Emperor Lucien Tarquinius agrees to retrieve the future king of a race that annihilated every Insedi female and doomed his planet’s future. Why would he do such a thing? Simple. He cannot have his enemy retake the throne and continue the war against Insedivertus. Yet, an unexpected encounter changes everything.
Just one day away from collecting the reluctant ruler, the royal transport inexplicably disappears from its flight path. As the empire scrambles to find their missing emperor, Lucien embarks on a journey that challenges his intellect, tests his endurance, and pushes his emotions to the breaking point.
Tana Jameson wonders who she pissed off to warrant an investigative assignment aboard a cargo ship in the middle of the Atlantic. A moment of curiosity jettisons her into an alien world beyond her imagination and directly into the arms of a man stepping right out of her wildest fantasy.
Available at: BookStrand (15% off until midnight CST, July 22nd)
I was born and raised in a small town between Dallas/Fort Worth and Austin. Wanting to see more than my small Texas town, I joined the Marines, which satisfied my craving to see more of the U.S. and drive to see if I could be one of the few and the proud.
A firm believer in educating the mind, I have achieved several advanced degrees, the latest being a Masters of Science.
My true love is writing erotic romance, especially about alien hunks that know how to treat their females.
Drusus, Severus, Cato, Lucien, Petrus, Maxim, Caelius, and many more have swirled in my dreams until I had to bring them to life and allow them to find love within the pages of the FUELED BY LUST book series.
What types of male characters are found in the FUELED BY LUST series?
First and foremost, the main male characters are all alien. They hail from a planet called Insedivertus. They’re half-human/half pure energy. They look just like a human, but have some interesting alien traits that have intrigued many a reader. Insedi were created by an interaction between an ancient Roman emperor that stumbled upon the planetary vortex that connects our worlds and the indigenous energy forms known as the Nubis.
They have human characteristics and feel all the emotions that a normal Earth male experiences, on top of trying to blend in with Earth’s culture and antiquated technology. So, add a little extra dash of angst to their day-to-day and they can get into all kinds of crazy situations.
You’ll also find interactions with male humans that are ex-boyfriends, protagonists, or supporting characters, but the male POV’s are saved for the alien heroes (or bad guys).
What the reader will find in this series are males that have very distinct personalities. Nothing drives me crazier than seeing a series that introduces a new male hero and the only thing different from the last book is his eye and hair color. These guys all have different proclivities (in and out of bed) as well as personalities that differ greatly on their perception of things. One main commonality is that they want to be loved, just like anyone else.
The males that I focus on are the warrior class of the Insedi race. They’re total alpha males, but when it comes to their females (or males depending on their proclivity), they’re completely besotted. They have respect for others and find it disturbing when they encounter humans (or any species) that mistreat each other. They’re entire reason for being on Earth is to find mates since all of the Insedi females were destroyed by a mad man. Don’t get me wrong, these guys aren’t push-overs. They will put a woman in her place if she acts the fool, and they have no compunction about knocking a dude’s lights out if he deserves it. Each male plays an important role in the Insedi culture and the particular parts they must play to blend in on Earth. These guys are tight with each other and their stories interweave as their lives play out.
So, basically what you have are alpha males with distinct personalities, big bodies, big hearts, and big goals. They don’t mess around when it comes to trying to achieve the ultimate outcome of mate selection, no matter what gets in their way, even themselves.
As a woman, how are you able to get into the ‘head’ of a male character?
I was extremely fortunate to have had the coolest dad in the world. Okay, I’m biased, but he was pretty nifty. He spent some quality time with his kids explaining the difference between men and women besides their sexual organs. He knew that we all needed to have our heads on straight or we’d end up with some screwed up relationships simply because we didn’t know how to interpret the other person.
What I got from my dad was: With a man you get black and white. There’s seldom a gray area to swirl a stick in until it turns muddy brown. I define the gray area as the rolling tide of feminine emotion that can bowl over even the sturdiest person.
The words that come out of a male’s mouth are usually what he’s really thinking at that moment. Now keep in mind, my dad taught us the average perception as a ‘base’, and as we grew older we got the lessons on the baggage that one carries in life and how that can skew someone’s base thinking.
