Wednesday, November 21, 2018






















































Trey

I never thought I’d have a girl like Sheridan. A pack princess--beautiful, smart, one of the elite. She picked me. She gave me her heart, her innocence.
Hurting her was my biggest regret. But then she betrayed us all.

Now she’s back--sent to spy on our pack.
She wants revenge.
But my wolf...he just wants her.


Sheridan

He crushed my heart and broke my trust. I ruined his life.
Now we have to work together, and it’s killing me.
I want to hate him. But more than that...I want his mark.




























Wolf Ridge, Arizona (Northern Phoenix)
16 Years Ago





Sheridan




The thunk of bone hitting flesh knots my stomach. I grab my little sister Ruby’s hand and tug her back, out of the way. An inhuman snarl comes from the slender, malnourished teen attacking Garrett Green, a kid twice his size. You’d have to be insane to take on our alpha’s kid.

But Trey probably has a death wish.

His drunk of a dad got hauled in by the police today. For murder. Of a human.

And the reason all the kids are gathered on this field behind the clubhouse is because our alpha called a pack meeting. Word is, they’re discussing whether to let Trey and his mom stay. The pack doesn’t appreciate trouble with humans, especially cops, so any wolf who puts at risk is subject to banishment.

So yeah, Trey’s probably got a world of anger and fear pounding through him now. Taking the beating from Garrett might be a welcome distraction.

To Garrett’s credit, he’s hardly bloodied Trey yet. He maintains the upper hand but lets the fight go on, lets Trey blow of steam this way, punching and kicking, throwing himself into it again and again. Trey picked the fight as soon as the meeting started and we kids clustered up to watch.

And they aren’t friends. No one’s befriended Trey since his family moved here last year. He’s stony quiet most of the time, barely talks in class, although he seems to be smart. This is the most interaction I’ve seen from him all year.

It’s not as ugly as it sounds. There’s a beauty to the fight--both boys moving with light-footed grace, like trained boxers instead of freshmen. If my older brother were out here, he’d break it up, but he just turned eighteen, so he’s allowed into meetings now.

Trey throws his weight and tackles Garrett. They tumble to the dirt. Garrett pins him, but Trey slips out and punches him in the temple, eliciting a surprised grunt.

Garrett’s four-year-old sister, Sedona, runs forward, crying for him, and I dash in to get her out of the fray. At the same time, Garrett tosses Trey backward and he knocks me and Sedona to the ground.

A collective growl snarls through Garrett and the group of kids watching. I fully expect Garrett to finish Trey now, his alpha instinct to protect the females overriding whatever restraint he was showing.

My friend Pam picks up and soothes Sedona.

“Sheridan.” Trey ignores Garrett, instantly transforming from out-of-control fury, to… gentleman. The wolf in his eyes fades from silver to pale blue.

I didn’t know he even knew my name, although why wouldn’t he? I certainly know his.

He lifts me to my feet at the same time he scrambles up. His knuckles are bruised and bloodied but he holds me gently, concern etched in the line between his eyes. “I’m sorry--are you hurt?” His tooth has gone through his lip and blood spills down his chin, but he seems unaffected by his own pain.

Our gazes tangle and something cinches up in my low belly--some intense new awareness that I’m female, and he’s male.

I can’t look away. He doesn’t release me, even with Garrett breathing down his neck, just behind him.

“I’m okay.” I finally make my numb lips move. My heart pounds in my ears as I absorb everything I’d missed about this scrappy kid from the lowest pack family. The deepness of his voice. The intensity of his pale blue eyes. The muscle definition on his slender frame. The scents on him--blood, earth and pine.

“Hey.” The cluster of kids jumps apart at the command of our alpha’s deep voice. “What’s going on down here?” He sniffs the air, no doubt picking up the scent of blood. The back door to the clubhouse is open and parents are coming out to round up their kids. Sedona runs to Mr. Green and he tousels her hair without taking his narrowed gaze off his son. “Were you fighting?”

A muscle in Garrett’s jaw ticks as his gaze flicks to Trey, who dropped his hands from me like he received an electrical shock. “Nah.” He affects a lazy tone that in no way matches the intensity of the tussle he had. “We were just letting off some steam, right, Trey?” He puts a fist out and Trey bumps it, like they’re best buds. Like Trey somehow earned his respect by taking him on.

I release a breath I didn’t know I was holding.

Emmett Green turns his commanding gaze on Trey. “You’re going to have to man up and take care of your mother, now, son.”

Trey keeps his eyes dropped submissively to show respect. “Yes, sir. Are we kicked out?”

“No,” Mr. Green says. “You’ll be permitted stay, so long as you keep out of trouble and sever all contacts with your dad.”

Trey swallows. “No hardship there,” he mutters. Then adds, “Thank you, sir.”

The alpha walks off and the kids all stay, eyeing Trey with curiosity. I want to punch them all in the face now, even though I am just as much a party to this scene as anyone else. It’s Garrett who shifts things up.

“Come on.” He smacks Trey’s shoulder like they’re old friends. “Let’s go hang out.”

And just like that, Trey gets folded in as one of Garrett’s little pack, the bad boy alphas of Wolf Ridge High.




#




Present




Sheridan




Those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.

The quote from my ‘daily wisdom quote’ calendar rolls through my head as I stride across the pitted parking lot. My heels crunch on broken glass and I grit my teeth. I’m here under duress. If I lose my favorite pair of Jimmy Choos on this fool’s errand, I am going to be really pissed.

You can do it, sweetheart. The pep talk from my father’s The pack’s counting on you. I hear the unspoken addition: I’m counting on you. If there’s anything thirty years of life have taught me, I’ll do anything to make my dad proud. Including walking back into a scene from my high school days.

