Daily Archives: July 14, 2015

Excerpt Reveal: Out of Time by Beth Flynn

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Prologue

1950s, Central Florida

The slap was hard and almost knocked him to his knees. They wobbled for a split second, but he managed to regain his stance and glared hard at his father.

“Your mother said you missed the bus and had to hitchhike home.”

He tasted blood in his mouth where the slap had caused him to bite the inside of his cheek. He knew his next comment would bring another blow. He braced himself.

“Ida is not my mother.”

Another hard one, this time to the side of his head, which caused a ringing in his ear. This was nothing. He’d endured worse. He didn’t know why it bothered his father so much when he said this. Ida herself was the first to remind him that she wasn’t his mother.

“Don’t fuck with me, boy. Where were you?”

“It’s the last day of school. Some of us had to stay after to help the teachers clean out their classrooms.” This was a lie. He’d gotten in a fight that day. He’d snapped when a snooty rich kid made fun of him.

The kid was new and had only been enrolled for the last two weeks before school let out for the summer. He was too new to have been warned. The new kid had asked him in the boy’s room if he picked his clothes out of the garbage can that morning. He’d left the idiot dazed and bloody on the bathroom floor, then calmly washed his hands and went back to his classroom. He’d looked at the big clock over the blackboard. Less than fifteen minutes until summer started. Hopefully, his dad wouldn’t work him to death and he’d be able to keep an eye out for her. For Ruthie.

He’d been on the loaded school bus, ready to pull away, when the driver reached over and opened the door. The substitute principal stood at the front of the bus and quietly perused the group of kids. When he saw who he was looking for, he pointed and indicated with his finger. Follow.

Damn. He’d almost made it out of there.

They never discussed the alleged crime as they made their way back into the school and to the principal’s office. He simply bent over the desk and endured the paddling. It wasn’t so bad and didn’t even compare to the beatings he’d received from his father. Beatings that had left permanent scars on his back and other parts of his body. He may have been young, but he knew this fucker, a temporary replacement for the school’s regular principal who was out recovering from surgery, was enjoying this way too much. Would probably lock his office door and jerk off after sending him to find his own way home. Fucking pervert. The world was foul.

So, he’d hitchhiked and ended up walking the last seven miles to get home and now stood there, facing the wrath of his father. His stepmother stood off to the side leaning back against the kitchen counter, her arms crossed and a smug look on her face. A hot, stale breeze floated in from the window above the kitchen sink.

His stepmother. Ida. He’d hated her for as long as he could remember. He had no memory of his real mother. He was told she’d died in this house giving birth to him. It wasn’t really a house so much as a shack in the middle of nowhere. A two-bedroom hovel situated on several acres surrounded by orange groves as far as the eye could see. His father was a skilled carpenter by trade, but for reasons that made no sense to his son, he preferred this destitute existence. He could have made a decent living, could’ve lived in a home not so far from the modern world—as modern as you could get in the fifties. He chose instead to live in a dilapidated old house that had been passed down for generations. He never once used his carpentry skills to make it into a real home. He’d slap some tar on the roof if it leaked or replace a busted pipe, but other than some hodgepodge repairs, he never lifted a finger. It was crumbling around them.

Maybe it was because his father considered himself the king of his castle and he could hold reign over his unworthy subjects. Maybe the brutality he unleashed here made him feel an iota of power that he didn’t feel in the real world. Maybe knowing that he could provide a nice and safe environment, but purposely chose not to, was part of the psychotic seed that had been implanted in his personality. He wasn’t just a bad man. He was worse than that. He prided himself too much on withholding any good he could do for his family.

That made him pure evil in his son’s eyes.

Before she’d married, Ida had worked as a maid for a wealthy family in West Palm Beach. His father had met up with a couple of other laborers to make the long drive down to a mansion situated on the beach to spend a few days doing carpentry work and repairs. He returned with his three comrades and a glowing Ida, who had finally, finally snagged herself a man. She had become tired of being someone’s maid, and when a hardworking, widowed family man came along and showed a hint of interest, she jumped. Unfortunately for her, she jumped too quickly and without hesitation. She hadn’t realized then that she was jumping from the frying pan right into a fire that was even worse. Overnight, she went from being a lonely, overworked maid to a lonely, overworked, and abused housewife.

No, he had no good memories of Ida. Maybe she’d started out trying to do her best. To make their shack a home, to be a mother to her new husband’s young son. But if she had started out that way, he had no recollection of it. Maybe she wasn’t always the horrible person he knew. Maybe his father made her that way. It didn’t matter. He hated her no matter what. He hated her because he knew what she was doing to her own daughter. His half-sister, Ruthie.

Ruthie was a sweet and trusting child who’d captured his heart since the day she was born. She was a happy little girl who was always smiling in spite of the mistreatment her mother inflicted. He spent every second that he wasn’t at school or working caring for his little sister. He adored her and did everything he could to protect her from his parents, especially Ida. He made sure she ate when she was sent to bed without supper. He made sure she was bathed. He couldn’t do it every day, but he did it as often as he could manage. He erased evidence of her bathroom accidents, making sure to wash out her clothes in the creek and let them dry before returning them to her dresser. He wiped away her tears and kissed her boo-boos.

Unfortunately, there were too many even for him to kiss away.

Every night she’d say, “Brother, tell me a story. Tell me a happy story where things don’t hurt and everybody is nice.”

He would pull her close in the bed they’d shared ever since she was a baby and, ignoring the stench of their unwashed bodies, he would make up happy stories to tell her. Anything to make her forget, just for a little while. They would watch the stars from their bedroom window and sometimes he‘d even use them in his stories.

“See the brightest star, Ruthie?” he’d tell her as they gazed out their window. “That’s you. You’re the brightest, most beautiful star in the sky.”

“Where are you, Brother? Are you there, too?” she asked him once.

“I’ll always be the one that’s closest to you.”

He didn’t know if the stories he made up were happy ones. He didn’t know what happiness was himself, so how could he tell a four-year old? But he tried.

Once in a while, after he was certain his father and Ida were asleep, he’d go to the back screen door and let Razor in to sleep with them, too. Razor was a big black Rottweiler that had wandered up to their house one day and never left. His father refused to let the dog stay and insisted he didn’t need another mouth to feed, that he’d shoot the dog if it didn’t leave on its own. The dog was smart. Sensing the father’s animosity, it would come around only at night and wait for the handout left for him on the far side of the barn. His father finally relented; he decided maybe the dog wasn’t so bad after all when his barking woke them up one night to warn them that a wild animal was trying to get into the chicken coop. The hen’s squawking never reached their sleeping ears, but the stray dog’s barking and pawing at their back door did. His father let Razor stay, but he had to be kept outside.

