About the Catty Jane Ladies….Behind the scenes

Catherine, AKA Cat or Catty: I also like to be called Catherine the Great or Oh Great One, but I digress…I am a single mom of two teenage girls. One of my daughters is a junior in college at the age of 19 years of age and is completely on track to become a much better human being than her mother, didn’t really take much effort though. She will be an elementary school teacher and make a difference in so many young people’s lives, and I raised her. My youngest is a sophomore in high school, in an engineering program and is an honors student, who loves to weld, never take off her headphones even when no music is playing, she loves being a smart ass and dishing out one liners, so pretty much the apple of my eye. 

I am lucky to have been encouraged to read by my grandmother, who is an avid reader to this day. She sent me a subscription to the Harlequin Romance books when I was in 6th or 7th grade, don’t think it was age appropriate, but it was amazing. I loved to read classics like Pride & Prejudice,  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Where the Red Fern Grows, Withering Heights, Little Women, and so on. But then, my best friend and I found our way to YA, Young Adult, Contemporary Romance, New Adult and Erotica and a new love was spawned. Teri and I have been friends for over 26 years, and I have done our own reviews and critiques of books that we swapped between us. Then the blog just came to us, first a dream idea, then a strong what if, then an if we did it…it would look like this, then it was born. We wanted our love of words, adventure into another time, another life, another fantasy to be shared with people we know and those we didn’t. We wanted to find a way to be us and bring that to all of those who wanted to put up with us, so the video reviews were our answer to that. Bringing you the real us, how we talk to each other, how we really talk to each other about books and authors, sometimes minus filters. Just us…loving words and we will continue to be that way, crazy and all.

 

 

Teresa, AKA Teri Jane: What is there to say; during the day I’m a full-time paralegal/wife/mother of two. By night I’m a reader of all things romance. I love all genres but right now I’m big on contemporary romance, bikers, alpha males, and strong independent woman (especially when they are short and small chested, lol).

I have always been a reader, starting with the Indian in the Cupboard and Doll House series, anything Rahl Dahl as a child. Then all V.C. Andrew books in my early teens. Moving to Anne Rice, George R.R. Martin, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman (yes a lot of sci-fi) as a young adult. During my college years I was too busy with school work to really read until my bestie bought me the entire Twilight series (first three books) for my birthday and my love of reading came back full force! Don’t judge me, lol.
Today I read about two to three books a week. I love anything angsty, lots of drama, but in the end, for me, it’s all about the love story. Give me a relationship that has to walk through fire before you get to the HEA and I’m in love! So enough about me.

 

Emma, Contributing Reader and Reviewer: Emma is a former librarian who first met Cat and Teresa in middle school. She particularly remembers Cat feeding her love for reading with the latest short stories from teen magazines. Currently, she works for her county’s Behavioral Health department and loves to travel when she gets the chance. Still a voracious reader, she enjoys all genres but can most likely be found with a memoir or mystery tucked in her purse, car, and kindle app.
So, Emma wrote boring crap about herself, so I am adding more about her and she will probably be mortified, but I am the Great One, so suck it!!! Emma is the silent one of us, and doesn’t want to be on our videos, so she is considered a contributing member to our blog, but everyone needs to know that she is legit a total book nerd. She loves to read, almost any genre. She has been of Cat’s since they were bus bodies in junior high and high school. She gave the best advice and is the greatest listener. She makes you feel like you are the most important person with every interaction and even when there is a gap of time between seeing each other, it feel likes it was just a few days have passed. 

 

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Unlocking Shadows by Kennedy Layne is Now Available….

UNLOCKING SHADOWS by Kennedy Layne is available now! Read a sneak peek below and pick up this next installment in a gripping romantic suspense series – you don’t want to miss it!

About UNLOCKING SHADOWS

Gwen Kendall spent ten years in the Navy and used the last four to create a life for herself she could be proud of away from the confines of her overprotective family. Being the only woman in the Kendall clan tended to be a bit overwhelming at times.

Chad Schaeffer had been hired on to help restore an old farmhouse for one of the returning Kendall siblings. He’d heard about the trouble the family had encountered and honestly didn’t want to go anywhere near their properties. He had a change of heart when he saw the most recently returned Kendall sibling stepping out of her car with a key in her hand.

Gwen had waited a very long time to have a place to call her own, just as she had waited for the right man to share her life. One night of seduction convinces her she’s found both, but someone wants to take it all away. It’s been said that old houses retain a piece of each person who has lived there, but she never counted on the dark shadows wanting a piece of her.

Add UNLOCKING SHADOWS to your Goodreads list here!

