A Taste of Susan Scott Shelley’s Fighting For More

A Taste of Susan Scott Shelley’s Fighting For More

Hey guys, hockey season is in full swing, so today I’m giving you a taste of one of my newest hockey romances. Fighting For More is book 2 in my Buffalo Bedlam series, and I had a blast writing this story.

Hockey enforcer Leo Brennan knocked out the Buffalo Bedlam’s star player. Now, he’s been traded to their team. Life can’t get worse… until he falls for his injured teammate’s sister.

The Buffalo Bedlam arena was the most unfriendly rink in the league. The ice wasn’t giving or forgiving. The fans were loyal and loudly voiced taunts for the opposing team. And, the Bedlam players were getting under Leo Brennan’s skin. Knocking them into the boards and onto their asses throughout the game had been a pleasure.
Leo hopped over the boards and onto the ice. Clutching his stick, he joined the rush. The Sea Lions were down by four goals with ten minutes remaining in the game. His team needed a fire lit under them, and his job was to provide the spark.

Skate hard, hit harder, and, no matter what, make sure he was the last one standing.

They needed a win to close out the abysmal mid-February road trip. Then they could leave cold, snowy Buffalo and get back to warm, sunny Los Angeles and the Sea Lions fans, who loved the team through highs and lows and everything in between.

Cold air rushed over his face as he flew up the ice. Two Bedlam players chased the puck into the corner with two Sea Lions at their backs. The glass rattled as the players collided into the boards.

The puck shot out to center ice, and right onto Dylan Fraser’s stick. The Bedlam’s talented captain was responsible for three of his team’s goals. No way in hell would Leo allow him another one. He adjusted course, gunning for Dylan, the blue jersey a target on a field of white. They were nearly matched in height, but he outweighed Dylan by a good thirty pounds.

Focused on the goalie, Dylan raised his stick for a slap shot.

Leo lowered his shoulder, braced his body, and slammed into Dylan’s side. The captain fell like a domino.

Target eliminated.

Securing the puck, Leo skated in the opposite direction and fired the puck at the Bedlam goalie. The goalie skated forward, knocking the puck aside and then kept coming.

What the…

The whistle blew, and Leo turned to see why the play had been blown dead and why the crowd had grown silent.
Dylan lay unmoving at center ice, and the ref and linesmen were breaking up fights all around him. Bedlam players on the bench climbed onto the ice, as the trainer and doctor rushed to Dylan’s side.

Mouth dropped open, Leo stared and skated closer. A blunt force slammed into his back, knocking him forward. The ice rushed up to meet him. Cursing, he turned his head. The goalie, Rod Fraser, loomed over him. Eyes heated, Rod ripped off his mask and dropped his gloves, and then his hands formed fists. “What the hell? You knocked out my brother.”

Oh, shi–. Leo pushed to standing.

Glaring, Rod charged, his fist flying forward. It caught Leo’s jaw. Pain exploded, radiating as his teeth knocked together and his head snapped back.

Rod’s fist came at him again. The right hook was as precise as one Leo would have thrown. Leo blocked him, countering with his own. Anger didn’t flare, it couldn’t, not with the concern for Dylan tightening his chest. He’d react the same as Rod if someone had hurt one of his brothers. Hell, he’d gotten into more fights than he could remember trying to protect Ryan.

Another jab caught his cheek.

Enough.

Leo barreled forward. “I gave you that first one. No more.”

“You think so?” Rod came at him again.

Players flew in from every angle, a blur of Bedlam blue and Sea Lions white. A wall of white jerseys formed around Leo as his teammates pulled him away from the irate goalie and toward the Sea Lions bench.

Worried about Dylan, he searched through the throng of players scattered across the ice. Dylan still lay motionless. Was the man conscious? Could he move his limbs? Rod knelt beside his brother, face creased in concern. Emergency personnel crossed the rink, carrying a backboard.

Not a good sign. Not at all.

The deafening silence of the arena, the fans’ harsh glares and anxious faces, magnified Leo’s guilt. He stood by the bench and forced himself to watch the replay on the Jumbotron. His skates hadn’t left the ice when he’d lunged at Dylan, and he hadn’t struck Dylan in the head. The hit was legal. Clean. He didn’t play dirty. Never had, and never would.

But seeing Dylan’s helmet fly off his head mid-fall, and then Dylan’s head hitting the ice, sickened his stomach. The helplessness and fear on Rod’s face as he watched his brother clawed at Leo’s heart. Again, Ryan came into his thoughts. That helplessness echoed what Leo had felt after finding his baby brother beaten up in a park after the previous year’s Pride parade in Philly.

He shook his head to clear the memory. His teammates’ words of comfort and the taps on his back in support seemed far away. He wouldn’t be welcomed if he skated to Dylan’s side to offer an apology. Words were weak anyway, they couldn’t make up for what had happened. He knew that better than anyone. Still, he’d have to find Dylan’s number somehow after the game, and try to express his regret.

Gaze glued to Dylan being wheeled off the ice, he struggled to shift his focus back to the game. Coach Brown ordered his line back to the bench. Leo sat beside his line mates, trying to ignore the fans behind the glass and their screamed insults. Of course, they were worried about their captain. And of course, they were angry at him. Accidents happened. Injuries happened. But maybe by some miracle, Dylan would be completely fine by the next day.

Cold liquid splashed the back of his neck. Startled, he jumped and twisted around. An empty cup clattered to rest beside his skate. The yeasty scent of beer surrounded him.

Behind the glass, two fans smirked at him. One raised his cup in mock-toast. The other flipped Leo off.
Beside him, McSorley stood, and his line mate glared at the fans. “What the hell? They’re throwing sh*t at you?”

