Thursday, May 25, 2017

~Book Blitz~ Breathe (Grenton PD, #1) by L. Setterby

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Breathe
by L. Setterby
Series: Grenton PD, #1
Genre: Erotic Romance
Release Date: April 11, 2017



A GOOD MAN, FALLING APART

Small town police officer Simon Labelle repressed his attraction to sexy shopgirl Leona Chaisty for years. He's good at controlling his feelings—or he used to be, before the bombing that he can't solve, that he should have prevented. Now, after a chance encounter with Leona at the lake, Simon can't get her out of his head. All those high school fantasies roar to life.

A BAD GIRL, WISHING FOR MORE

Leona is drawn to the intensity in Simon's pretty-boy blue eyes. But he's a good man, and she's not just hopelessly kinky—she’ll never know how to love. Still, unlike everyone else, Simon acts like she might actually have a heart. The more time they spend together, the more she wishes he were right.

A CHALLENGE NEITHER CAN RESIST

After a second unsolved case pulls them together, their sexual chemistry rattles them both, and hints at an unsettling fetish that Simon struggles to suppress. Leona pushes Simon to decide what he wants—whether to dominate, submit, or some mix of both—while Simon, already falling for his dream girl, finally gets her to admit that she's lonely.

Each challenges the other to reveal more, to cede control, to be vulnerable. But they're both more fragile than they appear. It's only a matter of time before one pushes too hard, and the other breaks.​

BREATHE is the first book in the suspenseful and sexy Grenton PD erotic romance series. Although the series may be most enjoyable when read in order, each book tells a complete love story and stands alone. Look for the second book, SLOW BURN, in 2018.

Trigger warnings for BREATHE: Depression and suicidal ideation.



“I’ve never seen you like this,” she said.

“Like what?”

Instead of answering, she took another deep swig of whiskey. There was something obscene about watching her drink, the way she swallowed—it set his blood on fire. Every time he’d seen her over the last ten years or so collided together in his mind in a carousel of erotic imagery. That old longing burned in him.

She handed him the bottle, and its scent struck him again, as difficult and as thrilling as Leona’s presence. He set it down on the bench between them with a clunk.

“First of all,” she said, raising a finger, “I hardly ever see you out of uniform. And even when I do, you’re always…I don’t know. Helping little old ladies cross the street or something. Right now you’re practically loitering.”

“I am not loitering,” he snapped.

“What are you doing, then?”

He opened and closed his mouth, then shook his head, frustrated. He no longer knew. That was the problem.

“What are you doing?” he managed finally.

“Well, I was jogging, but now…” She shrugged. “Loitering, I suppose. You must be corrupting me.”

“You don’t need my help with that,” he said, and immediately regretted it. He knew nothing about her personal life and never had. She was intensely private, even secretive, which had always just made her more interesting to him.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “That was rude.”

“You’re right. It was.” Her gray eyes glittered with amusement. “But it’s also accurate.”

Falling snow had begun to stick to the whiskey bottle’s brown paper bag, and to the sleeves of Simon’s blue fleece.

“It’s getting dark,” she said. “You should go home.”

“I’m fine,” he said automatically.

“Are you?” With a quizzical tilt of her head, she leaned in close and traced one gloved fingertip down his cheek like a tear. It was the first time they had ever touched, even by accident. His cold, numb skin sparked, and he couldn’t look away from her eyes, luminous in the fading daylight. This close, he could just catch the sharp, gingery scent of her perfume, mingling with the scents of whiskey and new snow.




L. Setterby is a writer, lawyer, and life-long New Englander. She is apparently trying to write as many different kinds of romance novels as possible, including (as London Setterby) contemporary fantasy romances and Gothics. She also writes across the gender and sexuality spectrums. When not writing, she enjoys taking long rambling walks through various forests with her husband.







~New Release~ Room For Three by Melissa Silvey

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ROOM FOR THREE
Buy link:  https://www.amazon.com/Room-Three-Melissa-Silvey-ebook/dp/B07197THTN/
Summer starts off with a bang!  Room For Three is live now!
Sparks fly and passions ignite when three very strong, very different personalities are brought together! Can a relationship between a gay man, a straight woman, and a man who wants it all actually work, or will all three of them get burned?
Peyton Waits is a gay man who thinks he has the perfect relationship with his gorgeous, sexy, and rich boss.  Charlotte Hall is a single mom who doesn't want a relationship. So why is her self-avowed gay boss more and more tempting every day?  Asher Glass wants what he wants, and he wants it now. Why shouldn't he have his gay lover AND his gorgeous female executive assistant?
This novel is intended for MATURE audiences 18 and over, due to sexual situations and strong language. Sexually explicit scenes, including m/f m/f/m m/m/f and m/m, are included.
What others have said about Room For Three:
I was hooked from the first chapter.  I could not put it down. 
Room For Three is a must read for those who like m/m/f, m/m, m/f.  It is definitely for mature adults.
This book was HOT!
Hot men, hot woman… what else can you ask for?!!!! Sexy scenes… wonderful people… amazing story!