Now, the beating done for the day, his father stared at him for a few seconds. Finally, he said, “Get your fucking chores started. Don’t come back in until they’re all finished. You don’t get done before supper and you don’t eat.”

The boy didn’t need to glance at his stepmother to know she would purposely serve a very early supper that day. He headed out the back screen door and let it slam behind him.

“C’mon, Razor,” he said as he headed for the ramshackle barn.

It was dark outside when he finally finished his chores. He found some food he’d stashed in the barn and silently ate, sharing half with his dog. After washing up in the rain barrel, he headed into the house and crawled into bed with Ruthie, pulling her close. She moaned.

“Brother is here, Ruthie. Do you want a story?” He was exhausted, but couldn’t fall asleep thinking he would let her down without a story.

“My stomach hurts,” she whispered.

“Do you need me to take you to the bathroom?” he whispered back.

“No. It’s not that kind of hurt.”

“What kind of hurt is it? Are you hungry?

“Mommy stepped on it.”

He stiffened, then squeezed his eyes shut. He was glad she didn’t want a happy story tonight because the only one he could think of was one where he strangled Ida with his bare hands.

The next day, he was walking back from the groves carrying the three squirrels he’d killed with his slingshot. Ida could make a decent stew out of these. He’d watched Ruthie that morning at the table as she slowly ate her breakfast. She seemed okay, and he’d left to hunt before she finished. He shouldered the squirrels and imagined the look on Ruthie’s face when she saw what he’d caught.

That’s when he heard it. A shotgun blast coming from the direction of the house.

He’d heard the shotgun before, when his father caught rare sight of a deer or other animal that was either a predator or something that would end up on their dinner table. But his gut told him this was different.

He broke into a full run, then came upon a scene that brought him up short. He tensed as his mind started to grasp what had happened.

There, right beside the clothesline. His father holding the shotgun. Ida cradling a bleeding arm. Razor on his side and lying in a puddle of blood.

And Ruthie, on the ground and flat on her back, her arms at her sides. Ruthie.

He broke into another run.

“Your fucking dog was attacking your sister, and when Ida tried to stop him, he went after her, too,” his father said coldly, a finger still resting on the trigger. “I had to kill him.”

Razor attacked Ruthie and then Ida for trying to stop him? Impossible. Razor would never hurt Ruthie.

Ida held her arm up for him to see. She didn’t have to. He had already seen it and there was no doubt it was a bite from Razor. More like a mauling. Like he’d grabbed on and was wrestling with her.

He dropped his dead squirrels and knelt at Ruthie’s side. And then he knew for certain the concocted story wasn’t true. His sister was lying on her back, her eyes closed. Soft blonde curls framed her face. She looked more peaceful and beautiful than he had ever seen her. A tiny smile curved her sweet, innocent mouth.

Of course she was smiling. She had just escaped from hell.

He knew she was dead. He also saw nothing on her body that indicated Razor had attacked her.

They were lying. But he’d already known that.

He couldn’t stop himself. The words were out of his mouth before he could think.

“Doesn’t look like Razor attacked Ruthie. No bites or anything. Just Ida’s bruises.”

The blow was hard, but not unexpected.

“Get the shovel,” his father ordered. “Pick a place way out past the house and bury your sister. Don’t care what you do with your dog. You can drag its lousy ass out to the groves if you want and give the vultures some supper.” Scooping up the three squirrels that had been dropped, he grabbed his wife by the uninjured arm. “You ain’t hurt so bad you can’t make supper.”

As he headed back to the house with Ida and the dead squirrels, he yelled over his shoulder, “And when you’re done you get your sorry ass back here and put out the rat poison like you were supposed to do yesterday.”

He stared after them as they made their way back to the house and tried to imagine a world without Ruthie.

A world without light.

Two weeks later, he was sitting in the passenger seat of a strange man’s car. The man had introduced himself when he picked up the young hitchhiker, and he didn’t seem bothered by the fact that the boy just stared at him and refused to say anything. The boy now turned to gaze out the car window as he reflected on what he’d done.

He’d buried his sister like his father had told him to, taken his shirt off and covered her body with it before retrieving a shovel and heading way out on their property where he dug one large grave.

Leaving the shovel at the gravesite, he’d headed back to the house. He went into the barn and retrieved the rat poison, shoved it down into his pants.

He’d gone into the house, noticed that Ida had cleaned up and was working on their squirrel stew. He could tell by her movements she was in a lot of pain. Razor had done a decent job of tearing up her arm. She probably needed to go to the hospital, but his father would never take her, nor would he allow her the use of their one vehicle. It wasn’t at the house anyway. He must’ve gone somewhere.

It was obvious what had happened. Ida had been giving Ruthie another beating and Razor had stopped her. Unfortunately, Razor hadn’t stopped her in time.

The boy had no way of knowing that Ruthie had been slowly dying of internal injuries sustained from her mother’s brutal beatings, culminating in the final stomp to her tiny stomach the day before. He was certain Ida had always inflicted her brutality on Ruthie inside the house, where Razor wasn’t allowed. That day must’ve been different. She was probably dragging a crying Ruthie out to the yard to help her with some chore and started whaling on her when the little girl wouldn’t, or most likely couldn’t, do as she was told. There was no doubt Razor had been trying to defend Ruthie by grabbing Ida by the right arm. Ida was right-handed.

Leaning back from her spot at the stove, Ida looked out the back window and spied the little girl’s body in the yard. She gave her stepson a level look. “You’re not finished. What are you doing in here?”

Her voice was steady and without emotion. She could’ve been asking him if he’d fed the chickens or painted the fence. It revolted him to think that this was how she thought of her daughter’s burial: a chore. She was more of a monster than his own father. She had given birth to Ruthie. She had shared the same body with her only child for nine months. He didn’t know anything about mothering, but even he could see how there could be, should be, a special bond between a mother and her child.

Without looking at her he answered. “Hole’s dug. Came back in for something to wrap her in. Was gonna take my bed sheet.”

They’d always shared a bed and it had only ever known one sheet. He would use it to wrap Ruthie’s tiny body.