Coach Brown hurried from his position at the center of the bench. Shaking his head, he placed his hand on Leo’s shoulder. “Let it go. Leo, head to the locker room.”

“But…” There were still eight minutes left. Not that he’d be able to concentrate on playing.

“Now.”

He grabbed his stick and ambled away from the bench. As he headed into the tunnel, more trash rained down from the fans. Beer, sodas, and an entire container of chicken wings accompanied a chorus of boos. Fighting the urge to rush into the stands and go after the jerks, he wiped splatters of red and brown from his visor and lumbered through the hallway.

The game couldn’t end fast enough.

The sooner he got away from Buffalo, the better.

***

Buy Links:

Amazon: http://a.co/0QbQCU9

iBooks: http://apple.co/2jSHJHZ

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2wNtHZC

Nook: http://bit.ly/2wcp8IU

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2fGfDeE

 

Just a Taste – ENAMORED

Just a Taste – ENAMORED

My latest release is ENAMORED, book 3 in my baseball series. I wove two romances together in this one, so I’m calling it a baseball romance double-header. 🙂

 

After a Spring Training stunt saddles Liam York with a broken ankle, the League’s Best Mascot is forced to share the spotlight with the team’s solution: a temporary friend for Fin the Shark. But his new co-worker tests the limits of his control.

Claire Devereux spent years caring for her siblings and is more than ready for some fun. She loves every aspect of being Fin’s new friend Fiona and is determined to make the temporary gig permanent.

As romance blooms between their on-field personalities, Liam and Claire give in to their passion off the field too. But curve balls from every direction test whether they’re better as a duo or if it’s every mascot for him/herself.

Meanwhile…

First baseman Slade MacInnes has a lot of balls in the air. His contract is expiring, he’s just found his birth parents, and his agreement to do some work with a children’s charity has led him to the very sexy and sweet Savanna Soto.

Savanna works hard granting wishes to kids with life-threatening illnesses, something her sister never lived to experience. Slade’s no-fear attitude and adrenaline-junkie adventures make her want to break out of her self-imposed safety bubble and live.

Slade figures he’s just the man to help her conquer her fears. Each activity draws them closer together with an attraction that sizzles. But when life pushes their differences to a head, will fear win out or can love save the game?

****

Here’s a taste from Liam and Claire’s story:

Thanks to traffic, forty minutes passed before she entered the stadium’s employee parking lot. Claire grabbed her purse, pulled out her badge, and jogged toward the entrance. She couldn’t afford to be late yet. Maybe no one had noticed.

Yeah right.

She flashed her badge at the security guard and increased her pace. Rushing to the third-floor office, she bypassed the elevator and ran up the stairs. The team wanted the mascots to be visible to the fans on the concourse prior to the game. People would see that she wasn’t there with Liam. Even if the fans didn’t notice, the staff would. Raymond had been pleased with her performance so far. She couldn’t let that change.

Her purse caught the edge of a maintenance cart and yanked her back. She stumbled into the wall, cursing as her shoulder met concrete.

“Claire?” Liam, dressed as Fin, slowed to a stop on his golf cart. “I tried calling your phone. Are you okay?”

Rubbing her shoulder, she pushed away from the wall. “Sorry I’m late. I’ll be dressed in under a minute.”

She slid past him, jogged the remaining steps to the office, and dropped her purse on the floor. Her damn shoulder throbbed. Hopefully, it wouldn’t hold back her performance. No one could see her wince in pain anyway during the game. The costume made sure of that.

The golf cart stopped in front of the door. Liam hopped off, grabbed his crutches, and lumbered into the room. The door closed at his back. “Are you getting in a pre-game workout by jogging around the floors?”

Laughter huffed out at the thought. “Right. That’s it.”

She tugged on the costume, tripping as her sneaker caught on the material. And then the zipper got stuck on the fabric. “Damn it, damn it, damn it.”

“Hey, relax. We’re good.”

“No, we’re not good. We’re due out on the concourse.”

“If you need more time, Fin can always pretend he locked Fiona in a closet so he could have fun on the field.”

“Raymond’s not going to buy that if he’s out there.” She sat on the couch and worked the material free of the zipper’s teeth.

He came closer and laid his hand on her shoulder. “I wouldn’t throw you under the bus. I’d tell Ray that you were stuck in a traffic backup caused by an accident or road construction.”

Her previous sales job had been cut-throat, with co-workers stealing customers and an everyone-out-for-themselves environment. She had never expected that Liam would back her up here. “Well, thanks. I appreciate it.”

“Just curious, but why were you late?”

“Lasagna and a missing gym leotard.”

She caught his grin through the mesh of Fin’s mouth. “Yeah, I hate it when that happens.”

They both laughed and he nodded toward the TV. “Today’s episode of Fin and Fiona is The First Kiss. We can tune in right here during the fourth inning.”

“With everything that’s gone on today, I’d forgotten. I’m glad Raymond was right about the fans loving the Fin and Fiona storyline.” Resisting Liam had been harder than she’d thought. Just one look into those laughing brown eyes and she’d melt. He made her wish for things that she shouldn’t. She stood and slid the zipper closed.

He moved backward, but his crutch landed on her purse and fell away from his grip. His body pitched to the side and he flung out his arm and casted ankle. Claire sprang forward. She couldn’t have him land on either of those. Yanking the front of his costume, she twisted toward the couch. His weight and momentum took them both down and they landed in a heap of tangled limbs.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” Buried beneath him, she panted the apology. She never left her purse on the floor. “Did you bang your ankle?”

“A little.” He pushed up on his arms but she couldn’t see his eyes through the dark mesh of the costume. “Can you pull off my mask?”

