Chapter One Reveal: Walk the Edge by Katie McGarry

Walk the Edge Chapter Reveal

We are so excited to bring you the Chapter One Reveal for WALK THE EDGE by Katie McGarry! WALK THE EDGE is a Young Adult Contemporary Romance being published by HarlequinTeen and is a part of Katie McGarry’sThunder Road Series. It is being released on March 29th, 2016. Be sure to pre-order your copy and unlock special content today!

Walk the Edge by Katie McGarry

Walk the Edge Katie McGarry
Series: Thunder Road #2 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: May 26th 2015
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One moment of recklessness will change their worlds 

Smart. Responsible. That’s seventeen-year-old Breanna’s role in her large family, and heaven forbid she put a toe out of line. Until one night of shockingly un-Breanna-like behavior puts her into a vicious cyberbully’s line of fire—and brings fellow senior Thomas “Razor” Turner into her life.

Razor lives for the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, and good girls like Breanna just don’t belong. But when he learns she’s being blackmailed over a compromising picture of the two of them—a picture that turns one unexpected and beautiful moment into ugliness—he knows it’s time to step outside the rules.

And so they make a pact: he’ll help her track down her blackmailer, and in return she’ll help him seek answers to the mystery that’s haunted him—one that not even his club brothers have been willing to discuss. But the more time they spend together, the more their feelings grow. And suddenly they’re both walking the edge of discovering who they really are, what they want, and where they’re going from here.

Buy Links:
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Now here’s Chapter One of Walk the Edge! ❤

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Chapter One:

THERE ARE LIES in life we accept. Whether it’s for the sake of ignorance, bliss or, in my case, survival, we all make our choices.

I choose to belong to the Reign of Terror Motorcycle Club. I choose to work for the security company associated with them. I also choose to do this while still in high school.

All of this boils down to one choice in particular—whether or not to believe my father’s version of a lie or the town’s. I chose my father’s lie. I chose the brotherhood of the club.

What I haven’t chosen? Being harassed by the man invad­ing my front porch. He’s decked out in a pair of pressed kha­kis and a button-down straight from a mall window. The real question—is he here by choice or did he draw the short stick?

“As I said, son,” he continues, “I’m not here to talk to your dad. I’m here to see you.”

A hot August wind blows in from the thick woods sur­rounding our house, and sweat forms on the guy’s skin. He’s too cocky to be nervous, so that dumps the blame of his shiny forehead on the 110-degree heat index.

“You and I,” he adds, “we need to talk.”

My eyes flash to the detective badge hanging on the guy’s hip and then to his dark blue unmarked Chevy Caprice parked in front of my motorcycle in the gravel drive. Twenty bucks he thinks he blocked me in. Guess he underestimated I’ll ride on the grass to escape.

This guy doesn’t belong to our police force. His plates suggest he’s from Jefferson County. That’s in the northern part of Ken­tucky. I live in a small town where even the street hustlers and police know each other by name. This man—he’s an outsider.

I f lip through my memory for anything that would jus­tify his presence. Yeah, I stumbled into some brawls over the summer. A few punches thrown at guys who didn’t keep their mouths sealed or keep their inflated egos on a leash, but noth­ing that warrants this visit.

A bead of water drips from my wet hair onto the worn gray wood of the deck and his eyes track it. I’m fresh from a shower. Jeans on. Black boots on my feet. No shirt. Hair on my head barely pushed around by a towel.

The guy checks out the tats on my chest and arms. Most of it is club designs, and it’s good for him to know who he’s dealing with. As of last spring, I officially became a mem­ber of the Reign of Terror. If he messes with one of us, he messes with us all.

“Are you going to invite me in?” he asks.

I thought the banging on the door was one of my friends showing to ride along with me to senior orientation, not a damned suit with a badge.

“You’re not in trouble,” he says, and I’m impressed he doesn’t shuff le his feet like most people do when they arrive on my doorstep. “As I said, I want to talk.”

I maintain eye contact longer than most men can manage.

Silence doesn’t bother me. There’s a ton you can learn about a person from how they deal with the absence of sound. Most can’t handle uncomfortable battles for dominance, but this guy stands strong.

Without saying a word, I walk into the house and permit the screen door to slam in his face. I cross the room, grab my cut off the table, then snatch a black Reign of Terror T-shirt off the couch. I shrug into the shirt as I step onto the porch and shut the storm door behind me.

The guy watches me intently as I slip on the black leather cut that contains the three-piece patch of the club I belong to. Because of the way I’m angled, he can get a good look at our emblem on the back: a white half skull with fire raging out of the eyes and drops of fire raining down around it. The words Reign of Terror are mounted across the top. The town’s name, Snowflake, is spelled on the bottom rocker.

He focuses on the patch that informs him I’m packing a weapon. His hand edges to the gun holstered on his belt. He’s weighing whether I’m carrying now or if I’m gun free.

I cock a hip against the railing and hitch my thumbs in the pockets of my jeans. If he’s going to talk, it would be now. He glances at the closed door, then back at me. “This is where we’re doing this?”

“I’ve got somewhere to be.” And I’m running late. “Didn’t see a warrant on you.” So by law, he can’t enter.

A grim lift of his mouth tells me he understands I won’t make any of this easy. He’s around Dad’s age, mid to late forties. He gave his name when I opened the door, but I’ll admit to not listening.

He scans the property and he has that expression like he’s trying to understand why someone would live in a house so small. The place is a vinyl box. Two bedrooms. One bath.

A living room–kitchen combo. Possibly more windows than square footage.

Dad said this was Mom’s dream. A house just big enough for us to live in. She never desired large, but she craved land. When I was younger, she used to hug me tight and explain it was more important to be free than to be rich. I sure as hell hope Mom feels free now.

An ache ripples through me, and I readjust my footing. I pray every damn day she found some peace.

“I drove a long way to see you,” he says.

Don’t care. “Could have called.”

“I did. No one answered.”

I hike one shoulder in a “you’ve got shit luck.” Dad and I aren’t the type to answer calls from strangers. Especially ones with numbers labeled Police. There are some law enforcement officers who are cool, but most of them are like everyone else— they judge a man with a cut on his back as a psychotic felon.

I don’t have time for stupidity.

“I’m here about your mother.” The asshole knows he has me when my eyes snap to his.

“She’s dead.” Like the other times I say the words, a part of me dies along with her.

This guy has green eyes and they soften like he’s apolo­getic. “I know. I’m sorry. I’ve received some new evidence that may help us discover what caused her death.”

