Huge 50% Off Sale at Kobo!
Get the entire Tease and The Storm Inside series (including the box sets) for half price!
US: June 22-27
Canada, Australia, New Zealand: June 25-27
Use code: 50JUN at checkout to receive the discount! It is an unlimited discount!
Don’t have a Kobo ereader? No problem! Download the Kobo app and start reading!
*This sale is sponsored by Kobo so I don’t take a hit on royalties and you won’t find a discount like this anywhere else!
Not familiar with Kobo? They’re kind of the Canadian version of the Kindle, but you don’t have to be Canadian to use and love them! They have quickly become my favorite place to buy ebooks! I read them on my iPad using the Kobo app.
They run sales, a points system, and exclusive discounts you can’t find anywhere else, plus they really, really love their readers and their writers. I absolutely love working with Kobo. And if you’re looking for a new ereader, check out their waterproof version! Easy bath or pool time reading? Yes please!
It’s time Storm Insiders! Never Let Go is here!
The final installment in Jake & Eve’s love story is now available to read on the ereader of your choice or in paperback!
Love isn’t easy. If there is one thing I’ve learned, that’s it. Love doesn’t last because it’s perfect or fate, it’s because two people decided to fight for it. They hold on tighter than anyone else when times get tough. And right now, times are really tough.
It’s a good thing I have a strong grip.
We’ve been sucked into a world filled with politics and appearances. It’s triggered silent demons that Jake thought he’d beaten long ago, and running from them isn’t an option this time. We’re in this together. We’ve already lost a decade, I’m not losing another minute.
I write to music. We’ve talked about this before (and here and here) but I don’t know if I’ve ever truly articulated what that means. More on that below. First, let’s tackle the meat of this post: the music of Never Let Go.
It really boils down to three main songs, and then a handful of “soundtrack” songs. The most important of which is the inspiration song. This came on the radio and BAM! Two years of wondering if I’d ever write another Jake and Eve book was over. Yes, I was writing another book and this was what it was going to be about:
“Like I’m Gonna Lose You” by Meghan Trainor, featuring the amazing John Legend was the crux of Jake and Eve’s married life. They spent so many years apart that they are so very keenly aware of how lucky they are to be happy.
The scene hit me like a bolt of lighting (appropriate, I know!) Eve standing at a cold sink staring out the window thinking about how hard she holds onto Jake, loving him like she might lose him. He comes up behind her and whispers in her ear. I wrote the book from there.
But like every other book I’ve ever written, the inspiration song is just that: inspiration. I don’t actually write to the song. This is what I actually listened to while writing:
It’s this verse in particular
I’m a hold my cards close
I’m a wreck what I love most
I’m a first class letdown I’m a “shut up, sit down”
that screams “Jake” to me, but there are so many more lyrics in this song that make it his story through and through.
And what has happened with every single book I’ve ever written? (about halfway through writing) I hear a song that stops me dead in my tracks. THIS SONG is THE SONG!!! It is the story I’m writing and everything I feel when I making words! I fall in love and listen to it like a broken record until I finish writing. For Never Let Go, it was this song:
“This mess was yours, now this mess is mine,” is the heart of Jake and Eve’s story, more so in this book than the other two. “You’re the reason that I feel so strong, the reason that I’m holding on.” *dies* “Mess is Mine” is the song of Never Let Go. Period.
To listen to my entire Never Let Go soundtrack and hear all the music that inspired the book, visit my Spotify Playlist here.
So, at the beginning of this post I mentioned that I don’t just listen to music when I’m writing. I don’t simply find inspiration in songs. I swear I have this out of body experience when it comes to music. I always have. For as far back as I can remember. I see entire stories when I hear a song. The music may only last for three minutes, but in my head it is so much more. A few lines become entire backstories. Entire worlds. I can see hundreds of pages of context from that one song.
Before I could write, I would act out these stories by dressing up. I would force my poor sister to play along. Elaborate sessions of make-believe were all carried out to a soundtrack. Namely Olivia Newton-John, but there were others.
When I got older I realized I didn’t want to act out these stories I saw, I wanted to write them (I just didn’t have that tool when I was younger.) The first time I was taken away and wrote an entire book to a CD was the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves soundtrack. I would put on my headphones and listen for hours, making up books in my head.
It isn’t any different today, except that I actually do write entire books based on the stories I see in my head after listening to a single song.
These are the songs that transported me to the world of Jake and Eve in Never Let Go. I hope it helps transport you into their world as you get ready to read their final book. Let me know what you think of the songs and the book (out May 24th, 2016!)