“Sure.” Berating herself, she slipped it off his head. His eyes kindled with that familiar spark and his dark hair was tousled in a sexy mess. She could picture him looking this exact way after a night spent together. Dragging her thoughts from going in that direction, she smoothed the strands, desperate to fix something after the near-disaster she’d caused.

His breath stilled when her hand tangled in his hair. And she realized she probably shouldn’t be touching him like this. She lifted her hand, but he shook his head. “Don’t stop. I like it.”

Her blood beating a steady thrum, she returned her hand to his hair. His gaze roamed her face and then settled on her mouth. He shifted his body and tugged his hand free of their tangle. When his finger trailed from her temple to her chin, her eyes fluttered closed. The touch was like thousands of points of electricity pulsing against her skin.

She opened her eyes. Liam’s gaze held hers captive and he traced his finger over the shape of her lips. “Fighting this hasn’t worked. If anything, it’s made me want you more.”

The words spoken in the roughened tone were both arousing and gratifying. She hadn’t been the only one who’d suffered. “So maybe we should stop fighting it.”

A slow, dangerous smile spread across his face. He moved his hand to her throat and stroked her skin with a feather light caress. Claire left one hand buried in his hair and slid the other to his neck, massaging the muscles.

Liam groaned and lowered his head and his mouth crashed down on hers faster and hotter than she’d expected. His lips coaxed hers apart and she let his tongue slide inside to dual with hers. He kissed a trail to her jawline then down her neck in a series of nips and licks that weakened her muscles and heated her blood. Tugging his hair, she nudged him until he returned to her mouth. His urgency matched hers and his body blanketed her, wrapping them in their desire.

A knock pounded on the door. Claire jolted and knocked her forehead into Liam’s. “Damn it.”

He pulled away, rubbing his forehead, and rolled to the floor. “Just a second,” he called out as he reached for his crutches.

Claire sprung to her feet. She adjusted her costume, slipped her mask in place, and helped Liam put his on.

When she opened the door, Tim, one of the security guards, stood with his hand on his radio. “You guys all right? Our guest singer for the National Anthem was late, but she’s ready to go now. You need to get on the field.”

They were much later than she’d thought. Claire groaned and glanced at Liam. “Sorry. I had some costume trouble.”

“I’ll have them hold the elevator for you.” Tim stepped away, speaking into his radio.

Liam locked the door and climbed into the golf cart. He rubbed Fin’s fins together. “Time to burn some rubber.”

She started the engine and sped down the hall. Her attraction to Liam couldn’t get in the way of doing her job. “Listen, about what happened…”

“It was a good first kiss, starting with the crash and ending with a bang.” He raised his hand to his head.

Laughing, she glided the cart onto the empty elevator. “Seriously. We can’t let it affect things here.”

He laid his hand on her thigh. “Believe me, I wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize this job. On the clock, we’ll make sure to keep a better watch on the time. But off the clock, all bets are off.”

A shiver tore through her. Anticipation rolled together with wariness. Losing focus of her responsibilities wasn’t an option. And Liam proved to be the biggest distraction she’d ever had.

You can get your copy here:

Amazon: http://a.co/7T7IHJ6

iBooks: http://apple.co/2tI3UC3

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2u7flFy

B&N: http://bit.ly/2uKUPIT

Smashwords: http://bit.ly/2u2rxb3

 

Happy reading!

A taste of Xio Axelrod’s FAST FORWARD!

A taste of Xio Axelrod’s FAST FORWARD!

Hey, Spicy people! Xio here. It’s been a while since I gave you a little taste of my work. And it just so happens that today I am releasing my very first MM Contemporary romance, Fast Forward.

The novella spans seven years in the whirlwind love story of a brilliant, young professor Ian Waters, and the god-like Norwegian rock star Jessen Sørensen. There’s angst, humour, and plenty of heat in my debut. I hope you’ll fall in love with the boys as I have.

Here’s a taste! [Read more…]

Sample Positively Pippa

Sample Positively Pippa

 

Just a Taste of my upcoming release, Positively Pippa #1 Ghost Falls Series. The book releases at the end of the month and I’m so exciting to share it with you. I am running a number of exciting giveaways prerelease.

 

  1. I am offering a custom made downloadable coloring book for any preorder of any of my books. All you need to do is send along proof of preorder to sarah@sarahhegger.com
  2. Watch out for the blog release tour starting May 19th, I’m offering free books as well as three Ulta gift cards so you can give yourself a makeover a la Pippa. More details on my website.
  3. I am also hosting a Facebook release party on May 30th (release day!) and just for attending you might win a $400 gift card to StitchFix for a wardrobe makeover – your very own Pippa. Click the link to take part.
  4. And finally just by subscribing to my newsletter I am offering a chance to win a custom made bracelet from local Colorado jeweler Sima Gilady

And having chewed your ear off about all of that, let me give you that threatened excerpt:

 

“Shit, Isaac. If the plumber needs quarter-inch pipe, get him quarter-inch pipe.” Matt threw open the door to his truck as he half listened to another lame excuse. He could recite them by heart at this point anyway.

“No, I can’t get the pipe. I’m at Phi’s house now.” He sighed as Isaac went with the predictable. “Yes, again, and I can’t come now. You’re going to have to fix this yourself.”

He slammed his door and keyed off his phone. Smartphones! He missed the days of being able to slam a receiver down. Jabbing your finger at those little icons didn’t have the same release.

When God handed out brains to the Evans clan, he must have realized he was running low for the family allotment and been stingier with the youngest members. Between Isaac and their sister, Jo, there could only be a couple of functioning neurons left. And their performance, like a faulty electrical circuit, flickered in and out.