Anger curls within my muscles and my jaw twitches. This overwhelming sense of insanity is what I fight daily. For years, I’ve heard the whispers from the gossips in town, felt the stares of the kids in class, and I’ve sensed the pity of the men in the Reign of Terror I claim as brothers. It’s all accu­mulated to a black, hissing doubt in my soul.

Suicide.

It’s what everyone in town says happened. It’s in every hushed conversation people have the moment I turn my back. It’s not just from the people I couldn’t give two shits about, but the people who I consider family.

I shove away those thoughts and focus on what my father and the club have told me—what I have chosen to believe. “My mother’s death was an accident.”

He’s shaking his head and I’m fresh out of patience. I’m not doing this. Not with him. Not with anyone. “I’m not interested.”

I push off the railing and dig out the keys to my motor­cycle as I bound down the steps. The detective’s behind me. He has a slow, steady stride and it irritates me that he fol­lows across the yard and doesn’t stop coming as I swing my leg over my bike.

“What if I told you I don’t think it was an accident,” he says.

Odds are it wasn’t. Odds are every whispered taunt in my direction is true. That my father and the club drove Mom crazy, and I wasn’t enough of a reason for her to choose life.

To drown him out, I start the engine. This guy must be as suicidal as people say Mom was, because he eases in front of my bike, assuming I won’t run him down.

“Thomas,” he says.

I twist the handle to rev the engine in warning. He raises his chin like he’s finally pissed and his eyes narrow on me. “Razor.”

I let the bike idle. If he’s going to respect me by using my road name, I’ll respect him for a few seconds. “Leave me the fuck alone.”

Damn if the man doesn’t possess balls the size of Montana. He steps closer to me and drops a bomb. “I have reason to believe your mom was murdered.”

Reading Order: Thunder Road series

Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry Walk the Edge by Katie McGarry

#1 ~ Nowhere But Here: My Review •  Ebook • Hardcover • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#2 ~ Walk the Edge: EbookHardcover • Audible • Goodreads (March 29, 2016)

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKatie McGarry was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings, reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan.

Katie is the author of full length YA novels, PUSHING THE LIMITS, DARE YOU TO, CRASH INTO YOU, TAKE ME ON,  BREAKING THE RULES, and NOWHERE BUT HERE and the e-novellas, CROSSING THE LINE and RED AT NIGHT. Her debut YA novel, PUSHING THE LIMITS was a 2012 Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction, a RT Magazine’s 2012 Reviewer’s Choice Awards Nominee for Young Adult Contemporary Novel, a double Rita Finalist, and a 2013 YALSA Top Ten Teen Pick. DARE YOU TO was also a Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction and won RT Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice Best Book Award for Young Adult Contemporary fiction in 2013.

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Blog Tour + Prologue & Chapter One: Ruin & Rule by Pepper Winters

ruin & rule book tour

Meet Killian in Pepper Winter’s new MC Romance!
Check out my review of Ruin & Rule here.

Ruin & Rule by Pepper Winters

Ruin & Rule by Pepper Winters
Series: Pure Corruption MC #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: July 7th 2015
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“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?

Buy Links:
Amazon • Amazon UK • iBooks • Barnes & Noble • Kobo • Google Play

Now here’s the prologue and chapter one from Ruin & Rule! ❤

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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

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.

Reading Order: Pure Corruption MC series

Ruin & Rule by Pepper Winters Sin & Suffer by Pepper Winters

#1 ~ Ruin & Rule: My Review • EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#2 ~ Sin & Suffer: EbookPaperback • Goodreads (Jan. 26, 2016)

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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.

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Chapter One Reveal: Heart-Shaped Hack by Tracey Garvis Graves

Heart-Shaped Hack by Tracey Garvis Graves

Heart-Shaped Hack by Tracey Garvis Graves
Publication Date: August 25th 2015
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When Kate Watts abandoned her law career to open a food pantry in Northeast Minneapolis, she never dreamed it would be this difficult. Facing the heartbreaking prospect of turning hungry people away, she is grateful for the anonymous donations that begin appearing at the end of each month. Determined to identify and thank her secret benefactor, she launches a plan and catches Ian —a charismatic hacker with a Robin Hood complex—in the act.

Ian intrigues Kate in a way no man ever has. But after learning he’s snooped around on her personal computer, she demands retribution. Impressed with her tolerance and captivated by her spirit, he complies and begins to slowly charm his way past her defenses. Time spent with Ian is never boring, and Kate soon finds herself falling for the mysterious hacker.

But Ian has enemies and they’re growing restless. In the hacking world, exploiting a target’s weakness is paramount, and no price is too high to stop an attack. And when Kate learns exactly how much Ian has paid, she’ll discover just how strong her love is for the man who has hacked his way into her heart.

Buy Links:
Amazo Ebook • Amazon Paperback • Barnes & Noble • iTunes

Now here’s an Chapter One from Heart-Shaped Hack! ❤

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© 2015 Tracey Garvis Graves
Heart-Shaped Hack

CHAPTER ONE

“The babies are going to starve,” Helena said.

“Don’t be so dramatic,” Kate replied. “No one is going to starve, least of all the babies.” But her pinched expression and the way she was jabbing at the keyboard as she refreshed the donations page on their website said otherwise. For the first time in the sixteen months since Kate had left her position as a corporate attorney to open the food pantry, she faced the heartbreaking prospect of turning hungry people away. She couldn’t stand the thought of letting down her regulars, especially the young mother of three who relied on the pantry to feed them.

The problem was that Kate’s nonprofit organization was not the only one in Minneapolis that needed help. Tomorrow was the first of September, and everyone was trying to stockpile whatever resources they could before they headed into the colder months.

“Let’s see,” Helena said. “We could rob a bank. We could pawn our valuables. You could sell your body on a street corner.”

Despite their dire circumstances, Kate cracked a smile. Helena had walked through the front door of the food pantry shortly after Kate opened and said, “I’m sixty-five, and they’re forcing me to retire from my job at the insurance company. My husband retired two years ago, and now he’s home all day. That’s too much togetherness for us. I have to find something to do outside the house, and you wouldn’t have to pay me much.” Kate hired her on the spot and had never regretted it.

She swiveled her chair toward Helena. “Why am I always the one who has to sell her body? Why can’t you sell yours?”

“Who do you think is going to bring in more money? A gray-haired grandmother of seven, or a willowy twenty-nine-year-old beauty? It’s a no-brainer.”

It was hard to argue with logic like that.

