Review: Avalanche by Sade Rena

Length: 128 pages

Published: July 4, 2020

Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Source: Kindle Unlimited

Synopsis

She’s a city girl and I’m married to the mountains… there’s no way this will ever work.

Hiking, cold weather, and cabins in the woods are not my thing. But when my two best friends beg me to join them for a trip to the mountains, I cave.

“It’ll be fun,” they said.

“You need to get out more,” they said.

Everything was fine until I realized it’s all a setup. A weekend-long blind date orchestrated with the help of their boyfriends. To say I’m annoyed is an understatement. But then he shows up, looking like a lot more than a tall glass of milk. And soon, I begin to feel that maybe this isn’t a bad idea after all.

There’s only one problem. He doesn’t seem to know he’s here to meet me. Which would be cool if I could just move on and forget I nearly made a fool of myself. Mother nature has other plans and sends a bad storm our way, locking us all in a potentially uncomfortable situation.

AVALANCHE is a BWWM blind date gone wrong novella. Previously released in the Emerging Temptation boxed set and now with a BONUS chapter and epilogue.

My thoughts 💭

This was a good read. Ariya is set up on a blind date by her friends and it doesn’t go as planned but works out well in the end. Her girls were kind of mean for not getting all info and pictures up front! Xander is sweet but he felt kind of weak to me until his reasoning for being so hesitant to start something with Ariya came out. I liked their happily ever after.

Book Blitz: Deadly Drama by Jody Holford

Deadly Drama

by Jody Holford
Publication Date: August 4, 2020
Genres: Adult, Cozy Mystery

Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple Books | Google Play | Universal

Newspaper editor and amateur sleuth Molly Owens takes center stage when it’s curtains for a theater director . . .

Living in the beautiful coastal town of Britton Bay, Oregon, seems like the perfect fit for Molly. She enjoys her work as editor-in-chief of the Britton Bay Bulletin, loves her boyfriend Sam, and feels at home in the adorable cottage in the back of his mother’s bed and breakfast.
This spring Britton Bay is staging its first-ever community theater production. The show—featuring local residents—is the talk of the town, but tongues are really wagging over the director. But former soap opera actress Magnolia Sweet is anything but; nothing’s worse than a has-been on a power trip, and steely Magnolia chews out her amateur cast like she used to chew scenery.
Still, it’s a shock to all when she’s found murdered in the theater. Now it’s open call for suspects, as Molly steps in to direct and shine a spotlight on a killer waiting in the wings. But will this be her final act?

Also in the Series

About Jody Holford


I’m a mom and wife first and many things after. I’m a best friend and a regular friend. A daughter, sister, auntie, and a teacher. I am a book lover, a shopper, a pajama-wearer, movie-watcher, worrier, over-thinker, and a wanna-be-good-Samaritan. I’m a Gemini, a nervous talker, and an emotional writer. I am represented by Frances Black of Literary Counsel. Visit my website or subscribe to my newsletter for updates!

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Release Blitz: Redemption by Jennifer Bene

Redemption

Fragile Ties, Book 3
by Jennifer Bene
Publication Date: August 3, 2020
Genres: Contemporary, Dark, Romance

Preorder: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple Books | Google Play

“No one will tear us apart.”
Everything would be easier if he could just tie her up.
Lock her away and keep her safe.
Well… from everyone except him.
But that’s not how love works.
David chose Lianna over his hate. Every part of her.
Love of his life. Heiress to a dangerous crime family.
Prior focus of all his rage and obsession,
and current focus of his… everything.
Her family is the only thing standing in their way.
But family isn’t everything, no matter what they say.
She may share their blood, but those can be fragile ties when put to the test.
In the end, it’s who we choose that matters.
And he will always choose her.

