Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Truly, Madly, Deeply by Jeannie Moon
Kick off your shoes, stick your toes in the sand and indulge yourself in a sweet second chance romance on the island of Mimosa Key. Nick DeMarco is back in Barefoot Bay and is hoping for Lila Novak's forgiveness. Little does he know, he'll get a whole lot more than that. Fans of Roxanne St. Claire’s Barefoot Bay will love meeting new visitors and residents of Mimosa Key in this Kindle Worlds Barefoot Bay romance by Jeannie Moon.
Release Date: 08/23/16
Publisher: Kindle Worlds
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Nick DeMarco was a covert operative who breezed in and out of the lives of the people he cared about often without warning. This included his sister Josie’s best friend, Lila Novak.
Nick and Lila had a torrid affair the last time he dropped into Barefoot Bay, and now that he’s back, possibly for the long haul, he hopes she’ll forgive him for disappearing without a word.
Lila loves her life as a teacher at Mimosa High School, but her affair with Nick has thrown her a curveball she never expected. Carrying his baby, she’s faced with the loss of her job unless she agrees to do the last thing she wants to do – marry him.
here were few things that ticked off Lila Novak more than busybodies. And when said busybodies were making her life difficult, that really chapped her ass.
She sat at the district office, having been summoned from Mimosa High School by the superintendent of schools, and while she waited she saw a parade of people enter the conference room. Her principal, the vice principal, the personnel director, and her department chair were all part of the group that was going to see her. This wasn’t good.
Nothing like kicking a girl when she was down.
Her department chair, Mary Chavez, poked her head out and motioned to Lila. “We’re ready for you. Don’t let them upset you, and don’t lose your temper.”
Mary was a sweet woman, a joy to work for. Because of her, the math department at Mimosa was a fun place to be. Her colleagues were friendly, and unlike some departments, they all liked each other. However, Mary knew Lila could have a smart mouth, and this wasn’t the time for wit. Even if some people deserved her wit shoved up their butts.
The superintendent sat at the far end of the table, and the other administrators flanked him left and right. This wasn’t going to be easy.
Lila stood at the other end of the large oval table. Alone.
“Lila, have a seat,” the big guy said.
“Thank you,” she replied. That was a load of shit. She had no reason to thank them.
“So,” he began. “We hear you’ve gotten yourself in a bad spot.”
This was really making him uncomfortable, and based on the scowls from a few others in the room, she was in more than a bad spot.
“Sir, I am pregnant, yes.” Lila took a deep breath before continuing. “I’ve tried to keep it private, but that’s hard to do in such a…close knit community.” It’s full of nosy women with nothing else to do, is what she wanted to say. But Lila held her tongue, knowing that sassing the superintendent and his minions wouldn’t help her cause. “While I’m sure it might make some people uncomfortable, it isn’t something I want to talk about.”
“Unfortunately, that’s not an option,” the personnel director broke in. She was new to the district, and Lila didn’t catch her first name, but her last name was Smith. “You have to talk about it. There is a clause in your contract regarding morality…”
Bile stuck in her throat. Sweet baby jeebus. A morality clause. It was the 21st century, wasn’t it? “I don’t understand.”
“We hold our teachers in very high regard,” the woman drawled. “And we’ve gotten a number of complaints about the situation. Parents are extremely upset about having an unwed, pregnant teacher in front of the classroom.”
A knot formed in Lila’s chest. Crushing breathlessness made her audibly suck in air, but she didn’t cry. No, she wouldn’t give this pit of vipers the satisfaction, but there was no hiding how this was affecting her.
No one seemed to care that she was in distress. They were all sitting very still, apparently awaiting Lila’s response.
“I see y’all staring at me, but I don’t know what you want me to say.”
“We thought you could offer some clarification, or explanation, so we can better understand how this all came about,” the nameless personnel director shot at her.
“Ma’am, if you want an explanation for my pregnancy, may I suggest you speak to a health teacher.” Yep. She just snapped at someone who held her fate in her hands.
“There’s no need to get snippy, young lady.”
“I’m sorry, but I believe there is.” Lila wasn’t going to be intimidated. “This is a private matter.”
