NEW RELEASE w/ EXCERPT & INTERVIEW: Everything Under the Sun by Jessica Redmerski

Ever since I heard of this upcoming release, it has been one that I’ve been greatly looking forward to and it’s finally here!

Post-Apocalyptic Romantic Suspense

Purchase: Kindle (KU)

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♦BLURB♦

Thais Fenwick was eleven-years-old when civilization fell, devastated by a virus that killed off the majority of the world’s population. For seven years, Thais and her family lived in a community of survivors deep in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. But when her town is attacked by raiders, she and her blind sister are taken away to the East-Central Territory where she is destined to live the cruel and unjust kind of life her late mother warned her about.

Atticus Hunt is a troubled soldier in Lexington City who has spent the past seven years trying to conform to the vicious nature of men in a post-apocalyptic society. He knows that in order to survive, he must abandon his morals and his conscience and become like those he is surrounded by. But when he meets Thais, morals and conscience win out over conformity, and he risks his rank and his life to help her. They escape the city and set out together on a long and perilous journey to find safety in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Struggling to survive in a world without electricity, food, shelter, and clean water, Atticus and Thais shed their fear of growing too close, and they fall hopelessly in love. But can love survive in such dark times, or is it fated to die with them?

 

♦EXCERPT♦

“One more night,” I said, not looking at her. “Give me one more night and I’ll get you out of this city.” All I could see in front of me was the scenario: I’d wait until very late, after most of the city was sleeping, and then I’d dress her in my military clothes, make her pin up her hair underneath a cap, strap a rifle to her shoulder, a backpack full of goods on her back, and set her atop the mare waiting at the stables.

“But there’s nothing for me anymore,” Thais said, wiping away the lingering tears on her cheeks. “There’s nowhere for me to go, and no one waiting for me there if by some miracle I make it alive. My mother and father are dead. My sister”—she looked up at me, and although I didn’t meet her gaze, I could feel her eyes on me—“my whole family is dead, and this world is dead and my soul is dead and everything that was once good and beautiful and right, is dead.”

I looked at her then, her words stirring me.

“That’s not true,” I said, and got up from the chair and crouched in front of her. “You may be the only good thing left in this world, and I’ll be goddamned if I let your light fade.”

Tears tumbled down Thais’ cheeks.

I took the gun that had fallen from her hand, tucked it into the back of my pants.

“Promise me you won’t try anything,” I said as I went toward the door. “Promise me on your sister’s soul, that you’ll stay in this room and wait for me.”

“Where are you going?”

“To get your supplies.” I placed my hand on the doorknob. “Don’t open this door for anyone.” I opened it to blackness; the candles that had been lit in the hallway had burned down.

“Wait,” Thais called out, and I stopped.

She stood up on wobbly legs.

“You said to get my supplies—are you sending me away alone?”

I thought on it for a moment. I’d never had any intention of going with her. I couldn’t. Not if I was going to keep others from following her.

“No,” I finally said. “You’re not going alone. I’ll go with you, at least until I can get you somewhere safe.”

“Is there anywhere safe, Atticus?” Her voice was soft, hopeless, and hearing her say my name like that did something to my heart. “Do you know where you’re taking me?”

I sighed. And I looked at the wall.

“Yes,” I lied, and then stepped out into the hallway.

Just before I closed the door I added, “Promise me.”

Thais nodded.

“I promise,” she said. “I’ll wait for you.”

 

♦INTERVIEW♦

Check out the interview below to learn a bit about Jessica’s writing, her life, her In the Company of Killers series and more!

How do you plot your novels? Do you outline?

I never outline because I like to let the story and the characters take me where they want to go. Some authors can outline very well and it works for them, but I can’t do it. It has always felt more natural to me to just go along for the ride and see where it takes me, kind of like in real life, I guess. Some scenes in my books were figured out ahead of time, but not ‘planned out’ ahead of time, and there’s a big difference. The only exception to this method is that I do always know my ending before I begin. (Except with my book DIRTY EDEN)

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

I’m impatient. Very impatient. It’s challenging for me to get through the first 2‐3 chapters of every book because I have a bad habit of looking at how much I have left to go. I just want to be done with it already so that my readers can enjoy!