So, from a ‘base’ viewpoint, when a guy says, “Your shoes look nice today,” he means that he thinks your shoes look nice and it just happens to be today. He’s not comparing them on a scale to yesterday’s shoes, or that you suck at buying shoes and just happened to get it right today or that nice means you could have made a better choice and he would have said fantastic instead. See where I’m going? If not…
Bottom line: It just means the poor guy gave you a compliment, so shut your emotional rollercoaster of a mind down and just say, “Thank you.”
Men also look at love differently. If you’re fed, clothed, happy, safe, and getting the best dick you’ve ever had, then consider yourself loved. It’s that simple. They show you in their actions. If the female keeps her eyes off other males and lays some good loving on him when he’s in the mood, then he feels loved and secure. We’d have some boring books if it was all that simple, right?
Since the books I write provide stories of males in some extreme circumstances, then I have to reveal their ‘baggage’ to add that extra element of angst that gets his head spinning and confused on if he should pursue or escape the female that entered his life. None of that angst is because he’s feeling emotionally vulnerable that particular day (or someone dissed his shoes). No, it’s from witnessing something concrete and life altering that he couldn’t logically set aside and now it’s bleeding into the present. He’s now muddying the females prolific ‘gray area’.
You’ll never hear one of my males say something stupid to a love interest like, “I’m mad at you, and if you don’t know why then you don’t love me.” Sheesh…I’d run from him, too.
I will be giving away 5 e-books. Leave a comment to enter!!!
TRIED by Jan Burke
With a brand-new short story featuring Tyler Hawthorne from The Messenger, plus three stories from Eighteen, this is the third of six e-short story collections from New York Times bestselling suspense author Jan Burke.
At this hour, although two other attendants roamed another part of the cemetery, Tyler and Shade were alone in this section of the hilly grounds. Suddenly Shade stiffened. His ears pitched forward and his hackles rose. He gave a low, soft growl.
Tyler came to a halt. Shade protected him, but the dog seldom growled at living beings.
In the next moment, the air was filled with what he at first took to be bats, then saw were small birds, of a type Tyler had never seen so far inland. “Mother Carey’s chickens,” he said, using the sailors’ name for them. Storm petrels. “What are they doing here?”
The birds fluttered above him, then a half dozen dropped to the ground before Shade in a small cluster. The scent of the sea rose strongly all about him, as if someone had transported him to the deck of a ship.
Shade stared hard at them as they cheeped frantically, then the dog relaxed into a sitting position.
The other petrels flew away. No sooner had they gone than the six before him were transformed into the ghostly figures of men.
They were forlorn creatures, gray-faced and looking exactly as what they must be, drowned men. Their uniforms proclaimed two as officers, the other four as sailors, all but one of the British navy.
Shade’s demeanor told him that these ghosts—unlike some others—would be no threat to him.
“May I be of help to you?” Tyler asked.
“Captain Hawthorne?” the senior officer asked.
“I believe the rank belongs more rightly to you,” Tyler said. “I was a captain in the British army many years ago, but I sold out after Waterloo.”
“Yes, sir,” the captain said, “I understand. If I may introduce myself to you, I am Captain Redding, formerly of the Royal Navy. Lost at sea in about your—your original time, sir.”
They exchanged bows.
“You are a Messenger?” Captain Redding asked.
“We are all men who drowned at sea. Many of those in the flock you called ‘Mother Carey’s chickens’ are indeed just that. We come from many nations, taken by that sea witch Mother Carey, yet death has made us all birds of a feather. Little birds tell other little birds news of those such as yourself, and speak of Shade as well.”
The dog gave a slight wag of his tail in acknowledgment.
The captain went on. “The midshipman we bring to you is an American. Hails from here in Buffalo. We approach you on his behalf.” He turned to the man. “Step forward, Midshipman Bailey, and tell the captain your story, for we’ve not much time left.”
“Aye, sir.” The midshipman gave Tyler a small bow. “Thank you, sir. If you would be so kind to visit my sister, who lies dying not far from here. In the asylum, sir. The good one. We’ve all of us in her family done her a grave injustice.” He looked down at his feet. “Many injustices.”
“When were you lost at sea?” Tyler asked gently.
“Eight years ago, sir, in ’63. In the War Between the States. Would have done more for my country if Zeb Nador hadn’t pushed me overboard in a storm.”
“Do you ask me to seek justice for you?”
“Not necessary for me, Nador’s in the county jail here and will face trial for murdering someone else. He’ll hang as well for that one as for what he did to me.”