“Who is the baby’s father?” Ms. Smith blurted out.
BOOM. There it was. That’s what they were driving at. There had been an ugly rumor about her and the father of one of her students. He’d made some unwanted advances in a bar. It didn’t matter that Lila had told him to buzz off; people had talked.
“I haven’t told the baby’s father yet, and I’m not comfortable telling you before I tell him.”
“Lila,” her chair began, “taking a hard line here isn’t going to help.”
“I’m sorry, but he’s overseas on assignment.” That was all Lila could come up with, and it might or might not have been true. She didn’t know where Nick DeMarco was. She hadn’t heard from him in months. “That’s all I can say.”
When she said he was overseas, everyone came to attention.
“Is he in the service of our country?” the superintendent asked.
Lila nodded. She didn’t know what Nick was doing, but he did work for the government. “I think I should tell him first, don’t you?”
“Lila, I don’t like this any more than you do, but something must be done. I have parents calling for your job.”
“Well, sir, with all due respect, you can tell them this is none of their business. I’m sure you’re aware that I am a very good teacher. My students are engaged and do very well.”
“I am. Your reputation in the classroom is excellent, but regardless of how accepting society has become of single parents, our teachers are held to a different standard. Parents are very upset.”
“Am I being dismissed?” There was no use in beating around the bush. If the decision had already been made, the time would be better spent polishing her resumé.
“I don’t want to do that, but I am in a difficult position.”
Of course. His contract was up for renewal. The last thing he needed was a bunch of parents complaining that he wasn’t responsive. If they started calling for his head, who knew how the board of education would respond? Lila didn’t know what she was expected to do. The baby was already in the picture.
“I guess you’ll let me know if I have a job, then?”
She started to get up from the chair when her department chair came to her defense. “Lila is one of our best teachers. Surely there’s a way for this to work out.”
Silence settled over the room, because no one seemed to have any answers. They were looking everywhere but at each other. Glancing off into space or keeping their eyes trained at the table. Except for Ms. Smith, who was staring at Lila. Now she didn’t know if she should leave or stay.
“Lila?” Her principal, Joe Alex, broke the quiet. “How is the clean-up from the fire going?”
That got everyone’s attention. Being a pity case wasn’t her first choice, but Lila would take it. She couldn’t be without a job. Especially not now.
The superintendent’s face dropped. He wasn’t a bad person, but he was a puppet. Now his conscience was getting to him. Lila just hoped it worked in her favor. “I’ll be in touch,” he said flatly. Then he stood and left the room, leaving Lila in the same place as she’d been before, without any answers.
“Motherfucker, that hurts.” Over the course of his career, Nick had been shot, stabbed, beaten, and thrown off the roof of the building. But the searing pain from the injection into his injured shoulder was like nothing he’d ever felt. Of course, he’d been unconscious after the stabbing, and the shooting, and during the beating he managed to throw a few punches himself. Getting thrown off a building? Not something he would recommend.
But he’d recovered from every injury. He’d come back to duty stronger than ever, almost like he had to prove himself. Rumor was some people wondered if he was even human. Nick had to laugh at that. Of course he was human, he just took his work seriously. There were a lot of bad people out in the world, and it was Nick’s job to make sure they didn’t hurt anyone.
This time, however, his shoulder had been almost completely ripped out of the socket. The damage had been repaired as much as it could be, but for the first time in his career, Nick didn’t know if he was going to be able to do his job like he had before.
There had been mutterings about a desk job. A fucking desk job. He couldn’t see himself settling into a regular routine, making assignments, even if it did carry a promotion. He was an adrenaline junkie, pure and simple, and if he wasn’t out in the field chasing bad guys, he didn’t know what he was going to do.
“So will the cortisone fix what ails me?”
The doctor shrugged. It was another resident, another no-name who didn’t know anything about him. To the guy in the scrubs, Nick was just another case. He didn’t understand that Nick’s life as he knew it was on the line.
“Dr. O’Neill will be in in a minute. He has more details about your next step.” Without another word, the drone doc left the room. At least he would get to talk to the guy who did the surgery. Maybe he would finally give Nick a straight answer.