Also in the Series

About the Author

Jennifer Bene is a USA Today bestselling author of dangerously sexy and deviously dark romance. From BDSM, to Suspense, Dark Romance, and Thrillers—she writes it all. Always delivering a twisty, spine-tingling journey with the promise of a happily-ever-after.
Don’t miss a release! Sign up for the newsletter to get new book alerts (and a free welcome book) at: http://jenniferbene.com/newsletter
You can find her online throughout social media with username @jbeneauthor and on her website: http://www.jenniferbene.com

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Bookbub | Amazon | Newsletter | Reader Group

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Release Blitz: Together We Stand Anthology

TOGETHER WE STAND ANTHOLOGY

Release Date: August 1, 2020
Cover Design: Geri Glenn
Model: Cassia Brightmore
Photographer: LJ Photography
Genre: Multi-Genre Romance for Charity

AMAZONiBOOKSKOBONOOK

As the entire world is impacted by COVID-19, a group of talented Canadian authors and authors with Canadian roots have come together to bring you short stories in multiple genres, each one surrounding essential workers.

All proceeds from this anthology will be donated to a Canadian charity that provides relief during the pandemic.

Join 29 True North authors and allow yourself to be captivated from a social distance.

Participating Authors:

Geri Glenn 🍁 C.A. King 🍁 Cameron Allie 🍁 V.J. Allison 🍁 Cassia Brightmore 🍁 AW Clarke 🍁 M. Jane Colette 🍁 Allison M. Cosgrove 🍁 Tricia Daniels 🍁 Carey Decevito 🍁 Gillian Jones 🍁 Andrea Joy 🍁 Jean Kelso 🍁 Bethany-Kris 🍁 JA LaFrance 🍁 C.J. Lazar 🍁 Sue Langford 🍁 K Logan 🍁 Leah Negron 🍁 Lorne Oliver 🍁 DD Prince 🍁 Jennifer Rose 🍁 Crystal St. Clair 🍁 P. Stormcrow 🍁 Kadian Tracey 🍁 J.M. Walker 🍁 Scarlett Wells 🍁 Tracy Willoughby 🍁

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY

HERE

Geri Glenn – USA Today Bestselling Author of sexy bikers and the strong women that bring them to their knees.

C.A. King – USA Today Bestselling Author. Bringing fantasy worlds to life one word at a time

Cameron Allie – Author of warm and fuzzy romance

V.J. Allison – Small town romance with a twist

Cassia Brightmore – Dark romance author of twisted characters you love to hate

AW Clarke – Speak softly, ride loudly, write with passion

M. Jane Colette – Flirty-funny-filthy love stories for people who think too much

Allison Cosgrove – Author of murder, mayhem and love

Tricia Daniels – Award winning author of love stories beyond the limits of time

Carey Decevito

Gillian Jones – Author of romance that sometimes hits you in the feels

Andrea Joy – Makes naughty look so good

Jean Kelso – Living between the pages with lots of love. Live everyday, love hard, and laugh lots

Bethany-Kris – Unapologetic romance

JA LaFrance – Author of sassy, strong women

C.J. Lazar

Sue Langford – Empowerment/realistic romance – empowering real women in the real world

K Logan – Love on the water

Leah Negron – Author of chaos and havoc, romantic suspense, and edge of your seat thrillers. Where chaos comes with a price and everything you can imagine is real

Lorne Oliver – Author of Faryn Steel thriller, Alcrest mysteries, Sgt. Reid series killing people with no apologies

DD Prince – Author of dark, dangerous and deliciously addictive romance

Jennifer Rose

Crystal St. Clair

P. Stormcrow – Sexy romance that twist the tropes and challenge the norm

Kadian Tracey – Interracial stories with a plus size twist

J.M. Walker – Stories worth losing sleep over

Scarlett Wells – Romances to get lost in

Tracy Willoughby – Reader with a dream

 

 

Cover Reveal: One Crazy Bite by Cassandra Faey

One Crazy Bite

by Cassandra Faey
Publication Date: August 17, 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Paranormal Romance

Preorder: Amazon

“If you’re going to get stalked, at least make him hot and immortal.”

It’s always nice to feel wanted, but Grace wasn’t exactly looking for a boyfriend. Plus, getting stalked by a super hot vampire who’s invisible to everyone else just makes you look — and feel — crazy.