Get your hands on UNLOCKING SHADOWS now:

✦Amazon https://amzn.to/2Mtryhn
✦iBooks https://apple.co/2MwIZOf
✦Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/2vOfLRz
✦Kobo http://bit.ly/2MriKZC

 

Read an excerpt from UNLOCKING SHADOWS now:

Gwen Kendall sure as hell didn’t belong in Blyth Lake.

Shiny black hair that resembled the luminous color of a raven was flawlessly cut to frame her sculpted face. Her porcelain skin surpassed the most beautiful porcelain doll, while her full lips were smoothly covered with red lipstick that basically begged to be worn off. She also had a figure that rivaled that of any obsolete hourglass.

Gus and Noah’s abrupt manifestation by Gwen’s side was a wakeup call, and Chad had to clear his throat so that he could call out a greeting. That last thing he needed to do was act like an imbecile in front of Gwen while Noah and their father looked on.

He was a grown ass adult, but even he agreed the word ass should be emphasized considering his reaction.

One would think he’d never seen a beautiful woman before.

Chad discreetly rubbed his eyes as he leaned against the white pillar of the wraparound porch that had been painted to draw in buyers, though that time was well over a few years ago. The previous owners only had so much discretionary income to put into the house, so they had chosen mostly surface elements to polish the curb appeal, as they called it. Which was a great reminder that the external shell didn’t always represent what was on the inside. For all he knew, Gwen’s time away had stolen her shy demeanor and she was hell on heels— not that she was wearing heels out here today.

“Chad, it’s been a long time.”

He was so fucked.

Gwen smiled brightly as she looked up at him from the sidewalk, her melodic voice like honey being slowly dripped down his skin. Fortunately, she waited until she’d taken the two steps to be by his side to hold out her arm in greeting. He now had a better rein on his responses and didn’t even let on that the faint scent of vanilla enveloped him as her fingers ever so slowly closed around his.

“It’s good to see you back, Gwen.”

Chad was grateful for an excuse to release her hand, extending his arm to Gus. The older man was friends with Miles and had been for years. It was good that there didn’t seem to be any animosity between the two regarding Clay’s recent stupidity. Their families were now too connected and entwined for there to be any residual hostility… or so Chad kept telling himself that on a daily basis.

“Are you here by yourself?”

Gwen’s question threw him a bit, but he caught himself before showing his surprise. He didn’t miss Noah’s wince, though. There had apparently been a conversation about Clayton’s recent lapse in judgement, and of course, Wes and Chad were guilty just by association. It didn’t matter that their older brother made his own choices.

Gwen had clearly made up her mind about the Schaeffer men.

If that’s how she wanted to play it, then that was fine by him.

“Yes,” Chad replied, letting her know in no uncertain terms by his steel tone that he was capable of keeping this professional moving forward from this point. “I was going to be the one handling your project, for the most part. If you’d prefer someone else heading up the renovations, I’m sure Noah can make a good recommendation.”

Gwen Kendall was the prime example of how one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. He should have known better, too. Well, he got her message across loud and clear.

Chad would do them both a favor and stay far away from wherever she showed her pretty face in town.

 

About the Keys to Love Series

Their homecoming wasn’t so welcoming. Four brothers and one sister each gave twelve years of their lives to serve their country and fulfill their family’s legacy of service. As each of them return to their home of record, they weren’t prepared for what awaited them—an unforgivable sin that has been hidden for twelve long years. Secrets and lies are concealed in the dark shadows of the very town they were raised in, and the Kendall family will have no choice but to rely on one another to unravel the sinister evil that they all hold the keys to unlock.

 

Missed UNLOCKING FEAR and want to catch up? You can grab the first book in the Keys to Love series for free now!

 

About UNLOCKING FEAR

A chance mishap with a sledgehammer was the sole reason a chilling nightmare was unleashed in Blyth Lake.

Noah Kendall’s grisly discovery left him in the middle of a murder investigation and a neighbor who knew more than she was willing to say. Reese Woodward had returned to town with dark secrets, and he was determined to unravel them. While evil lurks in the darkness, seduction burns between them…only time was their enemy.

Will her secrets destroy what they’ve built, or can he earn her trust before the killer strikes again?

Add UNLOCKING FEAR to your Goodreads list here!

Get your copy of UNLOCKING FEAR now!

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About Kennedy Layne

Kennedy Layne is a USA Today bestselling author. She draws inspiration for her military romantic suspense novels in part from her not-so-secret second life as a wife of a retired Marine Master Sergeant. He doubles as her critique partner, beta reader, and military consultant. They live in the Midwest with their teenage son and menagerie of pets. The loyal dogs and mischievous cats appreciate her writing days as much as she does, usually curled up in front of the fireplace. She loves hearing from readers–find out how to connect with her at www.kennedylayne.com.

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The Good Samaritan by RC Boldt is Now Available….

The Good Samaritan by RC Boldt is available now!