What is your favorite part of the writing process?

The last sentence. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love getting into the story, living out my character’s lives, but there’s nothing like a finished manuscript. It’s a huge accomplishment and I doubt I’ll ever tire of it.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

I don’t have a favorite – I have several! Anne Rice and Neil Gaiman I have admired for many years. I love Rice’s deep, descriptive style and Gaiman’s unique ideas. But I also love Paullina Simons and Cormac McCarthy – there are just so many! And, of course, there’s J.K. Rowling, but I don’t really have to name her, do I? Isn’t she everybody’s favorite by default? 😊

Is there one book that has had an impact on not only your writing, but on you personally?

That would be THE VAMPIRE ARMAND by Anne Rice. It’s a book that I’ve read four or five times and the one that really inspired me to try to become a published author.

Tell us your favorite quote.

“Love is a trick that Nature plays on us to get us to reproduce.” – Callisto – Xena Warrior Princess. I’m not against love, I’ve always just been awed by that quote. Not to mention, Callisto was awesome!

If the Earth suddenly became uninhabitable, would you rather live under the sea or in space?

In space! I’m obsessed with the Universe. Besides, the thought of living in the ocean sort of terrifies me.

Can you provide a few selfpublishing best practices you believe brought you literary success?

Some of what I’ve already mentioned are good practices, but also, I’d like to point out two things that I believe contributed to my success: kindness and professionalism. I’ve read a lot of horror stories from book reviewers who were verbally attacked by authors because they turned away a review request or gave a bad review, and similar stories about authors and agents. Know in advance that no matter how hard you worked to write your book that it’s not the next bestseller (until it is), that it isn’t better than J.K. Rowling or Stephen King and that you have absolutely no right to make these statements out loud to anyone. Period. And lastly, no matter how much it hurts your feelings or pisses you off, never reply to a bad review. Ever. Not even if something the reviewer said was 100% wrong. Just don’t do it.

Fans of your In the Company of Killers series are wanting to know why it’s taking so long to release book #7. Can you give us some information on it?

I do get this question everyday it seems, but it’s so hard to reply to everybody. I’ll do my best to explain what’s going on with book 7 right here. So here goes! I’m 100% dedicated to that series, and I know it’s frustrating that after six books, it’s taking a longer-than-average time to publish the seventh. But I need everyone to understand that not only have I been going through a lot of personal things the past year-and-a-half that prevented me from writing much of anything, but also, I just needed to take a step back and finish EVERYTHING UNDER THE SUN before I tried to tackle any other book. EUtS has been a work-in-progress going on, I think, almost three years now. No matter what else I tried to write, EUtS kept looming in the back of my mind, and it was affecting my current works-in-progress (book 7 included). I knew that if I didn’t just put everything else aside and finish EUtS that my other books would, quite honestly, be shit. Not all writers are the same, of course, but I’m one of the ones who absolutely must work on the book that’s taking up the most space in my heart and mind, instead of the one everybody is waiting on. But I promise, I’ll be back to work on SPIDERS IN THE GROVE soon! Just please be patient with me. 😊

You stated that you were going to write Lily’s book (from THE EDGE OF NEVER) – is that still a certainty?

I do still intend to write Lily’s book, but at this time I can’t estimate when that might be.

 

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

J.A. (Jessica Ann) Redmerski is an international bestselling author and award winner who juggles several different genres. She began self-publishing in 2012, and later with the success of THE EDGE OF NEVER, signed on with Grand Central Publishing/Forever Romance. Her works have so far been translated into twenty languages.