He grabbed his toolbox from the back of the truck. This had to be the ugliest house in history, as if Hogwarts and the Addams family mansion had a midair collision and vomited up Philomene’s Folly.

His chest swelled with pride as he stared at it. He’d built every ugly, over-the-top, theatrical inch of this heap of stone. He’d bet he was the only man alive who could find real, honest to God, stone gargoyles for downspouts. Not the plaster molding kind. Not for Diva Philomene St. Amor. Nope, she wanted them carved out of stone and mounted across the eaves like the front row of a freak show.

“Hey, Matt,” a kid called from the stables forming one side of the semicircular kitchen yard.

“Hey, yourself.” He couldn’t remember the name of Phi’s latest rescue kid doing time in her kitchen yard. Kitchen yard! In this century. Diva Philomene wanted a kitchen yard, so a kitchen yard she got, along with her stables.

“I want a building to capture the nobility of their Arabian ancestors thundering across the desert.” She’d got it. Heated floors, vaulted ceilings, and pure cedar stalls—now housing every ratty, mismatched, swaybacked nag the local humane society couldn’t house and didn’t want to waste a bullet on. A smile crept onto his face. You had to love the crazy old broad.

He skirted the circular herb garden eating up the center of the kitchen yard. A fountain in the shape of a stone horse trough trickled happily. He’d have to remind her to drain it and blow the pipes before winter. He didn’t want to replace the piping again next spring.

The top half of the kitchen door stood open and he unlatched the bottom half before stepping into the kitchen. The AGA range gave off enough heat to have sweat sliding down his sides before he took two steps. He opened the baize door to the rest of the house and yelled, “Phi!”

He hadn’t even known what a baize door was at nineteen, but the Diva had educated him because she wanted one and it became his headache to get her one.

“Mathieu!” The Frenchifying of his name was all the warming he got before Philomene appeared at the top of her grand, curving walnut staircase. Thirty-two rises, each six feet wide and two feet deep leading from the marble entrance hall to the gallery above.

The soft pink of the sun bled through the stained-glass windows and bathed the old broad in magic. Her purple muumuu made a swishing noise as she descended, hands outstretched, rings glittering in the bejeweled light. “Darling.”

She made his teeth ache. “Hold on to the railing, Phi, before you break your neck.” It had taken a crew of eight men to put that railing in, and nearly killed the carpenter to carve a dragon into every inch of it.

She pressed a kiss on both his cheeks with a waft of the same heavy, musky perfume she’d always worn. She smelled like home. “You came.”

“Of course, I came.” He bent and returned her embrace. “That’s how this works. You call, I drop everything and come.”

A wicked light danced in her grass green eyes, still bright and brilliant beneath the layers and layers of purple goo and glitter. She’d been a knockout in her youth, still had some of that beautiful woman voodoo clinging to her. If you doubted that for an instant, there were eight portraits and four times that many photos in this house to set you right. Or you could just take a look at Pippa—if you could catch a quick glance as she flew through town. He made it his business to grab an eyeful when he could.

“I am overset, Mathieu, darling.” She pressed her hand to her gem-encrusted bosom.

“Of course you are.” The Diva never had a bad day or a problem. Nope, she was overset, dismayed, perturbed, discomposed and on the occasion her dishwasher broke down, discombobulated.

“It is that thing in the kitchen.” She narrowly missed taking his eye out with her talons as she threw her hand at the baize door.

Her kitchen might look like a medieval reenactment, but it was loaded for bear with every toy and time-saving device money could buy—all top of the line. “What thing, Phi?”

“The water thingy.”

“The faucet?”

She swept in front him, leading the way into the kitchen like Caesar entering Rome in triumph. “See.” He dodged her hand just in time. “It drips incessantly and disturbs my beauty rest.”

He clenched his teeth together so hard his jaw ached. He ran a construction company big enough to put together four separate crews and she called him for a dripping faucet. “I could have sent one of my men around to fix that. A plumber.”

“But I don’t want one of your men, darling.” She beamed her megawatt smile at him. “I want you.”

There you had it. She wanted him and he came. Why? Because he owed this crazy, demanding, amazing woman everything, and the manipulative witch knew it. He shrugged out of his button-down shirt and pulled his undershirt out of his jeans. He was going to get wet and he’d be damned if he got faucet grunge all over his smart shirt.

Phi took the shirt from him and laid it tenderly over the back of one of her kitchen chairs. “This is a very beautiful shirt, Matt.”

“I’m a busy and important man now, Phi. A man with lots of smart shirts.”

She grinned at him, and stroked the shirt. “I am very proud of you, Matt.”

Damn it all to hell, if that didn’t make him want to stick out his chest like the barnyard rooster strutting across Phi’s kitchen yard. He turned the faucet on and then off again. No drip. “Phi?”

“It’s underneath.” She wiggled her fingers at the cabinet.

He got to his knees and opened the doors. Sure enough, a small puddle of water gathered on the stone flags beneath the down pipe. Good thing Phi had insisted on no bottoms to her kitchen cabinets. It had made it a bitch to get the doors to close without jamming on the stone floor, but right now it meant he wouldn’t be replacing cabinets in his spare time.

“You should be out on a date,” Phi said from behind him.

“If I was out on a date, Phi, I wouldn’t be here fixing your sink.”

“Yes, you would.”

Yeah, he would. He turned off the water to the sink. “Have you got some towels or something?”

She bustled into the attached laundry and reappeared with an armload of fluffy pink towels.

Wheels crunched on the gravel outside the kitchen and Phi dropped the towels on the floor next to him. She tottered over to the window to stare. A huge smile lit her face and she gave off one of those ear-splitting trills that had made her the world’s greatest dramatic soprano. Everyone, from the mailman to a visiting conductor, got the same happy reception.