  • “A thought-provoking and powerful romance between a man who lost his soul and the woman who brought him back to life.”
  • –Kate Stewart, Best Selling Author

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2MgrdQb
iBooks: https://goo.gl/7W45v4
Nook: https://goo.gl/apWK9y
Kobo: https://goo.gl/9XX3NH
Google Play: https://goo.gl/zMHD5j

The biggest story of her life is the one he wants to hide.

I’m homeless by choice.
I have no intention of returning to my former life after what I’ve done.
This—living among the filth and discarded remnants of others—is what I deserve.
As atonement for my sins, I give back; I help those who cannot help themselves. But it’s always under the guise of anonymity.
Newspaper headlines throughout the city are clamoring to discover my identity. Including the beautiful woman who manages to see through my “armor.”
She has the capability to put my entire life at risk.

About the Author:

RC Boldt is the wife of Mr. Boldt, a retired Navy Chief, mother of Little Miss Boldt, and former teacher of many students. She currently lives on the southeastern coast of North Carolina, enjoys long walks on the beach, running, reading, people watching, and singing karaoke. If you’re in the mood for some killer homemade mojitos, can’t recall the lyrics to a particular 80’s song, or just need to hang around a nonconformist who will do almost anything for a laugh, she’s your girl.

Email: rcboldtbooks@gmail.com
Facebook Reader Group: http://bit.ly/2iNvOqS
Website: http://www.rcboldtbooks.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rcboldtauthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RC_Boldt
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Review of His for Now by Sofia Tate

 

*** ARC Received for Honest Review ***

3stars
Sweet and simple city girl meets cowboy book. What brought this book down for me was Blakely always complaining and second guessing herself about her body image. I get being a woman and being insecure, but how many times does a man have to want you and and tell you he thinks you’re beautiful before you stop with the whining. It was just a bit much for me. I’m probably just pms-ing.
It is well written, just a bit basic and cookie cutter for me. I need lots of drama and heartache. (Review by Terri “Jane”)

Review of No Tomorrow by Carian Cole

 

For some reason this did not post last week…but here is the review…..
 
Review of No Tomorrow by Carian Cole
 
***ARC Received for Honest Review***
***5 STARS***
Oh wow. I can’t stop crying or feeling. I’m amazed and at a loss for words. I’ve read Carian Cole before so I know how great her books are, but this so far beyond. I laughed, I cried, my heart has been shredded.
 
How can a couple be so perfect yet so toxic for each other? Evan “Blue” Van Blue is the epitome of tortured artist. I can’t even explain how much my heart hurt for him throughout the entire book. Then there’s Piper, the fairy, pixie, angel who has to endure. Ack, my heart just clenches for them both.
 
This is going to be more than a book hangover. This is a book heartache. (Review by Terri “Jane”)

Review of The Truth About Us by Aly Martinez….

 

****4.5 STARS****
****ARC Received for Honest Review****
What an amazing end to this beautiful duet….Aly Martinez really did me in with this duet….I was on the edge the whole time, anxiously waiting what the next sentence held, what the next paragraph she had written would do to my heart and if the next page would truly do me in. I escaped reading this duet without major damage, might need a bit of therapy.
This is not a stand alone but the second book in a duet, so don’t read this unless you have read the first, The Truth about Lies. I will not give anything away but I will just explain why I loved this book so much….Aly writes characters that are so beautifully flawed, broken and lost. To see the story develop one the time period of the duet, see the struggle, the pain, the love, overcoming loss, forgiving the guilt, and struggling with the broken, it was beautiful. This duet as a whole is one click worthy-Review by Catherine(Catty)

His for Now by Sofia Tate is Available Now….

She’s his… for a night? For a week? Forever?
His For Now by Sofia Tate is NOW LIVE!

Get it ONLY on Amazon:
US https://amzn.to/2NEF5TY
UK https://amzn.to/2NzXvoZ
CA https://amzn.to/2p05MED
AU https://amzn.to/2Ob5WUF

Or read for #FREE in KindleUnlimited!!!

BLURB:

Ronan Byrne, the oldest of the Byrne Brothers, is the hottest bachelor in the small town of Blossom, Nevada. With his jet black hair, sapphire eyes, and a body sculpted by manual labor and not a personal trainer, every woman wants him in her bed. But he wants a challenge, not a woman who fawns all over him. However, with the financial trouble his family’s dude ranch is having, he has no inclination to date, let alone get married.

Then he meets a mystery blonde who won’t give him the time of day, and he is instantly drawn to her. She is Blakely Pierce, a Manhattan businesswoman who is in town to serve as maid of honor at her best friend’s wedding. With her demanding career, she has no interest in romance, but unbeknownst to her, Ronan is the best man at the same wedding to be held at the ranch. The more she ignores him, the more he is curious about her and why she keeps running away from him. He refuses to give up on Blakely because he knows she is worth the fight, but he only has so long until it’s time for Blakely to return to her life in New York City.