He didn’t know what caused Ida to say the next thing. She countered with an offer that surprised him but also provided him with an opportunity.

“I have something you can use. Got it as a going away gift from where I used to work.”

She took the big spoon she had been stirring with, tapped the side of the pot and laid it down. Cradling her sore arm against her chest, she headed back toward the bedroom she shared with her husband. He knew her arm was hurting, knew it would take a few minutes to dig out whatever it was that she was going to get. He could hear her clumsily rustling around for something.

He seized the chance to retrieve the poison from his pants and dump the entire contents of the container in the stew. He hastily stirred it, grateful that it seemed to quickly dissolve, and returned the spoon back to its place. He was standing by the back door when she returned with a blue piece of fabric draped over her good arm. He realized that it was a bathrobe of some type. It was thin and he didn’t need to be educated to know that it was high-quality and expensive. Going away gift my ass, he frowned. She stole this. She held it out to him while avoiding his penetrating green eyes. They’d always unnerved her, at least that’s what he’d heard her tell his father, and for a split second she seemed to hesitate, to waver.

She must have regained her bravado and, without waiting for him to take the robe, snapped, “Wrap her in this.” She tossed it at him and headed back over to the stove to stir her stew.

At the freshly dug grave, he gently cloaked Ruthie’s little body in his own shirt. “Brother is always with you, Ruthie,” he said quietly. He then wrapped Razor in Ida’s expensive bathrobe and snorted to himself as it occurred to him that even his dog was too good for Ida’s supposed going away gift. He gently laid his little sister in the very deep hole and placed Razor next to her.

“You were a good boy, Razor. You did the right thing trying to protect her. Now you can always protect her.”

He knew he wasn’t going to mark her grave for anyone to know where she was. Only him. He knew nobody would be looking anyway. It wasn’t like she was going to be missed. Like him, she hadn’t been born in a hospital. He doubted she even had a birth certificate. He wasn’t sure if he had one himself, though he guessed there was one somewhere, since he’d been enrolled in school. Do you need a birth certificate to go to school, he wondered? He didn’t know.

He stood over his sister’s grave and stared at the freshly compacted earth. It was missing something. He wandered off and soon came back with an oversized rock. The stone was heavy, massive really, and he had exerted an enormous amount of energy to carry it to her gravesite. He dropped it with a thud. He had chosen it because of its size and unique shape. He would remember it.

Falling to his knees, he began to weep. He never remembered crying even once in his life. Not even as a child, enduring horrific abuse that was tantamount to torture. He couldn’t comment on why his father hated him. He couldn’t figure why his stepmother hated Ruthie. He didn’t want to think about them, anyway. After he was finished, he’d never think of them again.

A low wail that didn’t sound human began to build, a cry that came straight from the pit of his empty stomach and found its way up his chest, through his throat and out his mouth, taking his soul and any semblance of light with it. The light that had been Ruthie.

He wasn’t sure how long he’d knelt sobbing at Ruthie and Razor’s grave. His eyes stung and he had a combination of dry and wet snot all over his bare arms as he tried to swipe away the grief. His sore back eventually brought him out of his mourning, the pulse of the sun reminding him of the lashes his father had inflicted a few nights earlier. He was physically and mentally exhausted, but his job wasn’t finished yet.

He was worn out, but somehow he gathered the strength he needed and headed out further to an even more remote location.

He had one more grave to dig.

He would bury them together, not for the same reason that he buried Ruthie and Razor together: to offer protection and comfort to one another. No, he dug one mass grave because they deserved to be dumped like garbage.

And that was exactly what he was going to do.

“Kid? Kid, you need anything or have to use the bathroom?”

He’d fallen asleep and jumped when he was touched. It took him a split second to remember where he was. A car, now parked. The man who’d picked him up was looking at him, waiting.

The man nodded out the window. “I’m getting gas. You need to use the john or something?”

“Where are we?”

“Fort Lauderdale. Getting some gas and heading to Miami.”

He nodded his head, starting to sit up. He was sore. The last few days had taken a toll on him physically and he was feeling it.

“Yeah, I gotta go.”

He went around the side of the little gas station and let himself into the restroom. It smelled like crap but was surprisingly clean. His mind wandered as he relieved himself, memories rolling over him.

He’d returned to the house that night to find his father and Ida sitting at the dinner table eating stew. He reached up on the shelf and took down an old jelly jar, using the kitchen tap to fill it up. Leaning back against the counter, he drank his water as he watched them eat their dinner. Nobody bothered to offer him any. That was okay. He would’ve refused it anyway.

“Tastes like shit! How the fuck can you mess up squirrel stew?” When Ida didn’t answer, his father backhanded her across the face.

Taking his glass of water, he’d gone to his bedroom and shut the door behind him. He laid down on the bed that he’d shared with Ruthie, hugged the only pillow close to his chest, and fell immediately into a dead sleep.

He was awakened that night to the sound of violent vomiting and retching. The next couple of days were a blur as he tried to pretend to help his extremely sick parents. Keeping buckets by their bedside, bringing them liquids to drink. Liquids he had continued lacing with more poison from the barn.

He remembered the instant his father realized what was happening. He was trying to get out of his bed, insisting that his young son take him and his wife to the hospital. The boy wasn’t old enough to have a license, but he knew how to drive. He’d let his son drive their beat-up old station wagon to haul things around the property.

“You’re gonna drive us to the hospital, boy,” he said, voice laced with pain.

“No, I’m not.” He just looked at them, a small smile on his lips. “I’m going to watch you both die a slow and painful death. I’m kind of glad you never bought us a TV. This will definitely be much more entertaining.”

Bloodshot and pain-filled brown eyes met hard green ones as realization dawned. His father glanced around his bedroom and noticed his shotgun was not in the corner. It was gone. Even if it had been there, he wouldn’t have had the strength to get up and get it.

His father fell back onto the bed and turned to look at his wife. She was curled up with her arms wrapped around her knees, which were pulled up to her chest. She had heard the conversation and opened her eyes long enough to say to her husband, “We both deserve this.”

His father rolled onto his back and looked at his son, who stood at the foot of the bed, arms crossed, green eyes cold and staring.

“Shoulda known you were the devil’s seed.” Without waiting for the boy to comment, he added, “I loved your momma and thought I did the right thing by marrying her when she was pregnant by another man. Shoulda known you were evil when you killed your own mother, you no good piece of shit.”