Jessica is a hybrid author who, in addition to working with a traditional publisher, also continues to self-publish. The Portuguese rights to her popular crime and suspense series, In the Company of Killers, have been picked up by one of Brazil’s largest publishers – Suma de Letras; Paikese Kirjastus in Estonia; Ephesus in Turkey; Konyvmolykepzob in Hungary. The series has been optioned for television by William Levy.

EVERYTHING UNDER THE SUN is Jessica’s newest love story.

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BOOK REVIEW & AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Lost Boy by Christina Henry

Young Adult

Purchase: Kindle | Paperback | B&N | BAM | IndieBound

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♦BLURB♦

From the national bestselling author of Alice comes a familiar story with a dark hook—a tale about Peter Pan and the friend who became his nemesis, a nemesis who may not be the blackhearted villain Peter says he is…

There is one version of my story that everyone knows. And then there is the truth. This is how it happened. How I went from being Peter Pan’s first—and favorite—lost boy to his greatest enemy.

Peter brought me to his island because there were no rules and no grownups to make us mind. He brought boys from the Other Place to join in the fun, but Peter’s idea of fun is sharper than a pirate’s sword. Because it’s never been all fun and games on the island. Our neighbors are pirates and monsters. Our toys are knife and stick and rock—the kinds of playthings that bite.

Peter promised we would all be young and happy forever.

Peter lies.

 

♦5-STAR REVIEW♦

Wildly imaginative and wonderfully inventive, Lost Boy twisted the long-standing characters of Pan and Hook from the classic tale to give a new origin story, one of how two friends became the life-long enemies they’re famously known as. With skill and finesse, Henry’s storytelling easily transported me to a wild island where boys never aged, one where they could never leave, and where the true side of the boy that led them all shone through.

Henry brilliantly wove a tale with an underlying of darkness, expertly showing the slow progression of insanity that was Peter Pan and the depravities of the island. With rich detail and vivid characters, there was no fear in showing the unbridled side to boys when left to their own devices and how susceptible they were to attention. It was poignantly bloodied, but incredibly moving and emotional. Every moment of the story carried with it a deeper meaning, crossing reality with make believe and jealousy with love. And Jamie, before he took to his famous moniker, was at the center of it all as Pan’s favorite token from the Other Land, the longest on the island. His character was deeply rooted and clearly written, flickering between his devotion to the Lost Boys and his love for the boy who brought him there. It became impossible to not be wrapped up in him.

Lost Boy was darkly clever, intricate in every way, and so different from any version before it, but brilliant nonetheless. Words cannot express how much I adored this version, how easily it fit into the character we’ve always  known, and how its effect alludes explanation. If you’re looking to be thrilled and charmed and twisted, I can not recommend this tale enough.

“Was this, I wondered, what it felt like to be a grown-up? Did you always feel the weight of things on you, your cares pressing you down like a burden you could never shake? No wonder Peter could fly. He had no worries to weight him to the earth.”

 

♦INTERVIEW♦

I had the pleasure of asking Christina Henry a few questions, check them out below!

Book Reader Chronicles: What inspired you to write this particular re-telling of Captain Hook and Peter Pan?

Christina Henry: I wanted to know why Captain Hook hated Peter Pan so much. It always seemed strange to me that this adult, this pirate, hung around Neverland plotting against a kid when he ought to be off doing pirate-y things. So I wrote this book to answer the question for myself.

BRC: Was there any particular scene or part of the book that gave you trouble when writing it?

CH: I write chronologically and by hand, so I don’t really think of the book in terms of individual scenes but rather as a long spool unfurling.  I don’t have difficulty writing individual scenes but I will admit that editing is not my favorite thing.

BRC: What endeared you to Hook, enough to make you turn the story to put him in a better light?

CH: I have a deep, highly romanticized affection for pirates born of too many readings of TREASURE ISLAND.  I also had a feeling that such intense hatred of Peter Pan could only have come about if they were friends once – only love can become so corrosive when it dies.

BRC: What’s your favorite part about fairytales?

CH: That they can be endlessly interpreted and re-interpreted through a variety of lenses. There’s always another way to tell a story.

