Day Four of Affair of the Heart Tour

Each day a group of blogs will present special excerpts from some of the books…look below for the blog hop schedule.



Name of cover designer: RENE FOLSOM
Official genre of box set: ROMANCE
Content warning: 18+

Contemporary Romance Box Set — Complete Stories Anthology — Hot New Release — Vacation Reading Package


Due to mature content, situations and language, this collection is recommended for audiences 18+. Heat levels range from sensual to scorching. All works in this box set have been professionally proofed by Paper Gold Publishing, unless this service was expressly refused by the author. Some stories are written in American, and some in British English. The authors have chosen to stay true to their heritage.

Includes a mix of already released and never-before seen stories, all complete works. Those books which are part of a series can be enjoyed fully without the need to read the complete series (though there is a chance you might develop story-addiction issues—for that, we apologize).

Dive into summer in good company. Affairs of the Heart gives you the chance to make 15 new sets of best friends. Just think about it: 15 hot boyfriends and girlfriends you can lust after, laugh with, or shed a tear for. If there is one thing this set is brimming with is intense emotion. We guarantee you won’t be able to simply walk away, stone-cold, from this collection.

Maci strives for one thing in life—anonymity. With her writing career in full bloom, all she wants is to work in peace while concealing her true identity from the public. Though readers love the science fiction worlds she creates, Maci knows that gender stereotypes could damage her career if she is exposed as a woman.

Liam is the envy of all gamers as the lead developer for nZone Studios. Over time, he builds walls around himself, keeping people at arm’s length who only gravitate to him for his material possessions rather than who he is as a person.

With thick barriers around their hearts and their past looming in the shadows, Liam and Maci challenge each other by slowly peeling away their protective layers and seeing each other for who they really are. It doesn’t take long after their chance meeting at a coffee shop for them to become one another’s game changer.

Note: This contemporary romance novel is the first book in the Playing Games series and contains adult situations meant for ages 18+.

“Trust me, he says. You’ll be safe with me, he says.”

Amelie Watts is sick and tired of being treated like a child. She might be willowy and delicate, but she has strength of the kind that doesn’t show on the outside. Plus, she learned all she needed to know so she could cope on her own. Now, if only her big brother would finally release her inheritance! She would fly to the Bahamas and kiss the backwater she grew up in goodbye.

Jason Watts is fed up with picking up the pieces of his little sister’s life. If only she would grow up already and learn to live life without stabilizers! Her latest idea is insane, and bound to be her most enormous failure to date. But how to make her understand?

Enter Rob Tyson, incorrigible bachelor and Jason’s best friend. For a laugh, they make a bet.

Two people, a hastily acquired boat, and a tropical paradise. What could possibly go wrong?

Zaed, Sophie’s American-born friend, kneels at a party to retrieve a glittering ring from the floor. Before anyone can comment, Natasha, Sophie’s cousin, is shrieking ‘yes, yes, I accept’ to a bewildered Zaed. It’s all a cosmic mistake, but things get out of hand rapidly as Zaed’s father, an old friend of Natasha’s father, bribes Zaed to accept Natasha’s expectations and wed her. But then, Zaed and Sophie fall in love. And the huge, elaborate wedding between Zaed and Natasha, a wedding that will join two powerful families, is next week.

You don’t just back out at the altar. Not in Pakistan…

James, a UK based chef, has tried to make a career with EAT-TV, but his womanizing ways aren’t what they’re looking for with their wholesome family style image. However, the producers of a new reality show about single life, The Fixer Upper, think he’s perfect. Against his wishes his agent convinces him to give it a shot. His overpriced bachelor pad is needing a mortgage payment, and he needs a job to support the tween-aged daughter that’s recently been dumped in his lap.

Margaret Dumas is control freak who has micromanaged her marriage to shambles. When she makes a deal with her mother to quit fixing her up if she’ll do this new reality show, she thinks she’s won. No more blind dates, no more friendly advice, no more “chance meetings” with her Mother’s friends’ sons. The only catch is she’s got to go on detestable reality television and expose her dating habits to a total stranger who is supposed to “fix” her and make her a dating machine. As if.

When Margaret meets James, they clash on the surface, but deep down they recognize something in the other that they want. Redemption.

My name is Alix and I am addicted to sex.

Had been for years. I thought I learned how to live a normal life, but that’s the thing about addiction, it creeps back up when you least expect it. There is no one there for me, no one I can turn to for help. Until I’m given a chance to explore a side of myself I’d always kept locked away. I was lost…until him. I can’t tell you who he is, or why he does the things he’s done. All I can say is I hope one day I behave well enough to take off the blindfold and see the man who controls my addiction. My Master.

My name is John and I am addicted to control.

I tried to deny the dominate side of my personality. I didn’t want to admit how much I enjoyed the power, how much I enjoyed causing pain. That is until the woman I’d been secretly been stalking waltzed into a BDSM club right in front of me. All bets are off. She will be mine.

Together our addictions feed off each other, fueling the fire that burns within. Until suddenly the fire is too hot to handle, burning everything in its path. The pain and scars we’d both come into our fragile relationship with are split wide open, exposing more than either of us can handle, possibly leaving nothing behind to salvage from the ashes.

**Warning: Intended for audiences 18+ due to explicit sex & vulgar language, mention of rape/abuse**

She’d been dealt too many blows to count. He’d always lived life on easy street. Are they Yin and Yang or a mistake of epic proportions?