 

About Sofia

Growing up in a bilingual family in Maplewood, NJ, Sofia Tate was a shy, good girl who attended Catholic school and never misbehaved. Now, she is a proud author of contemporary romance. She graduated from Marymount College in Tarrytown, NY, with a degree in International Studies and a minor in Italian. She also holds an MATESOL from New York University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Adelphi University. She has lived in London and Prague. A former resident of New York City, Sofia currently lives in New York’s Hudson Valley.

Follow Sofia Online!
Amazon → http://amzn.to/2oP6Ify
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A Little Teaser from Tess Thompson’s Marred: Kyle & Violet….

Prepare your heart for melting…
Then keep reading for an excerpt from Marred: Kyle & Violet by Tess Thompson!

It will be here September 24th!

PRE. ORDER. NOW.
Amazon → https://amzn.to/2ByJOlx
iBooks → https://apple.co/2vok31x
Kobo → http://bit.ly/2M4WIf0
Nook → http://bit.ly/2MqBzbY

BLURB:

Kyle Hicks started with nothing. Now he’s a self-made man. And as luck would have it, his latest project as a real estate developer lands him in Cliffside Bay with his very best friends, The Dogs. At the end of his grueling work days, Kyle’s got just enough time left for his buddies and not much else. Except maybe another of his many no-strings-attached trysts with whatever sexy lady catches his eye.

Violet Ellis is struggling. She’s a single mother, the proprietor of a near-failing shop, and a champion for the historical integrity of her dear Cliffside Bay. She has enough to deal with between her three-year-old son and her languishing business, but she’s still prepared to take on real estate mogul Kyle Hicks to save the charm of the place she calls home.

When a twist of fate forces these two to put aside their differences and rely on one another, they just might find that sometimes the strongest love grows out of the hurts and the scars that we carry with us always.

The fourth installment of The Cliffside Bay Series by bestselling author Tess Thompson follows the interwoven stories of five best friends, the beach community they love, and the women who captivate them. Prepare to get lost in a wave of small town charm, men you want to take home to your mother, and smart, resilient heroines you wished lived next door.

 

HERE COMES THE SWOON — YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!

“Honor, what can we do to help with the baby?”

“Baby 101, that’s what,” Honor said as they followed her into the elevator. “We had one of the staff go out and get formula and diapers.” She put a keycard into a slot and punched the top floor button.

The elevator moved. Dakota squealed. “Elevator, Mama.”

Violet’s stomach lurched as they came to a stop. They all exited into a hallway. A plush, sage-green carpet felt wonderful under her feet, like walking on a firm mattress. She would love to take off her shoes and let it soothe her tired feet. The scent of lilies from a vase on a rectangular table tickled her nose. Where did he get lilies this time of year? Probably flown in from some third world country for exorbitant amounts of money. None of which trickled down to the poor farmers who grew them.

“Dakota, this is a very special floor,” Honor said. “Kyle’s a part owner so he stays in the very nicest suite in the whole resort.”

“Wow,” Dakota said.

“He’s not Superman,” Violet said under her breath.

Honor shot her a look. “Be nice. You have the power right now.”

“I’ll try not to let it go to my head,” Violet said.

“Stop being so grumpy,” Honor said. “Wait until you see this baby. She’s precious. Seriously, you’ll want to eat her up.”

“Eat a baby?” Dakota asked.

“Not really,” Honor said. “It just means she’s yummy. I mean, she’s pretty and I just want to kiss her all over.”

“Oh,” Dakota said. “That’s weird.”

“I have a thing for babies,” Honor said. “What can I say?”

Violet flushed with shame. Honor couldn’t have a baby of her own. Seeing a newborn must hurt. And here was cavalier Kyle Hicks with one just dropped into his lap like everything else in the man’s life.

They reached the door of the suite. Honor didn’t bother to knock; she simply pressed the keycard against the door and entered, gesturing for Violet and Dakota to follow.

“Don’t be loud,” Violet said to Dakota. “The baby might be sleeping.”

Dakota mimicked her finger to her lips and made a shushing sound.

When they entered the suite, Violet had to physically restrain herself from gasping out loud. The suite was magnificent. The same white marble floors as the lobby shone under the light of a chandelier made of sparkling glass. Posh, richly hued furniture in greens and purples, fluffy rugs, and glass tabletops with silver trim were arranged in geometric perfection. Paintings of various bright and vibrant flowers decorated the creamy sage walls. The bank of windows looked out on the entire town of Cliffside Bay, surrounding country roads, forests, and meadows. If it weren’t foggy today, or you would be able to see the endless waters of the Pacific.