He leaned closer to get a better look at the pipes beneath the sink. Were those scratch marks on the elbow joint? Neat furrows all lined up like someone had done that on purpose. He crawled into the cabinet and wriggled onto his back. They didn’t make these spaces for men his size.

“Mathieu?” Phi craned down until her face entered his field of vision. Her painted-on eyebrows arched across her parchment-pale face. “I have a visitor.”

“Is that so?” What the hell, he always played along.

“Indeed.” Her grin was evil enough to have him stop his tinkering with the wrench in midair. “I thought you might like to know about this visitor.”

The kitchen door opened. A pair of black heels tapped into view. The sort of shoes a man wanted to see wrapped around his head, and at the end of a set of legs he hadn’t seen since her last trip to Ghost Falls—Christmas for a fly-by visit. His day bloomed into one of those eye-aching blue sky and bright sunlight trips into happy.

Welcome home, Pippa Turner.

 

You can preorder your copy of Positively Pippa from any of the following places:

 

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2g19kUQ

iBooks: http://apple.co/2fUzwkR

Nook: http://bit.ly/2fo0T27

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2fhes62

 

Just A Taste Of The Wedding Gift

Just A Taste Of The Wedding Gift

I’ve never written a story for a boxed set, so this was a novel experience for me. My book, The Wedding Gift is one of 20 in the Wedding Dreams Boxed Set, releasing April 18. 3000 pages of sweet to spicy tales of nuptial bliss, and sometime, not so blissful.

My story is about Gage Cassidy, a wounded warrior, his fiance, Elle Sweeney, and a marvelous goggle-wearing therapy dog named Sigmund. I hope you enjoy this little taste…

“What I don’t understand is why he’s pushing me away.” Elle Sweeney shoved her phone in her back pocket and bent to straighten the kindergarten kid-sized chairs. She worked her dark blond curls into a ponytail as she used her hip to shove a pint-sized desk back into an orderly row.

School had let out for the summer two hours ago and her room was in disarray. Elle had conducted a cute little awards ceremony and she’d accepted a bazillion hugs from her students.

In the now quiet classroom, she had only her aide, Sally, and a burgeoning sense of helplessness and frustration to keep her company. She’d texted Gage the second the kids and their parents had scattered, and, now, an hour later, it was apparent he was ignoring her.

God, she’d been so happy to see him. The drive to the airport in Denver had passed in a blur of eagerness and anticipation. He’d requested only she meet him, instead of his entire family making the trip. And his mom and dad had agreed.

The sight of him riding the escalator to baggage claim had finally caused the tears to spill over. Rugged, handsome, weary, but looking so damn good in his BDUs. It was only after he’d swept her up in a hug she realized how gaunt he’d become. He’d buried his face in her neck for several long minutes, hiding his tears against her skin. She hadn’t bothered to hide hers.

Their kiss was like a recreation of the very first time he’d kissed her. Tentative, sweet. It felt like coming home. Every inch of her body tingled when he’d wrapped her in his arms for the first time in a year. Deployment was hell, but oh, God…that first kiss. They’d spent the night in Denver, in a luxury suite she’d been saving for months to pay for. They’d checked in early to the knowing smile of the desk clerk. And for a time, life had been rosy, filled with pent-up passion and words of love. Until he’d rolled to his side and fell into a fitful sleep without…

The nightmares began that night. His moans had jerked her awake and she’d held him tight while his heart slowed and he withdrew into himself. He’d refused to talk about it. She had no experience dealing with returning warriors, so other than whispering words of love, she didn’t know how to calm him. How to help him reclaim the funny, happy man he’d been before he left for war.

“Is he seeing someone?” Sally Gagnon asked. At fifty-something, Sally had started working in Elle’s classroom as an aide, helping with whatever was needed for a class of twenty kindergartners.

“No. My dad is standing by, ready to help, but Gage is uncomfortable even talking about setting an appointment.”

“Well, I guess I can understand that. But I’d bet your dad would remain impartial.”

“He should be able to, but can you imagine talking to your future father-in-law about intimacy issues brought about by traumatic wartime experiences?” Heat flashed up Elle’s chest, neck, and face. The curse of being pale. Those blushes were unconquerable. She couldn’t believe she’d said anything to Sally. But frustration was getting the better of her. They’d had a spectacular physical relationship before he’d shipped out. But in the month he’d been home, they’d only made love three times. Each time had left her…lonely.

Sally shuddered then laughed. “I see your point. Does Gage have a dog?”

That was an odd question. Elle tipped her head to the side. “Cricket passed a year before Gage was deployed. He hasn’t had the heart to get a new dog.”

He’d loved that old Black Lab so damn much. He’d been devastated when the vet had told him Cricket had cancer. His hand had shook as he signed the consent forms to euthanize his pet. More than a pet, really. Cricket had been his best friend, other than Elle. He’d sat, his back to the wall, with the seventy-pound dog on his lap as Cricket breathed his last.

Gage had broken down as soon as they’d left the vet’s office. They’d driven to the dog park Crick had loved. They sat silently on a bench, watching other dogs playing with their humans. Gage had hurled the dog’s leash into the small pond, then kicked a tree hard enough to rake bark from the trunk. Thankfully, Gage had been wearing the steel-toed boots required for his job at the mine.

It had been the first time she’d seen him so upset. But not the last. Normally, Gage was even-keeled, but in the month or so he’d been home, he’d become more and more fidgety and out of control. He tried to hide it from her by constantly heading to the river trail to jog for hours. He’d come home too exhausted for words. Just thinking about it now made her eyes sting and ache with unshed grief.