His cell phone beeped, and he glanced at the screen. His sister. The text was short. Are you alive?
Nick smiled. Josie, as always, got to the point. This time, he answered. Sent back a simple: yes. But that was all she was gonna get for now.
He was still figuring out how he felt about her relationship with Tony. Never in his life had he suspected his best friend and his sister had been having an affair. Now, Josie was going to be a queen. An honest to God, crown-wearing, scepter-wielding queen. Okay, maybe that was too dramatic. But she would have a crown. His little sister would have a crown.
Nick lay back on the table, knees bent, arm folded over his eyes. Jesus. What if he couldn’t go back in the field? He’d never thought about life after fieldwork, but now it was the only thing on his mind.
He tried to focus on something good, something positive, and immediately Lila Novak’s face flashed in his memory. Talk about secrets. The four days he’d spent in bed with Josie’s best friend had been just what he needed. The woman was a contradiction; on one hand she was full of piss and vinegar, but on the other she was beautiful, smart, sweet, and the sex had been a friggin’ miracle. Nick thought about her a lot, probably too much.
Still, he wanted to see her. He figured whatever the doctor said, he’d head to Florida for some R&R. His grandparents’ house was empty, and while he was there he was sure he could get Lila to see him. As long as she wasn’t too pissed off. He’d left without saying goodbye, and in his experience women really hated that.
He expected Lila was no different.
The door burst open and Dr. O’Neill entered the space. A big man, career Army, Nick peeked out from under his arm and the doctor tossed a wry grin in his direction.
Colonel. He wasn’t used to being called by his rank. “Just trying to figure out what kind of bullshit you’ll be feeding me about my shoulder.”
“No bullshit,” the doctor said. “Truth only. Your shoulder was a hot mess. I was able to do some repair on the ligaments and tendons, but at this point it’s not stable. I can’t recommend you be allowed to go back to fieldwork at this time.”
“So, I’m going to be a desk jockey? I can’t do that. I’ll go crazy.” Nick’s fear of desk work was what drove him to volunteer for a special covert ops unit. He went where he was needed, working sometimes for the CIA, the NSA, or different branches of the military. When people asked what he did, he said he was a “security consultant”. It wasn’t a lie.
“You can stay in the Corps,” the doctor reassured him. “There are plenty of things a man with your knowledge and talents can do. You’re just not going to be swinging from trees or jumping off buildings anymore.”
“Should I retire? I mean, if I can’t do the work…”
“I didn’t say never, but not now. There’s a lot you can still do. Hell, with all your experience, you’ll be running the Joint Chiefs inside of six months. But you aren’t indestructible. You may recover enough to get back to the insanity you call a job, but I don’t recommend it.”
That particular statement made him think—and the conclusion wasn’t good. Lately, every injury meant a tougher recovery. He knew he was getting older, but his body was finally telling him what that meant. “Shit.”
The doctor took a seat across from him. “Nick, I’ve treated your last two orthopedic injuries. Your missions are more dangerous because that’s the way of the world right now, but even you have limits; you’re almost forty.”
“Thanks for the reminder.” Forty was still a couple of years away, but one thing Nick couldn’t deny was that he was feeling it.
Nick wasn’t a quitter, but he also wasn’t stupid. He knew when there was no point in arguing. He placed his feet solidly on the floor, stood, and extended his hand to O’Neill. “Thanks, Doc. I appreciate it.”
Shaking his hand, the older man wore an expression that told Nick he wasn’t the first to possibly have his career cut short and he wouldn’t be the last. But it still sucked.
Leaving the exam room, he took the stairs five flights down. He didn’t talk to anyone; it was raining, but he didn’t hail a cab, hoping the walk would clear his head. Finally, soaked to the bone, Nick jumped on the Metro. He was sure he looked sketchy, but he didn’t care. It would keep people away. He got off in Foggy Bottom, walked past the White House and down the mall, ending up on the steps of The Capitol. A security guard gave him the eye, suspicious. As he should be.
Nick was a dangerous man.
He was lighter—leaner—than he’d been before the injury. Not surprising, and probably a good thing.