She quickly forgot all of that at the sight of Kyle Hicks with a baby in his arms. A spot of sunshine had broken through the gray sky and washed the room and the man in a warm glow. She drew closer, mesmerized. He cradled the baby against his chest and softly sang “You Are My Sunshine.” Kyle Hicks knew a lullaby. Go figure.

About Tess

Like most of her characters, Tess Thompson hails from a small town and will always feel like a small town girl, despite the fact she’s lived in Seattle for over twenty-five years. She loves music and dancing, books and bubble baths, cooking and wine, movies and snuggling. She cries at sappy commercials and thinks kissing in the rain should be done whenever possible. Although she tries to act like a lady, there may or may not have been a few times in the last several years when she’s gotten slightly carried away watching the Seattle Seahawks play, but that could also just be a nasty rumor.

She currently lives in a suburb of Seattle, Washington with her brand new husband, the hero of her own love story, and their Brady Bunch clan of two sons, two daughters and five cats, all of whom keep her too busy, often confused, but always amazed. Yes, that’s four kids and five cats. Pray for her.

Don’t Miss A Single Thing From Tess!
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2x9Ng26
BookBub: http://bit.ly/2esOcrn
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTessThompson
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Twitter: https://twitter.com/tesswrites
Website: https://www.tesswrites.com

 

The Truth Duet is Now Complete…The Truth about us is now Available….

The conclusion to the heart-stopping Truth Duet by Aly Martinez just went live!

Today we are celebrating the release of the second book in The Truth Duet by Aly Martinez. The Truth About Us is now available! The first book in the duet, The Truth About Lies, is available too and both titles can be read for FREE as part of KindleUnlimited!

READ THE TRUTH ABOUT US NOW:

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

 

THE TRUTH ABOUT US (The Truth Duet, #2)

Read it now:

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

 

Synopsis:

Truth: Penn Walker entered my life like a summer storm—dark, ominous, and filled with thunder.

 

After witnessing my husband’s murder, I didn’t have much of a heart left to offer a man.

 

But Penn took it all.

Every jagged shard.

Every broken bit.

Even the dirty and twisted pieces that I wish never existed.

 

Lie: I didn’t need him to save me.

Lie: I knew exactly who he was.

Lie: Losing him wouldn’t destroy me.

 

But that’s the thing about lies—you never know who to believe.

 

 

THE TRUTH ABOUT LIES (The Truth Duet, #1)

AVAILABLE NOW:

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

Be sure to follow Aly’s newsletter for news about the duet.

Add THE TRUTH ABOUT LIES (The Truth Duet, #1) to Goodreads

Add THE TRUTH ABOUT US (The Truth Duet, #2) to Goodreads

———————

AUTHOR INFORMATION:

Originally from Savannah, Georgia, USA Today bestselling author Aly Martinez now lives in South Carolina with her four young children.

Never one to take herself too seriously, she enjoys cheap wine, mystery leggings, and baked feta. It should be known, however, that she hates pizza and ice cream, almost as much as writing her bio in the third person.

She passes what little free time she has reading anything and everything she can get her hands on, preferably with a super-sized tumbler of wine by her side.

 

 

AUTHOR LINKS:

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Teaser and Pre-Order for T.M. Frazier’s New Book Perversion…..

PERVERSION EXCEPRT REVEAL.jpg

USA Today bestselling author of the King Series, T.M. Frazier, brings you an all new trilogy with an anti-hero you’re going to love to hate and a ballsy heroine with tricks up her sleeve.

PERVERSION, book one in the all-new Perversion Trilogy is coming September 25th and we have the first sneak peek for you!

PERVERSION FULL REVEAL DAY

Synopsis

Love is supposed to be magical.

Ours is suicidal.

The first time I met Emma Jean Parish,

she conned me into taking her p*ssy.

Her cat.

When she was sixteen,

she manipulated me into giving her

her very first kiss.

At eighteen she gave me everything.

She’s a con artist.

I’m a criminal.

I use her.

She manipulates me.

The attraction between us is explosive.

When it detonates

we could both wind up dead.

PERVERSION IS BOOK ONE IN THE PERVERSION TRILOGY

BOOK TWO: POSSESSION

BOOK THREE: PERMISSION

PERVERSION_PRE_ORDER

Pre-order your copy of PERVERSION today!

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2LAHwpP

iBooks: https://apple.co/2AzVzrm

Amazon Universal: http://mybook.to/PerversionTMF

Nook: https://goo.gl/6cHFKH

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2JwQaQX

Paperback: https://amzn.to/2LTMTR3

Add to GoodReads: http://bit.ly/perversionGR

Excerpt:

Emma Jean

When I was younger, I fell in love with magic. I learned every card trick there was from library books and unmasking magic TV specials. I used to put on shows for Gabby that included escaping from complicated knots and trick handcuffs. But what’s magic besides a sleight of hand?