BRC: What’s your favorite fairytale of all time and why?

CH: I’ve always been very fond of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” and in particular Robin McKinley’s retelling of this story. Her retelling gives layers and lushness to the original.

BRC: Favorite Lost Boy aside from Hook?

CH: In my own book I love Nod and Fog, the wild twins. I’ve always thought it would be wonderful to have a twin.

BRC: What are you tackling next?

CH: My next book, which will be out in the summer of 2018, is THE MERMAID. It’s the story of P.T. Barnum and the Feejee Mermaid, except in my book the mermaid is real instead of a hoax. It’s also a story of loss and grief, and about feeling alien in a human world. It’s pretty different from anything else I’ve ever written.

 

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

CHRISTINA HENRY  is the author of the CHRONICLES OF ALICE duology, ALICE and RED QUEEN, a dark and twisted take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, as well as LOST BOY: THE TRUE STORY OF CAPTAIN HOOK, an origin story of Captain Hook from Peter Pan.

She is also the author of the national bestselling BLACK WINGS series (BLACK WINGS, BLACK NIGHT, BLACK HOWL, BLACK LAMENT, BLACK CITY, BLACK HEART and BLACK SPRING) featuring Agent of Death Madeline Black and her popcorn-loving gargoyle Beezle.

ALICE was chosen as one of Amazon’s Best Books of the Year in Science Fiction and Fantasy for 2015. It was also a Goodreads Choice Award nominee in Horror and one of Barnes & Noble’s Bestselling Science Fiction and Fantasy novels of 2015.

She enjoys running long distances, reading anything she can get her hands on and watching movies with samurai, zombies and/or subtitles in her spare time. She lives in Chicago with her husband and son.

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NEW RELEASE: The Moment of Letting Go by J.A. Redmerski

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The Moment of Letting Go

Standalone

Purchase:  Amazon ⊥ B&N ⊥ BAM ⊥ iTunes ⊥ Kobo ⊥ GooglePlay

♦BLURB♦

You can follow the rules or you can follow your heart…

Sienna Murphy never does anything without a plan. And so far her plans have been working. Right after college, she got a prestigious job and gained the stability she’d always craved-until work takes her to the sun-drenched shores of Oahu and places her in the path of sexy surfer Luke Everett. For the first time, she lets her heart take control. Drawn to his carefree charm, she makes a spontaneous and very un-Sienna-like decision to drop everything and stay in Hawaii for two more weeks.

Luke lives fast and wild. When he meets Sienna, he’s convinced that some no-strings-attached fun is just what she needs. As their nights quickly turn from playful to passionate, Luke can’t deny the deep connection he feels. But there’s a reason Luke doesn’t do long-term. He can’t promise Sienna forever, when the enormity of his past has shown him just how fragile the future can be . . .

 

♦3.5-STAR REVIEW♦

I feel like the blurb is misleading in the fact that the book is so much more than a workaholic young woman who meets a carefree young man. There’s more to both of those characters than meets the eye, and you won’t see it given justice until you read the book. It’s sort of a coming of age story, even though it’s completely also not…it’s hard to fully explain. While each character is in their early twenties, you get the sense that neither of them having fully become who they should be, and were just waiting on each other to do so.

“‘Whether they’re afraid of heights, or afraid of hospitals, or they stay in the same place all their life because they’re afraid to change–so many people go through life on the ground and die without ever knowing that they can fly.'”

Sienna Murphy learned growing up poor is not something she wants to ever be again. Her drive to be safe financially has her overworked and overrun. Her passions in life have fallen to the wayside, and she doesn’t truly see how stunted her joy in life has become; That drive for money has made her the opposite of happy. It’s when she’s on a short work-related trip to Hawaii that she falls under the spell of a hunky guy who sees the world differently than her. He gives her the permission she thinks she needs to throw caution to the wind, to feel the wind beneath her sails for once. To enjoy something without stress for once.