Finally, an answer. Although it didn’t matter now. The man who’d raised him wasn’t his father. The man who’d raised him resented him for taking his mother’s life in childbirth. Another man’s bastard had killed the woman he loved and he was going to make that child pay. Had been making that child pay ever since.

In a way, he could kind of understand that. He almost allowed a stab of conscience in, telling him he should take them to the hospital. Maybe it wasn’t too late.

But then he remembered Ruthie. There was no excuse for what had happened to Ruthie. No excuse at all.

He stared coldly at the man he’d thought was his father. “I’m just sorry I didn’t do this before you let her kill Ruthie.”

Then he went to the kitchen and made himself something to eat.

After they were dead, he loaded them both in the back of the family car and drove them out to the second grave. He dumped their bodies with as much care as he’d show a pile of old chicken bones and flung the dirt back in. He hurled the shovel in the back of the station wagon and drove back to the house.

He wanted to draw as little attention to the shack as possible. He would not burn it down, but he would give careful thought as to what it should look like if a family just up and left, taking only things they could load in their one car. He went to work, packing up what few pictures they had, their personal papers and clothes. He sneered when he saw a picture of his father as a boy. He looked like a miserable piece of shit even back then. He tossed it in with the other things. He never came across a single picture of himself or his mother.

He carelessly threw everything he could into the old car, barely leaving room for himself to fit into the driver’s seat. He went into his bedroom and retrieved the brown bag that held the few things he’d set aside to take with him. It contained some clothes, along with thirty dollars and twenty-six cents that he’d scavenged from his father’s wallet and Ida’s money cup, which he’d found hidden behind some dishes in the kitchen. He reached into his pocket, retrieving something he hadn’t known existed until he’d started cleaning out their personal items. It was a picture of Ruthie and Razor. It had obviously been taken at their house, but he didn’t know when or by whom. He never found existence of a camera when he was going through their belongings. He had no way of knowing where the picture came from and he didn’t have time to ponder it.

He looked at it again. Ruthie was sitting down in the grass and looking up and smiling. She was leaning against Razor, who had himself wrapped around her like a cocoon. Her knees were pulled up to her chest and she had her arms wrapped tightly around them. Her blonde curls were shorter then. The two of them looked happy. Like they had been romping in the tall grass and had taken a break to pose. He knew neither Ida nor his father had taken the picture. If that had been the case, he was certain his baby sister wouldn’t have been smiling. He carefully returned it to his back pocket and continued his cleanup.

Hours later he stood in the middle of the little house, surveying it. He wasn’t certain, but he was pretty confident he’d loaded up the important stuff. It was the fourth of the month. The electric and water bills wouldn’t need to get paid again until the thirtieth. School was out, so he wouldn’t be missed until September. And even then, he was doubtful anybody would care. His father wasn’t regularly employed, so he wouldn’t be missed, either. They had no phone to worry about.

Yes, it looked like the family that lived here decided to move with their most personal possessions. The small amount of mail they got could stack up for months in their little slot at the post office. Nobody would notice. And by the time they did, it wouldn’t matter. He’d be long gone.

He headed out to the chicken coop to set them free when he noticed laundry on the clothesline. He would grab those clothes and toss them in the car before leaving. After retrieving his brown bag and canteen, he carefully drove the family’s car to the nearest, deepest canal he knew. It was off the beaten path and he didn’t have to pass any houses or civilization to get there. It would be a long, hot walk to hitch a ride somewhere, but he only had a brown bag to carry and his canteen, which he’d filled with water.

Now, in the gas station restroom, he splashed cold water on his face and dried off. He reached into his back pocket before leaving the restroom and took out the picture of Ruthie and Razor. He would never hold her again. He would never hear her voice asking for a story. He would never wrap his arms around Razor’s neck and nuzzle his short fur. He swiped away the tears that had started forming in his eyes and returned the picture to his back pocket.

He’d taken a vow that day at Ruthie’s grave. No more crying. Ever.

He was starting to get hungry and decided to go back to the car to get some money. He would see what the gas station had in the way of food. Hopefully, they had some candy bars and soda pop. He’d tasted soda only once and was looking forward to the sugary drink.

He made his way around the side of the gas station and stopped dead in his tracks. The car he had been riding in was gone. He blinked to see if his eyes were playing tricks on him. They weren’t. That son-of-a-bitch drove off with his brown bag that contained his few items of clothing and all of his money. He had left his canteen on the front seat. Even that was gone.

The world was rotten and so was everybody in it.

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OUT OF TIME is the HIGHLY ANTICIPATED sequel to NINE MINUTES where Grizz, Kit and Grunt’s gritty tale continues on July 23rd!
Add this gritty MC romance to your TBR HERE: http://bit.ly/1fxKd80

 

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Blurb
RECOMMENDED FOR READERS 18 AND OLDER DUE TO
STRONG LANGUAGE, SEXUAL SITUATIONS AND VIOLENCE
Out of Time is book two in a series. It is not a standalone novel. I highly recommend that you read my first novel, Nine Minutes, to be able to understand the background stories of the main characters. There are many twists and turns in both stories that can best be connected if read consecutively.
Although I do answer all of the outstanding questions from Nine Minutes, there is more to this story, and some readers may consider it a cliffhanger. If you do not like cliffhangers, you may want to wait until the third novel is released in 2016.
They thought with his execution it would all be over.
They were wrong.
The leader of one of South Florida’s most notorious and brutal motorcycle gangs has been put to death by lethal injection. Days later, his family and friends should have been picking up the pieces, moving on. Instead, they’ve been catapulted into a world so twisted and dangerous even the most ruthless among them would be stunned to discover the tangled web of deception, not only on the dangerous streets of South Florida but all the way to the top.
In this gripping follow-up novel to Nine Minutes, Out of Time takes readers from the sun-drenched flatlands of 1950s Central Florida to the vivid tropical heat of Fort Lauderdale to the halls of Florida’s Death Row as we finally learn the gritty backstory of Jason “Grizz” Talbot and the secret he spent his life trying to conceal.
Not even Grizz’s inner circle knows his full story—the tragedy that enveloped his early life, the surprise discovery that made him the government’s most wanted and most feared, and the depths of his love for Ginny, the tenderhearted innocent he’d once abducted and later made his wife.
Once Grizz’s obsession and now the mother of his child, Ginny has spent years grieving the man she’d first resisted and then came to love. Now remarried to Tommy, a former member of the gang, the pair have spent more than a decade trying desperately to live a normal existence far from the violent, crime-ridden world they’d once carved out on the edge of the Florida Everglades. For Tommy, especially, the stakes are high. Desperately in love with Ginny for years, he’s finally living his dream: married to the woman he never thought he could have. But even with the façade of normalcy—thriving careers, two beautiful children, and a genuinely happy and loving marriage—they can’t seem to put the past behind them. Every time they turn around, another secret is revealed, unraveling the very bonds that hold them together.
And with Grizz finally put to death, now Ginny has learned secrets so dark, so evil she’s not even sure she can go on.
Will these secrets tear their love to pieces? And how far will Grizz go to protect what he still considers his, even from beyond the grave?