Kate had been so determined not to let down their clients that she’d resorted to begging her ex-boyfriend Stuart—who worked as the executive producer on an hour-long talk show on the local ABC station—to let her appeal to the public during the afternoon broadcast.

“Do you know how hard it is for me to be around you, Kate?” Stuart said when he received her call. “Do you ever think of that?”

“Of course I do. But this is really important to me.”

“I used to be really important to you.”

Kate remained silent. They’d been through this before.

He sighed in defeat. “Come in tomorrow. I’ll squeeze you in after the cooking segment.”

“Thanks, Stuart.”

The skirt had been Helena’s idea. “We need to do whatever we can to grab viewers’ attention.”

“You mean I need to do whatever I can.”

“Of course I mean you. You have great legs.”

***

On the day of the broadcast when Helena arrived at the food pantry, Kate said, “I don’t remember this skirt being quite so short. I’m actually a little worried about the type of viewer I might attract with it.” She tugged on the hem, pulled out her desk chair, sat down, and crossed her legs. “Can you see anything?”

“You’ll be fine unless you decide to recross your legs in the middle of the segment like Sharon Stone did in that one movie.”

“I can assure you I will not be doing that. The skirt is as far as I’m willing to go. I draw the line at flashing people, not even for the babies.”

Kate had paired the black-and-white houndstooth skirt with a black short-sleeve top and her favorite black heels. When she arrived at the TV studio, she ducked into the bathroom to check her teeth for wandering lipstick. Before she left the food pantry she’d applied a raspberry lip stain that Helena claimed looked stunning on her. That morning she’d curled her long dark hair and then brushed through the curls with her fingers so they draped across her shoulders and down her back in loose waves. She’d used plenty of mascara to play up her brown eyes. The extra primping made her feel a little like she was standing on a street corner, but she banished those thoughts. At this point, they needed all the help they could get.

After Stuart snaked the mic up the back of her top, his hands lingering on her skin in a way that made Kate feel sad, he positioned her on a stool and told her to wait for his signal. She kept her legs tightly crossed, and when the light on the camera turned red, he pointed at her and she began to speak.

“Good afternoon. My name is Kate Watts, and I’m the executive director of the Main Street Food Pantry. As we head into the winter months, our needs—and those of all local food pantries—will be greater than ever.” Kate stared into the camera, imagining she was speaking directly to anyone who might have the means to help them.

“No child should ever have to go hungry, and many of our local residents depend on the food pantry to feed their families. I’m here today to personally appeal to you should you have the ability to help us in any way. The families we assist, and especially the children, depend on your generosity more than you could ever imagine. Thank you.” She ended the short segment with the food pantry’s telephone number and street address, and when Stuart gave her the all clear, she reached under her shirt for the microphone and handed it back to him.

“Thanks, Stuart,” she said, giving him a quick hug. “I really appreciate this.”

“Sure,” he said, looking over her shoulder as if there was something very interesting across the room. “Take care, Kate.”

***

That was yesterday, and so far only a few additional donations had trickled in. She and Helena spent the rest of the afternoon making calls to local churches and schools to set up additional food drives while continuing to monitor the donations page. Finally, at a little before three, Kate went into the back room to recount their inventory. It was the end of the month and they were down to their last cases of infant formula and baby food. Almost all of the canned vegetables had been depleted, and they were completely out of peanut butter and soup. If it was this bad now, Kate didn’t want to think about what might happen when budgets were stretched even thinner by holiday spending. Dejected, she was sitting on the floor, clipboard in hand, when Helena burst into the back room.

“I ran after him,” she said, gasping for breath. “But he was too fast. Boy am I out of shape.”

“Who did you run after?”

Helena tossed a brown paper bag to Kate and leaned over, resting her hands on her knees as she took in giant gulps of air.

“The man who dropped off the money. Seriously, I may need supplemental oxygen over here.”

Money?

Kate looked into the bag and blinked several times. “Did you lock the front door?”

“Yes.”

She turned the bag upside down and watched in disbelief as hundred-dollar bills rained down on the concrete floor. She counted it quickly. “There’s a thousand dollars here.”

Their website listed four levels for donations with amounts ranging from ten to one hundred dollars. There were higher amounts for corporations, but this was the largest donation they’d ever received from one person, and it was more than enough to replenish their shelves. Kate was already picturing herself pushing a giant cart through Costco. “Did he leave his name?”

“No. He walked up to my desk and said, “Give this to Katie. He must have seen you on TV yesterday.”

“Young? Old?” Rich?

“Young. Early thirties, maybe? Tall. Blondish-brown hair. He was in a real hurry to leave. I chased him out the door, but he jumped into the driver’s seat of an old blue car.”

“An old car? Are you sure?”

“I think it was old. It didn’t look like any car I’ve ever seen. It had stripes on the hood. And then he burned rubber.”

“Why would someone who drives an old car drop off a bag full of money?”

“I have no idea. But whatever the reason, he just saved us.”

about the author button

Tracey Garvis-GravesTracey Garvis Graves is a New York TimesWall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author. Her debut novel, On the Island, spent 9 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, has been translated into twenty-seven languages, and is in development with MGM and Temple Hill Productions for a feature film. She is also the author of Uncharted, Covet, Every Time I Think of You, and Cherish.

Tracey loves to interact with her readers and can be found on Facebook and Twitter.


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Blog Tour + Early Review, Excerpt & Giveaway: Need Me by Tessa Bailey

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Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for Need Me by Tessa Bailey! Read on to see my review and the entire first chapter of this fabulous book!

Need Me by Tessa Bailey

Need Me by Tessa Bailey
Series: Broke and Beautiful #2 (full reading order below)
Release Date: April 21st 2015
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When Honey Perribow traded in her cowboy boots for stilettos and left her small Kentucky town to attend Columbia University, she never expected to find a dirt-cheap apartment or two new best friends. No stranger to hard work, Honey’s sole focus is a medical degree…until she sees newly-minted Professor, Ben Dawson, and her concentration is hijacked. Honey is fascinated by her gorgeous, young English professor and vows to find a crack his tweed-wearing, glasses-clad exterior.

While at an off campus party, an accident lands Ben in a dark, locked closet with a sexy-sounding southern belle…and their chemistry is explosive. But when he discovers that the girl in his arms is the same beautiful student he can’t stop thinking about, he is stunned. Student-teacher relationships are strictly forbidden…yet no matter how hard he tries, Ben can’t stay away from Honey.

And when his attempts to fight their attraction nearly ruin the best thing that ever happened to him, Ben will do anything to prove how much he needs her.