Apparently I didn’t learn anything from the past, because here I am, repeating it. Come to think of it, my dad gave me that damn ‘daily wisdom quote’ calendar.

A rundown warehouse looms across the gravel lot, rising from the cracked concrete. A line of motorcycles lean in front of a broken chain link fence. A few beat up pickup trucks break up the endless row of leather and chrome. I pass one mud-spattered Chevy, a rusty replacement door breaking up the battered blue. A faded bumper sticker features a howling wolf. Another: a dog with its leg cocked, a telltale arc of liquid splashing on a Ford symbol.

Charming.

As I approach, the door slams open and a shifter staggers out, his matted mane of hair and sweat stained shirt reeking of beer, piss and pot. At 6 p.m. on a Thursday.

Lovely.

“Excuse me.” I’d touch his arm to get his attention, but I don’t know where he’s been. “Is this the Shifter Fight Club?”

The shifter dude gapes at me, and I stiffen. I’m dressed in an Anne Klein suit and skirt. The olive tone makes my blond hair pop and my green eyes look amazing. Paired with the sheerest of sheer stockings and my lucky Jimmy Choos--I’m business up front, yowza in the back. And sexy as fuck underneath.

Not that this trifling shifter wolf will ever know it. His gaze roams from my shiny shoes to my elegant skirt to my rather generous hips, detouring around the tailored cut at my waist and stalling right at my girls.

“Hey,” I snap. “My eyes are up here.”

The shifter looks higher. “Is it a full moon?” he leers. “‘Cause I got the urge to mate right now.”

A bad pick up line. Awesome.

“No,” I bark, no longer willing to waste politeness on this moron. “I’m looking for--”

Behind the shifter, the door swings open, and rock music blasts into the sunny day. A drunken howl fills the air. “Drink, drink, drink, drink!”

Just like that, I’m back in high school.

A keg in the woods, bare chested shifter boys doing handstands. My heart flutters as I walk up to one. The beautiful troubled one with the ice blue eyes. He turns as I approach, a smile lighting his rugged face. It takes my breath away...

“Lady? Lady…” beer soaked breath on my face makes me step back. “I wouldn’t go in there if I was you,” the wolf informs me solemnly. Great advice. Too bad I can’t take it.

“This is the Fight Club?” I ask, and when he nods, I hit the door with my palm, sucking in a breath and holding it as I enter the murky underworld.

It takes a second for my eyes to adjust to the gloom. Dust motes hang suspended in the smoky air. To the right, a shifter stands behind a makeshift bar, slinging drinks to his rowdy patrons. A group of leather-clad jackals slam shots. A few sway. One stands on a metal stool, singing a drinking song that sounds vaguely Irish. I can’t tell because he’s slurring and cussing every other word.

The place is cavernous, with a concrete floor and light sifting in from windows near the ceilings. Whoever converted this warehouse didn’t do a bad job. The bar and the backsplash is made of recycled wood. There are a few tall tables, metal topped with more polished wood. Not bad looking, actually. Give this place a good clean--maybe a powerwash--and it would look trendy, a hipster brunch spot. Of course, you’d have to change the bathroom signs. Right now they read: Bitches and Studs.

Charming.

I roll my eyes and step aside as a prowl of jaguars brush by, heading to the bar. They have their dark hair slicked back and collars up like wannabe 50’s greasers. A few look back at me with casual interest and I fight not to roll my eyes again.

I do not fit in here. For one thing, I’m the only one in a suit. For another, I’m a she-wolf. There aren’t many females in this place. A few bitches maybe. Well, I can be a bitch, too. I set my teeth into half smile, half snarl, and stride into the shadows. More shifters stand in clusters, muttering together. One points to a notebook, and his companion pulls out a wallet. Out of the corner of my eye, bills change hands. I nearly stop and stare at this blatant proof of gambling.

A large cage around an elevated stage. Inside, a scrawny shifter with a shock of orange hair pushes a mop around lazily. My nose pricks with a sharp smell. Blood.

The closer I get to the fighting ring, the strong the scents hit me. Blood, sweat, piss in a dizzying miasma. If testosterone had a smell, this would be it. I wrinkle my nose and pick my way around the piles of trash, and walk smack into a solid wall of muscle.

“Oh excuse me--”

“Watch it, princess,” a rumble like an avalanche comes from a hulking beast of a man. I look up and freeze, mouth falling open. Feral eyes peer from a fight-ravaged face. Arms, neck, cheeks--whatever part of him that isn’t tattooed is covered in scars. One beefy hand hovers at my elbow, as if he’s ready to grab and steady me--or throw me out. “This is no place for a lady.”

“I--uh-I--” This is ridiculous. I’m Sheridan Green of the Wolf Ridge Greens, leaders of the Phoenix pack. Both my uncle and cousin are pack Alphas. I’ve navigated werewolf politics since before I could walk.

I stare up into the scarred face and try to remember my mission and manners. “I beg your pardon.”

“You looking for somebody?” he growls.

I straighten my suit jacket, searching for composure. “I...yes. Is Garrett Green here?”

The big guy cocks an eyebrow. “The alpha don’t come here.”

I lick my lips, trying to think of who to ask for. “I was told this was a pack operation.”

“You were told wrong,” the big guy tells me. He’s a shifter, but I can’t scent what type of animal, though I feel it, big and brooding under his intimidating skin. Definitely an apex predator. “This here’s independent from the pack.”

My brain scrambles. If Garrett’s pack isn’t running this operation, who is? “I thought this place was under the Tucson pack’s protection.”

The big guy shrugs. “We’re fighters. We protect our own.”

“That’s,” I shake my head, not wanting to say ‘crazy.’ “I’m from the Phoenix pack. I was sent here to find out what’s going on--”

“Hey, Grizz. Who’s your friend?”

