Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Taste for a Mate: Book Release Day!!!

It's Here!!! It's really here! A Taste for a Mate is now available on Amazon  and Barnes & Noble!

I'm so happy to share Jasper's story with yall. You can find it here. Thanks so much for coming on this Redwood journey with me! Its a full length novel and the second book in the series! I'm so excited!!

Pick up a copy, enjoy and tell your friends. LOL Okay you know I'm not that pushy, but enjoy yourself anyway!

A Taste for a Mate - Book 2 in the Redwood Pack Series

Jasper Jamenson’s only responsibility to being the Beta of the Redwood Pack, second son of the Alpha, is to protect the Pack from themselves and the human world. After a century of selfless service, his brother’s new found mating forced him into taking a good look into his life. He isn’t sure he wants a mate, but fate may have other ideas.

Willow Delton is a skinny, bakery owner – the type most woman love to hate. Being without family, she finds herself alone to the Greek god with green eyes who saunters into her bakery every morning. Her desire to follow him, to be with him, overrides every rational sense she possessed.

Jasper and Willow are drawn together, despite every nuisance that works against them. But evil beyond even Jasper’s supernatural compensation will make war against him, by going after the only thing in his eternal life he desires – Willow. Is Willow’s heart enough to overcome Jasper’s soul to save her life? A fight he cannot win, but to save her life – he must. 

Book Spotlight: The Fever and the Fury Stephanie Draven

The Fever and the Fury
Stephanie Draven

Revenge is a dish best served hot!
Phaedra, a fury, is bound to make Lieutenant Luke Lazaros atone for his supposed crime, but her usual method of inflicting pain doesn’t work very well on a phoenix with the power to be reborn every time he dies. However, each rebirth leaves him with an overwhelming need for sex. Phaedra’s new plan: to drive Luke mad with desire.
But Phaedra has never touched anyone—even herself—except to cause pain. She’s an innocent when it comes to pleasure…but Luke isn’t. His touch is a revelation, arousing a passion in Phaedra that is as delicious as it is terrifying. For no matter how much she wants Luke, giving herself to a man risks awakening her goddess’s wrath.


A multi-published award-nominated author of paranormal romance. Stephanie’s critically acclaimed  Mythica series asks: What if the monsters of ancient mythology still walked the earth...and what if you found out that you were one of them? Currently a denizen of Baltimore, Stephanie lives with her favorite nocturnal creatures–three scheming cats and a deliciously wicked husband. And when she is not busy with dark domestic rituals, she writes her books.
Excerpt:
She'd already killed him twice this week.
Monday, the harpy bitch grabbed the wheel just as he was making a tight turn on a cliff-side highway. The car jumped the barrier and exploded in a fiery crash of glass and twisted metal at the bottom of Moraca Canyon.
On Wednesday morning, he'd chanced taking a shower and she dropped a hair dryer in with him, sending a deadly shock through his wet body.
It wasn't even the weekend and she was already trying to kill him a third time.
Luke had awakened to the sinuous slide of her body atop his and, for one groggy moment, he'd enjoyed the carnal sensation of a woman in bed with him.
Then her knee came crushing down on his windpipe.
Now Luke thrashed upon the mattress, grabbing at her supple thighs, trying to throw her off.  The curve of her breast brushed his arm, her moist lips parted and she clutched at his face as if she were going to draw him into an intimate embrace…just before fingernails like talons cut his flesh to bloody ribbons.
Or at least that's what it felt like.
With the lightest touch, she could put an ordinary mortal man in complete agony. But he wasn't an ordinary mortal man and she should have known better than to touch him.
"Atone," the fury demanded, her voice driving needles of agony into his spine. “Atone!”
Luke was desperate enough to consider it. Anything to get rid of her. Anything to make the pain stop. Anything that might relieve him of the memories that haunted him. The blood in the sand and all the lies…
Take the money, Luke. There'll be more where that came from.
His traitorous lips parted in surrender, ready to tell the fury whatever she wanted to hear, but then he felt his square jaw clench tight in stubborn refusal.
No. Screw atonement and regret. Luke would rather die again.
Her lithe legs wrapped around his waist like a vise. They were locked together as tightly as lovers and in blind suffering he banged the back of his skull on the headboard. It started like a fever, a sexual rush of heat that seared its way through his veins, pulsing through his hammering heart, racing to his groin.
Damn it. He liked this villa, but he'd burn the place down to get free of her if he had to. Sparks leaped from his fingertips to the bedsheets and the scent of scorched linen rose to his nostrils. The fire would obey him—it was the one goddamned thing in his life he still had any control over—so Luke made the fire rise higher, engulfing them both in a flash of flames and searing pain.
His bones went white-hot, molten beneath his skin, and he screamed. He was turning to ash. He was burning her too, burning her alive. He could have held onto her. He could have forced her to share his torment to the bitter end, but he flung her away. And her tumbling body was the last thing he saw before he died….

Phaedra was accustomed to inflicting pain, not suffering it. But now every cell in her body screamed in protest as her burned skin rose up in blisters. She was immortal. She could never die. That didn't mean she couldn't feel pain, and making this man miserable had somehow become her own personal torment.
She lay dazed in agony on the floor, smoke filling her lungs while Lieutenant Luke Lazaros burned alive before her very eyes. Gods of Olympus, he was stubborn. He should have broken by now, but he was only getting more unmanageable. None of the men she'd been sent to torture had ever been so obstinate. Then again, she'd never been unleashed upon a phoenix before.
In the light of the crackling blaze, Phaedra's blistered body healed, new pink flesh knitting over the old with miraculous speed, and it occurred to her that the fire alarm wasn't shrieking. A quick glance up at the scorched ceiling told her that he'd disabled it. That he'd planned for this exact circumstance. He was handy that way. Good with modern gadgets. And a born strategist. He'd started anticipating her. Adapting…
All at once, the conflagration on the bed extinguished itself and a burst of air dusted her with Luke's charred human remains. A bit of stagecraft on his part.
Of course, she'd seen him do this before—rise from the ashes as a new man, his dark curly hair cut in sharp military style, his name and blood type displayed upon frayed patches on his desert fatigues. A backpack full of cash in his right hand.
This was how he looked the moment he was war-forged. The instant he stopped being an ordinary mortal man and became a monster. But as many times as she watched him die, she couldn't enjoy it. Watching him now, she took no satisfaction in his shudder of revulsion at the feel of a new body that wasn't his own. Nor did it encourage her to see the half hostile, half haunted look in his eyes as he tried to remember himself. Shaking his head as if to fasten upon his old memories, he caught her look of dismay and gave a dark smile-that-was-not-a-smile.
"What's the matter?” Luke asked. “Didn't expect me to be so hot in bed?"
Given that she was clutching the burned and blackened remains of her clothing against her body, Phaedra didn't appreciate the sexual innuendo. It didn't surprise her though. Every time the lieutenant was reborn, he battled overwhelming hunger. He'd be ravenous now, for food, drink…sex.
Still, he grabbed one of his white dress shirts from a drawer and tossed it to her. "Here. You can wear this."
The gallant gesture was starkly out of place considering their situation. Phaedra eyed her nemesis as she fastened the buttons, disconcerted by his scent on the shirt and how it mingled with the perfume of her newly healed skin. "Does this mean you're ready to be redeemed, Luke Lazaros?"
"Just means I was brought up right," Luke said through his teeth. "And that an officer falls back on his training in a crisis. Or maybe I've just always fantasized about a leggy woman wearing nothing but my shirt. Until I get rid of you, I might as well improve the scenery."
"How many times must we go through this?" Phaedra asked, ignoring the predatory glare in his eyes. She rose to her feet. She was tall, but he was taller. She was hard-bodied and imposing; even before they felt the torture of her touch, most men had the sense to cower. But not this man. "There is no getting rid of me, Lieutenant. Once a fury is unleashed upon a criminal, she's unbreakably bound to him until he atones or is driven to insanity."
"I'm not a criminal," Luke snapped. "And I will find a way to be rid of you."
I hope you do find a way, Phaedra thought. Because she was every bit as stuck with him as he was with her.