Tyler was about to try to say something to comfort him, unsure what that might be, when one of the other men whispered, “Hurry!”
Midshipman Bailey nodded, then said, “Will you go to her, sir? Her name is Susannah. She needs you tonight. And if you’d tell her Andrew sent you to her, and that she was always the best of his sisters, and that he sees things clearer now, and hopes to one day rest at her side—”
“Hurry!” the captain ordered.
“Well, sir, I’d take it as a great kindness.”
“I would be honored to do so, Midshipman Bailey.”
“Thank you!” he said, and had no sooner whispered these words than all six men again transformed into small birds and rose from the ground. They circled in the air above him, where they were joined again by the larger flock. He had thought they would begin their long journey back to the sea, but they surprised him by surrounding him and the dog.
Quite clearly, he heard hundreds of voices whisper to him at once, “Storm’s coming!”
And they were gone.
Shade immediately headed toward the nearest gate at a brisk trot. He glanced back at Tyler in impatience. Tyler hurried to catch up.
“There is more than one asylum, you know. The closest is still under construction, which leaves Providence Lunatic Asylum and the Erie County Almshouse—”
It wasn’t hard to read the next look he received.
“I apologize. Yes, Sister Rosaline Brown’s would be the ‘good one.’ And of course you will know the way and of course you will be admitted, although large black dogs, as a rule . . .”
Shade wagged his tail.
Providence Lunatic Asylum was operated by the Sisters of Charity, who had previously established a hospital in Buffalo. They had arrived in the city just in time to deal with the early cholera epidemics and were considered heroes by many. In 1860, horrified by conditions in the Erie County Almshouse and Insane Asylum, Sister Rosaline Brown started the asylum, which attempted a more humane treatment of the insane.
The dog paused at the small building closest to the cemetery’s main gate. Tyler understood what he was meant to do. Hailing the man who was keeping watch, Tyler said, “A severe storm is coming. Please call the other men in.”
“Storm?” the man said, bewildered.
“Yes, it’s calm now, but I just saw a flock of storm petrels. Sea birds. The only reason they’d be this far inland is if a hurricane had blown them here.”
He bid the man a quick good night and wondered if he would heed the warning.
In the next moment the wind came up, and trees began to rustle and sway. Shade leaped into the gig Tyler had left tied at the gate. Tyler glanced over his shoulder and saw the watchman gather a large lantern, and soon heard him calling out to the others.
I will be giving away 5 e-books. Leave a comment to win!!!
APPREHENDED by Jan Burke
From the New York Times bestselling suspense author Jan Burke comes a brand-new e-short story with the added bonus of three short stories from the Eighteen anthology.
Apprehended is a mini-anthology containing a brand new short story from Jan Burke: "The Unacknowledged," which features the fan-favorite investigative reporter Irene Kelly, back in her journalism school days. Also included are three short stories from the previously published Eighteen: "Why Tonight," "A Fine Set of Teeth," and "A Man of My Stature."
Praise for Eighteen:"Astonishing…wry…these stories are sure to delight." —New York Times bestselling author Jeffrey Deaver
"A delightful collection of page-turners. At turns chilling, funny, poignant—and always insightful. With these stories, Jan Burke’s at the top of her game." —New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Kellerman
I made sure we were alone. That was actually the hardest part. After realizing that no restaurant in the city would be free of people who might know Donna, I ended up inviting her over for dinner on a night when I knew Lydia had an evening class. Until two months earlier, Lydia and I had shared the place with another roommate, but she had married over the summer. We had been putting off finding another renter, but tonight I was glad for the lack of a potential eavesdropper, enjoying the emptiness and quiet that usually had me thinking that I was going to have to move back home again.
Donna and I made small talk until after I cleared the dishes. She seemed a little down. All the same, she was an easy person to talk to. I was fighting some very cynical thinking about that as I pulled out some photocopies I had made.
I had thought of going all Perry Mason on her ass, cross-examining her until she wept and admitted her crimes. I couldn’t do it. The truth is, I liked her.
“I had a special assignment given to me this week,” I said. “Do you know who Jack Corrigan is?”
She shook her head. My tone must have hardened, or my look, or—somehow I tipped her off that the nature of our little dinner party was about to change.
“Well, I suppose that doesn’t matter. I have a feeling that you do know who Cassie Chadwick was.”