I turn towards the silky voice, and get my second shock of the night. Grizz--the big guy at my back, steps between me and the speaker, but not before I get a whiff of cologne. The seductive scent covers an uglier smell--a stone cold scent like a tomb, with an undertone of old blood.

My lips curl back and I snarl, “Vampire.”

The leech is tall, too tall, with a fine-boned face so beautiful it’s inhuman. His beauty is predatory, lethal, like a poisonous flower. Men and women will find themselves attracted to him, but before they know why, they’ll be dead.

He smiles, showing a pair pointy teeth. My hackles go up and my wolf surges to the fore.

“Back off, Julian,” the big shifter barks, his brawny shoulder inserted between me and the vamp. “She’s a guest.”

“My dear Grizzly,” the vampire spreads his elegant hands. He’s wearing a thousand dollar suit and snakeskin cowboy boots. “Aren’t we all?”

“Come on.” Grizz herds me towards the back, away from the smiling vampire. “Office’s this way. The boss will want to speak with you.”

I let the scarred shifter--grizzly bear, of course--guide me around the fight cage toward the corner of the warehouse, where a dark, room-sized cube hugs the walls. Behind us, Julian watches, his teeth shining in the gloom. I suppress a shudder.

“So the rumors are true,” I mutter. “This place has gone to the leeches.”

Grizz gives me a sharp look and pushes me gently towards the office door. “Someone to see you, boss,” he calls and raps the side of the cube.

The door opens and I get my third shock. Spiked hair, lip ring, dark tattoos running up and down muscular arms. And those ice blue eyes piercing me through. I sway as if stabbed, and he automatically puts his hands out to steady me.

Trey Robson.

“Sheridan.” It’s just like the first time he spoke my name. Trey stares as if he’s not sure I’m really here. I’m tall, but he towers over me. And I’m lost, drowning in the past, the heat and memory in his pale blue gaze.




#




Trey




Sheridan Green glares up at me, looking like she stepped out of my dreams--wet dreams--and into my life. My wolf presses against my skin, clawing to touch her. I don’t know whether to yell at her, slam the door in her face, or pull her into the office, and reacquaint myself with every inch of her body.

My dick is not so ambivalent. It’d be easy, so easy, too easy, to yank her to me, hike up her skirt, and have her against the wall.

Then she opens her mouth. “Get your hands off me,” she spits, her green eyes sparking.

“Fuck,” I rasp, and let go of her as if burned. “What’s going on?” I ask Grizz without taking my eyes from Sheridan’s angry face.

The grizzly shrugs. “She came in looking to talk to Garrett. I figured you’d want to know.”

“Garrett?” I cross my arms over my chest, mirroring Sheridan’s stance. She’s got her hackles up. As if she has a right to be mad at me after what she did. “Your cousin isn’t here.”

“I learned that,” she snaps. “Right before I ran into a freaking vampire.”

A growl rises at my chest. Not at her. I’m not happy about the leeches.

“Come in.” I step back, holding the office door open. She marches in and turns in a circle, hands on her hips. For a moment I see the office through her eyes. The messy stacks of paper, the dim light broken by the glow of an ancient desktop computer. The cans of beer overflowing from the trash can. Not exactly a professional work environment.

Whatever. It’s my business and I get shit done when I want, how I want. I’m done trying to please her. Those days are over. She killed any tie we ever had to each other.

A little voice in the back of my head whispers, You had it coming. I have to admit, I snuffed out the feelings we had for each other as efficiently as I could. Our relationship was on life support by the time I was through with it. But Sheridan was the one who plunged a knife into my heart, and twisted it until there’s was nothing left. No love, no feelings. I’ve been an empty shell ever since.

“Vampire, Robson, really? What the heck is going on?”

Heck. She still doesn’t swear. Still the perfect pack princess, working so hard to please everyone. Her family, her pack, her alpha--everybody but me. She doesn’t have a problem treating me like dirt.

Right now she’s looking down her nose like I’m dogshit on her designer shoe. Her fancypants high heels that makes her legs under her skirt look long and sexy as fuck.

My eyebrows snap together and I glare right back. Who the fuck wears high heels to an underground fight club?

“What are you doing here, Sheridan?”

A perfectly polished fingernail stabs me in the chest. “You answer me first, wolf. Why is there a leech out there? This is pack territory. Why haven’t you thrown him out and staked him as an example?”

“I can’t. He belongs to Lucius. We have a deal.”

Sheridan sucks in a breath. “You’re dealing with vampires?”

“Fuck.” I turn away, scrubbing my hand through my hair. I hate leeches more than anyone. They’ve turned my dream into a nightmare. “It’s complicated.”

“Explain.”

I whirl back on her with a snarl. “I’m not your wolf.” I was once. But never again. That’s why this is so hard. “I don’t answer to you.”

She straightens, her chin going up in the stubborn stance I know so well. “I’m here on behalf of the Phoenix pack.”

“Garrett’s dad? You should talk to Garrett.”

“I thought he’d be here.”

“This isn’t pack territory. Not anymore.” I swallow to stop my wolf growling in my chest. He hates the leeches as much as I do. “We made a deal with the new kingpin.”

“I can’t believe this. The wolves I know would never ever deal with vampires--”

“The Sheridan I knew would never choose her own glory over her friends. Oh wait, she did.”

She pales. “That was years ago,” she whispers. “I thought you’d be over it.”

Never. I’ll never be over you. If I talk, I’ll beg like a dog. For her to come back, forgive me, anything. Instead of answering, I raise a mocking eyebrow. Cruel, but she deserves it.

She looks away, color returning to her cheeks with a flush. A tendril of hair curls around the perfect shell of her ear. I tighten my hand into a fist to keep from touching it.

After a minute, Sheridan turns back, her face a cool mask. “I’m here representing the Phoenix pack. We’ve heard the Fight Club was attracting trouble. Alpha Green sent me to figure out what’s going on.”