It was pouring now, reminding him of an op that had dropped his team in the middle of a South American jungle.
God, what he wouldn’t give to be back there again.
Looking up, he felt like the heavens were taunting him.
He had to get out of town. He had a couple of options. He could head to an island and decompress in a tiki hut over a lagoon in Fiji. He had a friend with a chalet in the Alps. It was beautiful and secluded, but there would be no skiing or climbing.
The last idea was the one that really appealed to him. Barefoot Bay. He’d head to his grandparents’ house in Florida to regroup and figure out what to do next.
Sure, people knew him, but most of them wouldn’t ask questions, and the tiny coastal island of Mimosa Key was about as far away from work as he could possibly get. Sure, there might be nosy neighbors, but no one would be shooting at him.
And he’d try to see Lila. If she was still speaking to him.
Yeah, no doubt about it. Thoughts of Lila alone made Florida a very good idea.
From NYT & USA Today bestselling author comes a new Bleeding Stars stand-alone novel… She is his strength and he is her weakness. And this time he won’t let her go. Edie Evans is gorgeous. Sexy. Kind. She’s also the definition of off-limits. But that didn't stop me from sneaking into her room to comfort her at night. But guys like me? We destroy everything, so it should have been no surprise when I destroyed us, too. The night I sent her running, I thought I’d never see her again. Until I saw her standing like a vision in the crowd. Austin Stone is dangerous. Alluring. Tempting. He broke my heart and I refused to give him the chance to do it again. It’s been years since I’ve seen him, and now I can’t do anything but stare at the gorgeous, tattooed man playing onstage. I should run. I know I should. But like a fool, I run straight back to him. Our desire is overpowering. Our need unrelenting. She is my hope. He is my weakness. We should have known a passion this intense would burn us right into the ground.
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"Meaningful. Mesmerizing. Magnificent...5 but should be 10 beautiful, broken, brilliant, and imperfectly perfect stars .” Karen, Bookalicious Babes Blog
"A beautifully written story about broken hearts and unshakable longing, about second chances and third chances and a whispered hope for a happily ever after. Intensely felt on every level, Edie and Austin’s story will own you." Vilma, Vilma’s Book Blog
“Beautiful. Sexy. Dripping with tenderness. I felt the emotion in this story all the way to my toes.” Mia Sheridan, NYT Bestselling Author“6 Stars - “Shit,” I hissed, bracing myself against the spray of the icy shards pelting from the shower head. I sucked in a breath, released it between clenched teeth, and forced myself fully under it. Head dropped and chest heaving as rivers of ice-cold water slicked down my shoulders and back. But it did nothing to lessen the need. Gave me no sanity or pacification. Because all I could think about was the girl on the other side of the door. My girl. In my bed. Wearing just her panties and my shirt. An angel I wanted to dirty. I always had. Love was messy like that. All of my restraint scattered. I gripped my cock. Squeezed the base. My mouth dropped open at the pressure of my hand against my rigid length. A fool thinking it might be enough. Shit. God, I was a bastard, but there was nothing I could do before I was giving in, leaning forward and bracketing my forearm above my head to hold my weight. Water pounded down on my head and back while I pounded my fist against my dick. Trying to keep silent when all I wanted was to moan, teeth digging into my bottom lip as I pictured the girl spread out for me. My breaths were coming short. Panted and hard. I gave into imagining the sounds she would make when I finally got to bury myself in her body. A soft, soft gasp. I slowed, trying to convince myself that throaty sound was all in my mind. Just another part of this fantasy. Until I heard the small thump against the wall. Shit. I mashed my eyes closed, like it might hide me. Conceal the depravity of my actions after I’d just been comforting her hours before. Heart thrashing, I turned and moved far enough to peek out the small section where the fabric shower curtain hadn’t been drawn fully closed. It was just a little sliver that left me exposed. But it was enough. When I peered out, I was looking right at my girl pressed up against the wall. She stared right back at me. And I wanted to be horrified, my mind scrambling to conjure every weak apology I could summon. Ready to fucking grovel to keep her from turning and running once again. Because