I like to think we all have a healthy fear of failure, but I know some of us have a bigger fear than others. Mine is kind of huge and it prevented me from doing a lot of different things with my life. Over the last month I’ve had to force myself to look that fear in the face and do what I’ve been dreading…read The Storm Inside.
I haven’t read it since I wrote it. It was my first book. It was three years ago. And I haven’t cracked that baby open and looked at it with two since I hit publish. Excellent sales, wonderful reviews, and heartfelt fan letters could not convince me that the words I put down in that book were anything but embarrassing (and no, I’m not talking about the smokin’ hot sex scenes.)
I was paralyzed, so I ignored it. I didn’t market the book the way I should have and as a result I’ve stunted my potential as a working writer. Over the holidays I had to take a long hard look at who I wanted to be. You can either be a successful writer who is proud of your entire body of work, blemishes and all, or you can hide in the shadows of “one day.”
So I’ve done it. I’ve re-read the entire book (sometimes peeking through my fingers because WHAT THE HELL DID I WRITE? Someone start a cold shower, those sex scenes…Jake’s story…their love??? Holy hell, what a book!)
I’ve given the whole series new covers and blurbs, and stepped outside of my own fears of failure because no one finds joy in hiding. Meanwhile I’ve been reading a half-dozen “first novels” from authors I consider my contemporaries and I learned a few things.
- It’s enjoyable to watch the transformation of a writer through their books. I don’t look down on those wonderful stories of love and triumph because of the typos or head hopping (it was only once.) I smiled because in the next book and the next book the writer grew stronger and my love of the author grew right along with it. I know I have readers who feel the same way. I love you guys.
- Most people don’t notice the stray typo so I really, really, really need to stop acting like HRH Queen Gatekeeper of Novels is going to cast me out into the barrens of Never Writing Again and Laughed At in Infiniti. No really, every book has typos, even the #1 NYT Bestsellers. Some people read books and get their panties in a bunch over every little nuance, but most people just want a fucking good story. Write a good story. Hire good people. Do better when you know better. Keep moving forward.
- I don’t take my own advice. I give pretty good advice, but I let my fear stop me from putting it in motion for myself. It’s been a good lesson to see several of these authors take my advice and succeed. It was a good smack in the face to realize if I’d done the same thing I wouldn’t have been cast out into the Barrens and might actually be pretty darn happy.
- I’m good at what I do (and I don’t need anyone to tell me that.) I used to admire those people who could throw themselves onto the fire without thinking. How did they write a book, put it out there, tell everyone it was the best thing since sliced bread… and have people believe it? Sure, some of those books were awesome, but most of them? Average. Totally and completely average. But the author had brash confidence and took the audience along with her. It’s taken a bolt of lightning and seeing my writing critiqued for me to realize that no one needs to give me permission to say my stories are good. No one but me is in charge of being proud of my work. My success is entirely up to me. I’m write damn good stories.
- “Fear is the Enemy” is not just a saying people throw around. Fear is the wall that stands between failure and success. Which side do you want to stand on? Do you want to live in the shadow of fear, or do you want to put that behind you and stand in the sun? (I live in Florida, I can tell you the sun is very enjoyable.)
Putting The Storm Inside out all over again has already transformed my life. It has sat in the iBooks Top 5 in UK for the last week and Reflected and Lightning have jumped up the paid charts…reminding me that the only one holding my books back is me. It was terrifying to re-read my book, but it’s turned into a lovely experience to re-edit the books. The new paperback proof is on the way to my mailbox right now. I’ll be sure to share the pictures with you all when it gets here!
The Storm Inside series got a facelift! That’s right, new covers, new blurbs, and a fresh new start to Spring! Plus, I finally got my wish: flowing red fabric on The Storm Inside cover. I loved the old one, but I always saw it in my head with a flowing red dress. I have no clue why, I just did. This new cover is a nice compromise!
Still to come: new paperbacks! Not only will they be getting covers to match, but The Storm Inside (more than the rest) will be getting a formatting facelift inside. It was my first book and I’ve learned a lot about making paperbacks pretty. I can’t wait to finish them up!
Plus, a box set of all three books will start trickling out to retailers soon. If you know anyone who hasn’t read the series yet, the box set is a great time to start reading because the fourth book in the series will be out soon! Stay tuned for more details on NEVER LET GO. This will be the third Jake and Eve book.
Click on the BOOKS tab above for more information on each of the books and to look at the new blurbs! And be sure to sign-up for my newsletter to get info on all my new releases!
Happy (early) Valentine’s Day! This week is my favorite for all the love reasons: my sister’s wedding anniversary, plus it was this week (16 years ago!) I met my husband, went on our first date, and decided dating other people was dumb. So of course I thought it was the perfect time to release the next book in the Tease series!
