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The Fourth of July Hop starts here:
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Title: Confessions of a Wedding Planner (Bliss Series Book One)
Author: Michelle Jo Quinn
Release Date: July 26, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance
He may be the best man, but he’s the worst man for her…
Wedding planner, Veronica Soto-Stewart believes everyone deserves a fairy tale–even her ex-boyfriend. Unable to refuse his request, and with the help of Bliss Events motley crew, she finds herself creating the most magical event for the perfect couple.
But nothing is ever perfect…
And not all happy ever afters can be planned…
Levi Laurent can’t believe his luck. Thanks to his best friend’s wedding, he finally has a shot at the woman he’s always wanted–Veronica. From San Francisco to Paris, and back, he pulls out all the stops, so she knows where she really belongs–with him. But Veronica wants nothing to do with the rich, sexy, irresistible playboy.
Can Levi convince Veronica that her perfect happily ever after is closer than she ever realized?
*This book may be read as a standalone. It is a light-hearted romance, perfect for the beach and summer reads!*
Amazon US: https://amzn.com/B01HDLC4C0
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01HDLC4C0
Amazon CA: http://www.amazon.ca/dp/B01HDLC4C0
Amazon AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B01HDLC4C0
Connect with Michelle through:
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OTHER BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR:
UNDERNEATH IT ALL
A senior at Gates University, Agata Ferrero knows without a doubt that Reeve Gates is off limits…
Students can’t date faculty, and Reeve has been appointed by his father as the new Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. But when a near accident with the front end of Reeve’s sleek sports car brings her in close contact with him, Agata can’t deny the flash of desire that consumes her.
Reeve Gates is a man hell-bent on revenge…
Abandoned in the care of his step-mother as a child, Reeve accepts the position at Gates University for the sole purpose of ruining his father’s career. What he didn’t expect was to be sidetracked by the sultry eyes of a student.
Resisting temptation is even harder than it looks…
When a sorority pledging incident leaves Agata stranded on campus in the middle of a treacherous storm, her better judgment falters and she accepts help from the young Dean she can’t get out of her head. Certain there is a beating heart underneath his stone-cold exterior, she escapes with Reeve on a romantic retreat away from prying eyes.
Blinded by retaliation…
Reeve manipulates his dying father into handing over control of the university—and immediately threatens to shut down the school as a form of cruel payback. His scheme sparks a campus-wide protest that leaves one of Agata’s professors dead and her future hanging in the balance.
Agata must fight to convince Reeve he is capable of forgiveness, and their taboo love is worth more than revenge.
But is there really a bright future awaiting…
Underneath It All
AMAZON US: https://amzn.com/B01GJ4V2W0
AMAZON UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01GJ4V2W0
AMAZON CA: http://www.amazon.ca/dp/B01GJ4V2W0
AMAZON AU: http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B01GJ4V2W0
That night I was left alone in our dorm. The three of them were off to the Pre-Thanksgiving party thrown by the student faculty.
They prohibited me from going and suggested I stay and just rest for the night.
I stripped down to my panties; threw a shirt on over my head and climbed into bed.
My phone rang, displaying an unknown number.
“Hello? Who’s this?”
“Agata.” The voice on the other end answered. My stomach plummeted at the unmistakably deep resonance from Reeve’s voice.
“Hi,” I took an audible deep breath. “Where did you get my number?”
“I’m your dean, Agata, I know everything about you.”
“I thought so.” I immediately caught myself smiling at the sound of his voice.
“Did you attend the Pre-Thanksgiving party?”
“Nope. I just stayed in bed.”
He went quiet for a second. “What are you doing, Agata?”
“Uhm, just…lying in bed,” I stated the fact, unknowingly allowing him an opportunity to explore dangerous territories.
“What are you wearing?”
“Seriously?” I giggled at his question and the playful tone of his voice.
“Yes, seriously. Tell me what you are wearing.”
Well, this could be interesting.
“I’m wearing one of my t-shirts and panties.”
“I wish I was beside you.” With those words, I tensed. “Don’t tense, just listen.” As if he was seeing me through the phone. “I want to kiss you just like I did in my room last night. You have no idea how much I wish I could take your shirt and panties off and lick your whole body, paying attention to specific areas.”
“Reeve. No.” A breathy voice left me.
“Shh. Just listen, baby.” He gave me a second to decide whether to hang up or keep listening. “Have you touched yourself before?”
“No.” I bit my lower lip.
“Will you touch yourself for me?”
I was frozen for a second, the sound of my breathing growing rapid. My fingers inched under my panties and I touched myself, rubbing gently as I listened to his voice.
I knew he could tell I obeyed by the change in my breathing pattern.
“Close your eyes. Imagine my lips on your neck kissing you the way I did before.” Heat flooded my body as I recalled it so vividly. “My tongue moves farther down your neck and to your chest, where I take your nipple into my mouth and suck gently.”
My fingers moved faster as the vision of being at Reeve’s mercy sent crippling waves of pleasure through me.
“It feels so good, doesn’t it?”
“Yes,” I whispered letting him take every ounce of doubt I felt about doing it because I could hear the ecstasy in his voice and I knew he was touching himself too.
“I am stroking faster as I listen to your small moans, Agata.”
My eyelids shut even tighter as I tried desperately to feel him somewhere amidst what I was doing.
“I suck harder and nip at your breast. Do you enjoy that?”
“Very much.” Small moans emanated from my throat as I became lost in the sensations. The pleasure became addicting and the excitement of it all heightened every sense I had.
“I drag my tongue lower, lingering at your belly button, then continuing down until I reach your thighs. My lips and tongue kiss inside your thighs before I replace your fingers with my mouth.”
I was breathless now and whimpering for him, making me stroke myself even faster. I could hear him breathing hard now and I knew he was ready to come.
“You taste so good, Agata. Feel my tongue and my warm breath on you, licking faster.”