“‘We’re all stronger than our own weaknesses,’ he says. ‘Sometimes we just need someone else to help us find that strength.'”

Luke Everett lives to the extreme. Not one to let life be lived without him, he takes the bulls by their horns. The opposite of Sienna, he lets the wind carry him. The carefree lifestyle does, though, come with its fair share of pain. Wild and free never comes without consequences, and unfortunately he’s suffered the biggest of them all. Stunted in his own way, he doesn’t realize exactly what he needs in life until Sienna enters it: the chance to be grounded for once. He’ll see that sometimes you have to slow down to see what you’re missing in life instead of living so fast it just zips right by.

“‘I drank the sky and brought an angel down with me,’ I whisper into the darkness.”

For each of them, letting go will mean so much more than what the words imply, and it’ll mean something different for both. Sienna and Luke form an instant, crazy connection that has both of them doing things that they would never normally do. And when Luke sets out to help Sienna let go, he certainly never sees that he’s in need of it too. While at times it was slow-going, it does eventually hit its stride. It’s a deeply meaningful book that will hit you in a myriad of ways. You’ll fall for the tender-hearted Luke, and relate to the hard-working Sienna. But in the end, you’ll be swept away by the emotional depth of their love story and how letting go meant finding each other.

 

♦EXCERPT♦

Then he gets up and grabs my hands from the tops of my bare knees, pulling me to my feet.

“We’re going swimming,” he says. “And we’ll talk more about this later…like on the day your vacation is over and you’re standing at the gate in the airport about to kiss me goodbye.”

“Wow, you really think highly of yourself, don’t you?” I can’t keep the laughter from my voice.

“Damn straight!” he says and pulls me along beside him. “Before these two weeks are over, I can guarantee you three things.” He holds up three fingers as we continue onward toward the water. “One”—he holds up one finger—“you’ll never want to go back to San Diego once Hawaii is done with you.” He holds up two fingers. “Two—that photography love of yours will start to take the place of everything else in your life. And three”—he wiggles three fingers and we stop on the beach where the water can pool around our feet—“you’ll kiss me at least once before you go home.”

I blush hard and it feels like my eyes are bugging out of my head. “I might peck you on the cheek or something, but—”

“No,” he says, smiling and quite serious, “it’ll be a full-on, tongue-dancing kind of kiss.”

I smack him playfully on the arm—something is fluttering around inside my belly.

“Geez!

Luke grabs my hand and pulls me out to the water with him, where we swim and hang out on the cliffs until late in the afternoon. People come and go throughout the hours, sometimes leaving us with Alicia, Braedon, and a few of their close friends to have the area to ourselves for a while before more people show up in intervals.

“Backflip!” someone says just before Luke jumps into the water for probably the twentieth time.

And every time he does it, it ties my stomach up in knots. But there’s something about him that I can’t quite figure out when I watch him leap off the edge of that cliff; it’s not overconfidence or showing off or recklessness, but something deeper, more profound. Maybe it’s a sense of freedom, or a natural high that consumes him while he’s in the air, as if he had been born with a pair of wings that only he can see. But the more time I spend with him, the more intrigued I become. Sure, he’s gorgeous and funny and polite and all the kinds of things—so far—that would make my mom love him to death. But what intrigues and excites me more is how he

kind of makes me want to jump off that stupid cliff regardless of how scared I am of it.

 

♦Q & A♦

What do you love about writing stories that involve characters stepping out of their comfort zone or facing their fears?

It may be a clichéd answer, but I really do live vicariously through most of my characters. I love being able to feel like I’m overcoming my own fears and stepping out of my comfort zone, even though in reality, I’m just pretending. I’m afraid of so many things, and have been most of my life, and until I find the courage to face my fears, and do the things I really want to do, the only way I know how to experience that is through the characters I create.

 

A la Twitter style, can you describe your book (or series) in 140 characters or less.

You can follow the rules or you can follow your heart. Two people living very different lives learn from one another how to let go of the things holding them back from truly living.

