslaught of those seeking a personal moment with the celebrity owner and top sadist of the Whip Hand. He rarely entered the main play floors anymore, so when he did, the clamor was more strident.

After keying open his office door, he strode to the bar and a bottle of high-priced bourbon, pouring himself two fingers. He settled into his desk chair, downed a swallow of the liquor, and set the glass on the black coaster that protected his expensive desk.

He leaned back, eyes closed, waiting for the ripples of the chair adjusting to end, and then tapped the button that started his personal massage program. Heat soothed his tired back before the chair switched to a gentle overall kneading. A wince tightened his face when it began pummeling the knots in his shoulders.

The yearlong renovation had included an upgrade to the Whip Hand’s business offices. His new office was larger, including a sitting area and many other luxuries that put his old one with a desk and two chairs to shame. This desk was a work of art. The surface was black and white ebony inlay over black ebony. Its thick legs and panels were carved reliefs of tormented bodies struggling to free themselves from the wood. It made an impression on anyone who entered the room.

Yet he preferred his old office. Except for this chair. His old office with this chair would be just right, but the Whip Hand had evolved light-years beyond its original concept.

The expansion and renovation moved it well past its simpler days when he’d spent as much time on the floor as in his office. Now, a week could pass without him ever setting foot in any of the club’s venues. He’d passed oversight of the club’s subs to Tom. He was good at the job, but doing so still gave Randolph the sense that he’d allowed something to slip away.

As the chair resumed the previous gentle kneading, he realized what he missed: the immediacy. His own whip demos and playtime on the floor had evaporated, replaced by more and more meetings. Damn, he was a stodgy businessman now.

The chair’s program ended. Randolph drained the glass of bourbon and was about to retire to his apartment, shower, and climb in bed. When he sat forward, the red light that signaled an emergency comm winked at him from the touch bar on his desk. He sighed and brought up the message viewer. His forehead creased when he noted the comm was from his mother. Tabbed open, the static image showed her, shoulders drooped, no makeup, face puffy, and eyes red.

Randolph’s chest tightened. The last time he’d received a message with his mother looking this distraught was when she’d announced she was divorcing his father. He touched the start button.

“Randolph. I have bad news. Dear, I don’t know how to say this, so I’ll… Your sister died. She was trying to save a lamb. She fell from the cliff above the river.” Tears streamed down her face. “It’s awful, Rand. She lay there all night.” She reached for a tissue offscreen and blew her nose. “Please come home as soon as you can. We’ve had her cremated. The memorial service will be held when you arrive.” Pain was written in every line of her face. “Please, I need you here. I need you to stay.”

Stunned, a lump forming in his throat, Randolph sat immobile, unable to assimilate what he had heard. Penny couldn’t be dead. Both his beloved sister and nemesis, she, more than any other person, had driven him away from home, family… Tallav. How could the avenging angel, the destroyer of his life, be dead?

A replay of his mother’s comm did little to answer the questions swirling in his mind. She fell from the cliff? A ripple of nausea hit him. Fuck all. Penny knew the cliffs along the river at Briarcliff too well to have fallen from them. Not until he’d replayed the message a third time did he apprehend his mother’s last statement. Come? He would absolutely come. But stay? His mother just needed to get her feet under her. No way would he stay on Tallav longer than required to help her settle his sister’s affairs.

His fingers drifted to rub the inscribed heart on the pewter bead tied to his wrist by a leather cord. Penny was dead. It wasn’t possible. Someone so full of bullheaded life couldn’t die. Not the sister he’d never stopped loving even through the slinging vitriol they’d both flung at each other over the last twenty-one years. The sister who clung to distorted facts. Refused to listen each and every time he’d tried to reconcile. She couldn’t be gone. The hope he’d clung to that his big sister would once again be his best friend couldn’t be shattered. Every bitter word he’d spoken to her in anger hammered at him. If only…

He dropped forward, head in his hands, while searing pain flooded his soul.

* * * *

Cahernamon, Tallav
Jen O’Malley ran her sweaty palms over her navy slacks. Her morning had been spent vacillating between clothing options for this interview: formal business or kid friendly. She compromised and opted for casual business. But was that a mistake? O’Malleys expected formality. But this was the Meryons, not the O’Malleys. Stop second-guessing yourself.

If she were hired—and she needed to be—this would be the second job she’d ever held. Not that she’d had to apply for her first. Her appointment as third personal assistant to Lavinia O’Malley, granddaughter of the O’Malley head of family, Cordelia O’Malley, had been granted when she completed school at age twenty-one. O’Malleys took care of their own. A mantra she’d heard many times, always followed by a but and the lapse that had her perched on the verge of being kicked to the curb.

In her prolific family, there were O’Malleys and then there were O’Malleys. She was one of the lesser, a mere third cousin twice removed of Lavinia’s. Jen’s branch on the family tree was so far from the main trunk as to make almost no difference whether it was attached. The sap flowed thin and only if you worked for it. It didn’t anymore, and she didn’t work for an O’Malley either.

Now poised for her first job interview at the age of twenty-five, her nerves were rioting. She needed to obtain this position before her recent indiscretion, as Lavinia had termed it, was whispered about. Not that the details would make their way into gossip. No, the family wouldn’t brook that. The O’Malley name wasn’t to be associated with such regressive actions. The whispers would be that much more damaging for lack of facts. It was up to the mind of the listener to decide what nefarious deed Jen had committed to get her booted from the family’s affections. She brushed her hands down her slacks one more time before rapping on the door. A middle-aged woman dressed in dark gray slacks and a soft gray cable sweater answered.