I could tell I was close by the way my breathing rapidly increased. His breathing responded the same way.
“Reeve…” I panted, the sounds became muffled as I buried my head into my pillow.
“That’s it, baby.” Reeve growled into the phone and I knew he came too.
“That was good,” I uttered breathlessly, my eyes shut to withstand the first orgasm I ever had.
“Never in a million years did I think I would be having phone sex with someone I hadn’t fucked yet,” he voiced quietly. “Sleep now, Agata. I’ll see you in my dreams.”
He hung up before I could respond. I closed my eyes knowing tomorrow I would be a different Agata, but tonight I would allow what happened to soothe me.
He walked up to the counter and prepared a glass of orange juice. He grabbed a bowl and poured butternut squash soup into it. He prepared a cup of coffee and reheated a box of pizza and a bowl of spaghetti.
“Let’s eat.” He ordered and sat across from me. He stirred his coffee without taking his eyes off me.
“Thank you. It smells really good.” I gave him a grateful smile. Knowing he cooked for me, intentionally, on a day that meant nothing to the rest of the world, meant everything to me.
“Are you feeling better now?” he asked and shoved a spoonful of spaghetti in his mouth.
“Yeah, thank you.”
“If you were wondering if I was the one who changed your clothes, no. It wasn’t me, Tatiana did that; she was here earlier.”
“Oh, I see.” I nodded and began to sip my soup. I felt the liquid pour down my throat. The warmth of the soup enveloped my lungs and felt so good. “You shouldn’t have gone through all the trouble of bringing me here. You could have dropped me off at my dorm and left me there.”
“If I want to fucking spend time with you, I will, okay? I wanted to make sure you’re fine.”
There he went again changing moods. I swear there had to be something mentally wrong with this guy. No other person in my life frustrated me as much as he.
“Well, aren’t you sweet?” I smirked.
“So you want to tell me what happened this afternoon? What were you doing out in the storm, Agata? Are you trying to kill yourself?”
One quick bite then he got down to business.
My breath caught in my throat. I really didn’t want to tell him.
“I was…” I paused and bit my lip. I wasn’t sure how to phrase it, “…finishing a task.”
Reeve paused with a fork halfway to his mouth. “Task?” he asked with a raised eyebrow. I didn’t answer. “Sorority task?”
I mentally face palmed and nodded in confirmation. “How long did I stay out there? You think I lasted thirty minutes out there?”
“I knew it,” he stated, shaking his head. “Agata, I don’t give a damn if you finished that fucking task or not. You scared the shit out of me; don’t you know that? You’re not joining the sorority.”
“I have the right reasons for joining.” I bit my lip.
“Reasons?” He gave me a confused look.
“The sisterhood is important to me.” I thought of giving him some lame excuse.
The room grew still. He stared at me, his face blank, and I couldn’t move.
“Are you kidding me?” His gaze was unyielding. “You think the sorority will save you from dying out there? They don’t give a damn, Agata!”
“It’s part of the process,” I reasoned out.
“You should have known it. You’re part of the organization.”
“That’s why I don’t want you in!” He threw his napkin on his plate and shot up to his feet. I remained silent and gazed at my food. “Agata, what’s gotten into you?” His words almost forced me to look at him.
“I’m leaving.” I stood from my chair but he grabbed my hand and pinned me to the wall. “For once, I wanted to do something for myself without thinking of whatever people might say,” I spat.
He released a heavy sigh and ran his fingers through his hair. “Agata, after three and a half years you thought of joining a sorority? For what?”
My chest rose and fell erratically as I met his eyes. “Once I finish my task and pass the initiation, I’ll be one of them. By that time, I can tell if this guy who keeps giving me mixed signals really feels something for me. They say he only dates sorority girls. If he will not date me, then it’s confirmed—he’s only messing around with me.”
I didn’t move a muscle as his eyes burned back into mine. A shaky gasp escaped from my lips and I flinched as he reached for my face. After pausing momentarily to observe my reaction, he went on to gingerly brush my tangled hair from my face.
“Agata, you’re not the type I want to date.”
I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t breathe. His words grated against my ears and it hurt like a bitch.
“You’re not someone I want to take out for dinner, walk home, kiss goodnight, nor say goodbye.”
He didn’t stop tearing with the knife, and pierced through the walls of my heart.
“Because you know what, Agata? I don’t want to just date you and walk you home. You’re someone I want to come home to, someone I want to cook dinner with, to sleep with, to kiss hard, and fuck harder.”
The words snapped out of his mouth quick enough to petrify me. I looked up at him; his plump lips were pursed into a stern frown. His eyes were darkened, no time for bullshit. I bit my lip, and with every second that I didn’t reply his face grew more and more serious.
A small smile crept upon my lips and I looked away to hide my flushed cheeks. I couldn’t contain my happiness. I wondered how my mood had changed so drastically in this conversation.
He smiled, bringing his thumb up to graze my cheek. “You’re blushing.”
I reached up and quickly wiped my cheeks.
“Now, are you still joining the sorority?”
He came closer. Our noses were almost touching, his eyes never leaving mine. I held my breath. I closed my eyes. He was going to kiss me. I could almost feel the touch of his lips on mine, his breath in my lungs. He leaned down, then I heard my stomach growl in hunger, which caused Reeve to chuckle.
“Hungry? Come on, let’s continue to eat.”
Forever Night Stand: https://amzn.com/B019NK762C
Snippets of Memories: A Forever Night Stand Bonus Book (99 CENTS) https://amzn.com/B01ASFS4Q8
Ysa Arcangel is a Filipino author based in Manila. She works as a Spanish-English GDS Helpdesk by day and a writer by night. She is a loving partner to a chef and a mom to three amazing kids.