Burn is available at all the usual places and only 99 cents for the first few days. The price will go up to $2.99 soon!
Early reviews are very positive. This one is pretty much my favorite:
“I have trouble calling Burn a novella as it is such an excellent, well-designed story! Ava doesn’t believe in love because of her rough past but when she meets Michael Sutherland everything changes! While that may sound like the beginning of many romance stories, that’s where the similarities end. Right from the start these characters come at you with brutal honesty towards each other and I felt like I was right there experiencing everything with them! You get to see their raw passion and the deep relationship they are building.” -Goodreads reviewer
I see my friends falling in love. Head over heels, passionately, intensely, erotically, in love.
And all I can think is how incredibly stupid they are.
Love is the most dangerous thing there is, don’t they know that? Love will break you. Love will take everything you care about. Love will erase you. I know this because I’ve lived it. There’s nothing I want less in my life than love.
And so far, I’ve done a damn good job of keeping people away. My friends don’t really know me and I haven’t spoken to my family in years. I use men when I need them because that’s all they’re good for. It’s best to keep everyone at arm’s length. Or better yet, a good mile or two.
All of this was working brilliantly until Michael-fucking-Sutherland snuck up on me. It happened so fast, so completely unexpectedly, that it was over before I knew what I’d done…I’d let someone see the real me. He cut straight through my barriers and lies as if they weren’t even there, like some sort of superhuman sex god.
And even worse? I think I liked it. I think…I think I liked finally being seen. It’s unlocked something inside me that was better left buried and forgotten, and now I’m on the verge of being as supremely stupid as all my love-drunk friends…something Michael Sutherland seems damned determined to make a reality.
***Burn is a stand-alone novella in the Tease series.
Hello everybody! Welcome to this stop on the Valentine’s Rewind Blog Hop! I’m Alexis, your host for this stop. I write steamy, emotional, knock-your-socks off erotic romances and today I’m bringing back TWO couples for one very important reason. My two series were born out of the same (unpublished) book. Part of that story went into creating Jake and Eve from The Storm Inside. The rest of that book is Adam and Elizabeth’s story in Tease. Today I’m uniting the families (this feels very gangster mob…should I have a gun for this??) and explaining how they are (still) connected. This might also be a lead-in to a new book.
I hope you enjoy it!
Goodwood (Adam & Elizabeth…with a little Theo & Allison)
I was one of those people.
You know the ones, they say money can’t buy happiness. I walked around honestly believing that money and happiness were, at their core, unrelated.
But the truth? The truth was money could buy a whole lotta happiness. Case in point: money had purchased Elizabeth a slot at the Goodwood Revival in West Sussex. And the look on her face as she gunned Theo’s Mercedes 300SL down the winding track was nothing short of pure joy.
“I had no idea she was so proficient behind the wheel,” Theo murmured, his hand tucked inside Allison’s as they stood beside me watching Elizabeth’s run.
I chuckled as Allison threw me a shrug. She and I both knew all too well that Elizabeth was a pretty amazing driver. Allison’s face mirrored mine. We wore giant smiles as we watched. Theo on the other hand? He had some pretty wide eyes and a slack jaw.
“She could’ve been a driver if she’d wanted to. Lucky for her, she’s got me.” In the last year I’d managed to get her track time in my AMG, and a run in one of my team’s cars. Working for a Formula 1 racing team had come with far more perks than I’d originally dreamed. I occasionally kicked myself for waiting so long, but then again, if I had taken the job in Brackley working as a design engineer for Mercedes AMG, I might not have met Elizabeth. At least not when we did.
“Lucky indeed,” Allison murmured, giving me a much longer look than she had before. This one, if I wasn’t mistaken, was meant to be a statement on the current state of my relationship with her best friend.
We lived together and there was no one else on the planet for me…but Elizabeth wasn’t the kind of girl who wanted a ring, to change her name, or have a big wedding. She liked things the way they were. And because of how far she’d already come, I wasn’t going to be the one to push the idea of making our relationship more permanent. Most mornings I woke up thanking my lucky stars the drop-dead gorgeous woman who could drive a stick and command a classroom full of brilliant college students was still in bed beside me. I was a lucky fucking bastard and I knew it.
Asking her to marry me would push her over the edge. I wanted to love her, not hurt her. But Allison didn’t agree. Of course, she was also the one who’d been pushing Elizabeth since they became college roommates. She was a lot more comfortable with the boundaries Elizabeth could handle.