that’s exactly what I expected her to do. But her expression…her expression clutched me in the center of the chest and sent what little brain function I had left stampeding south. Red, lush lips were parted, her hand pressed to her hollow of her throat, pupils dilated so big that her hooded, cerulean eyes appeared black. Needy breaths were coming at me from that sweet mouth like a goddamned freight train. Desire swelled in the confines of the too-tight room. Alive. She pressed deeper into the wall as if it might support her weakened knees. Head rocked back. Thighs squeezing together. Motherfuck. My hand shot to the shower wall to steady myself. “Warning you, Edie, you need to get out of here. Right now.” a Rafflecopter giveaway
A.L. Jackson is the New York Times & USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary romance. She writes emotional, sexy, heart-filled stories about boys who usually like to be a little bit bad. Her bestselling series include THE REGRET SERIES, CLOSER TO YOU, as well as the newest BLEEDING STARS novels. Watch for the next installments, WAIT and STAY, coming in 2016. If she’s not writing, you can find her hanging out by the pool with her family, sipping cocktails with her friends, or of course with her nose buried in a book. Be sure not to miss new releases and sales from A.L. Jackson - Sign up to receive her newsletter http://bit.ly/NewsFromALJackson or text “jackson” to 96000 to receive short but sweet updates on all the important news.
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by Deborah Camp
GENRE: Historical Romance (Western)
One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card. . Please visit GoddessFish.com to follow the tour, remember the more you comment better your chances on winning.
Texas rancher Callum Latimer believed that the Civil War had killed everything tender and yearning inside of him until he struck up a partnership with Banner Payne. His dark-haired, golden-eyed, spirited neighbor stirred embers that he thought were long dead . . .
Sunlight glided over hair as she shifted from one boot to the other, and before his mind could catch up with his instincts, Callum reached out and wrapped his index finger around one of her auburn curls. Its softness against his calloused skin sent longing through him like a rushing river. She’d be like that all over – soft where he was hard, giving where he was not. He heard her gasp and his heart bucked.
Topping a small ridge, he caught sight of the two cowhands, who were now with Eller and Hollis. Just as well. He didn’t mind that audience for what he was about to do. They needed to know what he would and wouldn’t put up with. As Butter approached them at a lazy trot, they all turned in their saddles to face him. Shadows played across them, but Callum was fairly certain that Johnson and Baines shared a quick and telling eyeball to eyeball exchange.
Yes, boys, time to reap what you’ve sown. Callum slowed Butter to a walk and then reined her to a stop near the semi-circle of cowpokes. He looked toward the mooing herd, some grazing and some lying down to chew their cud. They were all Payne cattle. He could tell because they were underweight by his standards.
“They’re sure on the puny side,” he said, swinging his gaze back to the men and zeroing in on Johnson. He figured that Jeb Johnson was the ringleader and Russell Baines followed along like a faithful hound. “Long way from bringing top dollar at market.”
“We’ll get them fattened up by market time,” Eller said, all puffed up with confidence he sure as hell hadn’t earned.
“We will, huh? That’s good to hear. I’ll hold you to that, Eller. If they’re not, maybe you’d be so kind as to let me dock your pay.”
Eller grinned. “I ain’t that kind, cousin.”
“Didn’t think so.”
“But we will get these cattle up to a decent weight.” Eller gave him a wink.
Callum switched his attention to Johnson again. “Any of you know what happened to the heifer that birthed the calf we found this morning?”
They all exchanged befuddled glances, shaking their heads.
“I’ve looked for her off and on all morning,” Hollis said. “I found a trail, but it got washed out.”
“Over that rise, out by the Pitchfork foothills?” Callum asked, and Hollis nodded. “I saw that, too. Did you notice that it was the tracks of more than one cow?”
“Yep. Looked like maybe three or four.”
Callum nodded, all the while keeping his gaze shifting from Johnson to Baines and back to Johnson. “Mama cows with newborns don’t wander off with a couple of other heifers and leave their calves behind them.”
“Maybe a coyote was after her,” Baines said.
“No coyote tracks. Just cattle and horses.”
“Horses?” Hollis echoed with a scowl.