Makeup artist Reggie Reynolds has endured a life as colorful as her ever-changing hair. After a painful childhood and a tragic adolescence, by sheer force of will, she found success – first in Hollywood, then on Broadway. Returning to her hometown offers a chance to help her aging grandfather and realize her dreams, not to mention soothe a broken heart. But even her storied past won’t prepare Reggie for what happens in her next chapter.

When reporter Eddie Besson meets Reggie on a flight to New York City, he thinks he’s at an all-time high-point in his cushy, perpetual-youth life. Twenty-four hours with Reggie changes Eddie’s perspective. Despite the fact she doesn’t want anything to do with him when he leaves, Eddie can’t stop thinking about the girl from New York City long after he’s gone from the Big Apple.

As Eddie’s perfectly-orchestrated life falls apart, he has some tough decisions to make, with only one thing certain: there will be consequences to pay for his lackadaisical approach to adulthood. Reggie’s own soul-searching reveals some painful truths, including guilt about passing judgment on the guy from Maine. When she runs into Eddie again – this time on his home turf – sparks fly and decisions must be made, choices that aren’t universally well-received. Will this unlikely pair go all-in, find a way to balance the scales and live life on their own terms? Or will tragedy tear them apart for good?

What would you do if you had no place to go and no one you could trust?

Jackson Beaumont prides himself on being a nature-loving, guitar-strumming, carefree sort of guy. When the mysterious Lena Benton walks into his bar looking scared and defeated, it’s not something he can ignore. He’s immediately consumed by concern for her and driven by his desire to help. She’s just so beautiful. So wounded.

After being shuffled from one foster home to another growing up, Lena Benton dreamt of finding her prince charming. When the captivating Troy Harington sweeps her off her feet shortly after high school graduation, she’s certain she’s found her happiness. Unfortunately, Troy’s true colors surface shortly after their marriage and things turn ugly. Lena only has one choice. She has to leave him. She has to run…

Lena’s escape has brought her to Jackson, and he clearly wants to be there for her, but can she trust anyone again after what she’s gone through? And will Jackson be able to help her heal without losing his heart?

Mangled Hearts become Entangled Souls

Cade is on the road to recovery with Francesca’s love and support guiding him. His life is changing drastically, from attempting to mend the rift between he and his father, to trying to have a normal relationship with his now fiancé. Most of all, Cade must find a way to control his urges so he can be completely released from rehabilitation.

Francesca is building her law firm with the help of those she loves most, but when a close friend reveals her true feelings about Francesca’s engagement, it sends her emotions into a tailspin. Through all of this, she is forced to put her feelings on the back burner for everyone else, until the anniversary of Josie’s accident rolls around. Francesca must learn to put herself first before she falls apart.

In this novella, join Cade and Francesca as they explore their relationship and begin their lives together.

Thank you for picking up this Crimson & Clover short story, SURRENDER. If you’ve read THE STORM AND THE DARKNESS, you will recognize pieces of this from Ana’s flashback to her prom night. SURRENDER is an expanded version of that scene, painting her teenage courtship with Oz with color and context.

Having read other books in the series will provide deeper insight, but they are not required to enjoy this story. SURRENDER is the first of many Crimson & Clover Lagniappes (or, bonus stories). You can pick it up anywhere in your series journey.
I hope you enjoy this quick, lighthearted read about the joyful innocence that accompanies first love.

Andi has always been anxious about her weight and like many women, thinks that unless she is thin, she has no value.

Follow her ‘misadventures’ and see if this is true or will she find there are more important things that makes a person who and what they are?

Jack Austin had it all – a great home, career, and the girl of his dreams. Then one night he lost them all, thanks to his father. Now he has seventy-two hours to find a way to get back his ranch, and win the heart of the only girl he ever loved.

Katrina Mitchell was a small-town girl who had big dreams. She was the first in her family to graduate high school, and was determined to go to college. Then she met Jack and found out love did not have to come with a price. They made plans for their future, but it all came crashing down around them.

She lost more than she could ever tell anyone that night. Now Jack needs her help. Can she help him without giving away a secret she had fought so long to hide?

Leaving the Marines and returning to the Tormented Souls clubhouse to live with my brother, the president, wasn’t as easy as I thought it’d be. I have too many secrets, too many scars to hide from the world. I thought the years away would’ve dulled the crush I’ve had on Ellis since I was a child. They didn’t.

He’s got his eye on me and nothing I say will change his mind. Not even when my boyfriend shows up and he finds out the darkest, most embarrassing secret I have. He thinks it’s the only one I have, little does he know, I have a bigger, scarier one that I absolutely refuse to share.

**WARNING: CONTAINS ADULT CONTENT – Also, please don’t bother reading if you think being in the Marines leaves you unfeeling and cold without the need for comfort when far away from home. Don’t read this if you have problems with LOTS of sexy scenes or sex. There is vulgar language used so if that bothers you, probably best to skip this book**

A day of errands and fate were responsible for Nadia and Dillon’s paths crossing.

He asked her out, then found himself begging her to keep their first date, the date she had wanted to cancel. Five minutes of her time was all he asked for. He just wanted to see her again. They married and had a perfect storybook love.

But, when Dillon gets in a terrible car accident one morning on his way to work, Nadia’s world crumbles. Life as she knew it changed – perhaps for good.

From amnesia to a lengthy hospital stay to months of physical therapy. The stress of recovery has them questioning the state of their future together.

Will they find their happily ever after?