Author Links: 
Sign up for Melissa’s Newsletter:  http://eepurl.com/cNQ8kP
Visit Melissa’s Amazon page:  http://tinyurl.com/msilveyamazon
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Visit Melissa’s webpage:  www.melissasilvey.com
Visit Melissa’s Facebook page:  www.facebook.com/melissasilveyauthor


~Release Blitz~ Possessed by a Vampire by Susan Griscom

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Title: Possessed by a Vampire
Author: Susan Griscom
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR
Blurb: They possess the power to make their dreams come true—but it won’t be easy.
Preston Knight—Elvis to his friends—loves being a vampire. The night he was turned was the first step to him becoming the kind of man he always hoped to be. Now, he’s a rock star. What could be better? But the one thing that would make his world complete is just out of reach. The woman he yearns for has some serious secrets, and despite him knowing that she wants him just as much as he wants her, she won’t let him in.
Lily Gray never asked to be a vampire. The choice was taken from her eons ago, and things never improved. Now, she finds herself peddling drugs on the streets of San Francisco and playing the part of doting wife to a possessive and sadistic vampire with delusions of grandeur. But family means everything to Lily, and she’s willing to sacrifice everything for it…even her one chance at happiness with the sexy-as-sin vampire who sets her heart ablaze.
When one night of passion opens the door for a century of secrets to be revealed, Lily and Preston must fight for not only what they believe in but also what they love.
Susan Griscom writes paranormal and contemporary romance. She's hooked on sexy romances and is a huge fan of superheroes and bad boys confronted with extraordinary forces of nature, powers, and abilities beyond the norm mixed with steamy romance, of course.
She loves those days when she gets to sit around in her sweat pants, doing nothing but writing emotionally charged stories about love and violence.
She lives in Northern California in wine country and one of her favorite weekend excursions is wine tasting with the love of her life. Together, she and her romantic husband have five great superhero kids and eight mini-superhero grand kids, so far.
Author Links:
Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/SMGriscom 
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2efYV8l
Facebook personal:  https://www.facebook.com/SMGriscom
Buy Links: Tempted by a Vampire (Free): http://amzn.to/2eBYh0S
Captivated by a Vampire: http://amzn.to/2oFioiU
Rocked by a Vampire: http://amzn.to/2pXTE6u
Possessed by a Vampire: http://amzn.to/2oFsb8p
CHAPTER ONE
ELVIS
“It’s up to you, Elvis.” Lincoln, the dealer, nodded in my direction and waited. I kept my gaze trained on the center of the table where chips sat in a small pile. I didn’t need to look at my cards again. I knew what I had: an eight and a queen of hearts.
   There were six vampires at the table, counting both Gage and me. Gage had folded right after the deal, and so had one of the other players. I was the last to bet, and sometimes I liked to spice things up a bit, so I matched the bet and sat back.
   Heavy smoke hung in the air like delicate streams of fog, swirling in circled patterns under the light hanging from a long cord above the table. Four other lamps hung on fixtures attached to the otherwise stark, tawny brown walls. Even with all the bulbs, the room seemed dark.
   Maybe it was the darkness of the souls in the room. I wasn’t sure.
   A droning sound buzzed from outside. It was a little annoying, but I managed to drown it out as I nonchalantly watched the faces around the table as the dealer placed the three cards of the flop face-up, revealing a nine of hearts. He slowly separated them, sliding the top card off the nine to reveal a jack of hearts.
   Holy fuck!
   It was raining hearts for some reason, and I held two of them already. I held my breath, waiting to see the third card in the flop. The dealer slid the jack over. Crap, an eight of diamonds.
   Not exactly what I was looking for, but a pair of eights with a queen high wasn’t completely a loss so I decided to hang in there and see if one more heart would show. There were still two cards to go, and a flush was possible.
   I kept my eyes straight, my thoughts blank—or I tried—like I usually did as each card was revealed, always attempting to keep my composure, never deviating from the norm, not wanting to give away my emotions. I was an expert at reading people. Especially in a poker game. A blink of an eye, a slight twitch, a swallow, the slightest movement, anything . . . different could give someone’s hand away. I wanted to reach up and finger my shades that sat on top of my head. Just one little nudge and they’d be sitting comfortably on my face, shielding my eyes. But not only were dark glasses frowned upon in this high-stakes game of Texas Hold ’em, but any movement out of the ordinary might tip someone off about my cards.