The crowd erupted in cheers as the cars on the track crossed the finish line. I watched with a ridiculous amount of pride coursing through my veins as Elizabeth navigated the car into the line headed off the track, wondering if Allison was right. Maybe it was time to test the waters.
“Could you grab us another round, and we’ll meet you down there?” Theo murmured in Allison’s ear.
She nodded and smiled. “See you there. It’s time to celebrate.”
We strolled across the grounds, making our way between exceptionally well-dressed groups. The fun thing about Revival was that it was a period festival. You didn’t have to dress up, but most did. Theo was in one of his throwback three-piece gangster suits. Allison was dressed to match in one of her champagne-colored gowns, and I was in one of my standard suits. After Elizabeth had the car squared away she’d be slipping back into her bright red dress as well.
Between the clothes and antique racecars, the music, and the food, I felt like I’d stepped back in time. Maybe it was time to act like we were in someone else’s life.
Theo cleared his throat. “Thank you for arranging all this, Adam. It’s more than perfect.”
I reached into my jacket pocket and pulled out the red velvet box. “It’s been my pleasure. I don’t think you could have picked a more appropriate time or place for this.”
He grunted and came the closest Theo ever came to smiling when Allison wasn’t around. “If her parents have their way, we’ll be here in this exact same spot one year from now for the wedding. Her mother is losing her mind. The minute she saw the pictures of Revival she started seeing the perfect wedding in her head.” He shrugged. “It gives her a year to plan the wedding to end all weddings, and I think Allison will be okay with it since she’ll get to have a period wedding.”
He tucked the box into his pants pocket and straightened his suit. I had to give it to the man, he had a style all his own and he made it work.
“How did you know?” I asked.
He cocked an eyebrow. “Please, please tell me you aren’t pulling this shit. You’re supposed to be my mature friend.”
I just barely managed to hold in a snort. “Ummm…what?”
“My mature friend.” He waved his hand through the air as we wedged between a particularly enthusiastic group dressed in WWII uniforms. “Higgins is clearly the guy who gets me in trouble, and James is my girly guy. You, my friend, are supposed to keep my ass out of trouble while being wise and practical about women. James has the over emotional crap all under control. Please tell me you aren’t switching sides on me. I don’t think I can handle being married without a mature friend.”
“Okay…” I drawled as I tried to figure out what Theo was talking about. “You’re saying I’m the guy you call when Allison’s been standing in the closet for an hour saying she has nothing to wear even though she has an entire closet full of clothes?” Girls were often very confusing.
“Yes!” he exclaimed. “Exactly. I love that woman with everything I have, but sometimes I don’t get her at all. I need someone to call and say ‘what the ever living fuck’ to so I don’t say it to her. Higgins will never get that. James will just call Allison and tell her what I said.”
“So it’s up to me.” I clapped him on the shoulder. “Don’t worry my friend. I wasn’t asking you anything mushy. I promise.”
He sighed and pulled to a stop. “Good. What are you asking me?”
I tried very hard to put myself in Elizabeth’s shoes. Her level of distrust was earned a hundred times over. I wished that I could wave a magic wand and make her problems disappear, but I couldn’t. And sometimes, I had no idea what kind of fire I was playing with.
“By all accounts, you’re the last man who should be jumping into marriage with that cheesy fucking grin you’ve got on your face, but you have it, and you seem really happy about the choice you’ve made in asking her today.” I shrugged and shifted uncomfortably on my feet. “How do you know when you can move forward without the past pulling you back?”
His face fell and then his jaw ticked as anger took over. “Fuck everyone who ever hurt the women we love. Fuck every one of them.” He shoved his hands in his pockets. “I got a clean break. That past was always coming for me. It was like quicksand. No matter what I did, I couldn’t escape it. Then I got a gift. I was able to surgically sculpt the past right out of my life. Everything pulling me back…it’s gone. I was left with a choice. Do I wallow in the doubts, or do I cut ties and fucking run?” He shook his head. “The choice was pretty clear. I’d take a life of ups and downs with that woman,” he cocked his head toward Allison as she came toward us with a bottle of champagne in her hands, “over anything else. Period.”
“What on earth are you two talking about? Elizabeth is waiting!” Allison huffed as she shot right past us and over to the car, oblivious to the fact she was about to be engaged.
Elizabeth was grinning from ear to ear as she threw her arms around Allison. Her cheeks were red and her eyes were bright. She was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.
“Thank you!” she squealed as she launched herself into my arms. She smelled like petrol and exhaust. Not to mention, the fire retardant suit she was wearing was itchy as hell.
And I didn’t care about anything other than the look in her eyes.
I brushed her sweaty hair back from her face. “You’re happy?”