“Listen, my daughter has been training dogs for stroke and cardiac patients,” Sally offered. “She told me last week she was fostering a shepherd-boxer mix that had been trained for PTSD victims. Have you heard anything about therapy dogs? Is that something your dad could recommend?”

“I haven’t heard of them. Dad’s never mentioned them. But I haven’t really talked to him about Gage’s problem. Somehow, it feels disloyal.”

Sally laid her hand on Elle’s forearm. “Grab your purse. I’m going to introduce you to Emily and Sigmund. Men are basically boys at heart. And what boy doesn’t want a dog?”

This set is on preorder right now for 99¢. You can buy it at all these retailers.

Smarturl.it/WeddingDreamsKobo

Smarturl.it/WeddingDreamsiBooks

Smarturl.it/WeddingDreamsGP

Smarturl.it/WeddingDreamsNook
Smarturl.it/WeddingDreamsAmazon

By the way – The authors of Wedding Dreams are sponsoring a great giveaway. You can enter for a chance to win an iPad mini by clicking this link 

 

Just a taste of Between Venus and Mars

Just a taste of Between Venus and Mars

Between Venus and Mars is my latest release. I consider it a science fiction romantic comedy.

Here’s just a taste from the opening of the story:

 

Chapter 1

 

Zana Starchild banked the rickety TRS-90 quinjet, as a photon torpedo detonated off her port thruster. The explosion rocked the tiny starship, and it was all she could do to hang on.

“Okay, maybe I should have used the fuckin’ seatbelt.”

The instrument panel lit up with bright red whatcha-ma-doogers, flashing like the ancient neon sign hanging in front of Paddington’s Pastry Shop.

She grunted. “That’s probably bad.”

It would have been really nice to have someone with her who actually knew how to fly this junk-heap, or could at least tell her what the hell those flashing things meant.

It was kind of hard to check the instruction manual while these shitheads were firing phase cannons and photon torpedoes up her ass.

Not that she actually had an instruction manual.

“Shit.”

Just her luck to find deep-space pirates waiting at this jump point.

Bastards.

And these had to be the dumbest pirates in the entire galaxy. Sure, it was a convenient place to surprise travelers, but this jump point didn’t go anywhere anyone wanted to be.

Well, except her, and that was completely irrelevant to her argument. Even she didn’t really want to go to Old Earth. She just had to.

A command crackled through the speaker of her ship com. “Surrender your ship, rim rat, and we’ll give you a life pod back home.”

Maybe I should be civil for a change? You know, so they don’t get all mad and blast me out of the sky?

Zana jammed the reply button. “Up yours, jack-off.” It just spilled out of her mouth. So much for civility. “You don’t want this piece-of-shit ship anyway. Have you even scanned me?”

Well, not that bad. She’d only sworn once.

Convincing them she was worthless was her best option. If she surrendered, they’d probably drop her ass out an airlock and let her float off into space. Fuckers!

A laugh was followed by a mocking voice. “By the galactic gods, rim rat, how is that ship even flying?”

Ha!

“Told you, dumbass. You going to let me go or what?”

Mmm. Maybe I should have left out the dumbass part. Her father always said her mouth would get her into trouble someday.

Her gaze darted around the control panel. There had to be weapons onboard somewhere, though it was anyone’s guess if they worked. She’d put up a helluva fight, if she could find the stupid controls.

By the galactic gods, who was she kidding? She was completely screwed if they didn’t let her go. She barely knew how to fly this ship, let alone fight in it.

***

THE SOUL MATE TREE, BOOK THREE:

BETWEEN VENUS AND MARS

AUTHOR: S. C. Mitchell

GENRE: Science Fiction Romantic Comedy

HEAT LEVEL: Steamy

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/Between-Venus-Mars-Soul-Mate-ebook/dp/B01N7OXSND/

 

Thanks for tasting,

http://spiceaisleromance.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Steve.jpg

Just A Taste of Risking the Vine

Just A Taste of Risking the Vine

I’ve got a little secret … I love wine. So much that I’m writing a series set in and around vineyards. The research was fun and informative as I started. Risking the Vine features Jacqui Bishop and Luke Rossi, who have been sent to Team Vino, a team building camp in wine country. They’s met each other before, in Medford where they are from. But now, they are really going to get to know each other. Enjoy!

 

As the wait staff placed baskets of bread on the table, Luke asked, “So we met at a hospital happy hour, but you aren’t an employee. Where do you work?”

“MedServices. We’re a medical records management firm,” she replied.

“Hate to say it, I think we use your competition.”

“I know. Bella’s told me on numerous occasions.”

His eyes darkened. “Bella’s okay. We’ve worked together to settle a couple of issues with the nurses’ union. She strikes me as one of the sane ones in the HR department.”

“Hmm. Well, I’ve never heard her described that particular way.” Jac smiled at the idea of her zany friend being sane.

“In my experience the entire department thrives on a witch hunt.” Luke’s tone was glum. “They are constantly looking for a scapegoat to pin the latest trouble on, instead of considering the source of the trouble.”

“I think that’s the case with most organizations.” She reached for a piece of bread. Time to change the subject. “Where did you move from?”

“Most recently from Tampa. I’ve always lived in the southeast, so this is an interesting change.”

“How so?”

Luke spread butter on the piece of sourdough bread he’d selected. “The climate in Oregon is cooler and more temperate. Still terribly humid. There are a lot of rainy days in the northwest.”

“So right,” Jac replied, tugging on her hair, closer to straight than curly today. Humidity sucked, which was why she typically wore her hair up. She never had trouble making small talk, so why were they talking about the weather?

“Why are you here? And by here I mean at team building camp.” The expression in Luke’s eyes seemed open and curious. But something else lurked and smoldered, more than mere friendliness.