   This wasn’t our normal gathering with my brothers at the mansion. This was a high roller, unsanctioned but heavily guarded poker game with some seriously high-powered city officials that I’d bet my right nut were a drug cartel of some sort or another. The two thugs in the monkey suits positioned on either side of the door to the entrance had stood like statues most of the night; the bulge of a holster protruding from under their jackets an obvious clue. At least they were on the outside of the room, but they still remained at the ready if their services were required.
   Gage and I didn’t normally seek out games with such high stakes, but he’d been bored lately, and when he ran into Lincoln—the game’s host—at Club Royal a couple of weeks ago, Lincoln had invited Gage and me to join. Said they’d recently lost two of their regulars and needed a couple of fill-ins.
   When Gage had approached me, I shrugged him off at first, not wanting any part of something that sounded so sketchy. But after he’d pestered me for the entire week, I finally gave in, needing a distraction from the long hours—sometimes days—apart from Lily, the sexy and sweet vampire I’d been trying to get to know better. Except, for the past few months, she was either playing hard to get, or just wasn’t that interested in me. Though I had a difficult time believing the latter of those two options since she continued to meet me whenever she had the time or, in her words, “could get away.” Away from what, I hadn’t been able to find out. Yet.
   Getting thoughts of Lily off my mind was nearly impossible. Her fair, silky-smooth skin; her mesmerizing dark coffee eyes that could hold my gaze for hours on end; the tips of her long, thick locks kissing the cleavage of her breasts where my lips longed to skim. I managed to clear my head just in time, as it was my turn to bet again. I slid my bet forward, raising the pot three thousand for appearance’s sake. In truth, without another heart or a ten, I had squat. I didn’t think the pair of eights would cut it. I had an excellent chance for a straight or a flush if either of the next two cards went my way. Since Gage had already folded, he sat still as a statue beside me, his hands together on the edge of the table. I knew he was busting a gut wondering what I held in my hand.
   There were only four of us left in this hand, and I didn’t want to go home with a loss. Not against these guys. Two of them sat puffing on brown cigarettes, looking rather tough. They were tough, the sort who would drain the blood from a homeless person and leave them to die in the gutter without so much as a “thank you, ma’am.” Particularly, the one at the end with the light brown, wool Stetson on his head. The word dangerous exuded from his pores. He wore that hat pulled low on his brow, shading his eyes just enough to where it was legal but not enough to reveal much about him. A neatly trimmed goatee graced his chin and upper lip. A long ponytail made of cornrow braids hung down his back. He seemed on edge, or maybe it was just an act to throw me off.
   Which he did when he raised another five thousand. That was steep. Not that I didn’t have the money. These days, my bank account overflowed, but it wasn’t that way in the beginning. I hadn’t always been the man I was today, and money hadn’t been abundant back then. The circumstances surrounding my rebirth as a vampire weren’t something I would likely forget, though I’d never spoken about them, not even to Gage. The way I’d been turned hadn’t exactly been conventional vampire behavior and had left an ache in my soul I didn’t understand and an emptiness that I could never satisfy.
   I peeked at my cards and considered the raise. Either the guy had something powerful, or he was bluffing his ass off and had nothing. Since I had the queen of hearts, I knew he couldn’t have a royal flush. But that didn’t rule out a straight or four of a kind. The bald-headed guy next to him folded, as did the next two. Now it was up to me, and six thousand was just about all I had left in chips, so I shoved the entire stack I had into the middle of the table.
   “I’m all in,” I said with feigned confidence.
   After the bet had been matched, the dealer flipped the fourth card.
   A fucking nine of spades.
   Shit.
   I watched out of the corner of my eye as cowboy hat’s mouth curved up on one side, the tip of his fang biting into his lower lip. Could mean he was nervous. Or cocky. Either way, my hand was dead unless a ten or another heart showed up.
My heart skipped a beat when the fifth card was flipped over. There it was, sparkling as if someone had lit it on fire. I managed to keep my composure as I chilled, though I could have sworn I heard fireworks go off outside.