Buy Links:
Amazon • iTunes • Barnes & Noble

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God, I L.O.V.E. Tessa Bailey. She seriously can do NO WRONG in my eyes. I’ve loved (or at the very least, enjoyed) every single one of her books. And Need Me is no different! The second I finished this book, I went back to reread my favorite parts of it, that’s how much I loved it. Need Me is now my second favorite book ever of Tessa’s!!! (Right below Risking It All, because I honestly don’t think anyone can do better than Bowen.) I had such high expectations for this book ever since reading Chase Me, the first book in the Broke and Beautiful series. To be honest, I really wanted Abby and Russell to be next, but boy am I glad we got Honey and Ben instead. I fell utterly in love with them and their love story. It’s forbidden and deliciously sexy, with plenty of dirty talk – how could I not love it!?

“Did you think of me when you put those good girl panties on this morning?” He coasted his hands up the tops of her spread legs, letting his thumbs drag up the sensitive insides of her thighs, taking her skirt higher as he went. “Did you think they’d make my dick hard if I got a peek at them?”

We first met Honey in Chase Me as one of Roxy’s roommates. I wasn’t really sure how to feel about her in that book, but I ended up absolutely adoring Honey in Need Me! She’s such a lovable, intelligent, confident, hilarious character. She left Kentucky to pursue a medical degree, so college is her main priority. But everything’s put on hold when she sees her hot, young English professor. She’s never felt the insane amount of lust for a man as she has for Professor Dawson, in his tweed jacket and nerdy glasses, so she has to do something about it.

“I’ve finally worked up the never. No more hiding under my hoodie in the back row. Professor Dawson is going down to Honey town.”
“How long have you been waiting to say that?”
“A while. How was my delivery?”
“Not too shabby.”

Ben Dawson has always been attracted to older women, so he shouldn’t be intrigued by one of his students, Honey Perribow, and her brilliant writing. He isn’t sure which one of his students is Honey but he vows not to find out who she is or what she looks like. He won’t be like his father, whose affair with a woman ruined his family. But when he ends up trapped in a closet with a gorgeous girl, all his pent up frustration – from Honey Perribow and the other gorgeous girl he saw in class (who may or may not have been Honey) – explodes. Even when he finds out that the beautiful girl and Honey Perribow are one and the same, the hot lust and scorching chemistry between them are still there. And try as he might to resist, Ben can’t help but fall into temptation. It might be wrong to have a relationship in the eyes of the university, but it’s so, so right when Ben and Honey are together.

Fuck, the way you come is so goddamn hot.”
“You’re not supposed to talk that way.” He ground his erection against her belly, eliciting a whimper from her lips. “You’re an English professor.”
“Yeah? … Well, your English professor isn’t supposed to fuck you, either, but that’s exactly what’s going to happen here.”

Holy moly, I loved Ben so hard. I loved the way he was so taken with Honey, how protective, possessive, and so in lust he was with her. And I’m so glad that the first he fell for was Honey’s mind and words. It’s forbidden for him to be with her, yes, but there’s no way he can stay away from her. He does do some dumb things to try to fight their chemistry, but once he realizes that Honey is IT for him, he’ll do whatever it takes to make her see how perfect they are for each other.

I loved this book so, sooo much. Along with the angst of the forbidden love, there was the perfect amount of humor that had me laughing and giggling so much. Honey and Ben are fantastic characters who totally stole my heart. And Jesus H. Christ, Ben’s dirty talking? It’s off. the. charts. If you love Tessa Bailey’s classic dirty-talking alpha heroes, you need to experience the wonder of this dirty-talking English professor. If you’re a fan of Tessa Bailey, read this book. If you’re a fan of forbidden romances, read this book. If you’re a fan of H.O.T. dirty talking with a delicious hero and a lovable heroine, READ. THIS. BOOK.

This whole series is fantastic, actually. The Broke and Beautiful series is more on the light-hearted side, but it’s got so much heart and character. I highly recommend reading it! And now that we have Ben and Honey’s story, I am unbelievably excited for Abby and Russell! I can’t wait to see what Tessa Bailey has in store for the last remaining couple – August can’t get here quick enough!

5 hearts
lacey

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.

Now here’s chapter one of Need Me! ❤

excerpt button

When choosing the perfect panties for a seduction, one couldn’t be too selective. Careful consideration had to be given to the cut, the style, and, most importantly, the almighty color. Honey Perribow rifled through her underwear drawer from her position on the rug, picking up and discarding undies with the efficiency required of premed students the world over. Red silk was a little too on the nose. It didn’t give the guy any credit. Blue? Hinted at mood swings. Yellow with a strawberry pattern…what am I, five?

There was no help for her. She had to call in the big guns. “Roxy!”

Her roommate of one month propped a hip on the inside of Honey’s door a moment later, biting into a piece of toast. “Did you lose your indoor voice in that pile of underpants?”

“What color would you wear if you wanted to seduce your English teacher?”

The toast paused halfway to Roxy’s mouth. “Aw, shit. Today is the day?”

Honey took a deep breath and nodded. “I’ve finally worked up the nerve. No more hiding under my hoodie in the back row. Professor Dawson is going down to Honey town.”

“How long have you been waiting to say that?”

“A while. How was my delivery?”

“Not too shabby.” Roxy shoved the remainder of the toast in her mouth and plopped down onto the floor, cross-legged, eyeballing the mountain of panties. In the month since they’d become roommates in one of the oddest interview processes of all time, they’d formed a friendship that sometimes seemed as if they were feeling their way in the dark. Honey could still sense some hesitancy on Roxy’s part to open up completely, but Roxy’s new boyfriend, Louis, seemed to be unlocking a new part of her. Considering Roxy had hidden out in her room at the outset, commiserating over panties was a vast improvement. “All right. So, we know he’s studious. He teaches Intro to Literary Theory. How does he dress?”

Honey hid her swoon by turning and pressing her face into the rug. “He has this tweed jacket. It’s like a greenish-brown, which should be ugly, but it looks so dang amazing on him. If I got up close, I bet it would smell like honest-to-goodness man mixed up with old book leather. He keeps candy in the pockets, too. I can’t tell from the back of the room which kind of candy he always pops into his mouth, but if I had to guess, I’d say butterscotch. So the jacket might have a hint of butterscotch smell going on, too.”

“Are you telling me tweed inspired all that?”