Not that her mental health is a high priority for the immortal.

Nic says they’re destined to be together. She’s pretty sure he’s a magical figment of her imagination… but he’s not taking no for an answer. He wants her body, her blood, and to make her his forever.

But does he have the magic wand to make her scream ‘yes?’

About Cassandra Faye

Cassandra Faye lives in Texas where she’s done nothing but fantasize about other worlds her entire life. Constantly daydreaming about ancient powers, faerie realms, old gods, and how seriously dangerous unicorns would be if they existed, Cassandra writes the stories she’s always craved. Taking paranormal and fantasy worlds, mixing them in with modern day, and adding a dash of darkness.

So, if you enjoy those fairy tales that were a little more grimm, or if you ever wondered just how bad the villains could be as you held on for that happily-ever-after, then you might be just the person she’s writing for.

* * *

Cassandra also writes dark contemporary romance as Jennifer Bene. You can find her online throughout social media with username @jbeneauthor and on her website: http://www.jenniferbene.com

Website | Newsletter | Facebook | Bookbub | Goodreads

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Release Blitz/ ARC Review: Devrim’s Discipline by Brianna Hale

Title: Devrim’s Discipline

Series: Court of Paravel, Book One
Author: Brianna Hale
Genre: Contemporary Steamy Romance
Release Date: July 28, 2020
Cover Design: Maria @ Steamy Designs

I was imprisoned for twenty-seven years for the crime of defending my King. Now I’m a free man, and I rule the Court of Paravel once more. The lords and ladies, the debutantes, the great and the good of Paravel all answer to me.

And yet, social upstart Wraye Rugova is ruining my life.
Lady Wraye is attempting to use my daughter Aubrey as a springboard into the upper echelons of the court. When I find her in my house trying on Aubrey’s clothes, no amount of pleading will move my ironclad heart. Decades may have passed, but I remember how to punish a disobedient young lady.
She’s deceived everyone with ease, but now she’ll face the hardest ordeal of all. Devrim’s discipline.
This is going to sting.
Author’s note: This book contains a Daddy Dom relationship with a thirty-two-year age-gap.

One of the best Daddy/little girl/age gap romances that’s out on the market! Brianna Hale is a master writer and storyteller of giving her readers a crave-worthy daddy that we can fantasize about long after we have finished the book.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Goodreads reviewer