She, who blushed so easily, turned pale. She looked at me with such desperation that, for a full minute, I wasn’t sure if she was going to cry, run away, or punch me. But she just nodded yes and looked down at her hands.
“If she hadn’t harmed so many people,” I said, “I could almost admire her cunning, not to mention her nerve. After running a number of other scams, she marries a naive doctor from Cleveland, just happens to convince him that they should visit New York at the same time a man from home is there—a man who is a high-society gossip in Cleveland. She asks that man to give her a carriage ride, and has him wait for her outside the home of Andrew Carnegie, a wealthy, confirmed bachelor. She goes into the house, comes out thirty minutes later, and—this part really interested me—trips as she’s getting into the carriage. Drops a promissory note for two million dollars—a note that appears to be signed by Andrew Carnegie, whom she blushingly claims is her father.”
She stayed silent.
“Too bad promissory notes aren’t what they used to be. Planning to borrow millions based on phony documents, and cause a bank or two to fail?”
“I didn’t think so.” I let the silence stretch for a time, then said, “Who told you about Cassie Chadwick?”
“Aunt Lou, my great aunt. She grew up hearing stories about her. Aunt Lou claimed to ‘admire her brass’ as she put it. Aunt Lou doesn’t think women ever get a fair shake in this world.”
“Is Donna Vynes your real name?”
“My married name, yes.” She was tracing patterns on the tablecloth with one of her perfect fingers, still not making eye contact.
“So you’re really a war widow?”
The finger stopped moving. She looked up at me. “Oh yes. And my mother is dead. John, my husband, sent home all of his pay—a little over a hundred and fifty dollars a month at first. It was up to about four hundred when he was killed. Just about everything he saved for us got spent on my mother’s medical needs. But John also bought some life insurance through the service. So I had ten thousand from that.”
“That’s where the seven thousand comes from?”
“Yes.” She sighed. “There was this neighbor of Aunt Lou’s in Cleveland. Her daughter was about my age. Despite all my other faults, I’m not like Eldon, so I won’t name her, if you don’t mind. Anyway, at the end of last semester, she dropped out of school here. Looking back on it now, I think she was just really homesick.
“But what she told me was . . . well, once we got to know each other, she said the reason she left was because Eldon Naff slept with her and then told the world about it. She said she had been working as an assistant for Mr. Langworthy, or rather to someone on his staff. She said it was Mr. Langworthy who fired her, mostly based on Eldon’s gossip. I don’t know if that’s true, but I learned a lot about Mr. Langworthy from her. Including the fact that in early September, he was going on a Mediterranean cruise.
“And I couldn’t help thinking about Mr. Carnegie and Mrs. Chadwick. Especially because I never knew my dad. My mother always said my father died while she was pregnant with me, but I think she was lying. Aunt Lou all but confirmed that my parents weren’t married. So I am illegitimate, just not the child of a rich man.”
After a long silence, she said, “God, I don’t know how you did it, but I’m glad you figured it out. It’s a relief.”
crazy dog––one awkward vet––one naked pool guy––and one life-changing month in
California to make friends, fall in love, and twist fate.
gets paid to walk a dog and recline by the pool all day? Sydney Montgomery,
aspiring museum curator and professional house-sitter, that’s who.
her aunt and uncle need a house and dog sitter for thirty days in Palo Alto,
Sydney can’t turn down the chance to be closer to her sister in L.A. Within
twenty-four hours of her arrival, Sydney’s cleaning up runny dog poo, taking an
uncooperative pooch to a handsome yet awkward vet, and being rescued from the
bottom of the pool by a naked “pool guy.”
“pool guy,” has a hot body and a cool persona. With eyes of iridescent blue
oceans, he is mesmerizing, sexy, and addictive. What he is
not––the pool guy.
Lautner Sullivan is a college wide receiver turned pediatric resident. He knows
how to woo a woman with flowers, pastries, and sweet tea. Lautner is every
girl’s dream, but Sydney is not every girl. She’s immune to rainbows,
fairytales, pixy dust, and the “L” word.
attraction is immediate, the friendship is earned, and the love is undeniable.
Thirty days is their forever, but forever is not long enough.
I pour a glass of iced tea and start to walk toward the deck. Then I turn
around and pour another glass. “Hospitality is a good thing,” I tell myself,
needing only to convince the rational part of my brain.