Monday, January 30, 2012

Exclusive Content and a Guest Post with Skye Warren

Thanks for having me!  For you guys, I’ve got exclusive content from my martial arts erotic romance, Below the Belt. This means, it’s not in the book, it’s not anywhere but right here on Carrie’s blog. In this scene, Abe met his match in the sweet, sexy heroine last night. He also managed to screw it up just that quickly. But this is Nationals and he’s a champion, so he’s trying to focus on training…
Abe’s fists thudded against the leather in quick succession, followed by the slam of a roundhouse kick. The freestanding punching bag, despite the weighted base, tipped over with a shudder.
The other guys in the gym looked over at the sound of the crash, but only Rafael was stupid enough to approach him when he was like this. Sweaty and out of breath from his tour on the treadmill, Rafael yanked his earplugs out and leaned against a nearby, still-standing punching bag. “Your mind on something, amigo?”
Abe took a few gulps from his water bottle before dousing his thick head with the rest of it. The cool splash did little to cool his annoyance. Neither did the knowing grin on Rafael’s face.
“Or maybe someone,” Rafael said, “like a pretty girl with a nice pair of – ”
Abe cut him off with a growl. “Aren’t you supposed to be running – not running your mouth?”
Rafael sauntered off, having made his point. As if Abe didn’t know what the problem was. All he’d been able to think about for the long, sleepless night and even longer morning in training was a certain gorgeous woman with a beautiful pair of…well. But none of that mattered, because he’d ruined his shot with her. Even by his own, admittedly low, standards he’d fucked up. Bad enough that he had approached her on a bet, that he had pushed his luck by having sex with her that first night, but his whole dumbass crew had found them together. Shit. A nice guy would have protected her from humiliation like that, not caused it. But then, Abe wasn’t a nice guy.
With a grunt, he righted the punching bag and went to work. Maybe he could work her out of his system, if he hit hard enough, moved fast enough. His muscles burned in protest, but that only made him push himself harder.
Sweat slid into his eyes, stinging and blinding him. He went on fighting, just like he’d always done. More. Harder. Faster. The bag in front of him morphed into a wavy black column. He was moving on instinct. Except his instincts were all screwy. And suddenly the chant in his head wasn’t about fighting at all, but someone else, something entirely different. Something he’d done just last night. Faster. Harder. More. Beautiful, trusting brown eyes blinking up at him, hazy with arousal.
Fuck.
I’m sure our mystery heroine will meet up with him soon, just in time to mess with his head (and other body parts) again. Here’s the blurb to Below the Belt:
Black belt Abe Montgomery is focused on winning gold. But at nationals, Abe meets Paris, a beautiful, mysterious woman. Paris Rivera has sworn off men and martial arts. Her black belt cost her more than years of dedication and sweat. The fight of Abe’s life looms ahead, with his dreams of owning a school and his future with Paris hanging in the balance. He may dominate on the mats, but he’s fallen hard for her. When the time comes for them to part, he may not be able to let her go.
The best new is that Below the Belt is only 99 cents, so spend a couple more hours with Abe and see where it takes him. Fair warning: this is one seriously steamy novella.
Buy it now at Amazon, B&N, or All Romance, or go to http://skyewarren.com/books/below-the-belt/ for an excerpt and more buy links.
Thanks all!
Skye Warren
Unapologetic erotica

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Taste for a Mate: Six Sentence Sunday - #26

My six sentences today come from A Taste for a Mate, book 2 in the Redwood Pack series. It comes out Feb 6th! So close! 

Willow has just woken up and not fully awake yet. :-)


Questions formed and tumbled in her mind, cooling the surrounding warmth as she tried to make sense of what was happening.

The sounds of footsteps on the lush carpet mingled with the crunching of grass beneath a person’s foot. The bending of a blade of grass underneath a paw sounded crisp and clean. A door opened to a home, followed by more footsteps.

Behind the intense sandalwood came the strong scent of freshly ground coffee, fatty bacon sizzling in a pan, the creamy scent of homemade pancakes with fresh whipped cream and berries. The sharp citrus smell of squeezed orange juice overpowered her scenes as she caught a whiff of wood shavings.

Find the other sixers here.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Finding Romance in Science

Please welcome Kat Duncan to the blog today! 


Be sure to comment at the end of the post b/c she will be awarding gift basket worth over $15 of Irish items to one randomly drawn commenter (US/Canada only please). Be sure to follow the tour by clicking the logo, because the more the enter, the better chances you have!





Finding Romance in Science


We expect romance to sweep us off our feet and transport our often weary, jaded psyches to new and exciting realms and places only our minds can reach. Romance makes us believe in human goodness, fate, destiny and countless other imponderables. We expect science, on the other hand, to ground us, to give our skeptical, suspicious minds facts that help us understand how the world works and why people behave the way they do. Science doesn't ask us to believe anything. Science provides factual knowledge, and proof to back up that knowledge.


So, what happens when romance invades science, or the reverse? You might think the obvious answer is chaos, but the true answer is synergy, a blend that has advantages for both romance and science. Not so very long ago science was based on belief and not evidence. Nineteen people died in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692 on the say-so of a few young girls who accused people in their town of afflicting them through witchcraft. The judges and juries at the time accepted belief as proof and condemned hundreds of innocent people to die. And die they did, until the governor of Massachusetts intervened, making a rule that belief was not enough. He declared there must be evidence to go along with the claims. Although the incidents in 1692 were not heralded as the beginnings of science, it stand as an example of what can happen when beliefs are shored up with underpinnings of science.


Great. So, what happens when science is shored up by romance? In the short time since 1692 have scientists lost their romantic sides, if ever they possessed such things? I think not. It is the romantic side of science that keeps scientists interested in pursuing answers to some of our most difficult questions. Nearly thirty years ago, award-winning scientist Carl Sagan discovered that the brain of a well-known scientist, Paul Broca, had been preserved in a jar in a museum in France. Dr. Sagan's romantic side wondered if Broca's memories were still alive and well in that jar and further wondered whether it would someday be possible to access them and learn all that Broca knew.


Authors also have such wondering thoughts. Unlike true scientists who must stick to physically provable evidence, authors can wander about in their imaginations and take legions of readers on the journey with them. It is a completely romantic notion to think that as you read Synapse you are really wandering with me in my mind as I wonder what may be possible in the world of science as well as in the world of romance. If there were no romance in science, or no science in romance, both of these worlds would be diminished. It is only in the blending, and the synergy, of these and other worlds that can make us wonder and dream and through these dreams and wonderings search for and discover all that is new and exciting.



Kat Duncan is a creation extremist who is doing her best to identify human creativity and free it from captivity, one student at a time. As a young child, Kat once tried to confess the telling of her stories to her parish priest because she thought they fit the definition the nuns gave for telling a lie. With her lies fully sanctioned and blessed by church authorities, Kat has been telling her lies ever since and writing stories to entertain and enlighten. After a successful career as a software engineer, Kat decided she needed something different to do. She's now a tutor of adolescents with special needs.