She enjoys creative writing and uses her obsessive nature by writing contemporary paranormal and romance fiction with lots of laughs, tears and sighs showcasing sweet, funny and badass female leads with raunchy and hot male love interests whether human or supernatural.
She’s a lover of coffee, tattoos, and giant dogs. She is also an extreme sports enthusiast. When she’s not writing, you can see her spending time with her family, reading, or having TV series marathons.
–– FOLLOW YSA ––
Summer Is Finally Here…
Time for a little romantic suspense to heat up the beach!
Check out this series by suspense author Carolyn LaRoche for car chases, gun fights, heart stopping danger and plenty of romance.
***The entire series is on Amazon for just $.99 each for the entire month of June.***
As always…FREE in Kindle Unlimited!
Book 1: Witness Protection
Someone wants NYPD detective Angelina Ferrara dead…again.
Following her heart instead of her mind landed her in Witness Protection. Can she trust it and handsome detective Logan James to keep her alive this time?
As far as the world knows, NYPD detective Angelina Ferrara died in a violent firefight on Chelsea piers over a year ago. Living in the witness protection program as history teacher Lucy Taylor was supposed to save her life but being alive and living were two very different things. Until she meets detective Logan James when he goes undercover in the same private school where she works. Something about the handsome man with the gorgeous blue eyes piques her interest. There’s no doubt he has secrets… but then so does she. When the Ricci crime family discovers she’s still alive, can she trust the same heart that landed her in the witness protection program in the first place to let Logan to help her survive it?
Book 2: Homeland Security
All Katie McCoy wanted was a quiet Friday evening, a frozen pizza and a pair of comfy pajamas. Damn her stupid ex-fiance to hell for the armed men that stormed her apartment and dragged her off on a matter of “national security”. Wearing those comfy pajamas and nothing else, she wasn’t at all prepared for the interrogation that awaited her…or the man with the questions.
Kaiden James would like to get through one vacation without the job interfering. Just once… Called away from his cousin’s wedding and his best man duties, he is less than happy to have to deal with Homeland Security’s new domestic terrorism case. Until he gets a look at the pajama-clad suspect…
After several attempts on Katie’s life, it’s clear she’s no terrorist but a loose end the real suspects need to tie up…and fast. Can Kaiden solve the case and keep her safe without losing his heart in the process?
Book 3: Border Patrol
He’s running away from a broken heart…
For Keegan James, his career meant everything. Until he let his heart get in the way of his good sense. Oh, she was thinking about the future too—with another man. So, he did what any jilted lover would do and left the FBI to move to the beach to join the Border Patrol. He bought an old farm in need of a ton of work—or a total tear down. Unfortunately for him, the entire property is under investigation by the DEA for drug trafficking and the agent on the case thinks he’s involved. What’s worse? She’s smart, sex and good with a gun.
Falling for those deep blue eyes could ruin her career…
Nikki Swenson has had to prove herself every step of the way to get where she is. After months of investigation, dedication, and surveillance, she’s about to break the biggest case of her career and possibly arrest the sexiest man she’d ever met. But things are not always as they seem. Will one tiny detail totally derail Nikki’s carefully constructed case?
About the Author:
Carolyn LaRoche grew up in snow country but fled the cold and ice several years ago. She now lives near the beach with her husband, their two boys, two finicky cats and one old dog. When she is not at the baseball field cheering on big hits and home runs, she is busy teaching science to unwilling teenagers.
Publisher: Limitless Publishing
SYNOPSIS: On the surface, Jenna Landsen has it all…
She’s smart, beautiful, confident, and married to Camden Landsen, who happens to be drop dead sexy and just as successful. But after five long years, all the success in the world hasn’t brought the romantic spark back into her marriage. Jenna fears it never will.
When life gives you lemons, open a bakery and name it Vi’s…
Violet Streiff made the exact mistake her mother warned against—she fell in love with Liam Coffman, a charming finance major. When he left her heartbroken to further his career, Violet drowned her sorrows by opening a bakery, and now relies on Bob, her eighteen-pound cat, for warmth at night instead of a sexy man.
To find love, sometimes you first have to discover yourself…
When Jenna’s job offers an extended trip to New York, she packs her bags and takes a two-month vacation from life. The chance of her marriage surviving looks grim, until the surprise of a lifetime throws a wrench in her plans to stay in the Big Apple for good.
You can bend the rules—but sooner or later they’ll break…
When Violet meets a gloomy but totally drool-worthy guy named Camden in her shop, she’s sure her luck has changed. There’s no denying the chemistry, but he’s married, and that’s a major problem. Violet isn’t a homewrecker. Still, staying away from Camden proves nearly impossible. That is, until his wife comes home.
Double the chance to find love in the most unexpected places—or double the chance for disaster.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Lindsay Detwiler: I am a high school English teacher, an author, and a fan of anything pink and/or glittery. I am the English teacher cliché ; I love cats, reading, Shakespeare, and Poe.
Publishing a novel has always been one of the top items on my “bucket list.” I started writing Voice of Innocence while still in college. Recently deciding that I should follow the advice I give to my students, I realized it was time to share my writing with others. Voice of Innocence was published in February of 2015 and will hopefully be the first of many novels in the women’s fiction genre.
I currently live in my hometown with my husband Chad (my Junior High sweetheart); our cats Arya, Amelia, Alice, and Bob; and our Mastiff Henry.
I have many inspirations in my life as a writer. My parents instilled in me a value for education and reading from the time I could talk. One of my earliest memories is sitting with my parents as they taught me to sound out words. My husband has also inspired me to pursue my dream of writing. I met Chad in an art class when we were only twelve. He has shown me that love is real, is enduring, and is our most important ally in this sometimes harsh world. He has supported me through this entire process, believing in my writing even before I believed in it myself. My favorite author, Nicholas Sparks, also indirectly inspired me by showing that love stories can be powerful and deep.