It’s a lie.

And lying is what I’m damn good at.

My ability to spin a tall tale or two lead to stealing wallets and conning people into taking stray pets for the thrill of it. Now, I’m using it to earn for Marco. The thrill is there, but it’s muted, hindered, lost under his pile of mounting threats.

The inside of the casino smells like stale cigarettes, spilled beer, and burnt coffee. We’re not supposed to be in here. It’s Bedlam territory. But that’s also why it’s perfect.

It isn’t like anyone would recognize us here.

We’ve made friends with a few of the cocktail waitresses by giving them a small cut, and they don’t ask questions or ring any alarms when they see us working. I’ve also been straightening my hair over the last few years since my crazy curls stand out like a reflector on a dark highway. I’ve dyed it a few shades darker than my normal honey blonde to help blend in.

Tonight is starting off well. Gabby and I are working a con we’ve run a few times before.

Gabby walks away, her long dark hair swooshing behind her. She gives me a nod as she passes me by on the slot machine I’m pretending to play. She’s just faked losing an expensive engagement ring at another slot machine. I watched out of the corner of my eye as she frantically looked around for it, then loudly announced a thousand-dollar reward would be waiting at the casino cage for whoever returned it.

She is flawless. She should be an actress. And in another life, she would be.

But we don’t live in another life.

We live in Lacking and belong to Los Muertos.

Our lives are not our own.

A few people casually look around the area, then return to their machines when they don’t find the ring Gabby was ranting about. They won’t either. Because it’s not there.

Yet.

It’s go time.

I strut over to the area Gabby just left and put a dollar in the machine. While the wheels spin, I pretend to pick up the dime store ring I already have in my hand. By the time the machine dings to tell me I’ve lost my dollar, I’m turning the ring over, inspecting it like I don’t have half a dozen more just like it in my drawer back at the apartment.

“Would you look at that?” I mutter to myself loud enough so others around me can hear.

A man in an Adidas jumpsuit with a potbelly taps me on the shoulder. “I’ll take that. I saw the woman who dropped it. I’ll go return it to her.”

Liar. You just want the reward.

“That’s so nice of you,” I say. I hold it out, about to drop it into his hand when I pull it back. “I bet there’s a reward for something this valuable.” I start to walk around the man. “I’ll take it up to management. Maybe, they know…”

“Here,” the man says, holding up a hundred-dollar bill. “Take this. I’ll take it to her. I just…you know, as I said, I want to make sure it gets back to the right person.”

You’re not even a good liar.

Sometimes, it’s just too freaking easy. And this scam wasn’t even an Emma Jean and Gabby original. We saw it a long time ago in a movie starring Jennifer Love Hewitt. Doesn’t anyone else watch movies?

I shrug and pass him the ring. Plucking the bill from his hand, I tuck it into my bra. “Thanks,” I say before quickly making my way toward the large glass front doors. It’s Thursday. Marco’s money is due in two days, and we’re short this week.

Really short.

I walk slowly and wave goodbye to the valets with a smile on my face. “Any luck, tonight?” One asks me.

“I think so,” I answer with a smile. Once I’m down the sidewalk and out of view, I scramble to the side of the casino where I kick off my heels and change from the sequined dress I’d stolen from a dry-cleaner into a pair of cut-off shorts and my yellow Keds.

Now, all I have to do is wait for Gabby.

I don’t have to wait long.

“Run!” Gabby yells, darting from the doors of the casino with two large men wearing tight black security t-shirts close behind. Running from security is terrifying enough, knowing that we’re running from members of the Bedlam Brotherhood kicks it up a notch.

I grab my backpack and sling it across my shoulders. I move as fast as I can until I’m running right alongside her. We race through the gates, cross the street, narrowly avoiding being hit by two cars. We duck into a hole in a fence and run through one backyard after the other.

“One of those cunt waitresses must have tipped them off!” Gabby says, through shallow breaths. She’s barefoot in a black mini-dress hiked up to her ass to give her long legs room to run. Her long thick hair is wrapped around her face, sticking to her mouth.

We hit the sixth backyard. Without another word, we separate behind a clothesline. We’ve mapped out this escape plan a thousand times, but this is the first time we’ve ever had to use it.

When I make it into the central part of town, to the Los Muertos/Bedlam border, I can no longer hear the shouts of the security guards. I lost them.

Hopefully, Gabby did, too.

I use a tower of stacked-up wooden pallets on the sidewalk like a ladder to scale a concrete wall, then drop down into the alley.

I grow more panic-stricken the longer I wait for Gabby. I bite the inside of my lip, pacing back and forth along the high wall. The Bedlam Brotherhood runs the security at the casino. If they catch her and find out who she is? Or worse? Who her brother is? They’ll… I shake the thought from my mind. She’ll be fine.