Twitter: @write_about
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/writeabout




Blurb:

Stalked by a killer bent on stealing her laboratory notebook, scientist Molly Augur is desperate to figure out who she can and cannot trust. With the help of co-researcher Bill Banely, she uses DNA technology she invented to prove she can release hidden ancestral memories. In the brain synapses of her mind she finds one person who may know the truth - her long dead ancestor, Mailsi, whose life memories have been recorded in the depths of Molly’s genes.

Ancient passions and betrayals come alive and collide with the present when Molly discovers philanthropist Dr. Philman, with a secret billion dollar need for the technology only she possesses could be the one after her notebook. And Bill, whose wandering heart she has finally won, is working for Philman. In the face of limitless money, what is the value of Bill’s love? Or the value of her life? The answers lie deep within the synapses of her mind.

Excerpt

"Banely!" she screamed. "The hydrogen tank. It's gonna blow. Run!"

Banely disappeared and she heard the massive lab door slam shut. The floor trembled like a pending volcanic eruption. She covered her eyes and sucked in a breath. The impact hit her and she went rolling. But it wasn't the hydrogen. It was Banely. After his flying tackle he pulled her behind a concrete lab bench, his arms gripping around her, forming a protective shell. A pop, and a whoosh of gas.

She moaned, waiting for the explosion.

Nothing.

Just the steady hiss of escaping gas.

Cautiously, she looked around the corner of the bench at the cloud of helium that blanketed the fuelsile as the automatic exhaust system sucked away the cloud of frozen hydrogen.

"The helium extinguisher worked," she whispered.

"The what?" He sat up, still holding her.

"Don't move," she said, her voice hushed as if any disturbance would upset the delicate balance of gases. "It's not over yet." The hiss slowly lessened, and then it stopped.

Silence. Except for two heaving chests.

She sat back, allowing herself one muffled sob as she covered her eyes.

"It's ok, Molly. It's over. No one is hurt." His arms were still around her.

Her beautiful DNA machine. Gone. She wanted to bury her face into his chest and cry.

"What's going on?" he asked. "You shouldn't be working alone on a machine like this. It's dangerous."

She looked to the damaged fuelsile that could never again be used. "You're right. I'm not supposed to be in here alone. The dean would fire me."



Be sure to comment at the end of the post b/c she will be awarding gift basket worth over $15 of Irish items to one randomly drawn commenter (US/Canada only please). Be sure to follow the tour by clicking the logo, because the more the enter, the better chances you have!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Writing Hot Scenes with Louisa Masters

Writing Hot Scenes
You're reading a book. The tension between the hero and heroine has been slowly building over the last few scenes. They're ready to have sex, you just know it...
You're writing a book. You've slowly built the tension between the hero and heroine, and it's time for them to do the nasty...crap. Now you have to write it.
A lot of writers can scribble off a hot scene without a hitch. Not me. For me, it takes concentration, focus, and a whole lot of self-encouragement.
The problem: balancing the what-goes-where with the sensations and emotions the character is experiencing. Hands can stroke, lips can caress, other parts can clench and/or throb...but then what? How does the character and the recipient react? Do they shudder? Does their skin tingle? Muscles tremble?
Plus, there's the whole repetition thing. How many times can a person shudder in one scene?
I've been told to draw on personal experience. It's a great idea in theory, but in practice, if you're doing it right you're not taking notes. So when I sit down to write a hot scene, it's usually after I've done some research. What have I seen, read, heard about that I find interesting, that I might like to try myself. What have I done before that was...erm...fun? Even if I can't remember the details, I can remember how I felt afterward.
Next, I think about my characters. Are they adventurous and open to new things? Shy and need coaxing? Are they with a new partner or someone they've known intimately for years?
Now I have the overall scene hashed out, and it's time to focus on the technical. Whose hands go where, when does tab A go into slot B—or whatever else they might do.
I hate to admit it, but generally I go back after I've written the scene and add in the reactions and emotions. I find it easier after the mechanics have been taken care of!
My question to you: how would you write a hot scene? Could you do it all in one go, or would you need to build the components in stages?

A born reader, Louisa discovered her love of romance at an early age and began sneaking her mother's romance novels by age twelve. A sucker for a happy ending, she was often disappointed by the lead up–not enough sexy stuff. Where was the anticipation, the flirting, the tension? Her solution? Write it herself.
Living in Melbourne, Australia, she is renowned for complaining about the weather and the calories associated with eating ice cream, but has learned to ignore both and enjoy life anyway. Visit Louisa at
www.louisamasters.com

With her resignation submitted, Jeannie Price has one last task she’s itching to perform before leaving her job. After months of sitting next to hot, sexy colleague Tim Harding, it’s time to turn fantasy into reality with a scorching invitation to collaborate on matters of the flesh in Conference Room B. Then she can walk away without regrets.

Tim’s dreams of wild, sweaty sex with Jeannie come true when he accepts her offer, but he’s stunned to learn she doesn’t want to see him again after their steamy tryst. She may be trying to brush him off as just one more item on her To-Do List, but he’s determined to convince her there’s nothing taboo about inter-office relations.

Excerpt :
“Do you want to have sex in Conference Room B?”
Tim Harding jerked his head up from the cost analysis on his computer screen. Jeannie Price was leaning on the partition between their desks, her dark eyes fixed on his face. He took a moment to admire them as he pondered her words.
“Is this a hypothetical question?” he asked finally. “Because—”
“It’s not a hypothetical question. It’s an invitation.”
Her words slammed straight to his cock. Was she joking? Had she guessed that she was the star of his late-night fantasies? He’d even pictured taking her in the office—okay, he’d imagined the boardroom, but he was flexible.
He swallowed, hard, his cock twitching. She’d been very flexible when he imagined her on his balcony. And in his shower. And...
 “I’ll tell you what,” she said. “I’m going to be working in Conference Room B for the next half hour. You think about it, and if you decide to join me...” She shrugged, and her long brown hair slid forward, drawing his eyes to her breasts. In his dreams, her hair flowed over her naked breasts, her nipples peeking through the locks, and when he drew her down over him, it would swing forward, surrounding them like a silken tent...
She straightened, gathered up her laptop and notepad, and handed him an inter-office envelope.
“This may help you make up your mind.”
He watched her walk away, the sway of her hips and the way her dress slid across her ass making him shift uncomfortably.

Louisa will be giving away three $10 Amazon GCs to randomly drawn commenters during the tour. Follow the tour here


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Spicing Things Up with Romance Novels with Roni Loren

Well, that sounds interesting...Spicing Things Up with Romance Novels

One of the beautiful things about books is that we as readers can explore things we may never experience. A passionate affair with a duke, an exciting adventure in another universe, being on the hunt for a crazed serial killer. It’s all at our fingertips. And when it comes to romance, especially erotic romance, it gives us a safe place to explore fantasies we may not ever tackle in our real life.

Or...it may give you ideas on how to spice up your current relationship. It’d be an interesting study to know how many people who read erotic stories end up taking some of those activities and bringing them into their own bedrooms. Reading stories is a good way to find out what appeals to you without risk.

I had a few people who have read my book that said--loved the book, but I can’t see kneeling and calling any guy sir. I get a kick out of that response because it’s so interesting to see how different people react. My usual reply to that reaction is--then you probably aren’t hiding a secret submissive side. Maybe you want to be in charge. Or maybe the whole power exchange dynamic wouldn’t do anything for you.