   The beautiful ten of hearts.
   Stetson vamp chuckled and said, “Too bad. You played a nice hand.” Then he laid down his cards. A pair of nines, giving him four of a fucking kind, which would beat most hands. When he started to grab at the pile of chips, I cleared my throat.
   “Hold on there, space cowboy,” I heard myself say, not sure if the cockiness in my voice would help or hinder, but that pile of chips in the center of the table belonged to me, and there was no fucking way I was letting this douche have them. I had a fucking straight flush, queen high. Beat that you fucking cocksucker. I wanted to gloat but managed to keep my cool and simply turned the two cards in my hand over and placed them face up on the table.
   His face paled, if that were possible. His dark-stubbled jaw flexed. His eyes narrowed to slits. His left ear twitched, and he placed both his palms on the table as he stood, glaring at me. Everyone sitting around the table stiffened. The chips lay in a heap in the middle. He kept his large, ebony eyes on mine, gaze never faltering. I allowed myself to stare right back, not moving a centimeter. I was good at stare-out games. I’d had a cat, many in fact, and we constantly used to play this game. Stetson hat was no different in my mind. Though I was positive he thought differently. This guy was too fucking arrogant for my taste. I’d wondered from the moment I sat down if he was going to be trouble.
   “Jace, you ready?” he barked.
   The guy at the end of the table—Jace, I assumed—nodded. “Yep, I’m all tapped out. Ladies.”
   Stetson hat shrugged into a light brown wool coat, generously embellished with dark brown fur at the lapel, all the while keeping his gaze glued to me. “Be sure to join us again. I look forward to the opportunity to win that back.” His eyes briefly averted to the large pile of chips in the middle of the table before returning to mine, and then he touched the rim of his hat and nodded like he was fucking Clint Eastwood. “Gentlemen.” He kept his lips tight as he turned and walked out. Stopping by another vampire on his way, he looked down at him, made some sort of gesture with his hand, and left the room. Jace, and two other large vampires went with him.
   Gage cleared his throat. “Fuck, man. That was intense.” The three dudes left at the table all sighed heavily.
   The vampire that Stetson hat had gestured to stood up. “Roach would like you to join him at his employer’s mansion.” Roach? What the fuck kind of person named their kid Roach? I almost laughed. The poor guy. No wonder he was so intense. “It is open to you any Friday evening. That is the night they entertain small groups. Midnight. Here’s the address.” He slipped me a card. I glanced down at the etching on the flat piece of metal.
   It read:
   Sweet’s Delicacies
   Whatever your pleasure, we’ve got it.
   Sweet Towers, Sky Deck.
   When the vampire left, Gage grabbed the card from me. “Shit. Looks like he wants a rematch.”
   “Well, he isn’t getting one,” I retorted and threw the fancy card down on the table. This was over right now. I didn’t want any part of whatever the fuck that guy was dealing.
   “I wouldn’t be so quick to pass on that invite if I were you, Elvis,” Lincoln, the vampire who’d hosted the night’s game, said. “That vampire works for Sweet, one of this city’s most dominant and influential business owners. He has the support of the local labor board, as well as several other highfalutin bigwigs in the city. It’s quite the honor to be invited, even if it was by his right-hand man. Sweet doesn’t give out invitations to his private parties very often. And his parties don’t have anything to do with card games, if you get my drift. Roach must have liked you.” He winked.
   I raised my eyebrows at Lincoln in question.
   “You know. Sex, drugs. Those kinds of parties. Group or single, whatever you desire. Or so I’ve heard.”
   Whatever kind of parties, I wasn’t into group sex or drugs. I had a woman, or at least a woman I wanted, as the vision of Lily’s striking brown eyes set against her smooth, deep black hair floated through my mind I got to my feet and shrugged into my jacket. “Come on, Gage, let’s split.”
   As Gage and I strolled down the sidewalk through the Tenderloin, we noticed a couple of ladies of the night hanging out on the adjacent corner.
   “That was a grueling hand. Made me a tad thirsty, what about you?” Gage asked.
   I shrugged. “Sure, I guess.”
   I was a bit dry since I hadn’t taken in any fresh blood for a day or so, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to take the time to quench my thirst right at that moment as visions of Lily’s lovely face floated into my head. It was difficult to shake them away because I was excited to get to the bar where we usually met, hoping she would be waiting there for me.