 

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About the Author:
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Beth Flynn is a fiction writer who lives and works in Sapphire, North Carolina, deep within the southern Blue Ridge Mountains. Raised in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Beth and her husband, Jim, have spent the last 17 years in Sapphire, where they own a construction company. They have been married 31 years and have two daughters and two dogs. In her spare time, Beth enjoys writing, reading, gardening, church and motorcycles, especially taking rides on the back of her husband’s Harley. She is a five-year breast cancer survivor.

 

STALK HER:  Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

THANK YOU!
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Blog Tour: Stolen Innocence by S.M. Stryker

 
Stolen Innocence
by S. M, Stryker
Blog Tour
Romantic Erotica
Synopsis
What would you do? What would you do if the woman that you love,
the woman you just made love to, the woman that trusts no one with her secret,
just told you her deepest darkest secret? A secret full of demons, a secret
that would be anyone else’s nightmare. One that never in a million years would
you have guessed. Now what would you do if you came face to face with that
nightmare, the demons, the devil himself? What would you do to protect the
woman that you never expected to take such a hold of you heart? What would you
do? Would you let her walk away to save yourself or would you die for her? What
would you do?
This is a stand along novel. Due to
strong language and sexual content & sex abuse, this book is not intended
for readers under the age of 18.

Teasers
  
Excerpt
It is warm out, and I have already drunk most of my water. I stop
by a Benson Bubbler to refill my bottle. I have Imagine Dragons playing loudly
on my iPhone. I am dancing to the music while filling my bottle, to keep my muscles
warm, not paying any attention to anything around me. I am just starting to put
the lid on my water bottle when someone taps me on the shoulder, scaring the
living shit out of me. I flinch, swinging my arms as water flies everywhere,
soaking myself and the person who tapped my shoulder. Shocked, I turn to see
who tapped me as I see water running down the face of…Oh, my God! It’s tall,
dark, and dimple.
Giveaway
Author Bio
  
Shelly (SM) married her husband 28 years ago. It was important to
her to be able to stay at home to raise their four daughters.
She wasn’t an avid reader, but picked up a book a few years back and it made
her re-think about writing, more as a healing process than anything else. She
always knew, her life would make a good story…or soap opera but finding or
making the time to write was always the issue.

Deciding not to put it off any longer, in 2014 she emailed a few of her
favorite authors that gave her some very good advice; and in April of 2014, she
finally sat down one day in front of her computer and started to write. Through
lots of tears, she wrote her first book that had a large part of her life in
the story, that book was Stolen Innocence; her second book was about her
husband childhood, Never Forgotten Love.

Now she finds that she has to write, even if it gets re-written, this is her
outlet her sanctuary, and in every book, she writes there is always part of her
life written into it.

I hope you enjoy her story.

Author Links



Release Blitz: The Trouble with Paper Planes by Amanda Dick

Title: The trouble With Paper Planes 
Author: Amanda Dick 
Genre: Contemporary Romance

@AmandaDick_ @bemybboyfriend #NEW #RELEASE THE TROUBLE WITH PAPER PLANES by Amanda Dick http://amzn.com/B00YS7SUUS
I’ve always believed in what I can see, what I can hear and what I can touch. Surfing was my religion and destiny was just a fairy-tale. But one summer, over ten days during the hottest February on record, all that changed. I found hope – the kind of hope that sustains you, even when you don’t want to be sustained.
The night Emily disappeared, I was branded. She became the girl on the ‘missing’ posters, and I became the one trying to keep everyone from falling apart. I thought that somehow it would keep me from being devoured by the emptiness inside me. Five years later, I was beginning to appreciate how deluded I really was.
Then Maia showed up. New in town, with a past as mysterious as she was, she reminded me so much of Emily that I couldn’t stand to be anywhere near her. What I didn’t realize was that there were forces at play that neither of us could possibly understand.
It takes a determined soul to alter destiny. There is a loophole, a back door, and the events that unfolded during those ten days showed me how that loophole can change everything.
Do you believe in fate? If so, let me tell you my story. If not, what happened to me might change your mind.

Amazon US UK / Barnes & Noble   
Amanda Dick is a night-owl, coffee addict, movie buff and music lover. She loves to do DIY (if it’s not bolted down, she’ll probably paint it, re-cover it or otherwise decorate it) and has tried almost every craft known to man/womankind. She has two sewing machines and an over-locker she can’t remember how to thread. She crochets (but can’t follow a pattern), knits (badly) and refrains from both as a public service.
She believes in love at first sight, in women’s intuition and in following your heart. She is rather partial to dark chocolate and believes in the power of a good vanilla latte.
What lights her fire is writing stories about real people in trying situations. Her passion is finding characters who are forced to test their boundaries. She is insanely curious about how we, as human beings, react when pushed to the edge. Most of all, she enjoys writing about human behaviour – love, loss, joy, grief, friendship and the complexity of relationships in general.
After living in Scotland for five years, she has now settled back home in New Zealand, where she lives with her husband and two children.
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Release Blitz: Ruin & Rules by Pepper Winters

ruin & rule release blitz.jpg
Release Blitz
Title: Ruin & Rule
Author: Pepper Winters
@PepperWinters @RSofRomance #NEWRELEASE #MCROMANCE Ruin & Rule by Pepper Winters http://amzn.to/1HGr7ac
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Meet Killian in Pepper Winter’s new MC Romance!
NOW AVAILABLE
Amazon: US / UK

 

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Blurb
“We met in a nightmare. The in-between world where time had no power over reason. We fell in love. We fell hard. But then we woke up. And it was over . . .”