My goal with my writing is to show the power of love and the beauty of life while also instilling a true sense of realism in my work. Some reviewers have noted that my book is not the “typical romance.” I think that’s because I come from a place of honesty. I examine the difficult questions, look at the tough emotions, and paint the pictures that are sometimes difficult to look at. I want my fiction to resonate with readers as realistic, poetic, and powerful. I achieve this through my descriptive writing, my narrative voice, and my characters who are easy to relate to. I want women readers to be able to say, “I see myself in that novel.” I want to speak to the modern woman’s experience while also bringing a twist of something new and exciting. I want readers to say, “That could happen,” or “I feel like the characters are real.” That’s how I know I’ve done my job.
My hope is that by becoming a published author, I can inspire some of my students and other aspiring writers to pursue their own passions. I want them to see that any dream can be attained and publishing a novel isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
***BETTER THAN REVENGE – FREE***
Ever since Violet Forrester first moved next door to Brianna, she has been tortured relentlessly…
It seems like Brianna has everything, and yet she still doesn’t have the one thing she really wants; the one thing that Violet cares about the most—Blake Edwards.
After years of letting Brianna walk all over her, Violet’s finally had enough. She’s tired of sitting back and watching Brianna flirt with her boyfriend, steal her friends, and push her around. She’s finally ready to stand up for herself.
To do this, Violet and her new friend, Lena, devise a plan to make Brianna realize that not everything is hers for the taking, and Violet knows the perfect way to do it…
After all, nothing is better than revenge.
That is, until someone gets hurt.
With the drama of the school year behind them, sisters Lena and Ella Snotty are off to California for the summer…
Their parents have recently separated, and the sisters are becoming closer, though Lena can’t get past wanting to know more about their fractured family. While unpacking, Lena finds a photo of their mother with the twins she gave up for adoption, and notices something very strange.
In the photo, there’s a man she’s never seen before…
In the photo, there’s a man she’s never seen before…
Assuming it must be the man who adopted the twins, Lena and Ella set out to find him so they can meet their younger siblings. As they search, Lena reconnects with Carter Anderson, the boy she dumped abruptly the year before, causing her to wonder whether or not she should return to Virginia in the fall.
Assuming it must be the man who adopted the twins, Lena and Ella set out to find him so they can meet their younger siblings. As they search, Lena reconnects with Carter Anderson, the boy she dumped abruptly the year before, causing her to wonder whether or not she should return to Virginia in the fall.
Did the man in the picture truly adopt the twins—or is John Symmes someone else altogether?
Did the man in the picture truly adopt the twins—or is John Symmes someone else altogether?
A journey through the past might just change their lives forever…
A journey through the past might just change their lives forever…
PLAYING WITH FIRE
Ella Snotty is worth more than a quickie…
After a family scandal tore their family apart, seventeen-year-old Ella chooses to stay in California with her mom for the rest of the school year. Things are lonely since her sister Lena went to live with their dad. But at least she has her new boyfriend, Shane Quinn, to make things a little less depressing.
Ella isn’t the only girl who thinks Shane is swoon-worthy…
Shane takes Ella out to blow off some steam, and the party isn’t short on alcohol. When a tipsy old flame “falls” into Shane’s lap, her spontaneous kiss makes Ella more than a little jealous. And when details of Shane’s dating history surface, Ella is determined to be more than a fling.
The V-word will slow things down…
Afraid Shane wants to use her for a little fun, Ella lies and says she’s a virgin. According to his reputation, Shane has commitment issues. Maybe it’ll make him stick around long enough for them to form a real connection before the physical sparks fly. But is he worth the lie? And what happens when both of their insecurities come crumbling down like a house of cards?
She wants his heart. He’s afraid to commit. As the pressure mounts, will they find comfort in each other? Or will they learn that when playing with fire, you risk getting burned?
BETTER THAN REVENGE – EXCERPT 1
The hot summer sun was beating down on us as we sat together on the side of the pool. Leaning forward, I dipped one foot into the water and made small circles, causing the clear water to ripple and shine in the bright sunlight. I could feel the heat radiating off of his body as he snaked his arm around my waist. Despite the heat I leaned into him, resting my head on his shoulder as I breathed in his scent. The strong smell of his aftershave mixed with citrus from his shampoo enveloped me, fogging my thoughts.
“Want to take a swim?” Blake looked at me with a small smirk on his sun-tanned face that made my heart melt.
I couldn’t help but notice the way his blue eyes twinkled every time he looked at me. A small breeze blew a few strands of his black hair into his eyes as I cupped his cheek with my hand.
“I dare you,” I whispered as I leaned in closer to him, pressing my lips gently to his.
He kissed me back softly, allowing his lips to mold and move in sync with mine, before pulling back and smirking at me. “I never turn down a good dare!” he exclaimed with a laugh as he shoved me into the pool.
The cold water slapped against my body, folding in around me on all sides until I was completely submerged. I had just barely managed to take in a breath before I had been so rudely shoved into the pool, and I was thankful that I had. When my toes touched the bottom of the deep end I kicked off of the concrete, propelling myself back upward. Once my head broke the surface I rubbed the chlorinated water from my eyes and squinted up at where Blake had been sitting moments ago.
A chorus of giggles erupted from the opposite direction and I turned my head to see Blake walking toward the fence that separated my yard from my neighbor’s, laughing at something that Brianna, the stuck up princess who lived next door, had said. She giggled, tossing her hair lightly as she spoke again, leaning her body against the wooden fence. As Blake drew near her, she leaned her body forward and pulled him into a tight hug, pressing her chest to his body while rolling her eyes at me, and smirking. I responded with a glare that only deepened when she mouthed the word, “Mine,” before she pulled away. The only word she has known ever since we were little.