On the flip side, I’ve had others say that they never realized the submissive role appealed to them until they read a BDSM book. So it can be a good way to safely discover where your interests lie. Feel yourself getting a little flushed when you read a bondage scene? Maybe that’s something to try with your partner. What have you got to lose? If it’s a flop, you’ll probably at least get a laugh out of it.

And of course, always do your research. If you’re going to try something a little involved, make sure you learn about it and do it with someone you trust. Though BDSM romances often have the characters getting into that dynamic pretty quickly, it’s not something to jump into with someone you don’t know well and without rules and limits set up and discussed. Like anything else, be smart.

So have you discovered anything about yourself through reading a romance? What kind of book would you like to jump into and “live” if you knew you could jump right back out when you wanted?

Roni wrote her first romance novel at age fifteen when she discovered writing about boys was way easier than actually talking to them. Since then, her flirting skills haven’t improved, but she likes to think her storytelling ability has. Though she’ll forever be a New Orleans girl at heart, she now lives in Dallas with her husband and son. If she’s not working on her latest sexy story, you can find her reading, watching reality television, or indulging in her unhealthy addiction to rockstars, er, rock concerts. Yeah, that's it. Her debut novel, CRASH INTO YOU, will be published by Berkley Heat January 3, 2012.

Website/Blogs: www.roniloren.com
Tumblr (where I post mancandy photos): http://roniloren.tumblr.com
Buy links for book: www.roniloren.com/books

Brynn LeBreck has dedicated herself to helping women in crisis, but she never imagined how personal her work would get, or where it would take her. Her younger sister is missing, suspected to be hiding from cops and criminals alike at a highly secretive BDSM retreat—a place where the elite escape to play out their most extreme sexual fantasies. To find her Brynn must go undercover as a sexual submissive. Unfortunately, The Ranch is invitation only. And the one Master who can get her in is from the darkest corner of Brynn’s past.

Brynn knows what attorney Reid Jamison is like once stripped of his conservative suit and tie. Years ago she left herself vulnerable only to have him crush her heart. Now she needs him again. Back on top. And he’s all too willing to engage. But as their primal desires and old wounds are exposed, the sexual games escalate—and so does the danger.  Their hearts aren’t the only things at risk. Someone else is watching, playing by his own rules. And his game could be murder.

CRASH INTO YOU - EXCERPT 1:

Brynn’s response lodged in her throat, the all-too-familiar name ringing in her ears. No, couldn’t be. But a sinking feeling settled in her gut. She’d only met one Reid in her life, and that Reid was a lawyer. She closed her eyes and took a steadying breath before she turned around to face her new co-worker.
Reid’s blue-eyed gaze met her head-on, hitting her like an airbag to the chest. She sucked in a breath and fought the old instinct to lower her eyes in deference. Son of a bitch, where had that urge come from? She ticked up her chin and gave him her best I-hate-you-but-will-be-polite-because-I’m-the-bigger-person glare. “Hello.”
Cooper walked around Brynn and clapped Reid on the shoulder. “Reid, I’d like you to meet our other social worker, Brynn LeBreck.”
Reid nodded, his expression annoyingly unreadable. “Brynn, pleasure to see you again. It’s been a while.”
Not long enough. Three years had passed since she’d last seen him. His inky hair was longer on top and a few lines creased the corners of his eyes, but time hadn’t softened her warring responses to him. The urges to pummel his face and strip naked before him held almost equal weight. Luckily, the venue was too public to give in to either. She feigned an air of indifference. “It has.”
“Still as beautiful as ever, though.”
The warm notes of his voice stirred the dark recesses of her memory, further inciting the old longing. She shifted in her heels as hot tingles crept from deep in her belly and moved downward to settle between her legs. Un-f**king- believable. Her body was a whoring traitor.
Melody stepped next to Brynn as if sensing her need for support, and Cooper’s eyebrows rose. “You two know each other?”
Boy, did they—in just about every way a man and woman could. She searched Reid’s face, and he tipped his head infinitesimally, as if giving her permission to answer the question. Her eyes narrowed. “Used to. Long time ago.”
Cooper smiled, either oblivious or unperturbed by the tension zipping through the air between her and Reid. “Great. Guess introductions weren’t needed then.”
Nope. Not needed. Brynn knew exactly who Reid Jamison was. A first-class bastard.
(Full version of chapter one can be read here: http://www.roniloren.com/excerpts )

Roni will be giving away:

* One signed set of Romance Trading Cards for "Crash Into You" to a random commenter at every stop.

* A $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour. 

Be sure to follow the tour here.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Matchmaking in Romance

Please welcome Dana Littlejohn to the blog today!

Dana is giving away a promo pen and T-shirt to two different commenters throughout the tour! Be sure to follow the tour here for a better chance to win!




Matchmaking in Romance

Hello everyone!
I am Dana Littlejohn, author of sensual erotic romance. The topic today is matchmaking in romance. When I first saw the topic I had no clue what I was going to write about. I went through my completed books list to see if I even had any books that someone did any matchmaking. When I realized I didn’t have any, I thought a little more and hold the phone. Sure I do!  
I was looking at the question all wrong. There matchmaking going on through a romance novel. I mean, isn’t that the point? The main character finds the perfect match for them be it through another character within the storyline or the fates step in and do it for them.
I realized after going through my stories that almost all of them are fate induced romances. You now the ones I’m talking about…some how, some way two star crossed lovers meet and bam! Something sparks inside them and they know that they know that they know they are supposed to be with that person.
In my books your everyday shmoe gets the girl because fate stepped in and said he was worthy and even the gods themselves find true love.
In the first two books of my Erotes series Aphrodite’s sons Eros and Himeros are charged by Zeus to bring lovers together in their mother’s absence, but in the next two books, the son she had with Hermes, Hermaphroditus and the daughter she had with Poseidon, Herephile have been sent to Earth to find love for themselves. They were guided by the hand of their mother to the one that needed them the most.
I believe that matchmaking is an intricate part of the whole romance thing. Sometimes it’s not as blatant as what Aphrodite did with her children, but a subtle match works too. In my Asian Spice, Taniea and Michael weren’t trying to be together at all. They had an arrangement they agreed upon while she was in China that worked for both of them, but fate stepped in and said otherwise. The more time they spend together, well, you get the idea.
After you have read chapter after chapter about these people you’re invested in their future. Here they are avoiding love and the people you know they’re supposed to be with. It’s driving you crazy, making you want to reach onto the pages and strangle them. True love is right in their face and they’re blinded by some other drama they can’t shake. Then finally, the author has mercy on you and allows fate to step in and bring them together. That virtual Cupid’s arrow hits the main character right in the butt and suddenly it on! They have to have them and will do anything to get them. That’s the best part of reading romances isn’t it? Those are the books that become your favorite.
I think it’s the ‘matchmaking’ that makes one romance different from another. How they actually end up is a big part in the romance. I try to make that part as different as the characters themselves in my story. Sometimes that’s easier said than done, but I do try. J
Dana Littlejohn

  Dana Littlejohn was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, but has called Indianapolis, In. her home for over ten years. She has always wanted to write since early childhood, but put that wish on hold to raise her growing family and have a career. With the encouragement of her husband, Dana picked up her pen again in 2003 and has no intention on putting it down. With 3 novels, 8 novellas, 4 stories in anthologies, 42 short stories published to date and a long list of wip (works in progress) she is literally living her dream. Join her on the wild journey through her imagination. It’s a ride you’ll never forget!