 

RUIN & RULE

 

She is a woman divided. Her past, present, and future are as twisted as the lies she’s lived for the past eight years. Desperate to get the truth, she must turn to the one man who may also be her greatest enemy . . .

 

He is the president of Pure Corruption MC. A heartless biker and retribution-deliverer. He accepts no rules, obeys no one, and lives only to reap revenge on those who wronged him. And now he has stolen her, body and soul.

 

Can a woman plagued by mystery fall in love with the man who refuses to face the truth? And can a man drenched in darkness forgo his quest for vengeance-and finally find redemption?

 

“Ruin & Rule is a full-length book at 436 pages and ends on a cliffhanger. Cleo and Kill’s story continues in SIN & SUFFER.”
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Prologue
We met in a nightmare.
The in-between world where time had no power over rhyme, reason, or connection. We met. We stared. We knew.
There was no distortion from the outside world. No right or wrong. No confusion or battles from hearts and minds.
Just us. In our silent dreamworld.
That nightmare became our home. Planting ghosts, raising fantasies. Entwined together in our happily skewed reality.
We fell in love. We fell hard.
In those fleeting seconds of our nightmare, we lived an eternity.
But then we woke up.
And it was over.
Chapter One
I always believed life would grant rewards to those most worthy. I was fucking naïve. Life doesn’t reward—it ruins. It ruins those most deserving and takes everything. It takes everything all while watching any remaining goodness rot to hate.
—Kill
[ORN_SB]
Darkness.
That was my world now. Literally and physically.
The back of my skull hurt from being knocked unconscious. My wrists and shoulders ached from lying on my back with my hands tied behind me.
Nothing was broken—at least it didn’t feel that way—but everything was bruised. The fuzziness receded wisp by wisp, parting the clouds of sleep, trying to shed light on what’d happened. But there was no light. My eyes blinked at the endless darkness from the mask tied around my head. Anxiety twisted my stomach at having such a fundamental gift taken away.
I didn’t move, but mentally catalogued my body from the tips of my toes to the last strand of hair on my head. My jaw and tongue ached from the foul rag stuffed in my mouth and my nose permitted a shallow stream of oxygen to enter—just enough to keep me alive.
Fear tried to claw its way through my mind, but I shoved it away. I deliberately suppressed panic in order to assess my predicament rather than lose myself to terror.
Fear never helps, only hinders.
My senses came back, creeping tentatively, as if afraid whoever had stolen me would notice their return.
Sound: the squeak of brakes, the creak of a vehicle settling from motion to stopping.
Touch: the skin on my right forearm stung, throbbing with a mixture of soreness and sharpness. A burn perhaps?
Smell: dank rotting vegetables and the astringent, pungent scent of fear—but it wasn’t mine. It was theirs.
It wasn’t just me being kidnapped.
My heart flurried, drinking in their terror. It made my breath quicken and legs itch to run. Forcing myself to ignore the outside world, I focused inward. Clutching my inner strength where calmness was a need rather than a luxury.
I refused to lose myself in a fog of tears. Desperation was a curse and I wouldn’t succumb, because I had every intention of being prepared for what might happen next.
I hated the sniffles and stifled sobs of others around me. Their bleak sadness tugged at my heartstrings, making me fight with my own preservation, replacing it with concern for theirs.
Get through this, then worry about them.
I didn’t think this was a simple opportunistic snatch. Whoever had stolen me planned it. The hunch grew stronger as I searched inside for any liquor remnants or the smell of cigarettes.
Had I been at a party? Nightclub?
Nothing.
I hadn’t been stupid or reckless. I think…
No hint or clue as to where I’d been or what I’d been doing when they’d come for me.
I wriggled, trying to move away from the stench. My bound wrists protested, stinging as the rope around them gnawed into my flesh like twine-beasts. My ribs bellowed, along with my head. There was no give in my restraints. I stopped trying to move, preserving my energy.
I tried to swallow.
No saliva.
I tried to speak.
No voice.
I tried to remember what happened.
I tried to remember…
Panic.
Nothing.
I can’t remember.
“Get up, bitch,” a man said. Something jabbed me in the ribs. “Won’t tell you again. Get.”
I froze as my mind hurtled me from present to past.
I’ll miss you so much,” she wailed, hugging me tighter.
“I’m not dying, you know.” I tried to untangle myself, looking over my shoulder at the final call flashing for my flight. I hated being late for anything. Let alone my one chance at escaping and finding out the truth once and for all.
“Call me the moment you get there.”
“Promise.” I drew a cross over my heart—
The memory shattered as my horizontal body suddenly went vertical in one swoop.
Who was that girl? Why did I have no memory of it ever happening?
“I said get up, bitch.” The man breathed hard in my ear, sending a waft of reeking breath over me. The blindfold stole my sight, but it left my nose woefully unprotected.
Unfortunately.
My captor shoved me forward. The ground was steady beneath my feet. The sickness plaiting with my confusion faded, leaving me cold.
My legs stumbled in the direction he wanted me to go. I hated shuffling in the darkness, not knowing where I came from or where I was being herded. There were no sounds of comfort or smothered snickers. This wasn’t a masquerade.
This was real.
This is real.
My heart thudded harder, fear slipping through my defenses. But full-blown terror remained elusive. Slippery like a silver fish, darting on the outskirts of my mind. It was there but fleeting, keeping me clear-headed and strong.
I was grateful for that. Grateful that I maintained what dignity I had left—remaining strong even in the face of the unknown terrors lurking on the other side of my blindfold.
Moans and whimpers of other women grew in decibels as men ordered them to follow the same path I walked. Either death row or salvation, I had no choice but to inch my way forward, leaving my forgotten past behind.
I willed snippets to come back. I begged the puzzlement of my past to slot into place, so I could make sense of this horrible world I’d awoken in.
But my mind was locked to me. A fortress withholding everything I wished to know.
The pushing stopped. So did I.
Big mistake.
“Move.” A cuff to the back of my head sent me wheeling forward. I didn’t stop again. My bare feet traversed…wood?
Bare feet?
Where are my shoes?
The missing knowledge twisted my stomach.
Where did I come from?
How did I end up here?
What’s my name?
It wasn’t the terror of the unknown future that stole my false calmness. It was the fear of losing my very self. They’d stolen everything. My triumphs, my trespasses, my accomplishments and failures.