“So fucking happy!” she breathed, and then kissed me.
Like, kissed me. It was deep and it was dirty. “I always forget how horny you get after driving fast…” I murmured against her lips.
“So horny,” she shook her head, her breathing growing deeper.
“Champagne, then shower sex?”
She shivered as she jumped out of my arms and yanked the zipper down on her suit. “You sir, have a date.”
Fifteen minutes later we were all a little tipsy. I was relieved when Theo whisked Allison away to complete his plan. It left me alone in a fast car with a fast woman that I happened to be madly in love with.
“What are you thinking so hard about over there, lover?” she drawled, feet up on the dashboard, hair spilling everywhere. We had the seats pushed back and down as far as they’d go—which wasn’t far. Not that being squeezed into a small space was a bad thing.
I ran my hand up her leg (the fire suit was now long gone and she was in leggings and a t-shirt) and to the spot I knew would make her sigh.
And sigh she did.
“Oh, Adam…you better get me up to our room. Now.”
“In a minute. Let me warm you up first.”
She groaned and closed her eyes, sinking into the discrete pleasure I was giving her. Everyone outside the car was so busy they weren’t paying any attention to us…or where my hands were wandering.
She lit up for me, her chest rising and falling, her cheeks flushing as I applied pressure in the ways she liked it best. We’d been like this from the moment we met. We sparked. We fed off each other. She made me a better man, and I stood by her side while she put the past behind her. We were good for each other. We were a team. And we were damn good together—in every way possible.
But could she see that through the fog of everything else?
“What are you thinking?” she whispered.
I was so deep in thought I hadn’t realized she was watching me. “About you.”
“What are you thinking about me?”
“That I want to spend the rest of my life with you. That I want everyone to know we belong to each other. That no matter what happens, or where it happens, no one can keep up us from each other.”
She studied me for several long beats, her eyes practically digging inside me. “So what’s stopping you?”
I swallowed. The emotions swirling around the tiny car were far bigger than anything I’d ever dealt with before. “I don’t want to scare you. The last thing I ever want to do is hurt you.”
To my complete surprise, she grinned, then twisted around so that she was leaning toward me, our lips almost touching. Her eyes drifted from my mouth up to my eyes. “I double dog dare you to ask me the question you’re thinking right now.”
Her breathing was ragged. She was turned on, excited, and she was absolutely terrified.
I looked up and waited until it felt like we were wrapped up by some invisible cloak, connected from the current buzzing across my scalp, all the way down my spine, and into my toes. “Will you be my wife?”
She stopped breathing and so did I, and then her head started bobbing up and down, eyes still locked on mine. “Yes,” she finally breathed.
“Yes?” I growled as some sort of alpha-instinct kicked in. I took her face in my hands and pulled her closer.
“Yes,” she repeated, her voice several octaves deeper than it had been a moment before.
“Well isn’t this an interesting development,” I said a split second before I kissed her. She melded into me and it took everything I had not to brand her right there in the driver seat of Theo’s car with all of the revival watching.
Instead I cradled her against me and dropped my hand back down to finish what I’d started.
“Are you absolutely sure you’re ready for something this big and permanent?” I wanted to be absolutely positive this was what she wanted.
She shuddered in my arms, her nails digging into my shoulder. “Yes!” she cried out, a little louder than was prudent, not that we ever cared what anyone thought. “I moved here to cut all those ties. They’re gone, Adam.” Her panting grew deeper, more erratic. She was close and I was about to lose my damn mind.
“I love you, Elizabeth.”
Her eyes flew open, locking with mine as she pulsed against my hand. “I love you too, Adam. I want to marry you. I need to make sure those eyes and lips and hands are legally mine to have and to hold and all that shit.”
She grinned as her post-orgasmic high blissed her out.
“Oh, I’m yours babe. I have been since you grinned at me over your book at Seychelle’s. How about we take this to the shower and explore all the ways you can use and abuse me for the rest of our lives?”
“Someone’s at the door!” Elizabeth yelled from the bathroom. We were…well we were significantly cleaner than we’d been an hour and a half ago. She was drying her hair and getting dressed for dinner while I watched football highlights.
The last person I was expecting to see staring at me through the hotel door peephole was my grandfather.
I ripped the door open. “Senator?”
He grinned and threw his arms open. “Adam! It’s good to see you.” Secret Service, or bodyguards, or whoever the heck traveled with him overseas, stood to either side with more down at the ends of the hallway.
“What are you doing here?” I asked as I hugged him and invited him inside.
“Same as you. I’m a special guest at Revival this year. I saw your lovely girlfriend listed as a driver today and tracked you down.”