Since I was younger, and even now, Brianna has been associated with some of my worst memories. As I watched her talk to my boyfriend while tossing me sly glares I remembered seventh grade when Brianna had done everything in her power to make my life miserable. Not even a month into the school year she had found a way to turn all of my friends against me. She dug a hole into my friend group, put herself in, and took me out. She had a leader quality in her, that was for sure. All of my friends followed her in spreading rumors about me, and isolating me from the main group.
I had learned at a young age how to entertain myself, and I had even gotten use to being alone. Her actions, and the actions of my so-called friends had shown me that trust shouldn’t be doled out easily. Trust is something to be given to those who deserve it. That was something that had stuck with me, and was probably the reason I had so few friends to this very day.
Logically, I knew that I was able to change that, but my trust issues ran deep, and I blamed Brianna. Even at a young age she had been conniving and evil. Nothing about her personality has really changed. She’s still conniving and evil—just more so.
That was just one of the many times that the stuck up bitch, formally known as Brianna Richardson, had taken something that was mine and made it hers, and I was tired of it. Brianna was the type of girl who had been spoiled and put on a pedestal her whole life, and I hated people like that. I wanted to rip the silver spoon from her smirking mouth and shove it where the sun doesn’t shine. It was about time that she learned other people have feelings too, and I was just the person to teach her that.
SCARLET AWAKENING – EXCERPT 2
I pulled a long sleeve sweater from deep within the confines of my suitcase, and stared at it quizzically. Wow, I really did go overboard packing. I know that I had said that I was packing in preparation for anything that came my way, but seriously, a long sleeve sweater? Did I think that sometime during my visit, San Diego was going to be hit by a blizzard?
Shaking my head, I folded the sweater neatly and tucked it away into the bottom drawer of my dresser. I had been unpacking for nearly two hours now, and so far I hadn’t gotten far. I blamed my lack of progress on my short attention span, and my laziness. So far, I had managed to organize each drawer according to clothing article. I had separate drawers for bottoms, tops, bathing suits, undergarments, pajamas, and miscellaneous. The sweater was placed into the miscellaneous drawer where it was accompanied by a thin raincoat, sweat pants, and a pair of gray leg-warmers. Seriously, I had a packing problem.
My phone buzzed on the dull hardwood floor just a few inches away from my thigh. I scooped the phone up and smiled at the screen when I saw that the message was from Violet. She had been sending me cute videos of her sister, Lilly, all morning. Lilly had started taking dance lesson a few months ago, and she had her first recital coming up in a week so she would practice throughout the house, despite her mom’s efforts. I unlocked the phone, which instantly opened the message to show another video. Along with the video, Violet had sent a message telling me to listen to her mom.
Smiling, I hit play on the video, and watched closely as the camera focused on a dancing, tutu-clad Lilly. She was spinning around the Forrester’s living room, weaving in and out of the furniture and doing ballet-style leaps over little obstacles that littered the floor. The obstacles were little stuffed animals, and toys that Lilly had probably set up.
“Watch this, Lizzie,” Lilly’s voice blasted from my phone’s speaker. She stopped moving and faced the camera head on, then smiled so brightly that her eyes scrunched up some. Her dark curls continued to bounce around her face from the previous motion. “I, Lilly Forrester, am going to do something that no other dancer can do.” She raised her arms high over her head, and proceeded to do a cartwheel from the living room into the dining room where her mom was.
I heard Mrs. F. let out a shriek, and it soundly like she was about to have an aneurysm or something. The shriek caused Lilly to lose her footing, and fall onto her butt. “No cartwheels!” Violet’s mom spoke loudly. She wasn’t yelling, but she was definitely worked up. “You could break your neck!” Then the video ended, and I laughed loudly at her words. Mrs. F. was known for being an extreme worrywart. I thought that it was hilarious, while Violet thought that her mom was crazy. I was sure that if I had grown up with her as my mom, I would think she was crazy too.
I shook my head; still smiling to myself about the video as I typed back a reply about how her mom was hilarious, before setting my phone back on the ground and staring into my suitcase again. I would probably be done now if I had continuously stuck with unpacking when I first started. I had begun right after breakfast, and Ella and I had decided to have a race to see who could finish first. She won.
It wasn’t fair really. I had more to unpack than she did, so I should have gotten a head start. It had only taken her half an hour to unpack everything. How was that possible? When she finished and had come up to brag about her winning, I no longer saw the point in rushing, and began to take my sweet time. I had even taken a break to go talk to grandpa who had been doing a little organizing of his own. Apparently grandma had given him the task of cleaning out the once guest room that had been converted to a storage room. She didn’t want me to be stuck up in the attic room for my whole visit. I was fine being in the attic, but grandma disagreed.
So when I went to see grandpa, he had been in the middle of trying to figure out the most effective way to begin cleaning the room. In my opinion the most effective way to begin cleaning was to start, but he was sure that there was a certain way that he needed to tackle his task. When I left him, he was grumbling about who was the person to come up with the saying, “Happy wife, happy life.” At the moment, making grandma happy by cleaning was not making his life happy.
Sighing, I shook my thoughts from my mind and reached into my bag again, pulling out a cute, red sundress that I had gotten on my last trip to the mall with Ella. I hadn’t worn it yet, but I was excited to get the chance too. Red had always been my favorite color. Not only was it just a nice color in general, but also I felt like it made me look sexy, and mysterious. It probably didn’t, but a girl could dream. Standing, I went to hang the dress up in my closet, along with the other dresses that I had already hung up. This unpacking thing was rapidly becoming tedious.
With a groan, I leaned my back against the foot-board of my bed that faced the closet. Maybe I could convince Ella to help me finish up? Just as I was about to stand, my eye caught a little corner of a piece of paper that was poking out from behind the dresser. I furrowed my brows at the sight of it, wondering what it could be. The rest of the room had been completely empty when I arrived, so I was curious to see what this was. It was probably nothing, but either way my interest was piqued.