“It’s crazy, right? I know it. I can hear myself.” Honey rolled back over and stared up at the ceiling. In the few weeks since she’d started courses at Columbia University, Professor Dawson had wiggled his way under her skin like a splinter from a yellow poplar tree. No one back home in Bloomfield, Kentucky, would ever have accused her of being shy. In fact, they would have laughed over the very suggestion. She’d won first prize two years in a row for mud wrestling a pig at the county fair, after all. Shyness and pig wrestling simply didn’t add up. But the day she’d walked into the lecture hall, a mixture of confidence and nerves, and seen Professor Dawson, quietly gorgeous, in his tweed jacket and black-rimmed glasses,, she’d slunk into the back row like a scolded basset hound.

Then. Then he’d spoken. Good Lord, she still remembered the shift of energy in the room. Each and every female student had leaned forward and propped their chin on their hands. Spellbound. There was no other word for it. His voice filled the room like sexy fog, rich and nuanced. It held a subtle hint of New England, not an all-out Boston accent, but occasionally he would drop an R in a way that made her shiver. It wasn’t just the sound of his voice, either. His passion about the subject material came across in every word, every endearing head scratch or thoughtful chin rub. She’d been more of a science girl in high school. Give her physics or chemistry any day of the week, but English had become her favorite subject with enough speed to inflict whiplash.

Since she’d been bitten by the shyness bug, talking to the object of her nightly fantasies directly hadn’t been an option. Yet. Oh, and there was that teensy little issue of college professors not being allowed to fraternize with students. But she’d cross that rickety bridge when she came to it.

All her life, she’d lived in a small town where the most exciting thing to happen was a fistfight between two grannies at the Dairy Queen. She’d purposely applied for universities with strong premed programs in New York City because she wanted, needed, excitement. Needed to take life by the short and curlies and tell it who was boss. She loved her parents and her hometown dearly, but she wanted more. Starting small wasn’t an option, either. She wanted to start with something so far outside her wheelhouse she needed binoculars to see it. This was her life, and it was time to live it.

Starting today, she would seduce Professor Dawson. Just the thought of it raised goose bumps all over her arms. From the back of the room, he looked like a movie star. Something she watched on a screen from a safe distance. What would he be like up close?

“If you rub your thighs together any harder,” Roxy broke into her thoughts, “this pile of panties is going to turn into a bonfire.”

“Sorry.” Honey pushed some unbrushed blond hair out of her face. “Let’s focus on the matter at hand.”

Abby, their third roommate, breezed into the room. “What are we focusing on?”

I was focusing. She was fantasizing about tweed.”

“Tweed is still in style, but elbow patches are out,” Abby stated offhandedly, taking a spot on the floor. Of the three of them, Abby was the one gainfully employed in a corporate gig downtown, which explained her tailored black pantsuit at eight in the morning while Honey and Roxy, an aspiring actress, were still in pajamas. “What’s with the panty mountain?”

“I’m beginning the seduction process this morning.”
Roxy rolled her eyes. “Try not to make it sound so sexy, Perribow.”

Honey threw a pair of plaid panties at Roxy. “I’m not you. I can’t just flash a little leg and leave a trail of man-drool in my path.”

“Have you tried?” Roxy asked, looking smug when Honey stumbled over a reply. “Look, you’re not going to flash him your panties in class. That’s not your style. Worry about the top layer first, drag him back to your cave later. Worry about the panties then.”

“I agree.” Abby nodded. “This is premature panty picking.”

“Of course I’m not going to flash him.” Honey shrugged. “I was thinking it might boost my confidence a little if I had something sexy underneath my jeans. Might give me an extra boost so I won’t chicken out.”

Abby gave her a warm, encouraging look. She fished through the pile with one manicured hand and picked out a silky, mint-green thong with lace detail. Still with the tags on. “Wear these. They’re unique and subtly brilliant, just like you. You won’t chicken out.”

“And you’re not wearing jeans,” Roxy added, standing and dragging Honey to her feet. “To my closet, Batgirl. Where you will behold the wonder of humankind’s finest invention.”

Honey shot a nervous look over her shoulder toward an amused Abby. The brunette practically skipped along behind them down the hallway. “What would that invention be?”

“The strapless maxi dress,” Roxy breathed.

Ben Dawson gathered up the papers he’d spent his lunch break grading and tucked them neatly into his leather satchel. A quick check of his wristwatch told him he had seven minutes until his next class started. Since it took exactly three minutes to walk to the lecture hall from the teacher’s break room, he should probably get moving. As far as arriving at class went, there was a sweet spot three minutes before class began that allowed him enough time to gather his thoughts and arrange his lesson plan on the podium, but didn’t leave enough time for the students to engage him in conversation.

It wasn’t that he didn’t like conversation. He just liked to keep his social life and his professional life completely separate. He called it his laundry theory. Talking to students about their weekend plans or the shitty coffee in the cafeteria was the equivalent of throwing a red sock in with a load of whites. It just wasn’t done.

He snapped his bag closed with a definitive click and took a deep breath before leaving the break room. Yes. Separation of his social and professional life was key. The minimal age difference between him and the college sophomores he taught sometimes gave them the false impression that they were his peers. Being a professor at the age of twenty-five made him seem accessible, when, in fact, he wasn’t. He came to class, he lectured, and he went home. If he wanted to grab a beer and talk baseball, he did it with his buddies, Louis and Russell. Not students. Never, ever, students.

Ben taught English because from the moment he’d cracked his first book, words had hummed in his blood. They were something he breathed and slept and lived for. If his students left with an impression of anything, he wanted it to be his lectures, the contents of the assigned reading. Their opinion of him as a person couldn’t be allowed to enter the mix, or it took away from their experience. Conversely, he didn’t form opinions of them. Ever.

Which is why he shouldn’t have read Honey Perribow’s latest essay seven times. Seven.

He didn’t know which of his students happened to be the insightful Ms. Perribow. They were just a sea of faces, none of which he focused on for more than a few seconds now and again. He wouldn’t find out, either. Didn’t want to know what she looked like, because it didn’t matter. It couldn’t matter.

His reading assignment of The Things They Carried and subsequent essay had been met with the usual moans and gripes. Honestly. The book was a work of art. But his students’ lack of enthusiasm for anything other than a rooftop kegger had carried over into their lackluster essays. Then he’d read Ms. Perribow’s paper and he’d actually spilled his coffee in his haste to turn the pages. Instead of listing the items men carried into war, as was done in the book, she’d written a clever modern spin about what college students carry to class. What they’d chosen to bring from home. What they kept in their book bags and dorm rooms. It was obvious from her nods to the book that she’d not only read it but enjoyed it, too. She’d made him laugh. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d heard the sound coming from his own mouth.