I offer, walking over to the pool.
sets the skimmer net along the side of the pool.
you.” The smirk on his face is suspicious and makes me feel like I’m missing
some inside joke. He takes the glass from me and I move past him to get a
closer look at the pool because I can’t look at him without his shirt and not
break into a sweat.
are you skimming?”
really. I’m stirring the water,” he says matter-of-factly.
guy is not for real. What does he mean by “stirring the water?” He’s up to
something. It’s obvious why Aunt Elizabeth hired him. She must properly clean the
pool after he leaves so Trevor doesn’t get suspicious and fire his ass … a very
fine ass I will confess.
why is it you need to stir the water?” I turn toward him and my eyes dart
straight to his broad muscular chest and well-defined abs all kissed by the
sun. Jeez, he’s too perfect and I’m … something. Distracted? Mentally
lethargic? Crazy? Horny? BINGO!
there’s an even consistency of chemicals when I test the water.”
mouth is agape and I cannot stop looking at him. He bends down to physically
capture my attention. Shit! I show no shame staring at his bare chest.
he says, forcing my eyes back to his.
the inappropriate thoughts from my head, I take a quick sip of my drink to mask
I need to put my shirt back on?”
choke on my tea. “No––” I can’t stop coughing. “I mean––” Clearing my throat, I
notice his cocky smile. “Put your shirt on or leave it off. Why would I care?”
Sydney, could you be a bigger disaster today? The flap of the dog door
distracts me. Swarley leaps down the deck stairs. Aaron hunches down like a
lineman in anticipation of his overzealous greeting. The problem is, as Swarley
races closer I realize he’s not aiming for Aaron. He’s aiming for––
shit!” I’m catapulted backwards into the pool.
body makes its descent to the bottom while I open my eyes to see the blurry
magnification of Mr. Sex on Legs pool guy standing at the edge looking down at
me. I’m considering seeing how long I can hold my breath. Maybe he’ll decide to
leave and I can surface from the depths of my own personal Hell without an
That’s it. I can do this.
still hold many records from my high school swimming career. Holding my breath
until he leaves should be easy. Unless he decides to be heroic and jumps in to
save me. Not a bad scenario either. Then at least we’ll both be drenched in our
a leaky raft, I release my breath one bubble at a time and take a seat at the
bottom of the pool. Ha! He’s emptying his pockets. Looks like I won’t be the
only drowned rat. Wait. What the hell? No he’s not. Oh dear God, yes he is. Sex
on legs dives into the pool, sans shorts and underwear! The two haunting notes
from Jaws sound in my head while I scramble to the surface in the opposite
direction, desperate to get away from him.
sweet relief of air filling my lungs is squashed by the anxiety of being chased
by a naked stranger.
my God! What are you doing?” A frantic yell breaks out with the remaining
breath in my lungs while I swim toward the ladder, barely escaping him. I leap
out of the pool with superhuman speed. Wrapping my arms around myself, I
scramble to the pool house, my heart racing and my whole body shaking as I
fumble for a towel.
water feels great today.” His voice sounds behind me.
whip around and gasp, wide eyed. A wet, naked, sinful-as-a-hot-fudge-sundae
body greets me a few feet away. Hands fisted, his arms are casually crossed at
his wrists covering part of his junk in the front. The perfect cover to Sports
Illustrated stands before me, and all I want to do is smack him across the face
to wipe the stupid smirk off it. Then, of course, I want to jump him and rub
every sensitive part of my body against his, because right now I’m so pissed
and so turned on, I need to dive into the pool again before I self-combust.
up and get out,” I mumble as I toss him a towel and stomp toward the house. On
my way, I pass Swarley beached out in a lounge chair by the pool.
demon dog!” I scowl at him.
About Jewel E. Ann:
Jewel is a
free-spirited romance junkie with a quirky sense of humor.
With 10 years of flossing lectures under her belt, she took early retirement
from her dental hygiene career to stay home with her three awesome boys and
manage the family business.