The lights flick on, and a cold voice speaks behind me. “How dare you.”
Oh, sugar.
I turn around and see Archduke Devrim Levanter in the doorway. A thrill of fear goes through me. I’d forgotten how striking he looks in his scarlet uniform, tall and powerful and with so much presence that I can feel his displeasure with me. This isn’t just my friend’s father I’ve angered, but the head of the Court of Paravel and the King’s Guard.
I put up my hands. “Before you say anything, Aubrey asked me to tell Viscount Karloff that silly story.”
Levanter just stares at me like I’m the rotten spot on his apple.
I start to back away slowly. “She doesn’t want to marry that man and she didn’t know how to tell you.”
Levanter follows me. “Aubrey would never do such a thing.”
I risk a glance over my shoulder as he’s talking. Rats. There’s no other exit. I could throw myself out of a window, but we’re two floors up. “Maybe you don’t know her as well as you think. When was the last time you talked to her? Really talked to her? Go and ask her yourself and you’ll see I’m telling the truth.”
Instead of leaving, he shuts the door behind him. When he turns back to me his hazel eyes are glimmering with sadistic intent.
He doesn’t want the truth. He just wants to punish me.
“I warned you what would happen if I caught you sneaking around my daughter.”
My breath comes in short pants. “You wouldn’t dare.”
The Archduke smiles wickedly. “Wouldn’t I?”
He strides toward me and I dart around behind the sofa.
He halts, seething with irritation, and then starts around the sofa the other way toward me. I move too, keeping my distance from him. Then I pick up my skirts and flee across the room, taking shelter behind a desk.
The Archduke growls in frustration.
“If you cause a scene, people will gossip about us,” I point out.
His eyes narrow, scheming, calculating. Just waiting for me to put a foot wrong. “No one’s going to know unless you lose your head and start screaming.”
“Then I’ll scream!”
“Go ahead. I rather think your reputation will suffer more than mine.”
My heart pounds wildly in my chest. I glance toward the door as if I’m going to run that way and he steps toward it. Then I snatch up a cushion from a sofa and hurl it at his head.
He ducks, and the cushion sails past him, narrowly missing a vase and falling to the floor. A lock of his thick silver hair falls into his face and he brushes it back.
“Think about your daughter. What would she say if she knew what you were doing right now?”
I can see I’ve said entirely the wrong thing. His face suffuses with anger. “You really will use anyone for your own ends.”
He stalks around the writing desk toward me but I take off. I stop behind the sofa, panting, and he comes to a halt on the other side.
“I know your kind, and you’re a bully,” I say. “You hated me the moment you laid eyes on me and for no good reason. Can’t you just admit that you made a mistake when you assumed I was a thief so we can both move on?”
His eyes are darting everywhere, searching for a new strategy to get to me. “Perhaps you’re not a thief, but you still need to be taught a lesson. If I don’t uphold the sanctity of the Court then the country will come crashing down again.”
“I’m going to single-handedly cause another revolution by being friends with your daughter? Prison has made you paranoid.”
His eyes laser into me with pure hatred.
“Did they beat you in prison? Is that why you think that’s the answer to everything?”
He lunges across the sofa, grabs my wrist and drags me toward him. I wasn’t expecting him to move so quickly, and before I know what’s happening he turns me in his arms and has me pinned against the wall.
I try to free myself but his hands are like iron manacles. Damn, he’s strong. Did he do nothing for twenty-seven years in prison but lift weights?
I stop struggling and glare up at him. “Instead of terrorizing me, you should be trying to get to know your daughter. She’s desperate to get to know you better. Do you want to lose her?”
His face is close and those hazel eyes are blazing into mine. “You don’t know anything about us.”
“I know you don’t listen to her. You don’t talk to her.”
His large hands tighten on my wrists and his jaw flexes. Nice one, Wraye. Make him even angrier. I wait for him to speak, but he just glares down at me.
“Get it over with, then. If you could hurry up and ban me from ever attending a ball, I’ll be on my way.”
“No. The Rugovas are one of the First Families of Paravel. Your presence is required until I tell you otherwise.”
I lick my upper lip, thinking carefully. Maybe I can talk my way out of this. “You must be finding this experience crazy, too. Hurtled from one world into another without feeling in control of anything around you.”
I watch him closely, but he doesn’t react.
“I could help you get closer to Aubrey,” I offer. “Maybe in return you could let me be friends with her.”
Levanter’s eyes narrow. “A bargain, Lady Wraye?”
“If you want to think of it that way.”
He lets go of my wrists and slowly stands back. I let my arms drop to my sides. The Ironclad Archduke can be reasoned with, after all.
In a flash, he scoops me up in his arms and carries me across the room. Instinctively my arms wrap around his neck so I don’t fall. “Hey! Put me down.”
Levanter ignores me. His eyes caress my face as he sits down on a sofa with me in his lap. He shouldn’t be so sexy at fifty-whatever he is. Or rather, he can be this sexy, but I probably shouldn’t be noticing.
“Are you trying to scare me? It’s not working.” It’s rather lovely being held by him like this. He smells so good, and I feel weightless in his arms.
“If you take your punishment like a good girl, I’ll think about your offer.”
My eyes widen. “My what?”
“Say, yes Your Grace.”
He means to finish what he started the other day when he had me face down over his lap. This time, there’s no Aubrey to interrupt him. “You’re a bully.”
“If I were a bully, I’d just do it. I’m asking you to take your punishment.”
“But if I don’t say yes then you’ll throw my mother and I out of the Court.”
“I already told you, the Rugovas are required at Court. No one’s being thrown out.”
Yet. He already hinted he had the power to ban us, and what then? “Prison really screwed you up, huh.”
“I’ll thank you not to talk about things you know nothing about,” he says through his teeth.
I watch him carefully, gazing into his hazel eyes. I’ve never been this close to a man before. Is this how they’re supposed to make you feel, small and vulnerable but safe at the same time?
My question is the softest whisper as I gaze at his mouth. “How many times?”
His thick silver hair gleams in the dim light and his strong arms tighten around me. “How many times what?”
“How many times do you…want to spank me?”