“Spy on us, you mean.” I cock my head and bare my teeth in a nasty semblance of a grin. “Just like old times.”

She flinches at that. Point to me. “I’d like a sit down with Garrett, to talk about this new vampire presence and what it means.”

“Then call him. I’m sure your cousin will be happy to hear from you. Or are you not on speaking terms with him?”

She presses her lips together and gives a small shake of her head.

“Imagine that. It’s almost like no one trusts you anymore, since you betrayed us.”

“Are you ever going to let that go?”

“Nope.” I grin to hide the flash of pain. She’s so beautiful. So perfect. So out of reach. An ant has a better chance of dating the sun.

Her father was right. I never should’ve put my dirty paws on her.

“Look.” Her voice softens. “I”m not the bad guy here. This Fight Club,” she flicks her fingers at the door, “You’re attracting attention. Cops, FBI, CIA--”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” I raise a hand to stop her, mentally cursing Agent Dune and his damn midlife crisis. “That business with the CIA wasn’t us.”

She shakes her head. “You were involved. And now the heat’s on and you’re taunting the humans under their noses. Gambling. Illegal fights. Drugs.”

“Hey”--I spread my hands--“I have nothing to do with drugs.”

She leans forward and sniffs my clothes pointedly. “Last time I checked, recreational pot wasn’t legal.”

I roll my eyes. “Maybe I have a prescription.”

“I don’t care about the pot. I care about the harder stuff. Sucre sang.” She rattles something French sounding. “Sugar blood. It’s a new drug on the streets, and it’s deadly.” She pauses, her eyes faraway for a moment. “That’s why the vampires are here,” she says to herself, as if she’s just figured it out.

I stay quiet and let her, drinking in the sight of her in a sleek suit. She looks good. More makeup than she used to wear, and her hair is pulled back tight, but the stuffy suit she’s wearing doesn’t hide her perfect curves.

Sheridan. Fuck. She’s catnip to my wolf. Not catnip--wolfbane. Sweetness and poison in one perfectly made up package.

As if to prove it, she faces me. "This little turf war with the leeches makes it clear to Alpha Green that you guys can't stand alone. You need our protection. Maybe even become part of the Phoenix pack again."

"What the fuck?” I can’t keep my voice down. “We've been on our own for years, every since you--"

"You only exist because we allow it,” she says, cool as a judge pronouncing an execution sentence. “Shut the Fight Club down, Trey. Or I will."
















Renee Rose



USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR RENEE ROSE is a naughty wordsmith who writes kinky BDSM novels. Named Eroticon USA's Next Top Erotic Author in 2013, she has also won The Romance Reviews Best Historical Romance, and Spanking Romance Reviews' Best Sci-fi, Paranormal, Historical, Erotic, Ageplay and favorite couple and author. She's hit #1 on Amazon in multiple categories in the U.S. and U.K., is often found on the list of Amazon's Top Author list. She also pens BDSM stories under the name Darling Adams.










Lee Savino



Lee Savino has grandiose goals but most days can’t find her wallet or her keys so she just stays at home and writes. While she was studying creative writing at Hollins University, her first manuscript won the Hollins Fiction Prize.

She lives in Richmond, Va with her awesome family> You can find her on Facebook in the Goddess Group (which you totally should join).



















































This Christmas, I’ll be getting a visit from a man in a suit, only it won’t be Santa.

Let me first say: Reed York was never my boyfriend. He was the pen. I was the company ink. Though if you want to get technical, we were more like colleagues-who-hated-each-other … with benefits.

Everything was fine until the charming jerk went behind my back, stole my promotion, and became my boss—literally overnight.

Refusing to work beneath him (professionally speaking and otherwise), I transferred 2,014 miles away to our Chicago division, and I’ve spent the past year trying to remember how much I hated his panty-melting smirk so I can forget how much I secretly loved the way his ocean eyes lit every time I walked into the room.

But he’s just announced a last-minute site visit the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, and on top of that, he’s audaciously designated me as his ‘right hand gal’ during his visit. If he thinks he has a snowball’s chance in this hell at getting back in my good graces, he’s got another thing coming.

Reed York might be a man used to getting everything he’s ever wanted, but Joa Jolivet is a woman that never forgets.

He can put me on his Christmas list all he wants, but everyone knows naughty boys only get coal.