After her best friend of nearly 30 years suggested a few books from the
Contemporary Romance genre, Jewel was hooked. Devouring two and three books a
week but still craving more, she decided to practice sustainable reading, AKA
writing. When she's not donning
her cape and saving the planet one tree at a time, she enjoys yoga with
friends, good food with family, rock climbing with her kids, watching How I
Met Your Mother reruns, and of course…heart-wrenching, tear-jerking,
Wolff knows how to steam up the pages, and she proves it again in Ruined. If
you’re looking for a hot read, curl up with Ethan Frost.” —New York Times and USA Today bestselling author J. Kenner
“Fans of Fifty Shades of Grey will love Tracy
Wolff’s Ruined! Heat sizzles off the page and the oh-so-sexy Ethan Frost will
make you swoon!”—USA Today bestselling author Stacey Kennedy
Tracy is giving away a $50 gift card to www.spafinder.com to celebrate the release of ADDICTED! Enter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Random House is giving away two prize packs:
a $25 gift card to Babeland and a copy of
RUINED! Enter here!
Chloe Girard discovers, there’s love . . . and then there’s addiction.
Ethan Frost is everything a woman could
want in a man. He’s rich, gorgeous, powerful, one of the most eligible
bachelors in the world.
But that’s not why I’m with him.
I love Ethan for all the things no one
else gets to see: his innate kindness, his reckless spontaneity, his unwavering
determination to use his brilliance for good. I love the way he looks at me,
the way he touches me. The way he makes me forget the wreckage of my past and
the twisted fear that still lives inside me.
But sometimes it terrifies me how much I
crave him, how much I need him just to breathe. I always thought it would be my
past that ruined us, but there’s a darkness in Ethan I never dreamed existed.
Can we survive as his secrets surface—threatening to unravel us both?
Also in the Ethan Frost series: RUINED by Tracy Wolff!
About Tracy Wolff:
Tracy Wolff collects books, English degrees
and lipsticks and has been known to forget where—and sometimes who—she is when
immersed in a great novel. At six she wrote her first short story—something
with a rainbow and a prince—and at seven she forayed into the wonderful world
of girls lit with her first Judy Blume novel. By ten she’d read everything in
the young adult and classics sections of her local bookstore, so in desperation
her mom started her on romance novels. And from the first page of the first book,
Tracy knew she’d found her life-long love. Now an English professor at her
local community college, she writes romances that run the gamut from
contemporary to paranormal to erotic suspense.
Elements/Tags: baseball, New Adult, sports, billionaire hero, small
Publishing Date: July 1, 2014
Series, #: Book Five in The Philadelphia Patriots Series
He’s a billionaire ballplayer…
Noah Cade, pitcher for the
Philadelphia Patriots, has big problems. He’s recovering from a serious
injury and he’s just been saddled with his sick aunt’s crazy dogs. Then there’s
his dad, a wealthy oilman who wants Noah to retire from baseball and step into
his shoes as CEO of the family corporation. All Noah wants is to pitch
again and help his team win the World Series, but his family keeps dragging him
in the opposite direction.
She’s a small town girl…
Teddy Quinn moved to the city to
start a dog walking business for rich people, hoping the income will pay for
law school and help her fight the oil corporations drilling the county where
she grew up. When Noah Cade hires her as a full-time dog sitter for his
high-energy pets, it seems like the answer to Teddy’s financial woes. But the
boundaries get blurred when she starts falling for her boss, who uses all his
formidable charm to lure her into his bed.
When Teddy discovers Noah’s father
owns Baron Energy, she’s devastated. How can she work for—or love—a man
whose family stands for everything she hates?
Teddy glanced down at the middle finger
of her left hand—or, actually, the mostly empty space where there had once been
a middle finger. When she was six, an old, unguarded grain auger had lopped off
that finger and badly injured two others when she was stupid enough to stick
her hand in the chute. There had been no hope of re- attachment since the
finger ended up somewhere in her father’s silo, surrounded by about fifteen
tons of grain.
Now, that had been pain. This little
scrape was nothing.
She took a couple of quick swipes at
her jeans to knock off some of the dirt and dust and then jogged toward the
park entrance. A young woman—almost certainly a nanny— was pushing a
big-wheeled double stroller the size of a small car. She gave Teddy a curious
look as she approached.
Teddy managed a quick smile. “Hi, I’m
looking for my dog.” She pointed toward the west, the direction from which the
woman had apparently come. “Did you see a Siberian Husky running loose by any
The woman, a pretty Hispanic in her
mid-twenties, about the same age as Teddy, shook her head as the blond twins in
the stroller gazed up at her. “No, miss, I didn’t see any dog. I’m sorry.” Her
eyes zeroed in on Teddy’s bleeding arm. “Are you all right? Do you need some
Teddy ignored the pain radiating from
her elbow and smiled. “It’s just a little scratch. But thank you.”