She HAS to be fine.

Please be okay, Gabby. Please.

I’m trying to catch my breath and pull myself together when I hear a clink echo through the alley as if someone dropped some spare change, followed by the sound of something heavy dropping to the asphalt.

“Gabby?” I ask into the darkness. Thinking it’s her, relief washes over me like rain on a barren desert.

My only answer is the flickering of a fluorescent light mounted high on the roof’s edge of the adjoining building. And the hiss of what sounds like a cat behind a dumpster.

I walk over and peer around it. “Gabby? Are you hurt? Say something!” I whisper-shout.

Someone moves from within the shadow. “Get out here, Gabby. We’ve got to go before Mar…”

The light flickers again, for just a second. That second is all I need to see that the someone slowly stalking toward me is not Gabby.

It’s a man…twice my size.

“Who are you?” I ask, shuffling backward as the man cloaked in a black leather hood emerges from the shadows. The front of his jacket is open. Underneath, he’s shirtless, covered in a sheen of sweat, and more tattoos than visible skin all the way up the front of his throat. His muscled chest and abs flex with each step he takes. The hood shadows most of his face, but when the lights flicker again, yellow eyes glow from within.

And they’re locked on me.

My ‘save your ass’ mode kicks in.

The man is blocking the only exit. My only other chance of escape is to scale the same wall I used to drop into the alley.

I keep moving backward as he approaches until my back hits the wall. I look left and right for something to use to climb on.

There’s nothing but emptiness.

My stomach sinks, but surrender is not an option.

I swallow hard as the alarm bells scream in my head for me to run. Somewhere. Anywhere.

There’s nowhere to go!

My legs tremble. Fear crawls like a million spiders along the backs of my legs. I push myself further against the wall as if I can squish the feeling away, but it’s useless.

Fear consumes me. Swallows me whole.

He continues toward me. As he gets closer, I realize it’s not just sweat glistening on his skin. There’s something else splattered across the tattoos on his chest and on his stubbled jaw.

It almost looks like wet paint.

My breathing stops when he’s close enough that I can make out the tattoo on the front of his throat.

A bleeding black rose.

The symbol of the Bedlam Brotherhood.

I’ve heard stories about Grim. The man in the hood. The executioner for Bedlam. They were all terrifying, but not nearly as terrifying as the reality of coming face to face with the man himself.

“We didn’t do anything,” I blurt. “I mean, we did, but it wasn’t a big deal. I’ll…I’ll give the money back. Just tell your men not to hurt my friend. It was all my idea. Let her go, and you can take me.”

“Who the fuck are you?” he asks. His voice is so thick and deep I feel it more than hear it. Shivers erupt all over my body.

He raises his arm, revealing a long curved blade.

For the first time in my life, I can’t seem to be able to hide my fear with my wit or sarcasm. My throat tightens. I can’t swallow, never mind speak. I’ve lost my words completely, along with my nerve.

The man’s blade drips red onto the pavement from the serrated tip.

Every fear response I didn’t even know I had runs rampant. I’m holding my breath. My muscles tense as if running was still an option. The hairs on my arms and the back of my neck prickle my skin as they stand on end. I raise up to my tip-toes and push back, trying to make myself disappear into the wall.

I glance from the knife back to his chest, then back again. The splatters across his skin?

It’s not fucking paint.

Before I can process what the hell is happening, he switches from slow-stalking mode into hyper-speed, pinning my wrists above my head. His hard, bloodied chest pushes against me, smearing blood across my white tank top, forcing the back of my head to connect roughly with the wall.

“I’ll only ask you this one more time. Who the fuck are you?” His low guttural growl rattles my bones.

His unblinking, angry, golden eyes lock onto mine. Without the fluorescent light, they’re more golden brown than a glowing yellow. As much as I want to, I can’t look away. He could be the last person I ever see.

The thought is just the spike of adrenaline I need.

“Let me go,” I say, finally finding my words. I try and jerk my wrists from his grip with no luck. I’m trapped. My fear and anger rise to the surface, but I shove it back down. Fear won’t get me out of this situation, so it will have to wait for its damned turn.

He digs his rough fingers into my skin. “Answer me. Who the fuck are you?”

The bite of pain only makes me angrier. I throw his question back at him. “Who the fuck are you?”

He glances down at my rapidly rising and falling chest before pinning me with his stare. The corner of his mouth tugs up in a half-smirk.

“So much confidence for someone who’s trembling,” he says with an amused glint shining in his demonic eyes.

I shrug. “Maybe, I’m just not a fan of enclosed spaces,” I say through gritted teeth.

“You didn’t answer me,” he says.