 

If THE MOMENT OF LETTING GO became a movie who would you want to see playing the lead characters?

Hmm, that’s tough! I think there are many who look the part, but if I had to choose I’d probably say Alexander Ludwig or Zac Efron as Luke Everett and Karen Gillan as Sienna.

 

Finish this sentence: My heroine will never… do anything as extreme as BASE jumping, though she might jump off that small cliff into the water someday.

 

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

jredmerski12

J. A. Redmerski, New York TimesUSA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, lives in North Little Rock, Arkansas with her three children, two cats and a Maltese. She is a lover of television and books that push boundaries.
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REVIEW: Beautifully Brutal by Nicole Edwards

ReviewGraphic

beautifully brutal

A Southern Boy Mafia Novel, Book One

(Standalone)

Purchase:  Amazon US ⊥ Amazon UK ⊥ B&N ⊥ Kobo ⊥ iBooks ⊥ Google Play

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♦BLURB♦

Sometimes love isn’t beautiful…

Sometimes the only way to describe it is beautifully brutal.

If you think you know him… You’re wrong.

If you think you know his family… Wrong again.

If you think you know his story… You don’t.

If you did, you’d likely wonder how the hell a man like Maximillian Adorite managed to make it to this point in his life. At twenty-nine, he’s experienced more than most people could only ever imagine, all thanksto his family. Organized crime they call it. Mafia.

No matter how they spin it, it comes down to one thing. Max gets what he wants. Except for the one thing he wants most.

Her name is Courtney Kogan.

And now that he’s had a taste of her, Max knows he’ll never be able to let her go.

The Southern Boy Mafia series is a spinoff from the Sniper 1 Security series. It has been set up to be read without reading Sniper 1 Security, however, the characters will frequently cross over.

 

♦4-STAR REVIEW♦

Courtney and Max are on two very different sides of the law. While she’s a security/bodyguard specialist, he’s a mafia boss. Their chemistry keeps them connected, but their lives strive to push them apart. Sometimes you can’t stop what’s meant to be.

“Courtney ignored the unnerving feeling that slammed into her. . . the one that told her, without a doubt, she was on a collision course that she couldn’t repave, one that would end, based on what she’d just experienced tonight, either beautiful or brutal. Then again, based on what she knew of the man, she was more inclined to believe it’d be beautifully brutal.”

Courtney works in her family business for Sniper 1 Security (another series by Nicole Edwards) where she’s a bodyguard/intel-getter/babysitter. She’s trained with a gun and knows how to get what she needs to close a job. Except this job with Max? Well, it’s turning out to be far more than just a job. His pull on her keeps pulling her in even when her brain is telling her that it could never work–that she could never be with someone on the wrong side of the law. But Courtney is strong. She’s stubborn. She wants him regardless.

“Their paths should’ve never crossed. Their lives should’ve never mingled. And most importantly, she should’ve never given him her heart. But as with anything, life continued to move on, regardless of the devastation and destruction obscuring the path. She simply needed to move on with her life.”

Max is the first in line to take over his family’s business. He’s essentially running things, and doing a damn fine job at it. He’s killed, he’s tortured, he’s willing to do anything to protect his family. And when Courtney comes into his life looking to get information out of him about his business? Well, he’s not willing to let that happen, but…something about her enraptures him. He’s not able to get rid of her. Max was different than most men. He was ruthless and cold, but incredibly intelligent and tender-hearted.

“She’d known from the beginning that Max was a killer, that he was ruthless and extremely powerful, yet she’d followed this path, and look what had happened. She’d fallen in love with a killer.”