Ben banished that depressing thought as he entered the lecture hall, where students were flopping down into their seats, clicking pens, finishing up their oh-so-urgent text message conversations. He hooked a thumb into the strap of his bag and lifted it over his head, placing it carefully on the podium. Don’t look up. Don’t try and figure out which one she is. It’s irrelevant.

The problem was, he kind of felt like he knew her after reading the essay. Her voice had drawn him in and locked him up inside of it. More, he felt like she’d been talking directly to him. That simply wouldn’t do.

The big hand on his wristwatch landed on one o’clock. He made sure the edges of his lesson plan were perfectly lined up with the podium and looked up at the class to begin.

And stopped.

Front row. Who was that blonde in the front row? He might not pay any attention to what his students looked like, but Ben was certain he would have remembered her. Yes, he definitely would have remembered a petite little goddess with big golden eyes and shoulders made to be gripped. Oh fuck, where had that thought come from? Stop looking. Stop looking. But he couldn’t, because her lips parted just slightly, as if she was surprised to find him staring at her. Who wouldn’t stare at her? Okay, as long as he didn’t look any lower than her face—

He looked. There was no stopping his gaze from dipping down to her cleavage. Not enough to be classified as provocative, but enough to be sexy in an I-don’t-even-have-to-try kind of way. Thank God her legs were covered. He wished her legs weren’t covered. What was happening here?

“Lolita.”

When every head in the class came up, Ben realized he’d said the single, horrifying word out loud.

A male student wearing a Rangers hat spoke up. “Lolita?”

This wasn’t happening. It couldn’t be. His neck had grown so hot that he swore it was on fire. Kind of like the rest of him. Thank God he was standing behind the podium, because his dick was hard enough to give someone in the front row a black eye. What was wrong with him? He was acting like he’d never seen a beautiful girl before. This city was packed full of them, just walking around looking like they’d stepped out of a glossy magazine, but this one. Oh, this one. Something about her made him ache everywhere. Innocent looking with a hint of excitement in her eyes, like maybe he was making her just as hot. But that couldn’t be right, because he was wearing the ugliest thrift shop tweed jacket he’d been able to find just to make himself the opposite of hot. Unappealing. Unapproachable. Just their professor.

This—all of this, including his hard-on—had to be dealt with later, though, because his students were still looking at him like he’d sprouted a third eye. Think fast, Ben.

“I, uh…” He started to adjust his glasses, but he forced his hand to lay flat on the podium. “I’ve decided to give extra credit for a paper on Lolita. The book, not the movie. Although, if you ever want to watch the movie, I’d recommend the Kubrick version. Not the one with Jeremy Irons.” Oh my God. This is such a massive fail. “Um. Okay, so. Three-thousand-word minimum. Due this time next week. Let’s talk about The Things They Carried.”

“I’d rather talk about Lolita,” baseball cap said, earning a few laughs.

This is what happens. One crack in his armor and suddenly they’re making jokes in his joke-free environment. He tried not to look at the blonde in the front row and failed miserably. When he saw her frown over baseball hat’s comment, he found himself frowning at her. He didn’t like how good it felt to have her on his side. They weren’t on the same side. Teacher. Student. That’s it. That’s how it would stay.

Ben spent the next hour reading passages from the book and giving several different interpretations of what the author wanted the reader to glean about each fictional character based on the items they carried into war. Every once in a while, his gaze would stray to the blonde, and he’d find her watching him steadily from underneath her long eyelashes. Like clockwork, every ten minutes, she would switch the leg she had crossed. Right, left, right, left. Her toes were unpainted. He liked that. Stop looking. Stop.

At two o’clock on the nose, he dismissed the class with the promise to return their graded papers next time. As the students filed out of the class, he briefly wondered which one was Honey, but the blond Lolita captured his attention. She wasn’t leaving like the rest of them. Why wasn’t she leaving? He needed her to leave. His mouth went dry when he realized they were the only two people left in the room. They stared at each other, him behind the podium, her still seated. His cock strained harder and more insistently behind his fly the longer he kept his attention on her, but he couldn’t look away. He should say something, otherwise it would be weird. She’d know how much she affected him. But he didn’t. He could only stare back as she rose to her feet and sauntered toward him, her breasts swaying underneath the dress. No bra. Red. Alert. She’s not wearing a bra. I’m screwed.

She shook her long hair back over her shoulders and he groaned. He fucking groaned, right out loud. Amusement lit her eyes. Satisfaction. None of the pretense employed by females her age. Only confidence that her girl-next-door looks were hooking him like a half-witted sea bass. And they had. There was more, however. She looked at him as if they already knew each other on some level and this face-to-face meeting was long overdue. Which is exactly how he felt. Jesus. He’d never wanted to fuck a girl so badly in his entire life, and it was wrong on so many levels. So many. It broke every rule. The school’s rules. More importantly, his own rules. He knew too well what happened when a man gave in to temptation. Knew what the consequences could be. He’d seen it. He’d lived it.

Her tongue came out to wet her lips, and he watched it happen in slow motion. Felt the muscles in his abdomen tighten at the image of her mouth skating down, down, to deal with the turmoil in his pants. She stopped right at the front of the podium and traced a finger over his lesson plans. No one had ever touched his lesson plans before, and it felt intimate. Maybe more intimate than a kiss for someone like him. She opened her mouth to speak—

Ben.”

The familiar voice broke through his red haze of lust. His colleague, Peter, stood at the entrance, eyeing him strangely. Why? Oh, probably because he was sweating and staring at a student like he wanted to eat her for lunch. Eat her…fuck. What color panties was she wearing? He’d give anything to know.

“Hey, Ben,” Peter said with a little more oomph. “We’ve got that faculty meeting.”

The blonde, looking more than a little disappointed with their audience, gave him a small smile and walked away. Just like that. She’d aroused him out of his mind, made him question his strict rules, then walked away so casually she might be headed to a beach party. When she passed Peter in the doorway, the fellow teacher looked at her speculatively, and something ugly reared its head inside of Ben. Don’t look at her. Don’t you fucking look at her, he wanted to shout.

Jesus, man. Reel it back. Repeating those words on a loop, he gathered his things quickly and joined Peter at the door. At least he had his body under control now. The icing on this cake of a day would be explaining his peter to Peter.

“What was that about?” his often nosy colleague asked him. “That looked…bad.”

Ben scratched his chin. “No idea what you mean. It was nothing.”