Joa

To say it’s the most wonderful time of the year would be an understatement. Though if you’d have asked me a year ago, I’d have vehemently disagreed.
Last Christmas was a nightmare of epic proportions, but fortunately the sole asshole responsible for that hot mess is light years away.
Two thousand and fourteen miles away, to be exact.
He couldn’t ruin my holidays if he tried.
“You wanted to see me?” I stand in the doorway of my boss’ office Friday afternoon and check my watch. I was supposed to leave after lunch today, but he sent an email asking me to meet him at one o’clock for a quick chat. He ended his email with his signature smiley-face, so I’m not worried, but it doesn’t make me any less annoyed at the fact that I should be at home right now, peeling out of this pantsuit and kicking off these toe-pinching heels as I fix myself a Hot Toddy and watch The Family Stone for the fifth time this month.
“Shut the door, please, Joa, will you?” Smiley-face Harold folds his hands across his desk, waiting.
“Is everything okay?” I take a seat in the chair across from him. “You’re making me nervous. Is this about the Gilliam account? Because I heard from Julie, and they’re signing first thing after the New Year.”
“No, no.” Harold flashes a tender smile that dissipates a moment later. “Corporate is coming next week.”
I wrinkle my nose. “Corporate? Why?”
Harold shrugs. “Your guess is as good as mine. But they’re sending the CFO.”
My stomach turns. “What? Why?”
“I don’t know, Joa. This is news to me too.” Harold’s liver-spotted forehead creases and he reaches for a pen, tapping it on his desk and twirling it between his fingers. In the year that I’ve worked under this man, I’ve yet to see him break a sweat over anything, but he can’t sit still to save his life right now.
“Are you familiar with Mr. York? From your time at the LA branch?” he asks, referring to the current CFO of Genesis Financial Securities. Turns out the position he stole from me a year ago was nothing more than a stepping stone for him, a mere rung on a ladder. He wasn’t Vice President of Acquisitions more than four months before he was tapped for the CFO spot.
Must be hard getting everything you’ve ever wanted with the flash of your brilliant white smile …
No one ever said life was fair, but news of his promotion was a kick in the teeth that I remedied with an entire bottle of Pinot Noir and a two-hour rant session to my Chi-Town work bestie, Lucy Clarke.
“I … know of him. Why do you ask?” I answer his question with one of my own.
Harold places the pen flat on his desk and folds his hands before leaning forward. “He’s asked for your assistance during his tenure here.”
I snort. “I’d be happy to recommend a concierge service. Chicago is full of them. And tenure? What do you mean tenure? How long is he planning to stay?”
Harold blows a breath through pursed lips and shakes his head. “I don’t know. His email said it would be the week leading up to Christmas and possibly through New Year’s, with an extension if necessary.”
“This is a really busy time for me …” I say, hoping he doesn’t call my bluff and pull up my calendar. Last I looked I had all of three standing appointments between now and January fourth.
Harold offers an apologetic half wince. “Joa… he asked for you personally. He wants you to be his right-hand gal, so to speak. He’s my boss. He’s your boss, too, if we want to get technical. We’re not in any kind of position to tell him no.”
I choke on my spit when I try to respond, and then the words get lost.
“Firstly,” I manage to say, “I’m an acquisitions coordinator for the Chicago territory. I’m not a coffee runner or reservation maker or dry cleaner picker upper.”
Harold places his hand out, maybe to stop me, maybe to imply that he understands, but I go on.
“I’m sorry, Harold. I’ve always done what you’ve asked me to do, but I can’t do this.”
He frowns, an unusual expression for Smiley Face Harold. “I’m sorry. My hands are tied on this.”
“Then I’ll tell him ‘no’ myself.” I rise from my chair, my feet aching, my dress nearly strangling the air from my lungs.
Harold examines me, probably wondering what this is about. And I don’t blame him. I never told him why I transferred from LA to Chicago, and he never asked. He’s always been hands-off like that, a trait I’ve grown to appreciate. And he’s always gone to bat for his staff. But he’s powerless as far as Reed’s absurd request goes, so I’ll have to deal with him myself.
A year of trying to forget his cedar and vetiver cologne and the way that gaze of his lit like a struck match every time I walked into the room, a year of deleting his bullshit company-wide emails and purposely scheduling client meetings and lunches during branch-wide conference calls so I didn’t have to hear the velvet tenor of his voice … only to be forced to endure his presence in the very refuge I sought to escape him – is the very definition of unfair.
“Joa …” Harold stands, tugging on the hem of his suit jacket. “I would heavily advise against that.”
“All right. I’m off.” I walk to the door, ignoring his unsolicited advice. “See you Monday.”
Slinging my bag over my shoulder, I make it all the way to the elevator before the reality of the situation turns my legs to gelatin and sucks the Christmas-scented air from my lungs.
I don’t know why he’s coming or what he wants, but if it’s me – he’s wasting his very expensive, CFO-salaried time.
A blink later, I’m adjusting my knit hat and dashing through the slushy Chicago sidewalks to catch the L to quaint, suburban Mills Haven, where I reside in a charming brick brownstone half a mile from my childhood home, four blocks from my sister and her family, a half hour from my brother in Wicker Park, and a world away from my life back in LA—which is equal parts bittersweet and promising.
Giant snowflakes melt on my face as I pass carolers and bell ringers. Digging into the bottom of my bag, I grab a handful of change and deposit it into a red kettle before locating my Ventra pass.
The past year has been an adjustment, but in the best of ways. I’ve found my footing back home—which is crazy because all I ever wanted to do growing up was live anywhere but here.
The Chicago team is smaller than the LA team. More family-like. More personable. Much less drama. There are eleven of us—and I know everyone’s spouses’ names, whether or not they have pets, and how they take their coffee or if they prefer tea, if they’re on some kind of Intermittent Fasting Keto diet this week or if they recently discovered the evils of gluten.
My place in Mills Haven is a little cheaper and a little bigger than my apartment in LA was. And I’ve spent every major holiday plus every Sunday dinner at my parents’ house, which I’ll admit is a lot more enjoyable when I’m not on the other side of a computer screen partaking via Skype. I’ve caught up with old friends from high school. Dated a couple of nice-as-pie average Joes who were a tall drink of the most refreshing water compared to Reed, and next year, I’ve decided to get a dog.
Life is good.
And once I get through these next couple of weeks, it’ll be even better.
This is just a minor hiccup, an annoyance. That’s all. Like a rash you have to ignore until it clears up.
I refuse to let him ruin another Christmas.