An erotic novel that tells the tale of two star-crossed (basically mafia style) lovers who are from enemy families. Good against bad. But when it’s just them? It’s love and affection. It’s hot and erotic. It’s kinky and sexy. I loved the dynamic that Courtney and Max were. That she struggled internally with the lawful side of her struggling to want to be with someone who was the completely opposite. How she wanted him so fiercely but couldn’t figure out how it’d work. And I loved that he was so calm and reassuring, like he knew that things would eventually work out. The only issue I had was that I got sort of confused with how this novel jumps around from different times, and I would have liked that to be a bit more structured so I knew better when things were happening; I was able to tell for the most part by what was happening in the story, but it would have been even more enjoyable if that had been perfected just a bit more. Overall, I loved the raw passion that was exuded between the two characters and I truly enjoyed the suspenseful-at-times, and well-written storyline. I really cannot wait to get more in this series.

 

♦EXCERPT♦

Courtney spun around, her gaze slamming into his.

“Check on me? Why the hell would you wanna do that?”

Because it was an excuse to see her. But that wasn’t what Max told her. “I wanted to make sure you were all right.”

Courtney huffed as she returned to pouring the vodka into a glass, adding 7-Up from a can sitting on the table. Max’s gaze instantly strayed to the extra glass, and his frustration rose again.

She tossed him a glare over her shoulder. “Oh, you’re referrin’ to when you blew some guy’s brains out in the middle of your office? Don’t you have a dead body to clean up or somethin’?”

He didn’t say a word. His rule was that he’d never own up to anything. He didn’t feel safe anywhere that wasn’t home, never knew when someone was trying to trap him. And of all people, Max wasn’t delusional enough to believe Courtney wouldn’t turn on him with the right motivation. Ultimately, she was one of the good guys. And that was why they never had been able to find a middle ground. It was more difficult than it appeared considering they were at opposite ends of the spectrum—middle ground was just too far away for either of them.

Not to mention, arguing with Courtney was moot. Max knew from experience that she would never let up, which was why he’d given up long ago.

“Oh, right. You have people for that,” she continued, turning to face him again before taking a sip from her glass. “I’d offer you a drink, but then you might think you can stay.”

“I’m gonna stay,” he informed her.

Courtney’s eyes narrowed on him, and Max’s body instinctively reacted, hardening instantaneously.

“You’re not gonna stay,” she retorted, her tone clipped. “Not today, not tomorrow. Not ever.”

Max shrugged out of his leather jacket, folding it across the arm of the sofa as he moved closer.

“I’m serious, Max,” Courtney said, her eyes widening as she backed up until her ass hit the table. “You’re not stayin’. RT’ll be watchin’ my house until you leave. It’s not an option.”

Max continued to stalk her slowly until he was standing only a few inches away from her. Unable to resist, he cupped her face in his hands, enjoying the silky smoothness of her skin against his palms.

Damn, how he’d missed her. It’d been damn near a full year since the last time he’d touched her, since the last time he’d made love to her. Although touching her now … it was as though not a minute had passed since that fateful day.

“I’m stayin’,” he said softly.

Courtney shook her head, opened her mouth, but then snapped it closed. She wanted to argue; it was evident in the lines that creased her forehead.

Leaning forward, Max tested the waters, allowing his lips to brush hers lightly. Even that was nearly more than he could handle. It’d been too damn long since he’d touched her, tasted her, loved her. And fuck if he didn’t want to do it all again. Right here. Right fucking now.

“Max, please,” Courtney pleaded quietly. “Please don’t do this.”

“Do what?” he questioned roughly, pulling back and allowing his eyes to slide over her beautiful face, down the slender column of her neck, where he noticed the rapid thump of her pulse.

“We’re through,” she stated, her tone holding a hint of conviction.

“So you’ve said.” In fact, Courtney had told him they were over many times during the year they’d been together. And for the year that followed, right up until this very moment, Max had thought about her every single day, about the way she’d ended things so abruptly the last time. Didn’t matter that he’d called her bluff and that had technically been the reason they’d gone their separate ways.

Had it not been for the crazy shit he had to deal with on a daily basis, he might’ve actually taken the time to play her games. But there was another problem with that. He was fucking tired of playing, which was the only reason he’d allowed her to walk away then.