Low in her body, Jac experienced an answering heat. She cast about, trying to recall his question. “Oh . . . um, I’m up for a promotion and since I’ve never supervised people before, the owner wanted me to learn some tricks to boost cooperation between my department and other internal clients. Although, being out of the office hasn’t stopped the calls from coming in. I guess it’s nice to be missed.”

“Trouble?”

“Nothing I can’t handle. I’m in client services and sometimes our customers can be demanding. Medical billing, records and privacy concerns, all can be a bit of a nightmare.”

“Tell me about it,” Luke sympathized. His gaze clouded. “Probably a lot like personnel and budget management.”

Jac leaned to her right as the waiter put a bowl of stew in front of her. Her shoulder brushed Luke’s. Warm, welcome heat from the contact thrilled her. Even though she sort of already knew the answer, she asked, “What brought you here?”

Luke fisted his hand on the table, tapped it a couple of time, while a muscle in his jaw popped.

Oops, sore subject.

“Let’s not talk about work anymore, okay? Honestly, I’d rather talk about the weather or baseball than my job. Or whether or not you have a husband.” He lifted one brow and tipped his head to the side.

A small sizzle raced across her belly. “Uh . . . no, no husband. Not even a boyfriend in sight.” And she hadn’t been heavily involved with anyone since her college sweetheart. Damn him.

He nodded. “Good. I didn’t have a chance to get to know you at happy hour. I’m glad to fix that now.”

The slow lift at the corners of his mouth drew her in. Made her believe he really did think it was good she didn’t have a significant other.

Just a Taste of More Than Words

Just a Taste of More Than Words

more than words

My other job, aside from being a romance author, is being a voiceover artist. I absolutely love it and it was the perfect job for my heroine Skye. I also gave something I love to my hero Aidan. He plays hockey in a men’s rec league. I heart hockey so much. But that’s a post for another day… Please meet Aidan and Skye below. 🙂

This excerpt is from Chapter One:

 

Aidan MacKay prided himself on staying cool under pressure. His army days taught him the importance of an even-temper and self-control which served him well in civilian life, too—at work as the head of HR and at play, guarding the net for his hockey team.

But even Zen masters had a limit.

Waking up to a sick dog, followed by a dead car battery, two employee emergencies, then a showdown with the new payroll company had him clock-watching. At three o’clock, he’d barely made a dent in the pile on his desk, wading through seventy-five resumes for only three job openings, two of them temporary. Aidan teetered a breath away from his breaking point.

His head pounded. His mind swam with his never-ending to-do list. And his muscles ached from too many hours hunched over a desk.

Email after email appeared in his inbox and frustration mounted again. Blood pounded in his temples. He forwarded what could wait into Angie’s inbox, and then glared at the rest.

“Might as well get started,” he mumbled, scrolling down.

A name popped out at him from the mass of emails. A pleasant surprise. He lifted his fingers and sat back, staring at the screen.

Sky Galen.

The voiceover artist had been working with the company for the past six months, voicing sales training tutorials and workplace safety videos. Her friendly emails always made him smile. He closed his eyes and leaned back in his chair and hit play on the sound file.

Her voice glided out of the speakers, enticing him to open his eyes as if he expected her to be standing in front of his desk. Calming. Soothing. Like a spring rainfall cooling his hot skin. His heartbeat slowed. Breathing eased and his taut muscles loosened.

The recording ended all too quickly.

Holy shit.

He sat up straight, staring at the sound file on the screen, and hit repeat.

Wonderfully modulated.

Slightly husky.

Completely sexy.

Her voice contained magic. Real magic. No recording had ever affected him like that before.

He hit repeat again. Then, continual repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Perfection.

Her voice possessed the same relaxing effect as an hour’s worth of yoga, or several minutes of deep breathing, or time spent playing with his dog. Instant, utter peace.

Heartbeat quickening, he clicked on the link for her website below her email signature. A background in swirly shades of blue as peaceful as her voice, countless testimonials, and demos showcasing a broad range of projects, including a few for Kallis, filled his screen. Her About page spoke of a previous career in radio before pursuing voiceovers full-time. He’d known she liked music; they’d had an interesting email exchange on rock bands when he’d mentioned his hockey team listened to eighties hair metal bands in the locker room before games.

He clicked through each page. Unfortunately, no photo. He would have loved a face to place with the name and voice. They’d emailed back and forth, quite a bit during her last few projects. He’d learned that she loved scary movies, Italian food, and lucky for him, hockey—even though they rooted for two rival professional teams. Hell, he knew more about her than the last three women he’d dated—combined. And when was that last date?

She was funny, sweet, and now, he was eager, more than eager, to get to know her even better.

Screw it—why wait?

He jabbed his fingers at the keypad and dialed the number listed in her email.

Two rings later, she answered, “Hello?”

“Skye?”

“Yes?”

“It’s Aidan. Aidan MacKay. With Kallis Toys.”

“Aidan, hello. It’s nice to hear from you.” Her voice flowed around him like a gentle breeze. The way she said his name… He wanted her to say it again.

He shifted the phone to his other hand and relaxed against the back of his chair. “I wanted to let you know how happy we’ve been with you.”

“Thank you. I’m so glad. I love working with you. Kallis is one of my favorite clients.”

Damn. He was consumed by the urge to see her. Hearing her voice live only heightened his craving for more. Nothing short of face time would do. “I’d love to meet you sometime.”

“Yes, well—” A blast of hard rock music echoed through the speaker, drowning out her voice. Two feminine voices mixed in before he could hear her close a door. Quiet returned.

He glanced at the phone, wishing he could see her through it. “Uh… Are you okay?”