Blurb:
Jade Dupree had always been a hot commodity among the young airman. She tried not to date them, but having an old school mother and a worldly father gave her a challenging social life. Her mother’s only goal in life seemed to be to get her to settle her down with the next available airman and birth as many babies as possible.
Her father’s outlook for his children’s future was much less intense. Jade let her mother set her up with an extremely handsome tech sergeant, just as she met the very interesting Mike Davis.
Having spent time with both men Jade can’t help but wonder if her mother finally got lucky in choosing Steven Jones for her…or was Mike Davis a better match for her after all? 

Facebook: search authordanalittlejohn
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Excerpt
He laughed again. “Yeah, okay. You know, you dance good for someone who got dragged out to the dance floor.”
 “It’s well.”
 “What’s well?” he asked, sending a quick look over his shoulder.
 “It’s, ‘you dance ‘well’ for someone who got dragged to the dance floor.’”
 Mike’s brows scrunched as he twirled her again. “That’s what I said.”
 Jade shook her head negatively, careful not to miss the beat. “No, that’s not what you said. You said good.”
 “Good is bad?” the man asked with a raised brow.
 Jade continued to stare at his feet to stay in step with him. “No, good isn’t bad, it’s just not right.”
 “So, good is wrong, but not bad?” he asked in a teasing tone.
 “No, good isn’t—” Suddenly she stopped moving and looked up at him. “Are you doing that on purpose?”
 “Doing what? I’m learning,” he assured her with a laughing grin.
 Jade stood on the dance floor staring into his smiling eyes as the people continued to dance around them. Then she rolled her own.
 “Whatever.”



Dana is giving away a promo pen and T-shirt to two different commenters throughout the tour! Be sure to follow the tour here for a better chance to win!





Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Taste for a Mate: Six Sentence Sunday - #25

This is from my upcoming release A Taste for a Mate. It comes out Feb 6th and is book 2 in the Redwood Pack series. :-)


Jasper wrapped her hair around his fist and kissed her with bruising force. He unsnapped her jeans and had them down around her ankles before she could blink. She gasped as his fingers twisted the sides of her thong and tore it from her body.

He kissed and nibbled her neck around the fading mate mark before lifting his head and turning her around, bending her over the couch. The rasp of a zipper and rustle of jeans sent shivers over her spine. He danced his fingers across her thighs, before he finally brushed against her clit. 


Be sure to check out the other sixers here.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Sneak Peak of A Taste for a Mate Chapter One


A Taste for a Mate is the second book in the Redwood pack series comes out Feb 6th. I'm so freaking excited about this LOL. My debut, An Alpha's Path, came out in Dec and is the first book in the series. I've been slowly gearing up to share Jasper and Willow with y'all.

A Taste for a Mate is three times longer than An Alpha's Path and darker. I got to explore new sides to the world and just have fun with it. I'm going to share the first chapter with y'all now and I can't wait to share the rest!

Blurb:

Jasper Jamenson’s only responsibility to being the Beta of the Redwood Pack, second son of the Alpha, is to protect the Pack from themselves and the human world. After a century of selfless service, his brother’s new found mating forced him into taking a good look into his life. He isn’t sure he wants a mate, but fate may have other ideas.

Willow Delton is a skinny, bakery owner – the type most woman love to hate. Being without family, she finds herself alone to the Greek god with green eyes who saunters into her bakery every morning. Her desire to follow him, to be with him, overrides every rational sense she possessed.

Jasper and Willow are drawn together, despite every nuisance that works against them. But evil beyond even Jasper’s supernatural compensation will make war against him, by going after the only thing in his eternal life he desires – Willow. Is Willow’s heart enough to overcome Jasper’s soul to save her life? A fight he cannot win, but to save her life – he must.



Chapter 1


The scent of cinnamon and sugar danced on the air as Willow Delton heaved opened the heavy oven door to remove her prized cinnamon rolls. The plump, buttery pastries were baked to perfection, and she set them on the counter to cool. The only thing missing was her thick and creamy frosting, but that would have to wait.
Willow stood back and stared around her commercial grade kitchen. She’d started her bakery from scratch, and it had grown into a successful, albeit small, business. Incredible, really. She’d never thought the day would arrive when she finally had a place to call her own. She was right where she wanted to be. Her favorite part of the day was being able to meet one-on-one with her customers. She loved the looks on their faces when they bit into her temptations,  that look of ecstasy not seen on this side of the bedroom door that flashed across their eyes.
Of course, that particular look as the result of a man was long absent from Willow’s face. Too excruciatingly long.
She stood back and closed her eyes, conjuring the memory of her mystery man’s face. The image that filled her mind made her forget the lack of human contact. The thought of his deep, husky voice tickled her spine whenever he spoke. Green eyes caught her in his web with only a glance. She’d fallen for a stranger and didn’t even know his name. He’d come into her store every morning and ordered a cinnamon roll and coffee with only a few words. Then he ‘d pay cash before lifting up the corner of his mouth in a semblance of a smile and walking out of her store. Was it strange she worried he’d keep walking and never return?
 A bell’s tinkle pulled Willow from her reverie and self-pity. As she turned to greet her customer, her heart leapt to her throat. Him. Her mysterious fantasy man. As she tried to regain her senses, she took all of him in. He had to be one of the tallest men she’d ever seen, easily over six and a half feet. The tight black T-shirt he wore hugged his biceps and cut into his muscular physique, while his broad shoulders stretched and strained the seams. His body tapered down to a narrow waist and hips as they met his thighs. His long legs she wanted to grip, encased in worn jeans lead to work boots. Hmm, construction perhaps? She glanced back up his body to his striking face.
He wasn’t beautiful, but he did have a face most women would dream about. A strong jaw and cheekbones gave him an aura of strength, the kind of strength that would be protective. His hair was midnight black and long enough to brush his shoulders, however, today, a band held it back, showcasing his face more. He studied her, his green eyes calm and calculating. Willow let out a surprised gasp at the sexual heat radiating from him. Could she possibly be imagining things?