How could I deal with this new world if I didn’t know what skills I had to stay alive? How could I hope to defeat my enemy when my mind revolted and locked me out?
Who am I?
To have who I was deleted…It was unthinkable.
“Faster, bitch.” Something cold wedged against my spine, pushing me onward. With my hands behind my back, I shuffled faster, negotiating the ground as best I could for dips or trips.
“Step down.” The man grabbed my bound wrists, giving me something to lean against as my toes navigated the small steps before me.
“Again.”
I obeyed.
“Last one.”
I managed the small staircase without falling flat on my face.
My face.
What do I look like?
A loud scraping noise sounded before me. I shied back, bumping against a feminine form. The woman behind me cried out—the first verbal sound of another.
“Move.” The pressure on my lower back came again, and I obeyed. Inching forward until the stuffy air of old vegetables and must was replaced by…copper and metallic…blood?
Why…why is that so familiar?
I gasped as my mind free-fell into another memory.
“I don’t think I can do this.” I darted away, throwing up in the rubbish bin in the classroom. The unique stench of blood curdled my stomach.
“Don’t overthink it. It’s not what you’re doing to the animal to make it bleed. It’s what you’re doing to make it live.” My professor shook his head, waiting for me to swill out my mouth and return white-faced and queasy to the operation in progress.
My heart splintered like a broken piece of glass, reflecting the compassion and responsibility I felt for such an innocent creature. This little puppy that’d been dumped in a plastic bag to die after being shot with BB gun pellets. He’d survive only if I mastered the skills to stem his internal bleeding and embrace the vocation I was called to do.
Inhaling the scent of blood, I let it invade my nostrils, scald my throat, and impregnate my soul. I drank its coppery essence. I drenched myself in the smell of the creature’s life force until it no longer affected me.
Picking up a scalpel, I said, “I’m ready—”
“Holy fuck!” The man guiding me forward suddenly whacked the base of my spine. The hard pain shoved me forward and I tripped.
“Wire—get me fucking reinforcements. He’s started a motherfucking war!”
Wind and body motion swarmed me as men charged from behind. The darkness I lived in suddenly came alive with sound.
Bullets flew, impaling themselves into the metal sides of the vehicle I’d just stepped from. Pings and ricochets echoed in my ear. Curses bellowed; moans of pain threaded like a breeze.
Someone grabbed my arm, swinging me to the side. “Get down!” The inertia of his throw knocked me off balance. With my wrists bound together, I had nothing to grab with, no way to protect myself from falling.
I fell.
My stomach swooped as tumbled off a small platform and smashed against the ground.
Dirt, damp grass, and moldy leaves replaced the stench of blood, cutting through the cloying sharpness of spilled metallic. My mouth opened, gasping in pain. Blades of grass tickled my lips as my cheek stuck to wet mud.
My shoulder screamed with agony, but I ignored the new injury. My mind clung to the unlocked memory. The fleeting recollection of my profession.
I’m a vet.
The sense of homecoming and security that one little snippet brought was priceless. My soul snarled for more, suddenly ravenous for missing information.
I skipped straight from fumbling uncertainty into starvation for more.
Tell me! Show me. Who am I?
I searched inside for more clues. But it was like trying to grab on to an elusive dream, fading faster and faster the harder I chased.
I couldn’t remember anything about medicine or how to heal. All I knew was I’d been trained to embrace the scent of blood. I wasn’t afraid of it. I didn’t faint or suffer sickness at the sight of it pouring from an open wound.
That tiniest knowledge was enough to settle my prickling nerves and focus on the outside world again.
Battle cries. Men screaming. Men growling. The dense thuds of fists on flesh and the horrible deflection of gunshots.
I couldn’t understand. Had I fallen through time and entered an alternate dimension?
Another body landed on top of mine.
I cried out, winded from a sharp poke of an elbow to my ribs.
The figure rolled away, crying softly. Feminine.
Why aren’t I crying?
I once again searched for fear. It wasn’t natural not to be afraid. I’d woken up alone, stolen, and thrown into the middle of a war, yet I wasn’t hyperventilating or panicked.
My calmness was like a drug, oozing over me, muting the sharp starkness of my situation. It was bearable if I embraced courage and the knowledge that I was strong.
My hands balled, grateful for the thought. I didn’t know who I was, but it didn’t matter, because the person who I was in this moment mattered the most.
I had to remain segmented, so I could get through whatever was about to happen. All I had was gut instinct, quiet strength, and rationality. Everything else had been taken.
“Stop fighting, you fucking idiots!”
The loud growl rumbled like an earthquake, hushing the battle in one fell swoop. Whoever had spoken had power.
Immense power. Colossal power.
A shiver darted over my skin.
“What the fuck happened? Have you lost your goddamn lovin’ mind?” a man yelled.
A sound of a short scuffle, then the fresh whiff of tilled dirt graced my nose.
“It’s done. Throw down your weapons and bend a fucking knee.” The same earthquake rumbled. The weight of his command pushed me harder against the damp ground.
“I’m not bending nothing, you asshole. You aren’t my Prez!”
“I am. Have been for the past four years.”
“You’re not. You’re his bitch. Don’t think his power is yours.”
Another fight—muffled fists and kicks. It ended swiftly with a painful groan.
The earthquake voice came again. “Open your eyes and follow the red fucking river. Your chosen—the one you hand-picked to slaughter me and take over the Club—he’s dead. Did you ever stop to think Wallstreet made me Prez for a fucking reason?”
Another moan.
“I’m the chosen one. I’m the one who knows the family secrets, absorbed the legacy, and earned his way into power. You don’t know shit. Nobody does. So bend a fucking knee and respect.”
Another tremor ran down my back.
Silence for a time, apart from the squelch of boots and heavy breathing. Then a barely muttered curse. “You’ll die. One way or another, we won’t put up with a Dagger as a Prez. We’re the Corrupts, goddammit. Having a traitor rule us is a fucking joke.”
“I’m the traitor? The man who obeys your leader? Who guides in his stead? I’m the traitor when you try and rally my brothers in a war?” A heavy thud of a fist connected with flesh. “No…I’m not. You are.”
My mind raced, sucking up noises and forming wild conclusions of what happened before me. Was this World War Three? Was this the apocalypse of the life I couldn’t remember? No matter how I pieced it together, I couldn’t make sense of anything.
The air was thick with anticipation. I didn’t know how many men stood before me. I didn’t know how many corpses littered the ground, or how such violence could be permitted in the world I used to know. But I did know the cease-fire was fragile and any moment it would explode.