“Until I feel that you’re sorry for all the trouble you’ve caused me. My Court. My rules.”

My thoughts 💭

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This was hot! OMG! I’d call Devrim Daddy any day! Devrim struggles to get close to his daughter after missing out on so much of her life. Wraye was able to understand his difficulties and kind of nudge him in the right direction. I loved their chemistry. This was an enjoyable read and I definitely recommend!

There’s nothing Brianna Hale likes more than a large, stern alpha male with a super-protective and caring streak, and when she’s not writing about them she can usually be found with a book, a cocktail, planning her next trip to a beautiful location or attending the theatre. She believes that pink and empowerment aren’t mutually exclusive, and everyday adventures are possible. Brianna lives in London.
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Review: Lunchtime Chronicles: Mocha Latte by S. London

Length:93 pages

Published: April 8, 2020

Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Source: Kindle Unlimited

Synopsis

“I’m in control of everybody in my world…except her.” ~ Billionaire Drake Santoro, Lunchtime Chronicles: Mocha Latte

Drake Santoro

I did everything right, but Deja Cummings walked out of my life as if I never mattered. She’s icy, sexy as hell, and mine. She walked away once, it won’t happen again.

Deja Cummings

I had nothing back then, but I thought I had him. I was the girl who was invisible in a room full of people, but he saw me. Drake Santoro was wealthy, powerful, and mine. I trusted him, but I shouldn’t have. Now, I’m all about business, even if my body yearns for Drake’s touch, a latte.

MOCHA LATTE is a billionaire romance featuring a BWWM. It is a part of the Lunchtime Chronicles series which can be read as standalone novels.

WARNING: The Lunchtime Chronicles is different from previous Siera London books. MOCHA LATTE is enemies-to-lovers hate romance with a sexy alpha male, explicit sex, and a happily ever after.

My thoughts 💭

This was a cute and sweet quick read. Deja and Drake are meant for each other and Drake won’t let anything stop him from having the woman who’s always owned his heart. I enjoyed this book.

Review: Somethin’ About That Boy by Lani Lynn Vale

Length:251 pages

Published: June 23, 2020

Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Source: purchased

Synopsis

Banner Spurlock knew the moment that he walked into Kilgore High School and saw Perry Street that life was about to get interesting.

Forced to move due to a problem at home, a problem in the form of his ex-best friend hating him for something that Banner’s father did, Banner doesn’t think very much could improve in his life.

He left his status as king of Benton High School behind and moved to a new school where not only would he have to try out for a new football team and prove himself, but he’d also have to find a place for himself in the hierarchy.

Only, the moment that he arrives, he knows that finding a place for himself won’t be too hard. Especially when his reputation follows him all the way to Kilgore, Texas.

***

Perry Street hates school. She hates her peers—most of them anyway—and she hates her classes. All she wants to do is finish her senior year, graduate, and find a place that will give her a full scholarship so that she doesn’t have to be stuck here forever.

That’s her goal, anyway.

Then she walks into first period, on her first day of her senior year, and sits down. Seconds later, he walks in and changes every single plan she’s ever made.

It isn’t long before Perry starts to fall for the bad boy who doesn’t care who he does and doesn’t impress. The boy makes her heart flutter. The boy makes her want things that she’s never wanted before. Not ever.

The boy brings trouble with him that nearly kills her.

My thoughts 💭

LLV books always makes me cry! I absolutely adored Perry and Banner’s story! They had amazing chemistry and were just perfect together. I definitely recommend reading this!