“I’ll watch for your dog,” the woman
“Thanks.” Teddy crossed to the other
side of the road and picked up her pace. She’d made up her mind to ignore the
injury for now and focus completely on the search for Buster, so the sooner she
got back to her car, the better. But she’d only made it about twenty yards down
the road when she caught the purr of a car approaching behind.
“Hey, lady—want a lift?” Mr. Hot
Neighbor gave her another panty-melting grin.
Teddy hadn’t thought she’d see him
again so soon. And before she could answer him, she heard a woof and a dog’s
head poked into view from behind the man’s broad shoulders. Buster was sitting
on his haunches in the passenger seat, a look of demented excitement on his
face. His long, pink tongue was hanging out of the side of his mouth as he
panted, and his blue eyes seemed to be saying hey,Teddy—isn’t this is the
best day ever?
She should be furious with the mutt but
instead she started to laugh, going weak with relief. The laugh came out
sounding kind of hysterical, but she figured she’d earned it.
“He’s one happy dude,” the guy said
with an answering grin. “He just keeps licking my face like I’m his long-lost
owner or something.”
kind of envy him, since that’s exactly what I’d like to do to your face, too,
right about now.
In gratitude, of course, she told
His gaze zeroed in on her arm and he
frowned. “It looks like you banged yourself up a bit. Are you okay?”
Teddy had tried to keep her elbow
turned away from him so he wouldn’t ask what happened. She felt like an idiot
for stumbling on what was pretty much level ground.
“It’s nothing. Where’d you find the
escape artist?” She moved closer to the idling car, tucking her injured arm
“Not that far away, really,” he said,
giving Buster an affectionate muzzle rub. “I kept on going past the tennis
club, then wandered around a bunch of crescents and courts until I hit South
Roberts. When I was passing by the Presbyterian Children’s Village, I spotted
him meandering across the grounds. By the time I made it up their long drive, a
couple of girls had already corralled him.”
Buster crawled over into the guy’s lap,
trying to hang his head out the window.
“Aw, he wants you to pet him and tell
him it’s all right,” the guy said. “Don’t you, pal?”
Hot Neighbor didn’t seem the slightest
bit perturbed by having a big, panting Husky crawling all over him. He was
clearly a dog lover, and that only added to his considerable appeal as far as
Teddy was concerned.
“You know he’s the Bennetts’ dog,
right?” she said.
“Sure, and you’re their dog walker. I
noticed you out with the dog a couple of times.”
noticed me? Teddy instantly gave herself a mental slap down for her
She gave him a weak smile. “Sorry about
Buster using your lawn as a potty.”
“He’s a dog, after all.” He nudged
Buster off his lap. “Come on, get in and we’ll get you two back home.”
“Thanks, but I’ll just meet you back
there.” The last thing she wanted to do was leave blood and dirt in his
expensive car, and they were just a few minutes’ walk from the Bennetts’ house.
When he shrugged his broad shoulders,
her gaze helplessly zeroed in on the biceps that bulged out from his tight
black T-shirt. Suddenly, she barely noticed the pain searing her elbow.
“See you there,” he said and sped away.
Teddy watched him go, telling herself to stop drooling like some teenage idiot.
She broke into a jog again. Though she
and her pal Emma had been doing the home pet care thing for a couple of years
now, she had to admit that nothing topped the last half hour for the most
interesting incident of her career.
Meet Author V.K.
V.K. Sykes is really two people –
Vanessa Kelly and Randy Sykes, a husband and wife team who write USA Today
Bestselling contemporary romance and also romantic suspense. Randy excels at
plot and characterization, but tends to fall down on the job when it comes to
that pesky old thing called emotion. That’s where Vanessa steps in. She usually
writes the sex scenes too, since Randy is a bit uncomfortable when it comes to
that sort of stuff. Vanessa also writes award-winning Regency-set historical
romance for Kensington Zebra under her own name.
V.K. also has a new contemporary
romance series in the works called Seashell Bay, set on a pretty little island
off the coast of Maine. Book one, Meet Me at the Beach, will be released by
Grand Central Publishing in February, 2015.