A single threat slithered through the grass like a snake. “I’ll kill you, motherfucker. Mark my words. The true Corrupts are just waiting to take you out.”
The gentle foot-thuds of someone large vibrated through the ground. “The Corrupts haven’t existed for four fucking years. The moment I took the seat, it’s been Pure Corruption all the way. And you’re not fucking pure enough for this Club. You’re done.”
I flinched as the sulfuric boom of a gun ripped through the stagnant air.
A crash as a body fell lifeless to the grass. A soft puff of a soul escaping.
Murder.
Murder was committed right before me.
The inherent need to nurture and heal—the part of me that was as steadfast as the beat of my heart—wept with regret.
Death was something I’d fought against on a daily basis, but now I was weaponless.
I hated that a life had been stolen right before me. That I hadn’t been able to stop it.
I’m a witness.
And yet, I’d witnessed nothing.
I’d been privy to a battle but seen nothing. Knew no one. I would never be able to tell who shot whom, or who was right and who was wrong.
My hands shook, even though I managed to stay eerily calm. Am I in shock? And if I was, how did I cure myself?
The woman beside me curled into a ball, her knees digging into my side. My first reaction was to repel away from the touch. I didn’t know who was friend or foe. But a second reaction came quickly; the urge to share my calmness—to let her know that no matter what happened, she wasn’t alone. We faced the same future—no matter how grim.
Voices cascaded over us, whispers mainly, quickly spoken orders. Every sound was heightened. Being robbed of sight made my body seek other ways in which to find clues.
“Get rid of the bodies before daybreak.”
“We’ll go back and make sure we’re still covered.”
“Send out the word. It’s over. The Prez won—no anarchy today.”
Each voice was distinct but my ears twitched only for one: the earthquake rumble that set my skin quivering like quicksand.
He hadn’t spoken since he’d condemned someone to death and pulled the trigger. Every second of not hearing him made my heart trip faster. I wasn’t afraid. I should be. I should be immobile with fear. But he invoked something in me—something primal. Just like I knew I was female and a vet, I knew his voice meant something. Every inch of me tensed, waiting for him to speak. It was wrong to crave the voice of a killer, but it was the only thing I wanted.
Needed.
I need to know who he is.
Wet mud sucked loudly against boots as they came closer.
The woman whimpered, but I angled my chin toward the sound, wishing my eyes were uncovered.
I wanted to see. I wanted to witness the carnage before me. Because it was carnage. The stench of death confirmed it. It was morbid to want to see such destruction, but without my sight all of this seemed like a terrible nightmare. Nothing was grounded—completely nonsensical and far too strange.
I needed proof that this was real.
I needed concrete evidence that I wasn’t mad. That my body was intact, even if my mind was not.
I sucked in a breath as warm fingers touched my cheek, angling my face upward and out of the mud. Strong hands caressed the back of my skull, fumbling with my blindfold.
The anticipation of finally getting my wish to see made me stay still and cooperative in his hold.
I didn’t say a word or move. I just waited. And breathed. And listened.
The man’s breath was heavy and low, interspersed with a quick catch of pain. His fingers were swift and sure, but unable to hide the small fumble of agony.
He’s hurt.
The pressure of the blindfold suddenly released, trading opaque darkness for a new kind of gloom.
Night sky. Moonshine. Stars above.
Anchors of a world I knew, but no recognition of the dark-shrouded industrial estate where blood gleamed silver-black and corpses dotted the field.
I’m alive.
I can see.
The joy at having my eyes freed came and went as blazing as a comet.
Then my life ended as our gazes connected.
Green to green.
I have green eyes.
Down and down I spiraled, deeper and deeper into his clutches.
My life—past, present, and future—lost all purpose the second I stared into his soul.
The fear I’d been missing slammed into my heart.
I quivered. I quaked.
Something howled deep inside with age-old knowledge.
Every part of me arched toward him, then shied away in terror.
Him.
A nightmare come to life.
A nightmare I wanted to live.
If life was a tapestry, already threaded and steadfast, then he was the scissors that cut me free. He tore me out, stole me away, changed the whole prophecy of who I was meant to be.
Jaw-length dark hair, tangled and sweaty, framed a square jaw, straight nose, and full lips. His five-o’clock stubble held remnants of war, streaked with dirt and blood. But it was his eyes that shot a quivering arrow into my heart, spreading his emerald anger.
He froze, his body curving toward mine. Blistering hope flickered across his features. His mouth fell open and love so achingly deep glowed in his gaze. “What—” A leg gave out, making him kneel beside me. His hands shook as he cupped my face, his fingers digging painfully into my cheekbones. “It’s not—”
My heart raced. Yes.
“You know me,” I breathed.
The moment my voice webbed around us, storm clouds rolled over the sunshine in his face, blackening the hope and replacing it with pure hatred.
He changed from watching me like I was his angel to glowering as if I were a despicable devil.
I shivered at the change—at the iciness and hardness. He breathed hard, his chest rising and falling. His lips parted, a rumbling command falling from his mouth to my ears. “Stand up. You’re mine now.”
When I didn’t move, his hand landed on my side. His touch was blocked by clothing but I felt it everywhere. He stroked my soul, tickled my heart, and caressed every cell with fingers that despised me.
I couldn’t suck in a proper breath.
With a vicious push, he rolled me over, and with a sharp blade sliced my bindings. With effortless power, so thrilling and terrifying, he hauled me to my feet.
I didn’t sway. I didn’t cry. Only pulled the disgusting gag from my mouth and stared in silence.
I stared up, up, up into his bright green eyes, understanding something I shouldn’t understand.
This was him.
My nightmare.
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About the Author:
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Pepper Winters wears many roles. Some of them include writer, reader, sometimes wife. She loves dark, taboo stories that twist with your head. The more tortured the hero, the better, and she constantly thinks up ways to break and fix her characters. Oh, and sex… her books have sex.
She loves to travel and has an amazing, fabulous hubby who puts up with her love affair with her book boyfriends.

 

Her Dark Erotica books include:
Tears of Tess (Monsters in the Dark #1)
Quintessentially Q (Monsters in the Dark #2)

 

Her Grey Romance books include:
Destroyed

 

STALK Pepper
THANK YOU!
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