“She’s just getting dressed for dinner,” I stammered as I took in the sight of my grandfather, one of the longest serving and famous United States Senators, sitting in my suite. What in the hell was going on? “Can I get you a drink?”
“A scotch would be lovely, if you have something decent.”
I held up the bottle we’d brought with us and poured him two fingers. He immediately downed half of it. That’s when I knew something was wrong.
“Senator McKinley!” Elizabeth gasped as she stepped out of the bathroom dressed in a sexy vintage red cocktail dress and stilettos. Her lips were red, her eyes were dark, and I was suddenly struck by the realization that I couldn’t wait to escape tomorrow to find a ring to put on her finger.
My grandfather shot to his feet and kissed my fiancée on both cheeks. “You look lovely, Elizabeth. And you drive like a bat out of hell.”
“Thank you,” she blushed, throwing me a curious look over his shoulder. “Sit, let’s talk.”
He cleared his throat and my nerves spiked. Were my parents hurt? Was there a terrorist threat? He was the head of the intelligence committee…
“I’m glad I caught you. I was going to set a meeting with you for next week.” He shot the rest of his scotch and set the glass down. “I’m running for president. The announcement is set for the first.”
My jaw dropped. Sure, we all knew the Senator would run one day. It was an inevitability. But now? And with this look on his face? There was more.
“Congratulations. We’ll help in any way we can.” Well, as long as Elizabeth could handle the spotlight. The Senator would understand if we limited our involvement…unless this was about her family.
“I appreciate that. I do need your help on one matter. We’ve been doing the necessary background checks. Digging in places we’ve already dug, but you know how it is when you take things to this level.”
I nodded. I hated it, but I understood.
“We’ve hit one small, new bump in the road. Your aunt. Lydia. Her husband’s finally died and our investigators have discovered she has a son. He’s just a couple of years older than you.”
I instinctively reached for Elizabeth’s hand. She squeezed it. “Aunt Lydia?” she asked.
I nodded. “My mom’s oldest sister. She married this…drunk,” I shrugged as I tried to find the appropriate words to explain the family black sheep. “The family was opposed to the marriage. She was being rebellious and stupid. The man was abusive and went through money faster than he could earn it. Lydia thought he was the answer to her high-profile family nightmares.”
“Your family cut her off?” she guessed.
The Senator stared at his feet, listening but not joining the conversation. This had to be killing him. Letting Lydia go was the regret that always haunted him.
I sighed. “Yeah. The minute she married him, they cut off all ties and told her she was on her own—which was exactly what she wanted. To be free of the family.”
“I’ve kept up with her over the years,” the Senator murmured. The pain…it was so raw and evident in his voice. I couldn’t imagine what it was like to have a child hate me. “Nothing formal or too specific. Just making sure she was alive. We knew she had a son, but we lost track of him for several years. We weren’t sure we’d want to reestablish contact after Jake died, but my investigators have informed me that the son is a good man with a nice family. And that he has no idea about us.”
That wasn’t surprising. From what my mother had told me, Lydia would have done anything and everything to stay as far away from the McKinleys as possible.
“You want me to make contact.” I guessed. There was no way I could ever say no to the haunted look in my grandfather’s eyes.
“You’re close in age and profession, actually. He’s an engineer as well. He’s got a wife and a couple of kids, so I thought,” he glanced at Elizabeth, “perhaps the news would come easier from the two of you.”
“Before the media digs up the connection and surprises them on their doorstep.” And turns a perfectly happy family’s life upside down.
“We’ll go straight from here,” I said.
Elizabeth nodded. “Of course. I’ll make it work.”
If anyone understood what these people were in for, it was her. I needed her help desperately.
“Where are we headed?” I was already fifteen steps into a plan.
“Tampa,” my grandfather said. “The weather should be nice this time of year.”
(Jake & Eve)
“Yes, yes, yessssss!” Eve moaned above me as she came. “You are a freaking genius!” She collapsed on my chest, panting. “Happy house birthday…” she sighed as she quickly moved from exhilarated to sex-drunk, slurring her words.
I chuckled and wrapped my arms around her, looking out at the thunderstorm. The kids were on a play date with Natalie and I’d brought home this ridiculously expensive chaise lounger for our upstairs screened-in porch to celebrate a full year of living in our new house.
Just as the daily afternoon thunderstorm rolled in.
Life is all about timing.
“I take it you like it,” I said as I dropped a couple of kisses on the top of her head.
She nodded. “Does life get any better? I think not.”
She had a very good point. I’d just had amazing sex in the middle of a thunderstorm, on my porch, with the most beautiful woman in the world. Not to mention our two daughters were happy, healthy, and entertained while we indulged in a little marital bliss. Life did not get any better.