Pushing myself away from the bed, I walked toward the dresser, crouching down next to it as I gripped the corner of the paper and pulled it from its hiding place. I unfolded it, seeing the back first. There was one sentence scrawled across the back. It was short, and sweet.
Keep us in your memories.
That was all that it said. There was no name signed under it, or even a date. Just that one sentence. Now I was really curious. Flipping the paper over, my jaw dropped almost instantly. It was a picture of my mom in the hospital, holding one bundle of white in each arm, with a man standing next to her. I could see now why there was no name or date listed on the back. The date was obvious. The picture had to have been taken on August 8th, the day that my mom gave birth to the twins. That was the first and last time that she had seen them. I assumed that the man in the picture was the guy who had adopted them, and probably the owner of the handwriting on the back as well.
I stood hurriedly, and took the stairs down from my room to go find Ella. Luckily, she was sitting in her room listening to music. I entered without knocking, earning a glare. I didn’t care though. I knew that she would want to see this.
Moving toward where she was sprawled across her bed, I trusted the photograph out to her. She took it curiously, staring at the front in silent before flipping it over to read the back.
“Do you recognize him?” she asked me, eyebrows furrowed.
I shook my head no. “He’s got to be the guy who adopted the babies. Why else would he be in the picture?”
Ella shrugged in response, staring at the front of the photo again. I stood in silence for a moment as she just sat, holding the picture and frowning down at it. Then, with a smile curving her thin lips upward, she met my eyes. “If we found him, we would probably find the babies too.”
I bit my lip as realization crashed over me. “We could finally meet them.”
PLAYING WITH FIRE – EXCERPT 3
The music blasting from the speakers in the living room was so loud that it felt like the house was pulsing to the beat. There were giant speakers set up against the walls, and each piece of furniture, with the exception of a few couches, had been moved out of the living room to make space for a makeshift dance floor. From my position on the loveseat in the corner I could see a group of drunk girls gyrating and grinding against each other to a completely different beat. Each girl was dressed as a cat, and I almost groaned audibly at their costume choice. There were so many damn cat outfits that I’d lost count. Is originality frowned upon on Halloween too, of all days?
Next to me, Carter laughed as one of the girls stumbled in her leopard-print heels and almost toppled over before she was caught by one of her more sober kitty-friends.
“Why aren’t you out there?” Carter asked, leaning toward me and yelling over the music so he could be heard.
I shrugged. Normally I was the type of girl who spent the night dancing in the middle of the crowd until my thighs burned, buttonight was different. I just wasn’t in the mood to dance, or to be social at all. I hadn’t even wanted to come to the party. If it weren’t for Shane and Carter, I would probably be at home right now squandering away the night watching old Disney Halloween movies and avoiding my homework assignments until the last minute. “I can’t find Shane,” I answered. It wasn’t the exact reason, but it was more or less true. About an hour into the party, Shane had disappeared. I told myself the only reason I was wondering where he’d gone was because he was the reason I was here, but everyone knew that wasn’t true.
Carter smirked at me. Shane and I had been dating, for lack of a better word, for nearly three months now and yet he still teased me about it every chance he got. I never teased him about how whipped he was when it came to my sister. The least he could do was extend that same courtesy to me.
“Aw, do you miss him?” he questioned, still smirking. The fact that his face was painted as the Joker only added to my annoyance. It was as if his smirk was extra defined.
I rolled my eyes dramatically.
“Hey, I’m only messing with you,” he said loudly, placing a hand on my shoulder. He offered me a small smile when I made eye contact. “If you find the alcohol, I can promise you you’ll find Shane.”
“Come with me?” I had to lean into his ear as I asked. I could barely hear my own voice.
He nodded in response and we both got to our feet. As soon as our butts left the couch, the wolf and Little Red Riding Hood swooped in to take our seats, then proceeded to make out. Her grandmother would be so disappointed.
Carter led the way out of the room and down the hall toward the kitchen. I’d only been in this house one other time for a party at the beginning of the year, and was surprised I remembered my way around. As we entered the room, we wove in and out of people who were standing around, guzzling substances from their red plastic cups. Some people had really gotten into the Halloween spirit and went all out for their costumes, while others had taken the easy route by sticking animal ears on their heads and calling it a night. If I had originally planned on coming to the party then my costume would’ve been way better than it was. Instead, I was wearing the same costume I wore last year to Brianna’s Halloween party—Marilyn Monroe.
I scanned the room as Carter and I made our way through the growing throng of our peers. Shane wasn’t anywhere in sight. I was rapidly becoming annoyed. How rude is it to force someone to come to a party with you, and then just ditch them? Very.
I followed closely behind Carter as he exited the kitchen through a sliding glass door and headed out onto the deck. The hot day had turned into a warm, breezy night. The sky was dark, but light came from tiki torches and the many candle-lit, carved pumpkins that surrounded the backyard. Almost instantly after I stepped out onto the porch, Shane walked up to me with a big smile on his handsome face.
“Ella!” he yelled, throwing his arms around me and pulling me in for a bone-crushing hug. The strong smell of alcohol hit my nose as he nuzzled his head into the crook of my neck. “I missed you,” he mumbled against my skin, sending tingles down my spine when he kissed my neck. The way my body reacted to him only served to annoy me further. I was mad at him for making me come out tonight, and then leaving me on the couch for nearly an hour while he drank. He did not deserve my affection right now.
I pushed him back by his shoulders, keeping him at arm’s length as I said, “If you missed me then you would’ve come inside and gotten me. Have you been out here the whole time?”
He nodded hard, causing his blond hair to fall into his eyes. Then, catching me off guard, he placed his hands on my cheeks and guided my face to his. He kissed me hard for a moment before I pulled away. If it was possible, he tasted worse than he smelled. Carter laughed as I scrunched my nose in disgust.
“What are you doing?” I groaned, wiping my mouth with the back of my hand. I ignored the hurt in his eyes as he pouted.