****


Jasper Jamenson fought himself as he walked into the bakery that morning. This would be the seventh week in a row he’d come here, every day but Sunday. And that was only because the damn store was closed. As good as the cinnamon rolls were, and they were little tastes of heaven, it was the woman behind the counter that brought him there every morning.
Following a particularly bad night in the forest on a hunt, Jasper had been pissed and hungry. Another wolf had tried to play a dominant game, forcing Jasper to hurt him. The stench of the other’s defeat had remained on him, only angering Jasper that much more. The scent of the morning’s freshly baked goods pulled him through the quaint and welcoming door, and the slender goddess who served him brought thoughts of a different form of servicing to mind.
Slightly above average in height – he would guess about five foot seven – she was the perfect height to settle against his body. For someone who owned and operated a bakery, she was as skinny as a rail. However, if he looked close enough he could see the telltale signs possible of curves. And with just a little bit of his help and pampering she would gain some well-needed cushion. No matter what, she’d look amazing underneath him. Her long, light brown hair curled in a bun on the top of her head. His fingers ached to pull out the pins and watch it tumble down her back. Hazel eyes sought him and begged for his protection. Damn, he was willing.
Her look made the wolf within him perk up and growl.
“Mate? I want her”. His wolf paced beneath the surface of his skin, calculating the best way to quickly claim their mate.
What his wolf spoke of was a possibility. There were only a few women in the world through time that carried the scent to signal the potential mating. Unlike his brother Kade, who had met two women recently that carried the scent, Jasper had never in his one-hundred and three years come across a woman who brought forth the mating urge. However, if all encounters were like this one, Jasper didn’t know how others walked away. The urge rode him hard and he fought his wolf for control if only for a moment, something that hadn’t happened since he was a pup.
He mentally spoke to his wolf. “We are not ready for a mate. And a human no less. She knows nothing of us. If, and that is a big if, we chose her to be our mate, we will have to go slowly into this. I don’t want us to scare her. But she is beautiful, no”
His wolf growled in response.
“Do you want to scare her away? Let’s get to know her first, see if she is a good match, other than that incredible cinnamon scent. I’ll talk to Adam and find out everything I can about her. I am the Beta; I cannot put my Pack in jeopardy.”
God, he really sucked at this. This time he needed to put on his big wolf panties and actually ask her out.
Then we could mark her.”
 He snorted at his wolf. Yeah, that was taking it slow.
Jasper shook himself from his inner thoughts and looked into those hazel eyes. The spot of flour on her cheek begged for his hand to brush it way. He fought the urge. No need to freak her out. Her chest moved slowly, her small breasts rising and falling. The cinnamon scent of her filled his nostrils and he took a deep breath, the aroma going straight to his cock. The slight gasp that escaped from her kissable lips almost broke his control, and he fisted his hands to regain it.
“Good morning.” His voice lowered an octave and became a growl. He cleared his throat and started again. “I come here every morning and I don’t think I ever gave you my name. Let me rectify that.” He closed the distance between them so only the counter separated them. “I’m Jasper Jamenson. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” He held out his hand in hopes of touching her skin.
Willow blinked up at him and seemed at a loss for words. Her lips opened slightly, begging him to lean down and taste her.
“Uh… yeah… I’m Willow Delton.”  She shook her head, gave him a small smile and placed her slender hand in his. He’d been right – her skin was incredibly soft and made him want to take a bite.
“Yes, I know, you own this place.” He gave her hand a squeeze and released her.
“So, Jasper, do you want your usual?” The sound of his name on her lips hardened his cock. Without waiting for him to respond, she turned back to her work-table to ice her cinnamon rolls.
“Sounds good.” He watched as her hands moved swiftly and confidently across the baking sheets. “What time do you get off?”
“Smooth, Romeo. Why don’t you just ask her to bend over the work table for you?”
Ignoring his wolf Jasper continued, “I thought that we could grab a bite to eat tonight and go see to the arts fest they have running in town.”
Oh dear Lord. Why didn’t he ease into this?
“Oh, are you asking me out on a date?” She wrinkled her brow and looked utterly confused at the prospect.
“Yes, I am. I’ve been in here for over a month every morning, and as much as I love your food, I had an ulterior motive.”
Surprise flashed across her face before her eyes lit up with excitement. “I’ve never been to the arts fest in town. I didn’t want to go by myself and didn’t have anyone to go with me.” Her mouth snapped shut at her revealing statement.
Laughing quietly, he shook his head. “So what time do you get off?”
“You really need to stop putting it like that; it gives me ideas.” Again, he ignored his wolf’s sarcasm.
“I close at four and should be done cleaning up by five. It’s only me here today so it’s going to take me an hour to close.”
“What do you say I come back at six and we go to dinner from here?”
Her smile almost blinded him as she nodded before taking off her apron. “Okay. Sounds good. Here’s your breakfast.” She handed him his black coffee and a small brown bag with a pink logo.
Taking everything from her hands, he set them down along with the cash to pay for it. Giving into temptation he leaned over the counter to brush the flour from her cheek.
She jumped and a flash of alarm raced across her face.
Chuckling under his breath, he reassured her. “Just some flour. I’ll see you at six, Willow.” He grabbed his breakfast and walked to the door, taking one last look behind him at the woman who was his mate. He was one lucky bastard.
Whistling a jaunty tune, he walked toward his Jeep, unconcerned and happy while leaving his mate to do her work. The hairs on the back of his neck lifted, and his wolf came to attention. The street was empty but for a few people; nothing looked out of place. Jasper took a deep breath but didn’t detect another presence. With one last look toward his slender brunette, he shrugged off the uneasy feeling and continued to his Jeep.



Interview with Maggie O'Malley

*Author Edit: We'll be giving away a copy of Claiming their Cat!


Hi! Thanks so much for coming today. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

            Thanks for having me, Carrie. I’m an old woman who’s been married 30 years to              the same wonderful man. It’s amazing he’s put up with me this long. I have two kids       in college, so I’m broke. 
            I write erotic, paranormal, romantic, suspense. I love, love, love, love werewolves. They’re so alpha.

Tell us a bit about your book.
           
             Claiming Their Cat is a werewolf ménage. It’s about trust and perceived betrayal. Cat escapes from a drug lord right into the hands of Rabid Rio. Rio vows to protect    her and her unborn child if she’ll be his mistress. She can’t figure out why a man     would want a mistress who’s pregnant with another man’s child.
            Rio has found his mate, but she knows he’s a hired killer. He needs to protect her    and the only way he can do that is with her cooperation. He’ll kill the drug lord when the time is right, and he won’t even think twice about it.
            Creed’s just returned from deployment and finds his mate standing in the kitchen     that he and his brother share. He’s even more surprised that she’s also Rio’s mate. But he doesn’t mind because nature has decreed it. Saving Cat and her baby is the only thing that matters.

Is this part of a series?
            
        No. Some people have mentioned doing a book about Draco and Lucy, but it’s just not in my head.

What did you find the hardest part of writing it to be?
            
         Getting the time to get all these stories and characters out of my head. I’ve got one to finish from my other pen name and then I’m itching to start a new series of seven        vampire/werewolf hybrids called the Hell’s Hunters Series.

What was your favorite part?
             
        Typing…The End. Its means I can start getting another story out of my brain.

Rate your story in terms of steaminess

            Hawt. One woman with two lovers can’t be anything but sizzling.

Who is your favorite romance author?

            That’s easy. Sarah McCarty and her Hell’s Eight books. And Reaper books. And    Shadow Wranglers. And etc. Lora Leigh and her Breeds. Christine Feehan and JR     Ward too.

What is your favorite romance book or series? 

Hell’s Eight and Breeds

Who is your favorite romance character? If you could go on a date with that person, what would you do? Details please! *wink*

            Any tall, dark, and dangerous werewolf will do—the more the merrier. The perfect date would be sitting at home, snuggling on the couch, watching a football game,     and then taking the tackling into the bedroom.

Boxers or Briefs?

            Commando preferred, then briefs.

What is next for you?

            Write. Write. Write. I’m going to have to start talking five-hour energy at night so I can get more stories done.

What were your first impressions of each other?

            Cat: Rio’s scarier than Alvarez. Who knew Mr. Scary would be so damn handsome.
            Rio: Why is she running when I just saved her butt. Women are such a pain in the   ass.
            Creed: She’s beautiful and she’s ours. How did we get so lucky?     

What are your favorite parts about each other?

            Cat: Well, they both are very sexy—in and out of the bed.
            Rio: Everything. She’s a gift. The mother of my child. 
            Creed: She smells like fresh peaches and sunshine. She’s sexy as hell.  
                          
What’s next for you?

            Cat: Have more children and then let them convert me so I can romp in the woods with them.
            Rio: I’m retiring. Being away from my family would kill me.
            Creed: Raising kids and taking care of their mother is enough to last me a lifetime.

Author Bio. . I'm an old author venturing into the world of self-publishing. Kinda scary and exciting at the same time. 


Claiming Their Cat - Werewolf Ménage

Cat Watson managed to escape from the powerful drug lord Alvarez and right into the hands of the notorious killer—Rabid Rio. Rio promises to protect her and her baby if she becomes his mistress. With no money, what choice did she have?