Joshua Elijah Griffin, IV is on his last chance. A stint in rehab and a transfer to a new school has scared him into putting his life on track. He’s determined to live up to his family’s expectations, but on the first day of class, Josh meets a girl, and he knows his father won’t approve, but in Carrington, he sees a kindred spirit. He’s willing to give up everything to be with her.

Carrington Olivia Butler is ready to shine. Always in the shadows of her siblings, she goes away to college to break out of her shell. All Carrington wants is to feel special. Josh’s attention is exactly what she craves, but their intense and sometimes volatile relationship is more than what she bargained for.

Josh’s demons return, and Carrington’s feelings fade, but both aren’t ready to give up hope. They give their love one last shot to survive, but hope, may not be enough.

**This book contains adult subject matter. Not intended for young readers**

When Isla Holmes’ life as a child is turned upside down and she is ripped away from her soul mate, she is forced to live a life with evil.

When Isla and her soul mate cross paths, will they find a happy ever after or will evil intervene?


She had no place to go and no one she could trust… “I will never let another man do to me what Troy did.” 
Chapter One 
He opened the front door. Rusty hinges creaked in the otherwise stillness of the night as he entered our dark, two-story home. No one could have slept through the sound of the door slamming behind him, or the thump of his footsteps on the stairs as I pictured him lumbering his way up to the bedroom where I supposedly slept. He swore with dissonance, and every bone in my body stiffened as I squeezed my eyes so tight they hurt. When a thump, followed by a clang resonated through the house, I visualized a picture crashing to the floor, glass shattering as it toppled to the bottom of the steps—the one and only picture of us on our wedding day, no doubt. Troy was drunk, again. I knew he would be—knew it when he left earlier that evening. I’d come to learn it was an ugly habit with him most nights. I stared up at the dingy white ceiling of our darkened bedroom, tainted with water stains from a leaky roof. A sliver of light from the street lamp peeked through the window and illuminated a slender line across the wall. I stayed still as a corpse, breathing shallowly and praying he was drunk enough to just pass out. 
My body involuntarily stiffened when he tumbled on top of me, groping at my breasts, forcing his hard slobbering lips against mine. I forced myself to go limp; my rigid body would only make him mad. I stopped breathing for as long as I could to ward off the stink of booze and cigarettes emanating from his pores and from his hot, sour breath. A vile tincture accumulated in my throat and I fought back the urge to vomit. 
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t always like this. There was a time I enjoyed being with Troy, when making love was something special, something exciting. But not now, not like this. There would be no titillating foreplay here, no show of affection. Not from him, that wasn’t his style, at least not anymore. His style was brutal, self-serving, and revolting. 
I tried not to flinch or look surprised as he ripped my thin nightgown down the front, exposing one of my breasts. Any show of negative emotion might set him off in the wrong direction. 
“Get rid of this fucking thing.” The demand slurred from his throat. With a sickening laugh, he tugged the cotton away from my body and tossed the shredded material to the floor. There was no point in refusing him. That was something I’d learned the hard way. My face would fare better if I just surrendered to his disgusting sexual assaults. 
My underpants were next to endure his rough, impatient hands as he tugged them down over my feet. I doubt they even made it to the floor. They’d become lost somewhere in the sheets. 
There used to be a gentle, caring man behind those dark blue eyes—so blue they always reminded me of what I thought the deepest part of the ocean looked like. Now, I only thought of the darkest part of hell—where the fire burned everything to black embers before it moved on. 
He stood up, fumbled with his zipper, and stumbled while pushing his pants down. I lay there naked, trying my best not to shiver or show fear, trying so, so hard to keep the tears from flowing. I didn’t dare move, didn’t dare look at him. I ordered myself to lie still—to make my mind go somewhere else—then I could tolerate the loveless act that was about to happen, as I’d done so many times before. I searched my mind for that time not too long ago when sex with this man was welcome, a time when I felt special and loved. Oh, I still felt special—a special kind of punching bag if I didn’t do what he told me to do. 
He practically fell on top of me, the length of his body smothering mine. Stillness forced on me, I ordered myself not to cry out from his heavy weight, knowing any type of complaint would make him violent. The fact that I couldn’t seem to take in a full breath of air helped keep me quiet. 
“Now, that’s better. Oh, yeah, baby,” he groaned in my ear, slurping wet, boozy lips down my throat as he shoved his not quite hard erection into me, rocking back and forth. 
It amazed me that he could even get the tip inside. The smell of booze on his breath tonight was heavy, and I wondered if he’d finish before he grew frustrated and angry. 
It didn’t take long for his fury to escalate into blind rage. Cursing, blaming me for not arousing him enough. “You frigid bitch! Show me some affection you stupid cunt!” In his outrage, he backhanded me across the face. 
I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I always was. I didn’t cry out, didn’t shed a tear. I’d become numb, I think, because if I did cry or scream, he’d only beat me more and yell at me to shut up. However, this time, I found my apathetic response wouldn’t work either. He slapped me again and then dragged me up by my hair, tossing me to the floor. “Get out of my bed you worthless slut. Who you been fucking so you don’t want me anymore? You have somebody better than me out there?” 