We really should have known better than to say that out loud. My phone started ringing from the bedroom. I ignored it.
Eve burrowed in closer and started to drift off. My phone rang again, which was weird, but I ignored it again. Natalie, Lily, and Marie all had a special ringtone. If there was a problem with the kids, I’d know. Whoever was calling me, it was not about the kids.
“I love Sam and Max, I do. But this is nice…” she sighed again.
Peace and quiet was a luxury once you became a parent. But peace and quiet, alone with your spouse? Might as well sell it on the black market. It’s that valuable and rare.
“We need to take advantage of our babysitters more often. We get caught up and forget to schedule down time,” I agreed. That was probably my fault. It was baseball season. Eve barely had enough time to eat, sleep, and spend time with the kids. I needed to pick up the slack and plan the alone time…like I did today.
Obviously planning had its benefits.
“Your phone’s ringing again, Jake. I think you better see who has a stick up their ass before I remove it for them.”
I chuckled as I rolled Eve to the side, offering her my t-shirt as I slipped away. “Here, babe. I’ll be right back.”
By the time I ducked inside, my phone was already ringing again. I was annoyed until I saw who it was.
“What?” I barked. Charlie, my private investigator, only called like this when there was an emergency.
“We have a problem.”
My heart took off. “The kids?”
“No,” he quickly reassured me. “Your family is safe. We have more obtuse problems to deal with. Something I didn’t see coming.” His voice was laced with disappointment. Charlie was the best and he took his job very seriously. Missing a piece of the puzzle was the kind of thing Charlie took personally.
“What is it?”
He took a breath and let it out. “I’ve been contacted by a representative of Senator McKinley. You know the guy?”
I knew of him… “What did he want?”
“That’s the thing,” Charlie said. “He says the senator is your grandfather and the family wishes to make contact. They have a representative landing at TIA now.”
I knew I’d heard every word he said, and yet not one made a lick of sense. “I’m sorry…what did you just say?”
“You said your mother’s family disowned her when she married your father, right?”
“Yeah.” I sank down onto the bed. It really wasn’t safe for me to stand any longer.
“Well, her family is the McKinley. The McKinleys. The political dynasty. They disowned her and have had zero contact until they reached out to me.”
I always knew my mother had taken a twisted joy in punishing her parents by marrying my father. I’d assumed it was your typical overbearing parents not wanting their daughter to marry the abusive alcoholic. A few times I’d imagined she was from a rich family. And yeah, on one of those occasions I’d let myself pretend I was descended from royalty, but I’d never imagined I was right. The McKinleys were American royalty. And apparently…my family?
“Is this a joke?”
Charlie laughed. “Nope. I’ve got the documents they sent me and they line up with the holes I’ve never been able to fill in your family history. I’m assuming this representative they’re sending will have more information. Do you want me to be there?”
I nodded, then realized Charlie couldn’t see me. “Yeah. If you can.”
“I’ll be there. You might want to have someone watch the kids.”
“I’ll take care of it. When will they be here?”
“Four o’clock. I’ll see you then.”
He clicked off and I let the phone dangle from my fingers.
“What’s wrong?” Eve asked, standing naked in our doorway.
“It’s just family shit. Charlie is bringing someone over to talk to me. Can you call Natalie and ask her to keep the kids?” The sooner I found out what the hell this all really was, the sooner I could get it out of my life.
In a blink she was kneeling in front of me. “Tell them to take a hike. We’re busy.” She squeezed my hand.
“Not this time, babe,” I whispered. “We can’t ignore this one.” There was only one reason Senator McKinley—if he was my grandfather—would be making contact now. He had to be running for president. If I ignored this we’d wind up with a sea of reporters on our lawn. It would disrupt our lives so much more than a single meeting with a representative. “It’s one meeting to clear up some confusion. By dinner we’ll be free and clear and back to normal. Promise.”
Eve ran her hand down the side of my face, across my shoulder, and over my bicep. Then she squeezed my arm and rested her head on my knee. The anxiety I was feeling evaporated. It was like that one movement erased it from existence.
I returned the gesture and brushed back her hair. “I love you, Eve Spencer. That’s the only thing that matters in this fucked up world. Loving you and Sam and Max. You don’t have to worry about what this meeting is going to do to my head. I’ve got too much to at stake to let the past pull me back.”
That was the thing about love…it was never about happily ever afters. It was about the fight. True love was in the battle. Standing side by side with your partner, defending each other and celebrating life’s victories. Love was messy and it was beautiful.