She gave Jen an expectant look. “May I help you?”

Jen flexed her fingers. “Yes. I’m Jennifer O’Malley. I have an interview with Ms. Meryon.”

The woman gave her a polite smile. “She’s expecting you. Please follow me.”

Jennifer glanced around at the apartment while she followed the woman. It wasn’t what she’d expected. Lavinia O’Malley had followed in the O’Malley tradition of ostentatious antiquity in their furnishing choices. Ostentatious antiquity was a good way to describe everything about the O’Malley upper echelons. Although Lavinia would have taken exception to the term antiquity as it applied to her personally. She continually sought methods to retain the nubile perfection she’d had in her younger years.

This apartment was a complete contrast. From the color choices to the furniture and artwork, everything was understated. And none of it was cheap. The Meryons had money. And they were a first family, but not of the O’Malley stripe. No family could be as mired more deeply in traditional matriarchy than the O’Malleys. They would never have allowed the scandals that had struck the Meryons, divorce and a son who stood as the example used to scare young girls about what happened when men weren’t kept in their place.

The woman leading her paused before a doorway. “Ms. Meryon, Ms. O’Malley is here.”

“Send her in, Helen.”

Ms. Meryon rose from an exquisite Carlton House inlaid desk. “Ms. O’Malley. I’m Claire Meryon.” She extended an arm toward a love seat and chairs. “Please join me. Would you like tea or coffee?”

“No thank you.” Jen took a seat on the cream brocade love seat. The room reflected a refined elegance that spoke to the gentility of the woman who sat opposite her. The rose silk blouse over dark gray slacks surprised her. This was a house in mourning, but the only outward signs that Jen could detect of the woman’s recent tragedy were the shadows under her eyes and the overall sense of weariness she projected. “I’m so sorry for your loss.”

Ms. Meryon lowered her gaze to the side for a moment before looking directly at Jen. “Thank you. It’s been difficult.”

An understatement. Losing your daughter must be devastating. Jen felt a pang in her chest.

Ms. Meryon let a pallid smile cross her lips. “And that is why we need you. You come highly recommended by Evaline Braddock. Tell me about yourself and why I should allow you to take care of my granddaughter.”

Jen checked the instinct to wipe her sweaty palms on her slacks again by clasping them in her lap. “Well, I studied child development, but I can’t say that much of that was of real-world value. It was academic. Lots of study and analysis. It’s difficult to fit children into statistics. Each child is unique and shouldn’t be limited by labels.”

“Yes. Very interesting. But then what practical experience do you have?”

Jen flexed her fingers. “Well, I’ve always been the cousin that my family fobbed the children off on when all the cousins, aunts, and uncles gathered. Oh, not that I thought that way about it. No, they did. I loved it. Preferred it. I guess you could say I have a heart for children. And a knack for keeping them organized, well-behaved, and happy at the same time.”

Ms. Meryon responded with a brighter smile and a nod. “You’ll be attending to Sophie’s academics, too. Do you think you can handle that?”

Jen took a quick breath and plunged ahead. “I also have an education certification. Now that was a practical, hands-on program.”

“Really? I thought only men pursued education certification,” Ms. Meryon said, her eyebrows rising slightly.

Yes. It’s part of a men’s finishing school. But they allowed me to attend.” Jen flicked a stray hair behind her ear. “I may have given the impression I was interested in studying men as primary educators of young children. Needed the firsthand experience of how they were trained.” Jen bit the inside of her cheek. Maybe she shouldn’t have said that.

Ms. Meryon’s responding smile had a hint of amusement to it. “Sounds like you know what you want to do and don’t let others stand in your way. That’s very Tallavan of you.”

“My mother calls it mulish.”

“Ah.” Her expression grew somber again. “Penny was like that. Stubborn as the day was long.”

Jen hesitated, uncertain how best to respond.

Meryon sighed. “You seem like the perfect person for Sophie’s nanny. Evaline gave you the terms of the position, didn’t she?”

Yes.

“Are they agreeable to you?”

Jen’s stomach swirled. Yes.” Do I have the job?

We’ll need you starting the day of the memorial service. That hasn’t been set yet. When it is, I’ll let you know. Meanwhile, I’d like to introduce you to my granddaughter.”

Jen rose with Ms. Meryon, twiddling her fingers instead of bouncing on her toes. She was hired! Her mother and Evaline Braddock had come through for her.

Universal Buy Link:  https://books2read.com/rand 


Author Bio:
Cailin Briste writes science fiction suspense and fantasy romance. Her first series, Sons of Tallav, is set in a sector of Federation space far off the beaten path. The Tallavan marshals are tasked with keeping the peace. While fighting crime, they also must come to terms with the matriarchal system of their home planet, Tallav. Tricky because each is heavily involved in the BDSM lifestyle. Book one is her Dom, book two is her male submissive, and book three, just released in July 2018, is her sexual sadist.

Her second series, A Thief in Love Suspense Romance, began with a cat burglar who puts together a team to steal priceless art and antiquities from other thieves. Sebastian is a Robin Hood character whose Maid Marion is his equal on the rooftops of their futuristic city. The second in the series is the love story of two members of their support team, Cade and Bassinae.

More books in each series are coming as is a new series about a pair of dragon shifters and the man they love, bounty hunter Brody Simmons.

Keep up to date with Cailin's new releases via social media or her website.