I was too stunned to answer, so he kept on shouting, “Right, ain’t nobody gonna wanna fuck an old has-been like you.” 
It didn’t matter that I was only twenty. My body and my spirit were broken beyond repair, damaged, and I felt as old as his accusations. He stood staggering over me and laughed, one foot on either side of my legs for balance as he reached for himself. I honestly thought he would urinate on me just to show how little he thought of me. He’d done it before, and said I wasn’t even worth the piss of a dog. But luckily, this time he just grabbed both my arms and yanked my limp body to my feet. 
“You think you can get a better lay than me? You’re wrong. Nobody else will have you. Nobody else wants you. You’re a stinking dirty whore! That’s what you are.” 
In the past, I would have begged him to stop, but these days my mind numbed more and more with each assault. It wouldn’t make any difference if I answered him or not, it would always be the wrong answer. Staying silent was safer. It made him mad, but it didn’t give him any more ammunition. Usually. 
He laughed again before spitting in my face, and then I felt the bone of his knuckles crack against my upper cheek—or was that my bone that cracked? Then he threw me against the wall. The back of my head slammed against it, and a traitorous groan escaped from my throat as I collapsed. This time, I thought, he just might kill me. He kicked me in the stomach, and again in my side, before he staggered away to the bathroom. I wasn’t sure which hurt more: my face, my stomach, or my ribs. 
The sound of him urinating gave me reprieve from his wrath, and I decided to try to make a run for it. I honestly didn’t know if I’d even make it down the stairs, but I had to try. My legs shook, and every inch of my body ached. I made it to the top of the stairway and had a death grip on the railing for fear I would lose my balance and tumble down the long staircase. The hallway behind me, as well as the stairwell before me, seemed almost invisible in the darkness since Troy hadn’t bothered to turn on the lights before staggering upstairs. I didn’t even try to locate the switch to illuminate my way. I’d take my chances in the dark, not wanting to alert him to my whereabouts. Barely able to stand, I stumbled my way down to the small kitchen. If I stepped on broken glass, the pain of it, didn’t register through my numbness. 
I struggled to find the strength to stay on my feet and gripped the counter, leaning against it for support. 
“Lena, where the fuck did you go?” he called out as his heavy flat feet thumped down the stairs. 
Panic clouded my mind. I needed to get out of there. If he found me standing here, he would surely kill me for not staying put. 
I’d saved money, but as I looked down at my naked body I knew I couldn’t just run out the door. If he caught up with me, the jealous rage at the sight of my naked body outside would only send him into an even angrier fit. And I couldn’t leave without my stash of money. 
I glanced around the kitchen. The white laminate counters bare and neat, not even a knickknack or speck of dirt on them per his strict rules. I could have grabbed a heavy pan and hit him over the head, but I didn’t think I could walk across the room to where we stored them in time, and quite frankly, I didn’t have the strength to wield a heavy enough blow to knock him out. I turned, still grasping the counter, and yanked open the drawer beside the sink. My fingers latched on to one of the small steak knives as he called out again, startling me, his voice not far away. Panic rose, and the rush of adrenalin secreted into my veins as I clutched the knife tightly in my fist. The solid weight of the black plastic handle in my grip felt reassuring, yet terrifying. I ran my fingers down the sharp edge of the blade with my other hand, feeling the jagged edges. My body seemed to move in a dream state or a B-rated horror movie—waiting for the serial killer to come closer—close enough for me to plunge the blade into him. Did I have the courage to do it? If I didn’t, he would kill me. He rounded the corner as I turned back around, my shaky hand hiding the blade behind my back. 
He weaved his way across the room, his hands fanned out to his sides as if to embrace me, his head cocked to one side, a slight curve to his lips; a rare attempt at a tender gesture. 
“Come on, Lena. I’m sorry. Let me make it up to you.” His sudden mood swing didn’t surprise me. I knew it was just an act to get closer to me so I would let my guard down, then he could strike me again or get close enough to choke me to death. 
I didn’t move though. Couldn’t move. My arms were still behind my back, one clutching the counter for support, the other around that black plastic handle. His hands groped my shoulders and he squeezed his fingers against my skin. 
“You shouldn’t have left the bedroom, Lena. Now I’ll need to punish you.” His body wavered and he studied me with bloodshot eyes as if deciding what to do. 
Shove it in, my mind demanded, as rage simmered behind those blue eyes. Then his fingers moved to my throat, squeezing tighter and tighter until I couldn’t breathe. I closed my eyes, gritted my teeth and pulled the knife around. I thrust it into his gut in the same manner as he had thrust into me a few moments before, cold and brutal. Only I added passion—a passion of hate. 
His warm blood oozed over my knuckles. He appeared shocked that I had actually stabbed him. I let go of the handle, leaving the blade stuck in his abdomen. 
He gazed at me with wide, shocked eyes. “Lena? Baby, why?” He clutched at his stomach where the plastic stuck out. Blood oozed between his fingers and stained his white shirt. Then his knees buckled and he sank to the floor. “You fucking bitch, I’ll kill you for this.”
An unlikely relationship… “I love her more than anything. Going to rehab is torturous, but I would do it every single day of my life if it meant I could keep her.”