“I’m sorry. My sister is here visiting, and she accidentally turned on my sound system. In hindsight, having a universal remote wasn’t a smart decision.”

“Good taste in music. Can’t go wrong with The Fury. Great band.”

“I’m so embarrassed—not about the band—I saw them in concert twice, and they were amazing. I’ll be hiding the remote from Terri for the rest of her stay.” Skye spoke louder, over the other voice profusely apologizing in the background, strong enough to penetrate the closed door.

He chuckled, more relaxed that he’d felt in ages. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll let you get back to your sister.”

“Wait. Did you need something specific?”

She seemed flustered. And he didn’t want to continue the conversation when she had a captive audience. “It can wait. I’ll be in touch with more projects soon.”

“I look forward to them.” Her voice softened, and he smiled.

He was still grinning like a fool a full minute later.

He returned to her website and played the various demos. Her voice changed from friendly to informative to concerned, but each one had the same effect on his system—utter peace.

He’d give anything to bottle that up. And maybe, with Skye, he’d find something more than the words filling the air.

 

More Than Words is Book 2 in my Holiday Hearts series. It’s available at all retailers. You can find the links, and lots more, by visiting me at susanscottshelley.com.

Happy Reading!

Susan-Sig

 

Just a taste of Son of Thunder

Just a taste of Son of Thunder

promio1

“Son of Thunder,” its voice reverberated throughout the room—low, guttural, almost a growl. “We knew you would come.”

Jord raised his sword in readiness.

The giant chuckled.

“You are no longer in the safety of your university, Jord Thorson.”

The giant raised its axe to strike.

“And you are no longer in Jotunheim,” Jord answered as he danced back from the giant’s swing, then countered with a swipe of his sword.

“There is no need to endanger the mortal. Surrender yourself and the belt to me,” the giant grunted, batting aside the sword with its axe.

The mortal?

Now Meghan knew she was dreaming. She’d probably laid her head on her desk for just a moment and fallen asleep. It had been a long, trying day. Any moment now she’d wake up and the real Jord Thorson, the old, gray-haired scholar, would stop by and tell her the strange belt was all just a hoax. It was too bad, she was becoming quite fond of the Fabio-like, sword-wielding college professor she’d dreamed up. Not the Fabio of today, but the Fabio of the past, when he really was Fabio . . . lous.

“I don’t think so,” Fabio-Jord said. He charged at the giant. The big creature swung its axe, but Jord’s sword deflected the blow. Meghan watched in fascination as the man and the giant fought their battle with archaic weapons in the accessioning room of her museum.

Well, if this was all a dream, she might as well enjoy it. The way Jord’s body moved—fluidly dodging and striking at the giant. Watching this man move was a slice of sensual heaven.

 

Son of Thunder is available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Son-Thunder-Heavenly-Series-ebook/dp/B00BJ64GPY

 

Steve

Just A Taste of “Tyranny” Bk 1 of The Goddesses Of Delphi

Just A Taste of “Tyranny” Bk 1 of The Goddesses Of Delphi

tyrannyfinal-fjm_low_res_500x750

About a year ago, I decided to try writing in a different genre. I’ve always written contemporary romances, but I was so intrigued by the idea of writing about Muses, gods, and goddesses that I just had to try. I’m biting my nails waiting on the release of this story. Here’s a little taste from the first meeting of immortal librarian Clio, Muse of History and Jax Callahan, a new professor:

Now she just had to figure out the best spot for the wet-floor warning. As she pivoted, the heavy wooden entry door swept inward again. A sudden gust of wind caught the door and propelled it toward Clio’s head. The dull thunk of the door connecting with her forehead rebounded in her ears. Glittering stars burst behind her eyes.

She stumbled backward, arms flailing. The safety cone flew from her grasp.

“Mother goddess!” The epithet burst from her lips before she could bite it back. Tears watered her vision as a large man reached for her. His big, warm hand wrapped around her arm and steadied her. A barrage of tiny, invisible arrows traveled from his fingertips up her arm.

“Oh, God! I’m so sorry. Are you okay?” When he spoke, his husky baritone voice vibrated through her chest.

She rubbed the tender spot on her head and blinked to clear the moisture from her eyes, bringing the man into focus.

Set under a pair of slashing brows, deep amber eyes reflected warmth and concern. A sexy scruff of midnight black whiskers covered a square jawline. His lips thinned and turned down in a frown. She took a step away, breaking the hold he had on her arm, and immediately missed the heat and comfort.

His broad shoulders, encased in a blue oxford cloth shirt, were wet from the rain. Drops of water sparkled on his cheeks and eyelashes. He probed his thumb over her forehead, gingerly testing the sore spot and rising lump there. When she flinched, he did as well.

She pushed his hand away. “I’m okay. I keep asking the administration to install glass entry doors to avoid things like this happening. Perhaps if I have a concussion, they’ll listen.”

“Oh, hell! Did I hit you that hard?”

She shook her head cautiously to make sure her brain didn’t rattle around. “No, I exaggerated.”

As much as it grieved her to do so, she turned from the man’s gaze and stooped to retrieve the wet floor sign. A moment later, she’d settled the bright yellow cone over a damp spot on the floor. Her thoughts still on the man next to her, she spun around to return to her work area. As she slipped on a slick spot, the stranger reached for her once again. One arm around her waist, the other grasping her arm, he kept her upright, balancing her against his solid body. He saved her from a mortifying tumble to the floor. Although, if he were a cushion, she’d gladly take a fall if landing on him was part of the cost. Preferably straddled on his lap.

And where in Zeus’s name had that thought come from?

Tyranny releases October 4, but is available for pre-order on Amazon