“They were mostly rubbed out by someone trailing a branch, making them hard to see. I had to get down off my horse and look real close to find a few of them.”
“Well, hell.” Eller crossed his wrists on his saddle horn. “I don’t like the sound of that, cousin.”
“Only one conclusion to make from it,” Callum said, staring hard at Johnson and watching the sweat bead on the man’s forehead under his hat’s brim and dampen his droopy black mustache. “We have some cattle thieves in our ranks.” From his periphery vision, he saw Hollis and Eller glance at each other and then direct their attention to Johnson and Baines.
“I’ve heard about Yanks roaming in these parts and stealing cattle,” Baines piped up, his dark eyes widening.
“I’ve heard that, too, but I don’t have any Yanks on my payroll.” Callum squinted one eye, taking a sharper bead on Johnson. “You took the Payne’s market money last season, didn’t you?”
“No!” Baines blurted, his eyes growing even bigger, bugging out even.
“We was robbed,” Johnson said, quietly, his face tightening.
“Yeah, I heard that story.” Callum rested his hand on the butt of his gun. “Since then Payne cattle have gone missing every few weeks – a few here and a few there. I reckon you’re in cahoots with another rancher or just hiding the stolen cattle in the brush land by the river. Letting them get fat before you drive them to market. Of course, you plan to hightail it from here before then.”
“You surely ain’t accusing us of stealing,” Johnson snarled.
“No.” Callum leaned closer. “I’m calling you thieving sonsofbitches outright and to your cowardly faces. Men are hung for what you’ve done, but I don’t have the time to catch you at your thieving and turn you over to the sheriff to be hanged. So, I’m telling you to get the hell off this land and don’t ever show yourselves to me again or I’ll put a bullet in your brain pans and not lose a wink’s sleep over it.” He stared hard at Baines and then at Johnson. “Either one of you doubt me? Say so now and I’ll demonstrate on one of you.” He tightened the ivory grip on his revolver and pulled it ever so slowly from the holster.
He could see that he’d made an instant believer out of Baines, but it took Johnson a few seconds.
“You’re plumb loco!” Baines said. “You can’t just shoot a man and get away with it.”
“I don’t see anyone who would say that what I do or don’t do isn’t right and proper.” He glanced at Hollis and Eller. Hollis looked off to the horizon and Eller gave a shrug and another grin.
Johnson stared at him before the blood slowly seeped from his face until he was pasty white. He looked away from Callum’s steady gaze and stared at Eller.
“You got anything to say about this, Hawkins?” Johnson asked.
Eller’s brows shot up. “Seems that Cal’s doing all the talking here. I’m just a bystander.”
Johnson glowered at him for a moment and then spit at the ground near Eller’s horse. “We don’t stay where we ain’t wanted. Where do we pick up our pay?”
Callum had to smirk at that. “You can pick it up in cow dung on your way off the ranch.”
Johnson’s head angled back as if he’d been socked. “You’ve made an enemy, Latimer.” He reined his horse around and gave it his spurs. Baines was right behind him, his copper colored mustang throwing up dirt clods.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Author of more than 45 novels, Deborah lives in Oklahoma. She has been a full-time writer since she graduated from the University of Tulsa. She worked for a few years as a reporter for newspapers before becoming a freelance writer. Deborah's first novel was published in the late 1970s and her books have been published by Jove, New American Library, Harlequin, Silhouette, and Avon. She has been inducted into the Oklahoma Authors Hall of Fame and she is a charter member of the Romance Writers of America. She is also a member of the Author's Guild.
Lover of the west and the people who tried to tame it, Deborah likes to write about strong, independent women and the men who are their equals. She grew up on a diet of TV westerns which have served her well. Since she appreciates men with devilish twinkles in their eyes, she likes to mix laughter in with the love scenes in her books. Also widely published in non-fiction, she writes and edits for a magazine focused on small businesses. Deborah taught fiction writing for more than 10 years at a community college. She is currently working on her next historical romance set in the wild, wonderful west.
Her books have been re-issued on Amazon for Kindle Direct and have attracted tens of thousands of new fans. For a list of them, visit her website.
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