Chapter one
Warmth spread around me, coating me like a second skin as I drifted back from slumber. Francesca lay curled beside me, her body pressed close to mine, her blond locks spread over my chest. Deep, even breathing let me know she was still asleep, her chin slightly upturned as her head relaxed on my shoulder. God, she is beautiful and she’s mine. Long, dark lashes sat on her cheeks, pink, full lips puckered where she mumbled incoherently every so often. She was adorable. 
Last night, I’d proposed…and she’d said yes. She’d held my heart since the day I saw her sitting on the bus bench reading her romance novel, and I’d finally gotten the balls to do something about it. My alcohol problem was always an issue, but wanting her, needing her, was enough to make me want to change. So, after acquiring her services for my lawsuit, I’d decided it was time for me, Cade Kelling, to be an adult. Be a man. Do something about my demons and get the woman I love. I left for rehab right after the trial, spending three months away from my heart’s desire. Pops, my jackass father, was kind enough to ensure I couldn’t see or speak to Francesca the whole time. Luckily, he couldn’t cut out the mail, so we’d been old school and wrote letters to each other. 
Three months wasn’t enough to cure me, not by a long shot, but I was on the road to recovery. Reid, my sponsor, was more than willing to volunteer to be my 24/7 babysitter so I could get out early. The next year would be busy with me going to outpatient therapy and AA meetings every single day. I’d do it all again to see the look on my gorgeous woman’s face when she saw me last night. Francesca was a lawyer, but after quitting the firm she worked at when we first reconnected, she opened her own office. I was released from rehab right before her grand opening party, only she had no idea. I showed up, surprising her with my arrival and a proposal. 
The party was a success. Business men and women came from all around the area, filling her small office to the max. Her assistant, Zander, called every connection he had, helping her reach the maximum amount of people. Her best friend, Daphne, had planned the whole thing, making the event fun, professional, and engaging. Speaking of engaging….
Her soft fingers curled around my arm, the sparkler shining as the sun hit from the window. She moaned softly, arching her back like a cat, instantly taking my mind from my memories to her soft body against me. Stretching beside me, her long legs untangled from mine. Her hands released my chest. I watched with fascination, my desire for her growing by the second. Her lids gently opened, revealing her bright, love-filled, brown peepers. I still couldn’t believe she was mine, she wanted me. 
“Hi,” she said groggily, causing me to stir with need. 
“Hey,” I replied, gazing over every part of her body. “I like this.”
She pulled the sheet to her shoulders, her insecurity getting the best of her. “Like what?”
I looped my finger over the edge, jerking the sheet away and completely off the bed. “Me. You. Naked.” Leaning over, I grasped her fingers, locking them and placing our hands beside her head, lowering mine to capture her luscious lips for a kiss. Tongues collided and a rush of heat flowed through my body. Our night had been miraculous, even better than the first time we’d made love, but all I wanted to do was have her over and over again. I moved my lips to her neck, teasing her with my tongue. Silky skin contracted under my touch, her involuntary shudder visible. Her mouth parted as she sucked in a deep breath. 
A soft moan caught in her throat as she released one of my hands, trailing up and down my body. Tingles and shivers ran the length of me as I pushed my knee between her legs, making room for me. She bit her lip as I pressed myself into her warm cocoon. Her eyes rolled back and she gasped with delight when I fully entered her. Her moans vibrated through my ear, pushing me deeper into her warmth. Wrapping her legs around my waist, she pulled me as close as she could, snaking her lips over my neck and shoulders as I moved within her. Her fingers kneaded and scratched at my back, her breathing intensified the faster we went. We rocked in rhythm, our hearts beating as one, our bodies moving as one. I brought her to ecstasy long before I felt the release spurring out of me. She cried out for the second time as I, too, was overwhelmed with pleasure. 
I buried my head in her neck, kissing her lightly as we caught our breaths. Her fingers found my hair, lightly threading through it as she massaged my scalp. Lifting my face to see her, I locked our eyes, placing a small kiss on her nose. She giggled into me, pressing her mouth to mine and kissing me hard. I was still deep inside her, and she wasn’t making things any easier for me to get up and get ready for the day. 
“Francesca,” I murmured, thrusting into her one last time. “I have a therapy session in less than an hour. We’ll continue this later.”
She growled, grabbing my ass and slithering her body against mine. She felt so damned good. “Are you sure?” she asked seductively. Her dark brown eyes were full of lust, her desire evident with each move her body made. 
I groaned, giving her a kiss full of promise and slid out of her. “I’m sorry, I wish I could just stay here with you.”
Laying back on the pillow, she nodded slightly as she watched me walk away from her backwards. “New rule, Cade.”
“What’s that?” I questioned, just as I reached her bathroom door. 
“You have to stay naked any time we’re here alone,” she laughed, giving a sexy grin. 
“Anything for you, Francesca,” I replied with a wink. 
Reid was seated in Francesca’s living room by the time I was showered and dressed. The guy was punctual and high on life…almost to the point of annoying the hell out of me. He did in the beginning, but once I got through all the detoxing and anger that came with the shock to my system, I realized he really only wanted to help me. He was over joyous with his three year sobriety status and flaunted his happy all over. I hoped I got to the point he was at, even if I was slightly scared I’d run everyone in my life off. 
Francesca came in the room, her long legs peeking out of the pink fluffy robe she tied around her. Golden hair shone with each move she made, her delicate hands placing a cup of coffee in front of Reid as she granted him one of her heart stopping smiles. 
“Hey, Reid,” I said as I stepped behind her, pulling her to lean against my body. She felt so good, fitting perfectly into me. It took all I had to not kick Reid out and take her back to the bedroom. 
“Cade.” Reid nodded. “You ready to go?” 
Giving a longing glance at the beauty in my arms, I reluctantly nodded. “Yep.”
“It was nice seeing you, Francesca. I’ll bring him back here before we head in for the evening,” he directed to her. 
She nodded, her hair brushing against my arms as she did so.
Kissing the top of her head, I squeezed her torso close, “I’ll miss you,” I murmured in her ear, nibbling the lobe before I stepped away. 
The smile she gave was breathtaking, her gleaming eyes giving me a look of desire and adoration. She lifted her hand, giving a small wave, before I turned to go. 