“It didn’t look like nothing.” Peter bumped him with his shoulder, and Ben gave him a dark look. He found Peter irritating on a regular basis, but something about him discussing the blonde in any capacity was making him twice as unbearable. They were both new to the faculty, though, and taught the same course. They were required to share notes and compare lesson plans, which put them in one another’s company pretty frequently. “Listen, we have to be careful. We don’t have tenure yet. One wrong move—”

“Stop. I don’t know what you think you saw, but you need to drop it.”

Peter held up his hands. “Just looking out for you.”

Ben stayed silent the rest of the walk to the meeting. He thought of the blonde the entire way.

Reading Order: Broke and Beautiful series

Chase Me by Tessa Bailey Need Me by Tessa Bailey Make Me by Tessa Bailey

#1 ~ Chase Me: My Review • EbookPaperbackGoodreads
#2 ~ Need Me: EbookPaperback • Goodreads
#3 ~ Make Me: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads

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New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Tessa Bailey lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and young daughter. When she isn’t writing or reading romance, Tessa enjoys a good argument and thirty-minute recipes.

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Synopsis and Chapter One Reveal: Enforce by Rachel Van Dyken

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I’m so excited to share the synopsis and chapter one of Enforce by Rachel Van Dyken! Enforce is Elite Nixon and Chase’s POVs.

Enforce by Rachel Van Dyken

Enforce by Rachel Van Dyken
Series: Eagle Elite #1.5 (full reading order below)
Release Date: December 18th 2014
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There’s two sides to every story…

And ours? Isn’t pretty…

Then again, what’s pretty about the mafia?

Trace Rooks, that’s what.

But she only wants one of us, and I’ll kill him before I let him have her.

The only problem?

We’re cousins.

And she may just be our long lost enemy.

Whoever said college was hard, clearly didn’t attend Eagle Elite University.

Welcome to hell also known as the Mafia where blood is thicker than life, and to keep yours? Well, keep your friends close, and your enemies?

Even closer…

Now here’s chapter one of Enforce! ❤

excerpt

Chapter One

Nixon

I watched as the parade of cars made their way through the black iron gates, as if somehow those gates would protect them if the country went to war. Funny, they had no clue that the war—Lucifer himself, was already parading around inside, safe from the police- the feds- anyone who would be a threat.

Safe from everyone but me.

My eyes flickered to Phoenix on my right, he grinned as a new girl walked up to him and gave him a flirty wave.

I elbowed him hard in the ribs.

His grin turned sour as he glared at the girl and flipped her off.

Remember your place.

I’d said it once, twice, a million times to the guys, and they were still struggling with the idea that they weren’t here to go to school, they weren’t here to make friends. We weren’t at peace. We were in a freaking war zone.

And Phoenix’s family was our only key to redemption.

“That seems to be the last of them.” Chase’s cool gaze surveyed the main road that led into campus. It was easier on security to have one road in and one road out. Too bad life wasn’t that convenient.

If someone didn’t belong—it would take us minutes, scratch that, seconds to eliminate them, their family, all while making it look like a very unfortunate accident.

“Wait,” Tex squinted towards the iron gates, “I think there’s one more car.”

“The hell there is.” I muttered, “I counted the cars, I’ve looked at the lists, we aren’t missing anyone.”

Chase yanked the list out of my hand and started reading through the names of all the freshman enrollees. His grin made me about lose my shit as he lifted his head and handed back the paper.

“I hear Wyoming’s beautiful this time of year.”

“What?” I jerked the list away and started greedily reading through the names.

One stood out.

Trace Rooks, Female, 18, Casper, Wyoming.

“Great.” I dropped the list onto the ground and smirked, “A girl who probably smells like cow shit. What’s her background?”

Nobody answered.

I said it louder, this time grinding my teeth together.

Tex was the first to answer, “We couldn’t really find any.”

“Couldn’t. Really. Find. Any.” I repeated. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“Look,” Tex shook his head, “We have Sergio on it, but the girl doesn’t really have a lot of information about her. Parents dead, Grandma dead, Grandpa her only living relative and somehow her social as well as her birth certificate were both lost.”

“Lost.” I licked my lips. I told my head not to go there, told my heart to stay in my damn chest and stop hoping as images flooded my mind. Dark hair, dark eyes, “Nixon, I’ll save you.”

“Dude, you okay?” Chase elbowed me.

“Let’s go welcome her to Eagle Elite.”

Nobody moved.

“I said,” I started marching towards the girls dorms, “Let’s go welcome her.”

“Why do I have a feeling this is a really bad idea?” Tex said under his breath.

“For once, Tex, keep your mouth shut and stay in the background, paste a shit eating grin on your face and let me and Chase deal with this. Do you think you can do that? Hmm?”

“Take a Xanax.” Phoenix grumbled.

I sent a seething glare in his direction.

He mumbled a curse and walked off with Tex to wait by the tree while we continued the next few feet to the girls dorms.

The car was a rental.

The grandpa was ancient.

The girl was…young.

And she had shit as belongings. Her suitcase was covered with stickers, her grandpa handed her a small box, and I could have sworn I saw a tear escape her eye and roll down her smooth cheek.

“Hell no.” I grumbled, “She’ll be destroyed here.”

“Won’t last five minutes.” Chase agreed.

“Tears.” I wiped my face with my hands, “Tell me I’m not seeing tears.”

“Girls don’t cry here.”

“They don’t.” I agreed.

“She isn’t like them.”

“No.”

“We need Mo.”

I laughed at that, “We need a miracle.” With a curse, I quickly dialed the number for orientation and made arrangements for the New Girl to be moved to the United States room. Mo was supposed to be on that same floor. I figured she needed all the help she could get. No way would little Wyoming survive the year with anyone else, not that I was happy about it. I mean in hindsight that was probably my first mistake.

I’d officially invited her into my life—by way of my sister.

“New girls here.” I said loud enough for Tracey to turn around and gape. So squeaky clean and innocent. Like a little lamb, right, Chase?” I tilted my head and offered her a smirk.

The old man reached in his jacket. It was a move I knew well. Another clue. He wasn’t what he said he was. He wasn’t who he said he was. As if noticing my calculating glare, he removed his hand and offered a forced smile, “A welcoming committee? This place sure is nice.”

I had to respect his control. The way he protectively stood in front of Tracey as if he was the only thing standing in the way of my devouring her.

“Is there a problem?” He scratched his head, causing his shirt sleeve to fall, revealing a small tattoo. One I’d seen as a child but couldn’t place.

“Do I know you?” I blurted.

He laughed, “Know any farmers out in Wyoming?”