Past - Joa

“Everyone, I’d like you to meet Joa Jolivet.” Genesis Financial Securities president and founder Elliot Grosvenor introduces me in front of no less than twenty-five staffers, but in a sea of unfamiliar faces, a striking set of diamond-blue eyes catch my attention.
With hair the color of Pacific coast sand, a stone gray suit that strains against his shoulders, and a panty-melting smirk on his full lips, I make a mental note to steer clear of that one.
There’s heartbreak written all over him.
“Joa brings with her a masters’ degree in business administration from Purdue University with a focus on finance,” Elliot continues. A girl in a white blouse yawns and checks her manicure. A guy next to her checks his Apple watch. “Her thesis was on the effect of cryptocurrency on the private financial sector. Quite an impressive read. Highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t yet. Anyway, Joa, we’re thrilled to have you here, and I have no doubt you’ll fit right in.”
“Thank you, Elliot,” I say from my seat. “Excited to be here.”
God, I sound like a dweeb, but honestly, I couldn’t care less. I’ve just landed my dream job working in the budding cryptocurrency industry. Nothing else really matters.
Diamond Eyes is still staring at me, his thumb sliding up and down his silver pen.
My attention diverts to Grosvenor as he mentions a couple of bullet point items and dismisses us a moment later.
The team files out and a couple of people stop and introduce themselves, but Diamond Eyes takes his sweet time.
I imagine he’s the kind of guy who always gets what he wants with the flash of his perfect smile. Unfortunately for him, I won’t be had that easily.
I didn’t come here to date.
And I don’t do the whole pen-and-company-ink thing.
The SoCal Adonis in the gray suit makes his way over, laser-focused, and I swallow the lump in my throat and straighten my shoulders.
“Reed York,” he says with guarded authority. “You’re on my team.”
“There are four of us, right?” I ask.
“Right.”
“And we all do the same thing?”
His sparkling gaze squints. “Right.”
“So it’s not technically … your … team,” I say.
“Semantics.” He studies me for a minute before shaking his head and wiping the smirk off his distractingly kissable mouth. “You’re going to keep me on my toes. I can already tell.”
“Meaning is everything,” I say. “I minored in communications.”
“Yeah, well, I’m more of a numbers guy,” he says. “Anyway, Phillips tasked me with training you, so … lucky you.”
He flashes a smile that sends an electric zing to my core.
As long as he keeps his pen from my ink, we should have nothing to worry about.












Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author Winter Renshaw is a bona fide daydream believer. She lives somewhere in the middle of the USA and can rarely be seen without her trusty Mead notebook and ultra portable laptop. When she’s not writing, she’s living the American dream with her husband, three kids, and the laziest puggle this side of the Mississippi.




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Faith by Andi Jaxon and AJ Alexander is coming December 12th! Check out this gorgeous cover and get ready to meet the final couple in the SEAL'ed series!!

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BLURB:

Justin I originally joined the Navy as an escape, to become more than a country farm boy. Being a Navy SEAL turned me into a man, but one without a life outside the military. I thought that was all I needed. Until everyone around began to find their Happily Ever Afters’. I realized my life was missing love, something I've been longing for. All it took was one simple letter from home to remind me that everything I ever needed was right there waiting for me. Becca Losing the love of your life before he was able to meet his child was the hardest thing I’d ever gone through. I tried to move on with my life, and find a new sense of normalcy with my daughter and myself. One simple holiday act of kindness has set my carefully choreographed life into a tailspin. I could never have guessed writing a simple letter to a deployed sailor would bring us to a place we can finally call ‘Home’ again. Can these two trust in the things they can not see to find true happiness? **While Faith can be read as a standalone, it is best enjoyed after reading Honor, Love, Fate, and Power.**
START THE SEAL'ed SERIES NOW!
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Power (Book 4) → https://amzn.to/2CSdGsb
About Andi Jaxon Raised in California, I’m a crunchy mom, save the whales and the rain forests, hippy. I married a sexy man in uniform who let me spawn and am now raising a mutinous army of hell raisers that I created myself, all while he defends our country. I drink too much coffee until it's late enough to drink too much wine and am sexually frustrated for your freedom. If you see me online, I'm probably sitting in a closet, hiding from my kids. Want to know more about Andi Jaxon? Follow her on social media or subscribe to her mailing list to receive the latest information on new releases, sales, and more!

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About AJ Alexander Fluent in sarcasm, Supernatural, and song lyrics, I like talking to people and finding what makes them tick, though that probably has to do with the Psychology degree. I’m up before the sun because my kids don’t sleep, chugging tea and coffee to keep my eyes open and my brain semi functional. Being married to a man in uniform means I’ve lived a lot of places, survived seeing my husband for half the amount of time I’ve been married, and spent a lot of time raising my kids alone. I love to write messed up psychos with lots of angst, happily ever afters that have to be worked for. Women with sass and backbone, men with a twisted hero complex and the need to control are my favorite to read as well as write.

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ReWined, Volume I by Kim Karr is releasing on NOVEMBER 25th! Check out this cover and get ready for this epic series!

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From New York Times bestselling author Kim Karr comes a brand new dramatic comedy of forbidden love and second chances.

Life is short. Time is fast. No replay. No rewind. That’s my motto. And there’s nothing wrong with that. That is until the day I turn 27 and everything changes. Suddenly, I’m expected to… 1) Move back to my hometown. 2) Stop partying. 3) Take over my family’s winery. 4) And get married. Wait! What? That last one I didn’t see coming. I’m Tyler Justin Ryan Holiday III, Northern California’s most eligible bachelor, and I don’t do monogamy. It’s just a wild guess but I’d have to say that monogamy isn’t going to do me, either. My grandmother won’t listen to a word I have to say on the matter. And since the old battle-axe is still at the helm of my legacy, it’s not like I can blow her off. However, when she tells me whom she thinks will make the perfect bride, and then subsequently drops me at said bride’s door, I nearly lose my f*cking mind. Sure, dear old granny tries to sugarcoat the situation with a lot of glitz and glamour, but there’s no turning ash into fairy dust. Paris Elizabeth Hollis Fairchild isn’t only the ultimate party girl and terrible wife material, she’s also my sworn enemy. We loathe each other. We have good reason. And it isn’t because our families are competitors. Needless to say, I’m not surprised when the she-devil slams the door in my face—but it still pisses me off. Apparently, she doesn’t know me as well as she thinks. Doesn’t understand I’ve changed. Doesn’t realize her rejection only spurs me on—makes me want to tame her, claim her, make her mine. Then again, at 27 I’m no longer a lovesick teenager. I’m a grown-ass man with a big ego and an even bigger…never mind. Paris says she doesn’t want to know how big I am, in any sense of the word. I don’t believe her. Either way, it doesn’t matter. She’s a challenge I can’t resist. A temptation I can’t ignore. The woman I must have. We haven’t spoken in ten years but mark my words, she and I will be doing that and a hell of a lot more—very soon. Life is short. Time is fast. Replay. Rewind. That’s my new motto. And there’s no sugarcoating that. ***This is volume 1 in the Party Ever After series. Volume 2 will be released December 9th and Volume 3 on December 23rd.***