Reid waited for me on the other side of the door, leaning against the stair rail. He appeared casual and collected, but when it came to being a sponsor, he was all business. He looked me over and gave me a hard glare. “You holding up ok?”
Agreeing, I said, “For now,” I paused, nodding my head back to the house, “she’s pretty amazing, so it distracted me from being out in the real world again.”
He started down the steps and I followed reluctantly. I knew deep down the therapy, the meetings, and all the talking was what I needed. Leaving Francesca hurt, but she was the whole reason I went for help in the first place. Without her love and devotion pouring back into my life, I wouldn’t have checked myself into rehab. 
We settled in his car, as my keys were still locked away in Reid’s apartment lock box. After turning the ignition, he turned to me, motioning for me to buckle up. “I’m going over the schedule one more time,” he started, pulling the car carefully on the street. He wasn’t just Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky, he was also the most cautious driver in the world. He drove slower than my grandpa, and he was eighty-nine years old. 
“We already went over it three times,” I groaned, slumping back in the seat. I knew he’d go over it again no matter what I said. 
“Ok, first you have a meeting with the therapist. Then a circle meeting with the other outpatients, followed by group therapy, then you and I will head back to your place, after I let you see Francesca, to get the rest of your things.”
I nodded along with each statement, waving my hand along with the words I’d heard already. “When can I get my job back?”
“You can’t even think about working for another three months, when you qualify for night meetings. Cade, this was a very special case, you have to understand that. I pulled some major strings for this to happen, and I wouldn’t have done it for just anyone,” he explained, his eyes not leaving the road. I didn’t even see him blink. 
“I know, and I thank you for it. Last night was really special for me and Francesca. We owe that to you,” I stressed, “but I need to pay for my apartment. My bills. I want to give you some money, I mean, I’m going to be living with you.”
He held up a finger, “Ok, one, I get paid from the treatment center, so don’t worry about paying me,” he said, then held up another finger. “Two, your dad wanted me to tell you that he’s paying for the six months of rent. He stressed he would stop if you fell off the wagon,” he concluded. 
I was shocked. Pops had already told me he wouldn’t bail me out, give me money, or help me in any way. He’d been mostly absent through my rehab days, though Francesca told me he contacted her. Pops and my relationship had always been strained, more so recently than in years past, but that wasn’t saying much. He’d always been hard on me, not believing in anything I did. I often thought Francesca’s belief in me was what I craved from my father, though I’d never admit that to anyone besides my therapist. 
“You ok? You didn’t have a heart attack or something because of what I told you, did you?” Reid joked. 
I glanced his way, shaking my head and saying, “No. I’m surprised is all. Doesn’t seem like Pops to wash his hands of me then come back for another round.”
Stopping at the red light, he finally turned to look my way. “Cade…I really think it was your girl. She talked to him and he called the same day, but made me promise to not tell you until after the first night was through.”
Gritting my teeth, I said, “Because he thought I’d fail that quickly.” 
“You proved him wrong,” he pointed out, turning his attention back to the road. Gently pushing the gas pedal, we crawled along in the traffic until we were finally closer to our destination. 
I sat back, pondering everything. My relationship with Pops was shifting. Unsure of how to feel about it, I let the feeling settle in around me while I soaked it all in. Francesca was changing everything and everyone around me. Her brightness, her kindness, and her energy were penetrating even Pops’ hard exterior. Since the very first time I laid eyes on her, I knew she was special; one of a kind, but this…this was more than I expected. She’d re-staked her claim on my heart, tearing down all my barriers, leaving me exposed and vulnerable. She was slowly healing my wounded soul, and it appeared she would repair other areas of my life as well. 
“Cade?” Reid’s voice pulled me from my thoughts. 
Turning, I asked, “Yeah?”
“We’re here, Buddy. You ready?” he questioned, a smile playing on his lips. 
I nodded. I was more than ready. No one believed in me but Francesca and Reid. I would prove them all wrong. I had no other option. 
The meeting with my therapist was for an hour, where I talked about my feelings, my cravings, and the events of the night before. He wasn’t happy I’d proposed, stressing over and over that I shouldn’t start something so serious straight out of rehab. No matter what he said, he couldn’t sway me. I explained time and again that anything with Francesca wasn’t new, that she’d held my heart for years now, but he simply sighed and wrote more notes about me on his legal pad. 
I needed to ask Reid what the big deal was later. It was my life, my choice, so why did this guy care so much?
“She’s what led me here. I don’t know why you would want me to wait to tell her how I feel. It’s not like we’re getting married tomorrow, I just wanted…no needed her to know how deeply I care. I would do anything for this woman. She deserves to know that,” I explained, resting my elbows on my knees. My time was almost up, and I didn’t know why, but it was necessary for this guy to understand. 
“I get it, but you’ve only been sober for three months. What if you only wanted her because of the alcohol?” he said. 
His statement shocked me. Angered me. I stared in disbelief. “I wanted her more when drunk, yes, but that was sexually. I was never good enough for her because of my drinking. She deserved better, and I didn’t hold enough desire to do better at that point. But…she’s back in my life. I know it’s for a reason, and I know that me growing up and getting control of my bullshit ways is what needs to be done. I can be the type of man that deserves her. That’s why I proposed. She makes me want to be better, to be sober, to do everything I can to see her smile, happy. She’s the only one that believed in me from the beginning. And I may not be the smartest guy in the world, but I know what I feel for her isn’t the side effects of alcohol.”
He nodded, not saying anything but that our time was up. I finished up the day quickly, not getting upset with anyone else. Most people congratulated me on the engagement, others said nothing. Dr. Lyons was the only one that questioned my decision. He could question it every day, but my answer would always be the same. I knew it was the right decision. The perfect choice for us.
November 24
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Rene Folsom, author of contemporary and paranormal, lives in Florida with her husband and three kids. She has officially diagnosed herself with creative ADD and often has a million and one writing projects going at once. In addition to writing, she is also a graphic artist who enjoys creating custom book covers for indie authors. She is definitely an artist at heart and would love nothing more than to be elbow deep in clay during her waking hours.