It was his tone that convinced me, the way his shook his head slightly, waiting for my challenge. It was the same look my Uncle gave me when he wanted me to stop pushing.

It was the look that my dad taught me when I was ten and witnessed my first torture.

The girl was still staring at us. Easy target. I’d leave the old man alone, he reminded me too much of mine. And I didn’t need that reminder, not now.

I lifted my arms and stretched lazily.

The girls eyes went wide as she stared at my body.

Chase hit me in the stomach.

I sauntered forward and tilted her chin towards me, closing her mouth in the process. “Much better,” I licked my lips and fought the urge to kiss her. Yeah, I was losing my shit. “We’d hate for our charity case to choke on an insect on her first day.” Her lips trembled as she looked from me to her Grandpa. I released her before she could do anything, and walked past, with Chase in tow.

I needed to talk to the girl at registration anyways. We disappeared behind the building, but I’d be back. I just needed the Grandpa to leave.

Within seconds the rental car was driving away. And the girl as all mine. My heart thudded against my chest, and for a second, I regretted what I was about to do.

But every possible outcome ended with either her death, or her in danger. And for some reason, I didn’t want someone like her at Eagle Elite. She didn’t belong in my world.

She deserved a picket fence.

A husband.

A good college experience without classmates who’d rather see her commit suicide then survive the next four years.

They would destroy her.

And she would make it so damn easy to do so.

The only way—was to beat them to it. To be the first, marking her as our target, our play-thing.

Nobody messed with what was mine.

And in the end, nobody would mess with her. They’d allow me to entertain them with her innocence. I’d dangle her in front of them like a carrot, and at the end of the day, she’d be untouchable.

I sighed as she looked up at the building gaping like someone who’d been homeschooled and never seen a sky scraper before.

She was too skinny.

I made a mental note to get her one of my access cards—she didn’t need to know how much they cost—or that every single student at EE would kill to have one. Mo would take care of the rest.

She’d eat with us.

She’d want for nothing.

It was the least I could do after what I was about to make her endure.

Licking my lips I approached her again, this time, damning myself to hell with each step I took. “Are you lost?”

“Nope.” She grinned, damn it made her prettier. “Apparently I live in the United States.” With a shrug she tried and failed to lift her heavy suitcase and nearly toppled over onto her cute ass.

I muffled a laugh, knowing that Chase was doing the exact same thing. Being mean to her would be like kicking a puppy. But the world was ugly. I just hated that I would be her tutor in the ways of reality—her prince of darkness.

Damn, I would have done anything to be the hero.

“I’m Nixon.” I stood directly in front of her, shifting my eyes from her poorly fitting clothes to her ugly shoes.

“Tracey, but everyone calls me Trace.” She held out her hand.

I itched to touch it.

To touch her skin.

Instead, I scowled, shook her hand, then wiped that same hand on my jeans as if she was diseased.

“Rules.”

“What?” She took a step back.

Chase moved past me, “He’s right. As cute as you are, Farm Girl, someone needs to tell you the rules.”

Her gaze narrowed, “Can it be fast?”

Yeah, again, I almost lost my mind. Chase was probably ready to shit his pants. The last person that talked back to him was Phoenix and that ended with a few broken bones and a trip to the dentist.

“You hear that Chase?” I said amused, “She likes it fast.”

“Pity,” Chase took a step closer, nearly touching her with his body, “I’d like to give it to her slow.” His eyes raked her in, as if she was the first girl he’d ever seen in his entire existence. Jealousy surged through me. What he hell? She wasn’t’ his. Not that she was mine, but still. He was standing too close, too close.

“The rules.” He stepped back. My heart beat returned to normal, “No speaking to the Elect, unless you’ve been asked to speak to them.” He circled around her staring a little long at her ass before he continued.

“Who are the–“

“—Nope. You’ve already broken a rule. I’m speaking New Girl.” Chase smirked. “Geez, Nixon, this one’s going to be hard to break in.”

“They always are.” I said without taking my eyes from her, “But I think I’ll enjoy this one.” The first true thing I’d said. I would enjoy it too much. I’d enjoy her too much, because she reminded me of someone I used to know. Someone who offered to save me, when I was already past saving, someone who wiped my tears, and cried as if they were her own.

Chase continued with the rules. Making me sicker as her face continued to fall.

Finally she asked, “Is that all?”

“No.” Raw desire pulsed through me as I approached her, needing to touch her, needing to make sure she was real even though I knew I was acting like a complete and utter lunatic. Chase and I would have words later. He knew me better than I knew myself sometimes. I was going too far, pushing myself, pushing him.

My hand caressed her face, then moved down her smooth neck to her shoulder. I wanted to claim her, to possess her, to make her scream—but not with fear, with utter ecstasy. I had no idea who she was, but she made me want. And that was the problem.

For the first time in years. I wanted.

I wasn’t allowed to want.

I had to die to myself.

Because in the grand scheme of things? It wasn’t about me. It was about blood, family, protection. Blood in, blood out.

Her eyes dilated. Furious that she’d reacted so easily, upset with myself for making my own body suffer, I snapped.

“You feel this? Memorize it now, because as of this moment, you can’t touch us. We are untouchable. If you as much as sneeze in our direction, if you as much breathe the same air in my atmosphere. I will make your life hell. This touch, what you feel against your skin, will be the only time you feel another human being as powerful as me near you. So like I said, feel it, remember it, and maybe one day, your brain will do you the supreme favor of forgetting what it felt like to have someone like me touching you. Then, and only then, will you be able to be happy with some mediocre boyfriend and pathetic life.” Away from me. Away from it all. Safe.

A few more tears escaped down her cheek.

And I knew in that moment. It was the beginning of the end.

My end.

My downfall.

My demise.

Reading Order: Eagle Elite series

Elite by Rachel Van Dyken Enforce by Rachel Van Dyken Elect by Rachel Van Dyken
Entice by Rachel Van Dyken Elicit by Rachel Van Dyken Ember by Rachel Van Dyken

#1 ~ Elite: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#1.5 ~ Enforce: Goodreads (Dec. 18, 2014)
#2 ~ Elect: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#3 ~ Entice: EbookPaperback • Goodreads
#4 ~ Elicit: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#5 ~ Ember: Goodreads (Feb. 2015)
#6 ~ Elude: Goodreads (July 2015)

about the author

Rachel Van DykenRachel Van Dyken is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she’s not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.

She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband and their snoring Boxer, Sir Winston Churchill. She loves to hear from readers! You can follow her writing journey at http://rachelvandykenauthor.com/

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