Rio Wolff has found his mate, and she’s carrying another man’s child, not that it makes a difference to a werewolf. Cat’s running from the bastard, and only he can save her. It would help if she’d stop trying to run away every time he turns his back.

Creed Wolff gazes at the beauty standing in his kitchen and wonders why Rio has broken the rule never to bring a female home. She’s Creed’s mate so he can forgive his brother. Now he needs to replace Rio’s scent with his.

Cat can’t believe she lets both brothers pleasure her. Finally, she’s found a place where she feels safe, protected, and loved. But her world crashes when she finds out they have sold her to Alvarez.

Publisher's Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: Ménage (m/f/m), anal play/intercourse, sex with toys, and spanking.

Excerpt
The hairs on the back of Rio’s neck stood on end which meant that something was about to happen, He never ignored his instinct which meant enjoying his coffee in peace would soon come to a screeching halt.
An eighteen-wheeler skidded to a stop outside the diner, and a small woman threw herself from the cab, surely she wasn’t the cause of his uneasiness. Anything was possible since women were nothing but a pain the ass.
The woman picked herself up, gave the driver the one-finger salute, and then flagged down another trucker. In the blowing rain, it was a wonder someone didn’t run over her ass. This close to the Mexican border was no place for a female to be running around by herself. Human trafficking was a problem, but if the woman was crazy enough to flag a stranger down, then Rio wasn’t going to try to talk some sense into her. He didn’t go looking for trouble. Trouble always found him.
“You need your cup warmed?” Fred asked from behind the counter.
“Nah, I’m good for now, but you can make another pot. I’ll need another fresh cup before I leave.”
“You know you shouldn’t sit by the window.”
Fred was right. It wasn’t the brightest idea to be sitting at the huge window of the diner. After all, he could count the number of friends he had on one finger, and the number of enemies were too many to count. Dying didn’t frighten him—he just wasn’t ready yet. Besides, it was hard to kill a werewolf. Several had tried, and several had died trying. The last time he saw his shiichoo, Apache for grandmother, she foretold of a woman who would almost be the death of him. All the more reason he’d let that woman out there in the rain crawl into another truck. The almost of her warning wasn’t something he wanted to test.
After this job, he was heading back to the little town across the border to find the woman who stole his money eight months ago. Hell, even in his mind that sounded like bullshit. Rio could care less about the money, but the mystery woman might be his mate. He wasn’t sure. He’d been drunk on his ass with too many tequila shots. His wolf remembered her soft flesh and smelling sweet, but not a scent he could put his finger on—yet. Her identity was a mystery too because she’d insisted he keep the lights off. He hadn’t cared at that time. He’d just needed a warm pussy to drive his cock home, and she had one, nice and tight and slick.
And that’s all he remembered.
He’d awakened with a headache, the smell of her sweet sex filling the air, a dick as hard as steel, and his money missing.
Funny thing was no one at the brothel remembered anything about this anonymous woman, and he was skilled at intimidating interrogation tactics. Rio didn’t smell any lies on those he interrogated, so he’d either been so drunk his wolf had made a mistake, or the people he needed to question were long gone. Or she was a ghost. Either way, he had to find out.
His hairs prickled again as he took another sip. Gonna be a shame to waste this coffee. From the corner of his eye, he saw a figure standing across the road. Even through the driving rain, his wolf eyes saw the person drag a sleeve across their nose. Because of the small size, it could be a kid, but he was betting on woman and not from the eighteen-wheeler. Rio sensed her hesitation, but something compelled her across the highway. The way he figured it, he was soon going to have the answer to his creepy feeling.
Keeping his head low, he pulled his hat over his eyes as she opened the door. She warily glanced around and then sat at the far end of the bar where she could see the two occupants of the diner and the door. Surprisingly, she didn’t give him a second look. Her clothes were nothing but rags, her hair a stringy mess, and he was sure there wasn’t a dry spot on her.
“What can I get you?” Fred asked.
Her mouth opened, and then abruptly closed. Rio sensed her fear and uneasiness. She was probably chilled to the bone.
“I…I was wondering…if you could let me work for food.”
Ah, hell.
Fred wiped the bar in front of her. “When’s the last time you ate?”
She shrugged. “Couple of days.” Even without being close to her to smell the lie, he knew. Some people didn’t want to admit that they were down and out.
Rio cleared his throat, and Fred looked over his shoulder at him. Rio nodded. Hell, he had more money than God. What was one meal for a starving woman?
“Okay, little lady. What do you want to eat? I have some chopped steak and mashed potatoes or maybe a cheeseburger?”
“Cheeseburger would be great…and maybe some fries. I can wash dishes and sweep up after you close.”
Rio doubted that statement. The woman was at the end of her physical rope. God only knew her mental state. Was she the cause of his apprehension? A starving woman wasn’t something to be alarmed about. He’d hoped that one day he could prove at least one his shiichoo’s visions wrong.
“What can I get you to drink?”
“Coffee, please. Extra cream and lots of sugar.”
Bleh! Leave it to a woman to ruin the best thing next to scorching sex. He inhaled deep, tried to use her scent to ascertain her health. A small whiff of ripe peaches floated to his nose above the smell of strong coffee and greasy food. It was pleasant and somewhat familiar, but hell, he’d known women smelled sweet, that’s why he loved them, physically of course.
It didn’t take long for Fred to set a plate in front of her along with silverware, ketchup, mayo, and mustard. After pouring her a cup of coffee, Fred dumped a pile of sugar and creamer packets in front of her. Rio could only imagine her belly rumbling and her mouth watering at the smell of food. Fred grabbed the coffee pot and headed to his table.
Ah, more hot coffee. Just what I need.
“What do you want me to do, offer her a job?” asked Fred.
She wouldn’t take it. He’d seen that look before. Running anywhere but here. “Sure. Just let me know how much I owe you, and I’ll settle up the next time I’m through this way.”
“You know that’s a bad deal for me.”
Rio eyed Fred from under his hat. “Yeah? How do you figure that?”
“Your line of work has a high mortality rate. Collecting from you is iffy.”
“It’s high for the other guys. Besides, I ain’t dead yet. I’ll leave you a big tip to cover a couple of weeks, but I bet she won’t stay long. She’s running from somebody.”
“Hell, we’re all running from something.”
Rio agreed, but he wasn’t going to dwell on it right now, maybe not ever. The woman carried a backpack, so he wondered if she had a change of clothes, preferably dry. Most likely, all her worldly processions were crammed into it. “I’ll leave some extra money in case she stays around. She’ll need some clothes.”
“I ain’t running no damn halfway house.”
Fred was complaining, but underneath all that piss and vinegar, was nothing but an old softie. If Rio hadn’t come to her rescue, Fred would’ve. “I know. If she’s still here when I get back, I’ll take her someplace safe.”
“Humph.”
Rio rolled his eyes. He was good for his word, but Fred just liked to give him shit.
“I’m glad I put that cot in the back. She can sleep there.”
That’d work. It wasn’t a motel, but Rio had installed a damn good security system for this hole-in-the-wall diner. She’d be safe. If anyone tried to break in, alarms and shit would go off and scare the bejesus out them as well as alert the cops.
Not that there was anything to steal…besides the weapons Fred let him hide in the broken cooler. Of course, this wasn’t his only stash house, but he believed in being prepared and protecting his one and only friend. Fred was an old Marine and a werewolf, getting up in years, but he could sure brew a killer cup of coffee. He chuckled. For that reason alone, Rio would keep him alive.