“Why do you have blood all over you?” I answer him with yet another question. “You know, if you were committing some kind of crime back there, you should be more careful. I recommend a bleach bath and death by fire for your clothes the first chance you get. If it’s self-harm, I’m sure there’s a helpline you can call.”

He cocks his head to the side. His nostrils flare. His face is only inches away. I can feel the heat from his body against mine. His cool breath flutters against my neck.

I’ve never been this close to a man before. My trembling grows. My inner thighs shake sending a rippling wave of something very unfamiliar coursing through the center my body. I try and press my legs together to stop it from happening again, but when he uses his knee to wedge my legs apart, caging me in even further, it only grows, uncoiling from within like a slinky being pulled apart at the ends.

I swallow hard as the stubble of his jaw presses against my neck.

“Name,” he demands, his voice raspier than before.

I shut my eyes tight for a beat, trying to gain composure, control, something that will help me as I try and reason my way out of this. “Listen, I didn’t see anything,” I blurt. “That is if you did anything. I’m not going to call the police if that’s what you’re worried about. I wouldn’t anyway, even if I saw something, which I didn’t.”

His brows knit together in a harsh line. “Why?”

His question confuses me.

“Why what?”

“Why wouldn’t you tell the police?”

Because Marco owns them.

“Let’s just say that I haven’t exactly been a model citizen myself tonight. Let’s face it. If the police around here weren’t being paid not to do their jobs, half this town would be locked up.” I take a deep, shaky breath. “Especially people like us.”

He stills. There’s no more talking. Only heavy breathing and a battle of wills. He releases one of my hands. I think he’s reaching for his knife. My blood turns cold. I can feel my face pale as my heart starts beating as faster and faster as if it wants to get in as many as possible before the end.

I’m surprised when he doesn’t go for his knife. Instead, his hand travels slowly down my chest into my cleavage.

“No, don’t!” I say, but it’s too late, he’s already yanked on my locket.

“Please just give it back, and let me go,” I plead. Feeling like it’s my real heart he’s torn from my chest. “It’s the only thing in this world that means anything to me. Besides my best friend, it’s all I have.”

I hate the desperation in my voice, but it’s the truth.

He’s silent for a moment. He raises his arms. I flinch, raising my arms over my face defensively. But when nothing happens, I lower them, just in time to see him push back his hood, revealing his face.

“Why?” I ask, closing my eyes knowing full well that the only time a criminal reveals himself to a witness is right before they take them out.

“Look at me,” he demands, holding my face in his hand.

“No!” I say, shutting my eyes tighter.

“Look at me!” he bellows. He’s on me again. This time, he holds my head in his large rough hands. “Open your fucking eyes so you can see me.”

With no other choice than to get my head squished like a turtle under a car tire, I do as he demands. Opening my eyes, I blink through the haze, and when it clears, I’m met with tousled, medium-length, light brown hair, slicked back on the top, shorn close to head on the sides. His nose is slightly crooked like it’s been broken a few times before. The stubble on his square, defined jaw is a few days over needing a shave. A jagged scar runs through his chin like an angry white lightning bolt.

He’s the most fucking beautifully terrifying man I’ve ever seen.

He’s searching my eyes for something, but I don’t know what.

“Why?” I ask in a whisper.

His hands release mine, but he doesn’t step back. He leans in closer, speaking against my cheek in a rumble of a whisper. The strange feeling from earlier comes back as a zap of electricity bouncing around my insides looking for somewhere to ground.

I’m breathing heavy. Our lips are so close, almost touching. He slides one hand off my face, snaking it around my neck, pulling me closer. He starts to answer in a rumble of a whisper, causing goosebumps to rise on my already prickled skin. “Because I want you to see the face of the man who’s just—”

“Where the fuck are you?” calls Gabby from the other side of the wall. “I lost them!”

The moment, whatever it is, is now broken. The man releases me so suddenly I brace myself against the wall to keep from falling. I turn my head toward her voice.

“Gabby!” I shout back.

My heart is beating out of control. Out of habit, I raise my hand to my chest, seeking familiar comfort.

I look up. The man in the hood is gone.

And so is my locket.

About the Author

T.M. (Tracey Marie) Frazier never dreamed that a single person would ever read a word she wrote when she published her first book. Now, she is a five-time USA Today bestselling author and her books have been translated into numerous languages and published all around the world.

T.M. enjoys writing what she calls sexy‘wrongside of the tracks romance’ with morally corrupt anti-heroes and ballsy heroines.

Her books have been described as raw, dark and gritty. Basically, what that means, is while some authors are great at describing a flower as it blooms, T.M. is better at describing it in the final stages of decay.

She loves meeting her readers, but if you see her at an event please don’t pinch her because she’s not ready to wake up from this amazing dream.

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