Rene believes that all fiction is based on some form of reality—otherwise we would never have the inspiration or knowledge to dream up the realistic situations we portray with our words. She is proud to say that her personal experiences have been inspirational, though perhaps not always identical to that of her fictional characters. Where reality and fantasy diverge, however, must remain her little secret…

Ella Medler is a U.K. author and free-lance editor. She writes fiction in more than one genre, in a seemingly vain attempt to slow down her overactive brain enough to write non-fiction on subjects she knows a thing or two about. She also does not believe in the starchy use of English, and ignores the type of rule that doesn’t allow for a sentence to be finished in a preposition. Her books are action-driven, and well-developed characters are her forte. Loves: freedom. Hates: her inner censor.

HA Kay I was in grade 7, and bunking PE when I read Tolkien’s Two Towers from the LOTR trilogy.

I know what you’re thinking. Certified nerd! I remember what I was thinking. Where had this book been all my life?!

I loved it. I can’t recall the scenes I’d read then but I remember how transfixing Tolkien’s Middle Earth was. I instantly wanted to write something like it.

But such dreams are easily forgotten in the wake of building a real career.

I went ahead and enrolled in a business college and did my MBA with tinselly rainbow colors, making a tiara out of my nerd cap. It was a good day. And it was a good year at the bank. But the best time was when I landed at an ad agency’s creative department to write jingles and slogans and slaughter both my languages (Urdu and English) in the process. I learned a lot there. I wrote a lot there. And I became apt in the art of killing my own brainchildren a.k.a. self-editing.

Then, I got married. Moved to the United States and started a family.

For two years I was a good stay-at-home mom. Then, I thought I could be good at something else too. I couldn’t decide on what exactly till I stumbled upon my old diary – a leftover from my baby and teen years. I read all the poems and stories I’d written therein, ranging from an ode to Mom to a soul-searching monologue. I realized I wasn’t bad. If I worked on my talent I could turn it into a skill. And perhaps be able to write like the numerous authors who’d inspired me for years. A lost afternoon in the school library from so long ago made its way into my present and I remembered the perfect Legolas. I remembered the imperfect Quasimodo, the roguish Rhett Butler and the ruthless Rory Frost too.

Suddenly, I wanted to create such characters and write their stories instilled with M. M. Kaye-like descriptions and Crichton-like research and Grisham-like authenticity, all tied together with intense moods borrowed from Victoria Holt. Tolkien’s magic dust and King’s dark secrets would just be the cherry and powdered sugar on top.

I enrolled in a writing program immediately and earned my diploma. Next I wrote and edited for a newbie magazine. I wrote two children’s books (5 Kids and 5 Snowmen and Boondon Ka Khel: The Playful Game of the Tiny Water Droplets), and co-authored a trilogy under the title Aoife and Demon.
Now, it’s Love Me Do.

I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.

Anne Conley has written her entire life and has the boxes of angst-filled journals and poetry to prove it. She’s been writing for public consumption for the last four years. Currently she is writing three romance series. In Stories of Serendipity, she explores real people living real lives in small town Texas in a contemporary romance setting. In The Four Winds, she chronicles God’s four closest archangels, Uriel, Gabriel, Raphael, and Michael, falling in love and becoming human. In Pierce Securities, she gives us Ryan, Evan, Miriam, Zack, Quinten, and Simon. She lives in rural East Texas with her husband and children in her own private oasis, where she prides herself in her complete lack of social skills, choosing instead to live with the people inside her head.

Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this story, sign up for my newsletter to receive news on new releases, extras, and random stuff!

Rachael Orman Mother by day. Writer by night. I spend a majority of my day with my children and reading while my nights are filled with the sound of the keyboard as I work on my next work.

I have written in nearly every LBGT category as well as the traditional erotic romance category.

I love to try new things and learn from every piece of work I write. I’ll write just about anything once to learn from it. I’ve even ventured out of my normal erotica genre into Monster Erotica. Doubt you’ll find me writing anything not erotic as you can barely get me to even read something out of that category, but then again, you never know what I might try next.

Never stop learning. Try everything at least once.

Lucy Gage started her writing career under another name, but the same vivid imagination and love of books still fuels her daily life. When she’s not writing, you can find her spending time with her family in her home state of Maine, experiencing a life that helps shape her writing.

Look for her website in 2015. Book six in the Ward Sisters Series will arrive in 2015 and book 1 in the Vega Brothers Series – a Ward Sisters spinoff – launches later in the year.