ReWined, Volume 2 releases on DECEMBER 9th! ADD TO YOUR TBR ⇢ http://bit.ly/2DFCogh

ReWined, Volume 3 releases on DECEMBER 23rd! ADD TO YOUR TBR ⇢ http://bit.ly/2K7jsaK

About the Author: Reader * Chocolate Lover * Writer * Coffee Lover * Romantic * Beach Lover * Yoga Beginner Kim Karr is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of eighteen novels. Best known for writing sexy contemporary love stories, she enjoys bringing flawed characters to life and creating romances that are page worthy. Her stories are raw, real, and explosive. Her characters will make you laugh, make you cry, make you feel. And her happily-ever-afters are always swoon worthy. From the brooding rock star to the arrogant millionaire to the Football Player. From the witty damsel-in-distress to the sassy high-powered businesswoman to the boutique owner. No two storylines are ever alike. If Kim’s not writing, you can find her wandering through antique stores with her husband, trying out new fitness classes with her sons, venturing out to new coffee shops with her daughter, or with her nose stuck in a book. Link with Kim! Website: http://www.authorkimkarr.com/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKimKarr Twitter: https://twitter.com/authorkimkarr Instagram: https://instagram.com/authorkimkarr/ Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6644044.Kim_Karr Amazon: http://amzn.to/2k8QjDi Newsletter: http://bit.ly/kimkarr_newsletter

Mercy by Julianna Marley is NOW AVAILABLE! Amazon -- https://amzn.to/2DmyxUG FREE with #KindleUnlimited

Football. That’s all Liam Walsh knows how to do and if he were being honest, all he was ever really good at. Dedicating his entire life to the game has taken him to some pretty remarkable places and in less than twelve seconds it had also brought him within inches of his life. Taking a careless approach to his recovery hasn’t exactly been the best game plan he’d ever conjured up, but that didn’t mean management had to send an overbearing, spitfire assistant to get him back on the field. Certainly not one who favored stilettos and fine lingerie. Emme McGovern believes in two things: Jesus and really good football. An assistant on a national football team, she is constantly surrounded by men who think they can do her job better. Which is why she isn’t in the least bit surprised that the fate of her future now rests in the hands of a cranky, stubborn, arrogant football player on injured reserve. When Emme is offered an opportunity to make history, landing her and her Louboutin’s on Liam’s door step, what she finds isn’t just some football player. She doesn’t find a warm reception, either. With the clock winding down, Emme is determined to piece Liam back together, but as their long days turn into even longer nights, the game no longer becomes about promotions or a comeback story, but a matter of life or death. Will their time together have them laying it all on the field for their future? Or will it send them both running and begging for mercy? STANDALONE MAVERICKS FOOTBALL ROMANCE

ADD TO YOUR TBR ➜ http://bit.ly/MercyFootballGR

About the Author:

Julianna Marley is fairly certain that she was born on the wrong side of the Mason-Dixon line. She’s in constant search of warmth, sunshine and water. When not writing about all the places she yearns to be, she can be found enjoying obnoxious amounts of coffee and getting bossed around by her children. Julianna loves romance, humor and football.

Connect with the Author:

Facebook: http://bit.ly/2CSUF9F Twitter: https://twitter.com/julianna_marley Bookbub: http://bit.ly/2RWUfDn Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2CSxxYP

He's such a tease... Royal Tease by Nana Malone is available now!

"5-star writing! Sit tight and have your tiaras ready. It's about to get royally messy." - Beyond the Covers Blog

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The plan was royally simple... Go undercover, protect my best friend's little sister. It should have been the easiest assignment of my life. But Jessa is uncooperative. She's feisty, mouthy, and stubborn. Oh and she hates me. Ever since I threw her over my shoulder and carried her out of a bar fight, I've been persona non grata. But the stakes are too high to mess this up. The monarchy is at risk. Jessa...I can't stand Roone Ainsley. There, I said it. Shoot me. We go together like lightning and water. His cheeky obstinance is going to cost me my job. A job I've worked hard to keep. No one is messing this up for me. I've had enough crazy in my life. But even if I wanted him--which I don't, but if I did--I can't ever have him. My life is not my own. I've known that since birth.

(Book 1 in the Royals United Duet)

ADD TO YOUR TBR -- http://bit.ly/RTGoodreads

Teasing the Princess will release on JANUARY 8th!