Her coughing drew his gaze. “There are some antibiotics in my truck. I’ll get them before I leave.”
“Yes, Dr. Rio. I’ll see she gets them.”
“Kiss my hairy balls.”
“No thanks. I’ve seen your balls, and they did nothing for me.”
Seeing each other naked before or after a shift was a pack thing. Fred went back to the counter, and Rio closed his eyes and inhaled his coffee. Damn, that was pure heaven.
“I have a place you can sleep tonight,” Fred said to the lady as he wiped down the counter for the hundredth time.
She ducked her head. “I…I can’t stay. I’ll wash the dishes and sweep, and then I’ll head out.”
“It’s raining. Where are you going to sleep tonight?” asked Fred.
“I…I have somewhere to stay.”
Sure you do.
Fred shot Rio a look across the counter. The woman didn’t want charity, just wanted to eat and pay her debt. The real question was why she didn’t want to stay somewhere warm and dry, at least for one night. She was obviously in trouble.
Fred turned on the charm. “Ah, come on. It’s just for one night.”
She shook her head. “Thanks, but I need to keep moving.”
Keep moving. It was a simple tactic of evasion. Keep moving and hope you’re one-step ahead of whoever is after you. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn’t.
“Listen lady, it’s none of my business, but your body’s running on fumes. I don’t want to find you in the ditch tomorrow when I come into work. You’d give this old heart of mine a reason to give out. Just stay one night.” Rio had to give Fred credit, he’d played on her heartstrings, turned the burden around.
She shoved another fry in her mouth and shook her head furiously. Damn, he hated stubborn women. Why couldn’t they just listen to common sense? Most were more trouble than they were worth.
Lights flooded the diner, and she immediately stood up, her eyes rounded like a deer caught in the headlights. “Do you have a back way out?”
The fear in her voice scraped down Rio’s spine. This was it. The hairs on his neck stood on end again. Before Fred could answer, the front door flew open, and four young men slithered in from the rain. Fred moved to the shotgun stashed under the counter. Rio didn’t take his eyes off the four. The young men were dressed like thugs with baggie pants, wife beater shirts, and full of bravado with no brains. It was gonna be a shame to have to kill them.
“There you are, puta. Alvarez wants you back something bad,” the apparent leader said.
Damn. Everybody was running from Jose Alvarez. His Mexican cartel ruled by instilling fear in people, and those he couldn’t scare ended up unpleasantly dead. Defy and die was his motto. Not that Alvarez was really a Mexican. He was from Arizona, and somehow used his half-Mexican heritage to create the biggest cartel in Mexico just over the border, so he could laugh at the American’s and their drug prevention efforts. Alvarez was below scum, but he paid well.
“Get her,” the youth said.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” Rio spoke over the rim of his cup.
The leader spun and glared at Rio. “What did you say?”
“I said…I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” Shame to kill a boy who was hard of hearing.
“And who’s gonna stop me? You and this old man?” The teen and his friends laughed. Rio was sure they’d just pissed Fred off by calling him an old man.
“No, just me.”
Rio pushed his hat up on his head and locked gazes with the leader. These men weren’t part of the death squads or the enforcers; they were young, low-level dicks with shit for brains.
“You? Just you? Ain’t nobody that good.”
The leader hitched his head, and the others grabbed the woman. She didn’t scream or cry which was a good thing because crying grated on his soul. Her fear was strong, assaulting his nose, ripping a hole in his gut. His wolf was pacing, getting antsy about something, but he didn’t have time to dwell on it.
“What do you want her for?” Best to find out why these boys were gonna die.
“She belongs to Alvarez.”
Belongs like property, probably treated worse than the dog. Good for only one thing.
“Hey, I know you,” the leader said. “You’re Rabid Rio.”
He didn’t miss her sharp intake of her breath and knew if he glanced at her face, fear would be there. It didn’t take long for her panic to reach his nose. So she knew who he was.
Rio hated that name except in times like this. These punks had no idea how rabid he could be when an innocent was involved. “Then you know you don’t want to fuck with me.”
“But you’ve worked for Alvarez before. I know you don’t want to fuck with him.”
Rio didn’t give a shit that this was Alvarez’s woman. She obviously didn’t feel the same way, so there was no way in hell he was letting them take her back.
“You’re not taking the girl. Now which one of you wants to remain breathing so you can tell Alvarez that Rabid Rio said to leave her alone?”
“You’re kidding, right?” the leader asked.
Rio shook his head. Kidding wasn’t something he did or even knew how to do.
“There’s a reward for bringing her back.”
Rio didn’t doubt that. Alvarez had plenty of money and thought it could solve any problem. Sure Rio had taken Alvarez’s money to do special, odd jobs, but so far, Rio’s conscience was intact.
“The way I see it is you have two options. You can walk out the door without the girl and live or you can stay here and die.”
Indecision crossed the boy’s face as well as his friends. They were in a no-win situation. If they went back to Alvarez, he’d surely kill them because they didn’t die trying to take the woman. And if they were stupid enough to try to take the woman, there was no question they would die. “The best thing you can do is leave and pretend you didn’t find her.”
Fear was a wonderful thing. Now this thug had to figure out whom he feared most. Rio always figured that fearing the closest threat was the best option, but shit-for-brains probably wouldn’t figure that out.
“Nah, man. I can’t let that money slip away.
Wrong answer.
Rio waited. He saw the fear replaced by determination in the young man’s eyes. Rio didn’t particularly want to kill them, definitely wouldn’t like it, but at some point in everyone’s life, they had a choice to make. The men’s lives for the girl’s. Punk boy was making his choice, and Rio made his.
Rio planned on living up to his name tonight. When he got into that mode, he was like a rabid wolf intent on finishing the job at all costs. His eyes narrowed as he waited. Calm moved over his body. Acute awareness pulsed through him. The soft hum of the overhead lights, a single drop splashing in the coffee pot, the hostage’s ragged breath.
When the leader reached for his piece, Rio hesitated until it cleared the thug’s back. Then he drew and fired three times. Three young men lay dead on the floor. The fourth pulled the girl in front of his body, a pistol aimed recklessly at her head.
Her eyes rounded with fear. She looked like she was going to puke up all that good food.
“You want to be the one to give Alvarez a message for me or do you want to join your very dead friends on the cold, hard floor?” In Rio’s mind, it was a no brainer
The guy’s gaze dropped to his dead compadres. “No,” said the lone kid. “You’ll let us walk out the door, or she’s going to die.”
The teen and his hostage inched toward the door. Rio took a sip of coffee while he waited. All he needed was a few inches of that ugly face, and the youth would be dead. Over the rim of his cup, he saw her eyes narrow. Oh, shit! What was she going to do? Stay calm, little girl. In a smooth move, she pretended to stumble, and Rio didn’t waste the opportunity. As the bullet sent the man careening backwards, the woman broke free and charged for the door.
“Why is she running?” Rio asked Fred. “I just saved her life.”
Fred glanced at the carnage on his diner’s floor. “You’ve killed four men without leaving your seat at the same time you’re sipping your coffee. Hell, you even scared the shit out of me. Or maybe she’s afraid of the Rabid part of your name. Or maybe you’re just butt ugly.”
Rio stood, holstered his pistol, and stretched his back to ease the tension. “I’ll go get her, and then I’ll help you clean up this mess.”
“Be careful. She’s armed and dangerous.”
“What?” No way.       
“Yep, she pilfered one of my best steak knives.”
Rio grinned. “Thanks for the heads-up.” He pulled his cowboy hat down over his eyes, buttoned his duster, and stepped out into the pelting rain.
Damn, women sure were a pain in the ass.