Her worry lines disappeared, then she smiled. The sweet, slow, seductive kind. “Damn, you’re sexy when you pull the defensive father card,” she growled.
She’d said that on more than one occasion since the girls entered our lives. Something about men in love with their daughters being the ‘hottest thing ever.’ I was absolutely fine with that.
“I have my problems, we know that. But I will never allow anything to hurt my girls. All three of you. You’re my world.”
“And you’re ours.” She sat up and ran her hands up my thighs. “How long until this meeting?” Her right eyebrow arched up.
I glanced at the clock on my phone. “An hour.” I really liked where this seemed to be heading.
“Then how about I give Natalie a call while you start the shower. I think we need one more round of stress relieving exercise before we face the firing squad.”
“I love the way you think Mrs. Spencer.”
“I love the way you love me, Mr. Spencer.”
As she sashayed around the bedroom, stark naked and mine, I was struck by one very overwhelming thing: I was the luckiest man who ever lived. Despite all the hell I’d survived to get where I was, I’d do it all over again. Going head first into the storm allowed me to come out on the other side stronger than ever. Loving my girls with all my heart and soul was the only way to love them, and I couldn’t do that if I hadn’t dealt with my past. I’d weather a hundred storms for the chance to live this life.
And nothing from my past would take it away from me.
Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed reading REVIVAL, a look at how Tease and The Storm Inside connect! The next stop on the hop is Rebecca Grace Allen. Be sure to comment on each story to be eligible for the massive giveaway at the end. Thanks for joining us for #ValentinesRewind! ♥
I think it’s time to spice things up. Burn is one of the hottest things I’ve ever written (which we all know is saying a lot.) Here’s a little peek (it’s a bit NSFW):
“I actually have a thing about restraint . . . ” he said. “No restraints. Ever. I prefer mind games.”
“Mind games?” This was either going to be awesome or a deal breaker.
“Roll over and put your hands above your head. Don’t move. Not one muscle. You can be as loud as you wish . . . but do not move.”
Oh . . . mind games. Instead of physically restraining me, Michael got off on mentally restraining me. I could definitely play these games.
Once I was settled exactly as Michael had requested: on my back, hands clasped above my head, legs spread, he settled over me and took my right nipple into his mouth. He sucked and licked. He worked me until I was damn near incoherent, then pulled back.
I was about to implode from holding still (I made sure to tell him exactly how hard it was to keep from moving since he’d specifically requested I be loud) when he reached over to the nightstand and opened another condom.
He took his time rolling in on, with his eyes locked onto mine. There was some sort of connection taking place. His mind games weren’t just tricks to help us get off on a sexual high. This was more. This was two very fucked up souls finding solace in each other.
“Who are you, Ava?”
I swallowed. I was naked to this man, literally and emotionally. There was desperation in his eyes. There was no way I could lie to him—no way I could ever hide and be able to live with myself.
“I’m not sure if I know the answer to that yet,” I whispered. “I haven’t had a chance to find out.”
It was the most honest answer I’d ever given anyone. It was terrifying to admit I was more reaction than anything else. Ava Hanson wasn’t really anyone specific. She didn’t stand for something or build anything. She was a result of circumstances, just fighting to get through each day.
It was soul crushing every single time I thought about it.
His eyes softened. “You’re a survivor.”
My heart skipped a beat. “And who are you, Michael?” As far as I could tell he was a psychic sex god, but I knew that was as much a mask as the one I wore.
“I’m a fighter,” he said with a nod. “I don’t know much, but I know that.” A look came over him—a focused, lust-filled, determination—as he prowled across the mattress.
BURN is out Feb 9th! Pre-Order it now for only 99 cents!
It’s Tuesday, which means you deserve a teaser. Oh, and it’s exactly one week until BURN hits shelves!
“I’ll win.” A flutter of hope filled my chest as the mood lightened. It was gone just as fast as it appeared. Michael leaned forward in a flash so that we were nose to nose and I had no choice but to stare into those devastating baby blues.
“No, babe. You won’t. I’m the best there ever was.”
“And the cockiest.” I loved a good challenge and Michael was bringing out my competitive side.
He smiled. “Oh, I’m cocky. I’m also good.” His eyes dropped to my lips for a split second. “You know that.”
I tried very hard to keep my breathing even, despite the fact that Michael was turning me on in every way possible. “And you know I’m so good you’ll forget your own name.”
He sucked in a breath and swallowed. I watched as his Adam’s apple moved up and down. Oh god. I wanted to watch him as he moved over me, all over again. Memories weren’t enough. Not with him right here.
BURN is out Feb 9th! Pre-Order it now for only 99 cents!