“I just wanted to kiss you,” he answered, running a hand through his hair and glancing to the side.
I sighed, pulling him away from the door, down the steps into the yard, and over to a lawn chair. Carter followed us and stood with his arms crossed over his chest, just watching us in amusement. “You smell terrible,” I said, trying not to stand downwind of him. “How much did you drink?”
Shane shrugged as he dropped down into the chair. My gaze trailed from his face to his chest, which was on full display in his costume. He was one of the people who had taken the easy route out for a costume, and bought a cheap boy scout’s vest from the costume store earlier today. He paired it with some khaki shorts, and was ready for a night out. The vest was open and showed off his tan abs and muscular arms. I wasn’t the only one who was noticing either. Other girls were milling around the yard, obviously checking him out, and it was kind of pissing me off.
Shane pulled me down onto the chair with him, hugging me tightly to his chest. His muscular arms flexed as they circled my waist, and he leaned down to rest his chin on my shoulder. He sighed deeply. “You smell so good,” he commented.
Carter rolled his eyes. “I’m gonna go see if I can find him a bottle of water or something. He’s gotta sober up before he gets home or his mom will have an aneurysm.”
“Okay, hurry back. We should leave soon. I’m tired.” As if my body was trying to prove my words, a yawn escaped my parted lips. Behind me, Shane hugged me tighter. I shifted positions uncomfortably, trying not to gag at how horrible he smelled.
“Got it,” Carter replied, turning to head back into the house where I could see people dancing in the kitchen through the plate glass door.
More people were beginning to come outside, probably because of how crowded it was inside. It was hot in there, and there was hardly any space to move around. The only downside to being out here was that the music was only a dull thud. You could hear the beat, but it was hard to tell what song was playing. At least outside I could actually hear myself think.
I turned my head slightly so I could see Shane’s face as his head rested on my shoulder. When I moved, he opened his eyes and his gaze met mine. Then he shifted his eyes and looked around in front of us. Returning his gaze to mine, he sat up as he said, “He’s gone!”
He looked so cute and happy that I couldn’t help but smile at him. “Carter?”
Shane nodded in response. “I was waiting for him to leave.”
“Why is that?”
He smirked. “So I could do this,” he answered, turning me slightly as he leaned in to kiss me again. I pulled away before he could.
I placed my hands on his chest and held him back as he tried to lean in again. “Damn boy, you need to calm down. Your hormones are on a whole ’nother level right now.”
“It’s the outfit.” He raised an eyebrow at me as he pulled at the material of my white dress. “I always had a thing for Marilyn Monroe.” He winked, and even in his drunken stupor he managed to look so sexy that I almost swooned. How that was possible, I had no clue.
“Well, Marilyn is taking a vow of abstinence.”
Shane groaned. His mood changed so quickly. He went from flirtatious to looking like someone just ran over his puppy.
I laughed lightly as he pouted. “We really need to get you home.”
Shane instantly took the bait and his smirk returned full force. “You wanna take me home?”
“Yes, but not in the way you’re implying,” I answered, rolling my eyes at how cheesy his suggestion was. Then I glanced up and looked toward the door, hoping to see Carter coming out, but he wasn’t. “Where is Carter? He said he’d be right back.”
Shane waved my question off. “Who needs Carter? All he does lately is talk about Lena. He’s boring.”
“That’s not boring, that’s adorable.”
Sighing, I tried to push myself up, but Shane tightened his arms around me so I couldn’t stand. “Shane, I’m going to find Carter. Just wait here for me to get back. Do not move.”
Pouting, he let me go. Then he crossed his arms and leaned back in the chair, frowning.
“Seriously, don’t go anywhere.” I stared at him until he said he wouldn’t move, and then I headed back toward the house.
As soon as I entered through the back door the sound of the music filled my ears again. Everything was loud inside. People were yelling over the music, laughing, and singing. I had no idea how I was supposed to find Carter if he wasn’t in the kitchen. After I looked around the room and saw that he wasn’t there, I continued to push my way through the crowd. I hardly recognized anyone from school other than people who hung out with Carter and Shane. When I was almost out of the kitchen, a tall girl dressed as a pirate came hurtling around the corner and ran straight into me, spilling the cups of beer she had in each hand all over the front of my dress and down my legs. I groaned loudly, shaking the beer from my hands, and then holding the front of my dress away from my body as she apologized and ran off.
Now I’m going to smell like beer, I thought with a sigh. Holding my now wet dress away from my body, I walked down the main hall, scanning the throng of people for Carter. As I neared the bathroom door, it opened, and out walked Carter with a satisfied expression on his face. I almost wanted to hit him.
When he spotted me, he laughed, but it was covered by the music.
I marched toward him, taking him by the arm and pulling him to the kitchen, where he grabbed one of the many bottles of water that sat amongst the nearly empty bottles of liquor. Then we headed back outside, into the night.
“You look horrible,” Carter commented, gesturing to my beer stains.
I frowned in response. “Thanks, that’s what every girl wants to hear,” I said, the sarcasm heavy in my voice. “Let’s just get this water to Shane, so we can get out of here.”
Carter nodded, and we both turned our attention away from each other and to where I left Shane. I was happy to see he was still sitting there. I took the four patio steps down to the yard, and froze as I watched some girl stumble toward Shane. It was like one of those scenes in a movie where the main character knows in her gut that something bad is about to happen, but is powerless to stop it.
The girl was dressed scantily as a damn black cat, with her dark hair curled and two little cat ears sticking out of her hair at the top. When she got to Shane she plopped down into his lap, tossed her arms around his neck, and kissed him with everything she had in her. My heart clenched at the sight, and I felt anger bubble up inside of me. My head swam for the two seconds that she kissed him until Shane pushed her away. I felt like my blood was boiling, I was so mad.