And that was the real reason he was there tonight. He wanted to know whether or not this was truly over. For him, it wasn’t. There wasn’t a chance in hell that he’d ever be able to get over her. Probably not in his lifetime. But that didn’t mean that moving forward wasn’t possible. With or without her.

If she didn’t want him, he’d move on. He had business arrangements dangling in the wind, one in particular that was entirely dependent on where he stood with Courtney.

“Tell me you want me to leave, Courtney. Tell me to go, and I’ll never darken your doorstep again. You’ll never have to see me.”

Max could see the surprise in Courtney’s eyes, in the way her throat worked when she swallowed hard. He’d never made her that promise, never told her that he’d willingly let her go, although he’d spent the last year staying away from her. He’d had eyes on her the entire time; he knew every single move she’d made during those months. He knew for a fact that Courtney had never brought another man home with her, nor had she ever gone home with a man. Had she made that choice, Max wasn’t sure how things would be at this moment, but more than likely, there’d be another dead asshole buried six feet under.

The point was, she hadn’t.

“Tell me that’s what you want, and I’ll do it, Courtney. But know this … if you send me away this time…” Max took a deep breath, exhaled. “I won’t come back. Whatever this is between us, it’ll never die, never go away completely, and we’ll both have to live out the rest of our lives with the decision that you make right here. Tonight.”

“I want…”

The pause that followed stole the air from the room.

 

♦COURTNEY KOGAN INTERVIEW♦

1. What’s your affiliation with Sniper 1 Security, for those that may not know yet?

Sniper 1 Security is my family’s business. My father, Casper Kogan, and his long time friend, Bryce Trexler started the company more than three decades ago. I guess it seemed logical that I did what my family did. I’m a personal security specialist – though there are plenty of names people use to refer to us.

2. Do you think of yourself as an adrenaline junky since you like this line of work?

Adrenaline junkie? Hmmm. Sure, I guess I can see that. I like to live on the edge. I think I’ve proven that.

3. What the craziest thing you have done on a dare?

The craziest thing I’ve done on a dare… **smiles** Not sure how crazy it is, but once, I stood up on the checkout counter at Wal-Mart. Started yelling that they needed a cleanup on aisle five-ninety-two. For the record, the Wal-Mart employees don’t necessarily like that.

4. If not this line of work, then what?

It would always be this line of work. I can’t see myself doing anything else.

5. Favorite type of car?

Corvette.

6. Boys with Tattoos or no?

Either or. And I guess it depends on the tattoo. I’ve seen some that I don’t particularly care for. I tried to talk Max into getting one that said “Property of Courtney”, but he said no. I’m still working on him though.

7. Do you have any tattoos?

Nope. But I’ve been tossing around the idea for a while. It’s hard to come up with an idea for something that’s so … permanent. I’m sure I’ll think of something one of these days.

8. What’s your go to drink when you’re out on the town?

Fireball and RumChata – I’ll let you look up what that’s known as. **smiles**

9. Last question, ideal Saturday night?

I’m a fan of going out to the clubs with my friends and I’ve got a favorite that I frequent – Devil’s Playground.

 

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♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

nicoel edwards bio

New York Times bestselling author Nicole Edwards launched her professional writing career in July of 2012. Having been an avid reader all of her life and a huge fan of creative writing, it seemed the likely path for her to take. Since then, she has released fifteen books and has no plans to stop. As her full-time career/hobby, Nicole writes steamy contemporary and erotic romances. Nicole is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who was born and raised in Texas. Married with three kids and four dogs, she has plenty of interaction to keep her imagination brewing. Her books have been featured in USA Today’s Happy Ever After segment as well as Indie Reader’s best seller list. She has forged her way as an independent author. Although she has a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources, she prefers to be hiding out in her writing cave, talking to the fictional characters that have built up in her head over the years. When she isn’t writing or plotting her next book (sometimes translated to “playing on Facebook”), Nicole loves to read and spend time with her family and her dogs.

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