Cover Reveal: Pay The Hitman by Milana Cheers

Pay the Hitman

by Milana Cheers
Publication Date: August 12, 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

After a job, I walked into my safe house and found a woman sleeping on my couch. It turned out the house sitters rented out my cabin for the season on the slopes. I’ll deal with them later. I have a problem I need to deal with right now. There is a woman sleeping on my couch.

By design, I opted to keep her.
By mistake, I fell for her.
By karma, her daddy is a cop.

This can’t end well for me.

About Milana Cheers

Hi, I’m Milana and I write really special delicate f*** flowers ? namely an Alpha who knows what he wants and goes after it. There are no lines he won’t cross, no seas he can’t swim, no distances he won’t run, no job too hard… and if someone gets in the way of him and Heroine, they better run or die. If fast, hard, and fun is your jam, my books will entertain you.

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Free Book Blitz: The Arrangement by Bethany-Kris

THE ARRANGEMENT

by Bethany-Kris
The Russian Guns, #1
Publication Date: March 17, 2014
Genres: Adult, Romantic Suspense, Organized Crime. Erotic Romance

A Russian boss. An Italian Princess.
The truth of their union would change everything …

The Arrangement

*

Nothing will stop the Bratva mob boss from taking back what’s his and once he has her, he’ll do anything to keep her.

Viviana “Vine” Carducci’s and Anton Avdonin’s marriage was decided over two decades ago. The deal between leading mafia families had more on the line than anyone knew, even if the Bratva and Cosa Nostra shouldn’t have mixed. When Vine’s family is murdered and she’s left with nothing more than her grief to survive the mob world alone, she believes the arrangement won’t see the light of day.

Anton can’t allow the one woman he was supposed to love get away. At the possibility of her life coming to a quick end, he steps in with guns blazing knowing exactly what it might cost him: everything. But it’s been nearly a decade since their last meeting, and he can’t help but wonder if the woman he took back is the same girl he fell for all those years before.

Under his protection and love, Vine is unable to forget their shared moments a lifetime ago, or the future she knows they’re owed. When an old flame of Anton’s shows up to rip the veil off the carefully constructed secrets he’d been hiding, past lies surface, and Vine might just learn that nothing about her life was as it seemed. But, that’s nothing compared to the bomb about to blow. Can she see beyond the pain and blood it to take what she always wanted? And just how far will the mob prince go to keep her safe?

In a world where violence, deceit, and greed reign, your life is not your own, and sometimes, love has to be arranged.

Book 1 of The Russian Guns

Viviana couldn’t shake the feeling of a heavy pressure holding her down. Blinking rapidly, she breathed and attempted to see, move, or just do anything.

Nothing happened.

An ache had settled in the creases of her arms and legs. Bending them only served to settle the throbbing pressure deeper into her muscles. Pain radiated from the right side of her jaw as she opened her mouth to call out. With dry lips, a soreness that wouldn’t seem to disappear, and grogginess saturating her senses, she couldn’t focus long enough to remember where she was. Never mind what had happened that got her … here.

Where in the hell was she?

Breathing in, she could taste something familiar in the dark air. Like city air, gunpowder, cigars, and a woodsy cologne that reminded Viviana of home. Her fingers tightened in the blankets.

Hadn’t she been at the university dorms with Sam last night? Hadn’t she been drunk, and hadn’t Sam taken her home? Didn’t she go to that lecture in the morning?

“Sam?” Her voice was hoarse, words mumbled and barely intelligible. Her throat felt sore like she’d been screaming her lungs out for hours. “Sam, wake up.”

It wasn’t a second later that she heard shouts from somewhere outside her dark confines. A voice that resonated deep in her confused mind yelled angrily in a language Viviana couldn’t understand. A woman dressed in a grey-and-white uniform, her hair tied back, looked about as frightened as Viviana felt as she scurried past the opened doorway.

The shouts continued before something shattered, the sounds of tinkling glass spreading over the floors echoing down the hallway. The familiar voice grew scarily quiet as he spit his words out with sheer venom.