ADD TO YOUR TBR -- http://bit.ly/TTPGoodreads

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Roone… She’s gone. Someone took her from me. I knew I wasn’t supposed to fall in love. But I did it anyway. And now it might have cost my princess - the princess - her life. I won’t stop until I find her. But when I do, I’ll need to stay away. She won’t survive the scandal. There’s no way I can love her and protect her. I'll have to choose one. Jessa… Apparently, I can’t trust anyone. I’ve never been in love before. Leave it to me to fall for the wrong guy. A liar. Roone Scot cost me a life I loved. So now I’m on a quest I didn’t ask for. One that will lead me to a crown I’m not sure I want. To a family I didn’t know I needed. About the Author: USA Today Bestselling Author, NANA MALONE’s love of all things romance and adventure started with a tattered romantic suspense she borrowed from her cousin on a sultry summer afternoon in Ghana at a precocious thirteen. She’s been in love with kick butt heroines ever since. With her overactive imagination, and channeling her inner Buffy, it was only a matter a time before she started creating her own characters. Waiting for her chance at a job as a ninja assassin, Nana, meantime works out her drama, passion and sass with fictional characters every bit as sassy and kick butt as she thinks she is. The books in her series have been on multiple Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble best seller lists as well as the iTunes Breakout Books list and most notably the USA Today Bestseller list. Until that ninja job comes through, you’ll find Nana working hard on additional books for her series as well as other fun, sassy romances for characters that won’t leave her alone. And if she’s not working or hiding in the closet reading, she’s acting out scenes for her husband, daughter and puppy in sunny San Diego. Want to hit me up? Just email me: nana@nanamaloneromance.com Connect with Nana: Website: http://nanamaloneromance.net/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nanamalonewriter/ Amazon: http://amzn.to/2FrkDze Bookbub: http://bit.ly/2lQFmnX

NOW LIVE!!!!! This holiday season unwrap a brand-new collection of hockey romances that includes humor, drama, love, and - of course - hockey! **100% of the proceeds from sales of this anthology will be donated to charity.**

ONLY 99c for 18 novellas!

Amazon ➜ https://amzn.to/2PfDNwC Apple ➜ https://apple.co/2z39PEX Nook ➜ http://bit.ly/2FljLQA Kobo ➜ http://bit.ly/2KwtHEb

  Each book is EXCLUSIVE to the anthology and NEVER BEFORE PUBLISHED by USA Today, New York Times, and all your favorite bestselling hockey romance authors. How We Fell in Love (Ice Cats) by Toni Aleo He knew she was the one, she wasn't so sure, which is why Grace and James' love story is one for the ages. A Second Shot by Shannon Stacey She was the one who got away—the woman Erik Burke walked away from to focus on the game—but when their paths cross once again, all he wants for Christmas is the chance to take another shot at love. A Wolfe Brothers Christmas (Game On in Seattle) by Jami Davenport Spending their first Christmas together in years, the Wolfe brothers fumbling attempts to create good memories go awry. Christmas Crosscheck (The Dallas Comets) by Jaymee Jacobs Bryan's planning to propose to Georgiana on Christmas Eve, but will the chaos of their families’ first holiday together ruin their special moment? The Final Slapshot by Jean C. Joachim Harry "Deke" Edmonds hides his secret, hoping for a Christmas miracle. When confronted with the truth, will his heart-breaking decision cost him both Kitty and the Huskies? Lucky Holiday (The Las Vegas Kingsnakes) by Jennifer Lazaris Vegas forward Tyler Quinn made the biggest mistake of his life when he broke Ella’s heart, and he’ll need more than an ace up his sleeve to win her back in time for Christmas. Dmitri's Christmas Angel (Las Vegas Sidewinders) by Kat Mizera Two women. Two surprise pregnancies. Dmitri Papadakis is screwed. His Christmas Cinderella (San Francisco Dragons) by Kate Willoughby On his way to the team holiday party, Gideon Aguilar mistakes Bailey Peng for his Uber driver. After inviting her to join him, they make more than merry, but at the end of the evening, the sexiest, most captivating woman he’s ever met is nowhere to be found. Red-Hot Trouble (Hot Ice) by Lily Harlem Sophie Delaney never intended to walk into ‘that’ locker room, at ‘that’ moment, but she did, it happened, and now she’ll never be the same again. Christmas Interference (The Baltimore Banners) by Lisa B. Kamps Shane Masters no longer believes in second chances, happy-ever-afters…or love. Can the woman who knew him best thaw his heart with a little holiday magic before it's too late? The Devoted Father and the Introvert (The New Hampshire Bears) by Mary Smith Elexis Dunaway loves Twitter and work. Dag Limon loves his twin boys and playing professional hockey. Soon their worlds will collide with one simple tweet. Her Best Worst Boyfriend (Vancouver Vice Hockey) by Melanie Ting This Christmas, Em Davis is bringing Mr. Wrong home to prove a point to her parents. He’s arrogant, conceited, and uneducated, and they’re going to hate him. But what if Ian Reid turns out to be Mr. Right? Icing isn't Only for Cookies (The Renegades Series) by Melody Heck Gatto Avery James wasn’t looking for love when tall, dark, and deliciously handsome hockey player Kyler Wilson walked into her bakery. Dallas Christmas by RJ Scott Logan knows lusting after his captain's brother can only lead to trouble. But when fate throws him and the temptation that is Archie together, it’s hard not to fall in love. All I Want (San Francisco Strikers) by Stephanie Kay When fate finally brings first loves Maggie and Alex back to the same city, will Maggie be brave enough to give the relationship she never forgot a second chance? Or will she put their love on ice? Holding On Tight (Buffalo Bedlam) by Susan Scott Shelley For Buffalo Bedlam defenseman Vince Forsberg and his boyfriend Joseph Parelli, the pressure to make their first Christmas together perfect leads to a lot of chaos, holiday mishaps, and some unexpected results. A Star-Crossed Christmas (Cayuga Cougars) by V.L. Locey Two years ago, Mitch shared an explosive kiss with his childhood friend, Olympic snowboarder, Shaun. Will Christmas be the time for the two men to untangle lust from love, and find a future together that works? The Playboy (Redtails Hockey) by Stephanie Julian Kyle is back in the minors to rehab his career but that's not all he's hoping to fix. He wants to get back the girl he left behind, but convincing Leah to take another chance on this former playboy will be harder than making it back to the NHL.