Susan Griscom I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania, spending most of my time daydreaming or playing around in the mud. I grew out of the mud play, well, most of the time, a good soak in the mud is always fun. I still daydream often and sometimes my daydreams interrupt my daydreams. So I write to remember them. If I didn’t write, I think my mind would explode from an overload of fantasy and weirdness. To the annoyance of my friends and family, my characters sometimes become a part of my world. During my childhood, I would frequently get in trouble in school for daydreaming. Eventually, my vivid imagination paid off and I had the privilege of writing and co-directing my sixth-grade class play–a dreadful disaster, though not from my writing, of course. I’m pretty sure it was the acting.

I enjoy writing about characters living in small quaint towns and tend to lean toward the unusual and edgy.

My paranormal playing field delves into a different milieu, abandoning vampires and werewolves, but not discounting them. Someday I might like to write a novel about vamps and those furry creatures. But for now I like the bizarre mixed with romance. A strong hero or heroine confronted with extraordinary forces of nature, powers and capabilities gets my blood running hot, as does a steamy contemporary romantic suspense.

Felicia Tatum was born and raised in Tennessee. She always loved reading, and at the age of twelve began writing. Her passion for creating stories grew and in May 2012, she finally wrote her first novel, The White Aura.

She still lives in Tennessee with her daughter and her kitty. She loves cooking, books, and animals are some of her best friends. She watches a lot of Disney channel and often dreams up new book ideas. She’s currently working on various projects. She’s the author of the White Aura series, Scarred Hearts series, and Intoxicating Passion series.

Sarah M. Cradit is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the Paranormal Southern Gothic series, The House of Crimson & Clover, born of her combined passion for New Orleans, and the mysterious complexity of human nature. Her work has been described as rich, emotive, and highly dimensional.

An unabashed geek, Sarah enjoys studying obscure subjects like the Plantagenet and Ptolemaic dynasties, and settling debates on provocative Tolkien topics such as why the Great Eagles are not Gandalf’s personal taxi service. Passionate about travel, Sarah has visited over twenty countries collecting sparks of inspiration (though New Orleans is where her heart rests). She’s a self-professed expert at crafting original songs to sing to her very patient pets, and a seasoned professional at finding ways to humiliate herself (bonus points if it happens in public). When at home in Oregon, her husband and best friend, James, is very kind about indulging her love of fast German cars and expensive lattes.

Julie Elizabeth Powell I cannot ignore my dreams, so many of them, with names and places and ideas that spark my imagination and compel me to write; to create stories, whether fantasy or horror, or mystery or psychological thriller or murder or even humour and adventure. So, my garden is sown, flourishing, with all manner of growth, and still the dreams come.

Julie Elizabeth Powell, my soul lingering within my imagination; maybe you’ll join me?

Lynda Kaye Frazier I’m an avid reader of romantic suspense and started writing after a vivid dream. I know, sounds cliché, but that’s how it started. I work full time at a Cardiology clinic, then at night you will find me in front of my computer, writing. I grew up in Pennsylvania, but now live in Arkansas, surrounded by the Ozark Mountains where I get to enjoy the four seasons without a long, cold winter. Other than spending time with my wonderful family, my favorite things to do are writing, reading and listening to music, but my most favorite is going to the beach. Surf, sand and a good book, my stress relief.

Desiree A. Cox was born and raised in Iowa. She married her high school sweetheart and moved to the Philadelphia area after high school and has been happily married for over twenty-five years. She’s the mother of two sons and a daughter.

Writing has always been a part of her life. It started as a way to cope with her childhood shyness, allowing her to communicate without talking. Now she talks and writes … and talks. Desiree also enjoys traveling and spending time at the beach.

Over the past two plus years, she’s been working to get her thoughts in print. She is finally writing what she wants to write. Twisted by Desire, her debut novel, was published in December 2014. In March 2015, the sequel in the Lust, Desire, and Love Trilogy, Jaded by Desire, released. She also has a short story, Fantasy Come True, in the Wickedly Exotic Spring Erotic Wonderland box set that benefits the National Autism Association with 100% of the proceeds.

Look for Reclaimed by Desire, Book 3 and the final installment in the Lust, Desire, and Love Trilogy, later this summer.

Sydney Aaliyah Michelle is an Adult Contemporary Romance writer, a voracious reader, and movie fanatic who hails from Texas.

After surviving 5 1/2 years living in China, she had the courage to finally pursue her passion and become a writer.

Sydney has been blogging at for three years, where she interviews people about their tattoos, discusses her favorite movie quotes, reviews books (New Adult & only the ones she loves) and journals about her writing and editing process.

An active tweeterer, she is also a JuNoWriMo (3x) and NaNoWriMo (2x) winner who notes the sci-fi action flick “The Matrix” as the best representation of her life in the past. She is blessed to be awake now and doing what she loves.

She can recite the entire script for the 80’s teen comedy/drama The Breakfast Club and loves any and everything associated with the Avengers movie, especially Tony Stark.

When it comes to books, Sydney reads many different genres, but some of her favorite writers are Stephen King, Cora Carmack, Alex J. Cavanaugh, Cassie Mae, & Emily Bronte. The Great Gatsby, Under the Dome, Losing It, CassaStorm, Switched, & Wuthering Heights are her favorite books.

Elaine May is my Author name. I live in the West Country of England with my two beautiful daughters and yummy hubby. I love reading dark and twisted tales that mess with your head. I love to travel and spending time with my family. My dream is for people to like what I’ve written and hopefully get to go to a book signing event as an author.

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