Viviana didn’t have to understand the words to know the man was livid; just barely hanging on the ledge of control. More than once growing up, she had heard that kind of anger while she stayed hidden in the safety of her bedroom. Her father’s voice carried through the house as he handled misbehaving men in the basement, or office, whichever served his purpose, depending on the soldier who’d done him wrong.

Forcing herself from the confines of the blankets, Viviana managed to get caught up in all the fabric and tumbled off the bed. Landing on the hard floor with a loud thump, she was surprised no one outside the room heard the noise. Crawling until standing was possible, she swayed on the spot, her legs feeling like a mixture of brittle sticks inside a bag of jelly. Nausea rolled through her insides like a tidal wave of sickness ready to drown and destroy.

Hangovers didn’t feel like that. Nothing felt like that. Unless death did. She wasn’t sure.

“Sam,” Viviana called out again, heading toward the lighted hallway.

Had he checked the hallway before leaving?

Just as she reached the door, something on a small stand caught her eye. The light from the hallway illuminated the framed photograph enough that she could discern the people being pictured. Finally, she remembered.

The face of Nicoli—a former boss of the Bratva, and an ally to her father—stared back at Viviana. Her shaky hand reached out to touch the photograph, snapping back almost at the exact instant she realized what she was doing.

There would be no photo of Nicoli in her dorm, nor would there be a picture of him in any house she visited. It was only then Viviana remembered the sounds of a silenced gun firing off three deadly shots. Sam hanging limp and dead off the edge of a bed. A man hitting her face and spitting words in Russian.

Pop.

Viviana shuddered.

Pop.

Blood bled red in her memories, but the too big T-shirt she now wore hung loose around her bare legs, unstained and pristine white.

Pop.

She was in a car with a Russian … Boris … terrified and trying not to cry.

“Anton.”

The name was thick on her tongue and heavy in her thrashing, thundering heart. Stumbling, she moved from the room and braced her hands on the wall, needing that solid ground to steady her swaying as she moved closer to the shouting.

Anton!”

Looking at her hands, Viviana noticed the blood that once stained her skin was now clean. Fingernails had been buffed, chips filed down, and the natural white crescents at the tips shined brightly under the light. Confused, she reached up to run fingers through her black hair. Instead of the tangled waves from this morning—or was it yesterday now?—she was met with no resistance. The locks felt clean and soft, brushed all the way through and hanging loose down her back.

Someone had washed her. They took meticulous care in cleaning any evidence from her hands and body, changing the clothes she wore and leaving her somewhere they thought was safe for Viviana to wake up in.

Was it him, she wondered. Was it Anton who did that for me?

Beyond the fear and nerves, something that scared Viviana even worse resided in the pit of her stomach: want. She wanted that. Wanted to know he had touched her. Cared for her. Worried over her. But she shouldn’t have wanted that at all.

Finally releasing her hold on the wall, she felt stable enough to walk on her own. Moving at a speed that was too fast for her still upset insides, Viviana made it to the partially opened French doors at the end of the hallway. With dark blinds covering the glass, no one on the inside noticed her approach, and the woman who had previously passed the doorway had long disappeared. The men’s voices became louder again, fury hissing with a burn between every word she couldn’t comprehend. Looking through a crack in the door, the sight staring back was shocking.

At least five men were inside the room, and while four stood upright, the one who had hit Viviana in her dorm—Viktor—was lying prone on the floor. With his head bent at an awkward angle, the barrel of a gun pressing to his right temple, Viktor gritted his teeth and continued to say the same phrase over and over in Russian.

“Boss, let it go,” one man said quietly. “He’s apologized, he’s never skimmed off his boys or done you wrong in the past. Your grandfather would have done the same.”

It wasn’t his face Viviana’s eyes were drawn to, or even the man that spoke in a language she could finally understand. Instead it was the hand holding the gun with a painful force. That hand didn’t shake; there was no hesitation in the action. She had the distinct feeling if those fingers that had once touched her skin so softly pulled the trigger, they wouldn’t find regret in that choice.