Shane stood up, placing the girl on her feet and holding his hands up in a surrendering motion. I watched as his lips moved, and then the girl crossed her arms and stormed off. As soon as she turned away from him, Shane turned slightly and his gaze met mine. He looked apologetic, and it seemed as if that one action had sobered him up quick.
I didn’t know what to think. Why the hell did she feel comfortable enough to just come over and start kissing him? Was I missing something?
I didn’t wait to find out though, because as soon as Shane took a step toward me, obviously coming to explain, I turned away and headed back into the house. It was time to go.
I should’ve stayed home.
Taylor Henderson is a psychology major at the University of Mary Washington who was born and raised in Northern Virginia. She has been an adamant reader and writer since she was young, and has always found solace in the worlds and characters that other authors have brought to life in their works. Taylor plans to continue writing, and hopes to expand to different genres in the future.
1. In 3-5 words, describe yourself as a writer.
Genre adventurous, and characterization centered.
2. Tell us about your book
The Sweet Secret’s series follows three different teenage girls who lives interconnect throughout the novels. The first, Better Than Revenge is about Violet Forrester, a normal girl who lives next to her biggest enemy. When her neighbour, Brianna Richardson, targets Violet’s boyfriend, Violet will enlist the help of her new friend, Lena Snotty, to help get her revenge on Brianna once and for all.
Book two, Scarlet Awakening delves into the live of Lena Snotty as she and her younger sister Ella return to California for the summer. In San Diego, they are forced to fast their past, and in the process they also discover the truth behind their family’s biggest secret. A search through the past leads them into a future they never expected.
Finally, the last novel Playing With Fire follows Ella as she adjusts to her decision to stay in California with her mother, and finds love in an unexpected person.
3. What/who was your inspiration for this book?
My little sister, and my Wattpad fans were my inspiration. My sister hates reading, so I told her I would write something she would enjoy, and I did. My Wattpad fans kept me writing with their comments and the interest they took in the first novel.
4. What do you find is the hardest part about writing?
For me, it’s staying focused on one novel. Especially when I have so many new ideas for books constantly flooding my brain. It doesn’t help that I’m easily distracted either.
5. How do you overcome them?
I make my characters feel like real people, which makes it hard not to want to finish their stories! I also try and push through writers block, and make sure to jot down my other novel ideas so that I can work on those once I finish my work in progress.
6. Who are your favourite authors? Have they inspired you?
Tami Hoag is my favourite author. She inspires me to be as prolific and creative with my writing as she is with hers.
7. How has your writing journey been?
It’s been amazing. I’m very happy on how much I have achieved so far in just my twenty-one years on this Earth. With six novels already in publication, I plan on continuing to expand my writing by trying my hand at different genres.
8. Any advice for aspiring writers?
Stay true to yourself. Write what you want to write and do not let others influence that. If you aren’t comfortable writing something, or it doesn’t interest you, then don’t write it. Your true readers will stick with you, and you will build a fan base based on what you actually enjoy writing.
9. What’s next for you?
Next, I see myself working on all of my incomplete works in progress, and then taking a little time off from writing to finish my final year in college and catch up on reading. ThenI will return to writing full force.
10. Feel free to answer a few or all of these:
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Sara Schoen and Taylor Henderson
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What will two wolf shifters do when their mate turns out to be so much more than they could ever have expected? One things for certain, they won’t let her get away without a good chase.
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Author: New York Times Bestselling Author Kat Shehata
SYNOPSIS: Falling in love isn’t a crime—but falling in love with a Russian mafia boss could be deadly.
Competitive tennis player Carter Cook wants a taste of freedom. Her overprotective father monitors every aspect of her life, so when he becomes employed by Vladimir Ivanov—a sexy Russian with an array of tattoos and an accent that weakens her knees—a bit of danger is within Carter’s grasp. Behind her father’s back, she enjoys spending time with Vladimir at his lavish estate. But is he really the upstanding businessman she believes him to be?
Vladimir Ivanov reigns as godfather of a Russian mafia crime ring.
Vladimir spent five years of his life in a Siberian prison camp and has earned every tattoo inked into his skin. He is a powerful man who gets what he wants, and after stalking the gorgeous tennis player for years—he wants Carter. A little charm melts her heart, and behind the scenes, he orders his henchman to track her every move.
He’s a tattooed stick of dynamite ready to blow at the slightest spark.
As their romance reaches deadly levels, Carter senses something’s not right. When she’s lured into a compromising position at the hands of a shady European drug dealer, she calls in Boris, Vladimir’s right hand man, to rescue her—without telling Vladimir. With his authority questioned, he sets out to teach Carter a lesson about loyalty she’ll never forget.
When Carter realizes she’s in too deep, she must fight for her freedom before the attraction turns fatal.
But the Russian mafia plays for keeps, and Vladimir’s fierce lust to possess her spirals their romance out of control.
Tagline: “Playing with the mafia is a dangerous game…”
Purchase Links: Available on Kindle Unlimited
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1jxhdhV
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1Psiyol
MEET THE AUTHOR: Kat Shehata went to school with a bunch of animals—literally. She is a graduate of the Cincinnati Zoo’s Animal Conservation and Care Program. Her first career involved caring for exotic, dangerous, and adorable animals as a zookeeper.
She has had her shirt ripped off by a jealous orangutan, hand-fed grapes to fruit bats, played tug-o-war with a three-toed sloth, and escorted an elephant down Pete Rose Way in the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day Parade. As an author, Kat weaves her love of animals into her work. She is the co-author of New York Times bestseller Animals on the Other Sidewritten with Sylvia Browne.
As a competitive tennis player, she spends her free time smashing tennis balls, cheering on her teammates, and playing matches in a recreational league. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband, three kids, and an enthusiastic poodle.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in theatre from Wilmington College, a professional writing certificate from the University of Cincinnati, and a master’s degree in creative writing from Spalding University.