Eta ruka?”

Anton’s voice sounded darker than she had ever heard it. Hardened and cold, like shards of ice to her soul. Wearing only dark wash jeans that sat low around his hips, the waistband of his boxer-briefs were visible. The black hair, now kept a little longer than when she had last seen him, was wet and hanging over blue eyes. She couldn’t help but wonder if those eyes blazed a dark blue in his rage like they did when he fucked and loved.

Every muscle tensed and shuddered as anger rolled over his broad shoulders, the six-pack of abs clenching like the white teeth he bared when he growled out once more, “Eta ruka?”

Viktor nodded, raising the hand his boss had tapped with a boot. The chiseled line of Anton’s jaw grew impossibly harder as he breathed heavily through his nose. Something unknown washed through Viviana’s insides, sending her desire ramped up while fear prickled elsewhere.

“Do you think it is appropriate I let this go, Viktor?” he asked, warningly. The slight Russian accent in his dialect wasn’t nearly as thick as some of the men around him, but the more irritated his voice became, the more prominent it sounded. “Do you agree with your brothers that your actions should simply be overlooked because of your lack of past transgressions? Would that be to your liking?”

“I—”

“It is a yes or no question!” The barrel of the gun pressed harder against the older man’s temple. Viviana’s heart stuttered. “I don’t wish to hear your excuses, or apologies. I want a fucking answer!”

Viviana’s fingers tightened around the doorknob as Viktor’s voice turned quieter and he said, “Yes, I was wrong.”

Anton gripped the gun, and he tapped the piece three short times to the man’s head. “This hand,” he stated, his foot tapping against Viktor’s clenched fingers once more. “You hit her with this one, so open it up against the floor. Now.”

“Boss!”

“Would you like to be next, Boris? I should take a pound from you, too, considering you didn’t step in until after he’d smacked her around a little. I was very clear with my instructions. Neither of you idiots managed to follow them properly.”

Anton stood straight, turning to face Boris, and giving Viviana a view of the wide plains of his back and shoulders. Stretched with bands of muscles, his shoulders were strong, wide, and shuddering with barely contained fury. Black ink crisscrossed his skin in a tribal design and a black star resided on both of his shoulders between the inky licks of color.

“The orders were clear, and you allowed him to break my protocol. At the very least, you could have used that sedative before you took her from the dorm, and he did not have to end that bull inside the complex. Those are issues I have to fix now. Too sloppy for a brigadier of your age and knowledge. Both of you are losing the thirty percent share from your boy’s tributes this month, and maybe next, too. I haven’t decided, yet.”

“Yes, Boss,” Boris replied quietly.

Anton turned back to Viktor, the gun in his grip aimed and ready. Viviana choked knowing what he was about to do, but still unable to turn away from the sight. “Hand out,” he ordered again. With a shaky exhale, Viktor unclenched his fingers and laid his palm flat to the floor.

Closing his eyes, he apologized once more in his mother tongue. Anton kneeled down to thrust the gun against the back of the man’s hand. “You will apologize to her. You are not to speak to her directly, or indirectly, without my immediate presence and permission. I do not want to see your face before I request it, and I suggest you stay away from my clubs and homes until this has blown over. Are we clear?”

“Yes.”

“Yes, what?” Anton barked.

“Yes, Boss.”

Without a second of indecision, Anton pulled back the hammer on his gun. Viktor flinched, and she felt suffocated by the realization that a man was about to be shot for hitting her. Bile rose in Viviana’s throat as she pushed open the door and stumbled through. With it came the attention of every man in the room, and the appearance of their guns pointed directly at her.

ABOUT BETHANY-KRIS

Bethany-Kris is a Canadian author, lover of much, and mother to four young sons, one cat, and two dogs. A small town in Eastern Canada where she was born and raised is where she has always called home. With her boys under her feet, snuggling cat, barking dogs, and a hubby calling over his shoulder, she is nearly always writing something … when she can find the time.

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