   But Gage’s suggestion sparked a need I hadn't considered, and I gave in. As we flashed across the street directly in front of the two women Gage quickly compelled both of them to not be alarmed by our sudden appearances. Then he sank his fangs into the neck of the one closest to him. The other stood still, staring blankly at me. My own fangs dropped at the thought of drinking her blood. As I sank my canines into her vein, I had to remind myself that I needed the energy this would provide me in order to fully enjoy my time with Lily without the annoying pang of hunger distracting me.

~Book Blitz~ Beach Brides Series

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Title: Beach Brides Series
Genre: Sweet Romance
Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR
Blurb: Coming May through August 2017!
Grab your beach hat and a towel and prepare for a brand new series brought to you by twelve New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors…
Beach Brides! Fun in the summer sun!
Twelve heartwarming, sweet novellas linked by a unifying theme.
You’ll want to read each one!
BEACH BRIDES SERIES
Twelve friends from the online group, Romantic Hearts Book Club, decide to finally meet in person during a destination Caribbean vacation to beautiful Enchanted Island. While of different ages and stages in life, these ladies have two things in common: 1) they are diehard romantics, and 2) they’ve been let down by love. As a wildly silly dare during her last night on the island, each heroine decides to stuff a note in a bottle addressed to her “dream hero” and cast it out to sea! Sending a message in a bottle can’t be any crazier than online or cell phone dating, or posting personal ads! And, who knows? One of these mysterious missives might actually lead to love…
Join Meg, Tara, Nina, Clair, Jenny, Lisa, Hope, Kim, Rose, Lily, Faith and Amy, as they embark on the challenge of a lifetime: risking their hearts to accomplish their dreams.
Participating Authors & Titles:  

MEG (Julie Jarnagin) – May 23, 2017 - http://amzn.to/2rgC1mf
TARA (Ginny Baird) – May 30, 2017 - http://amzn.to/2qVDKdP
NINA (Stacey Joy Netzel) – June 6, 2017 - http://amzn.to/2qfSdA5
CLAIR (Grace Greene) – June 13, 2017 - http://amzn.to/2qfSrHe
JENNY (Melissa McClone) – June 20, 2017 - http://amzn.to/2qV952j
LISA (Denise Devine) – June 27, 2017 - http://amzn.to/2qbjQOE
HOPE (Aileen Fish) – July 4, 2017 - http://amzn.to/2qVgkHg
KIM (Magdalena Scott) – July 11, 2017 - http://amzn.to/2qfvXXf
ROSE (Shanna Hatfield) – July 18, 2017 - http://amzn.to/2qV6oOc
LILY (Ciara Knight) – July 25, 2017 - http://amzn.to/2qfM2vN
FAITH (Helen Scott Taylor) – August 1, 2017 - http://amzn.to/2rgSjM3
AMY (Raine English) – August 8, 2017 - http://amzn.to/2rgDedo

** $2.99 on Kindle, FREE in Kindle Unlimited **

~Cover Make-Over~ The Resurrection of Dylan McAthie by Nancee Cain

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What's this? A Cover Make-Over?
Dylan McAthie is an ass and known for his temper tantrums. He was not amused when I, the author, took control and decided on a cover without his input. He states he would never wear a hipster plaid shirt. And has threatened to impose severe writer's block on the next book, in which he makes an appearance. So I did what most authors do... I caved.
May I now present the new, improved, Dylan-Approved cover!


The Resurrection of Dylan McAthie
by Nancee Cain
Series: Pine Bluff, #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Cover DesignerShannon Lumetta
Release Date: June 1, 2017



At seventeen, music legend Dylan McAthie ran away from his Alabama home to chase his dreams. Years later, he’s forced to return—coming full circle to escape the nightmare his life has become. Hounded by paparazzi and plagued by the aftermath of personal and professional loss, Dylan craves some quiet anonymity so he can regroup and sort out what lies ahead.

Hired by his estranged brother, Jennifer Adams knows exactly who Dylan is. She grew up next door to his family and has followed his career. But the surly, overbearing man she’s caring for as a private-duty nurse is far from the charming boy she remembers. Nevertheless, she’s determined to be professional, do a good job—and not fail at her first time getting away from home.

As her patient heals, his demeanor softens, and their interactions grow less antagonistic. Soon their chemistry is undeniable—and inappropriate—leaving the inexperienced Jennifer thoroughly confused. Adding to the turmoil, scandal finds Dylan once again, threatening all the progress he’s made and putting Jennifer at risk as collateral damage.

It’s up to Dylan to fix what his fame has so easily broken and find a way to move forward with his life. But will his resurrection mean the death of any relationship with Jennifer?








During the day, Nancee Cain works as a nurse/counselor in the field of addiction to support her coffee and reading habit. Nights are spent writing paranormal and contemporary romances with a serrated edge.

Authors are her rock stars, and she’s been known to stalk a few for an autograph, but not in a scary, Stephen King way. Her husband swears her To-Be-Read list qualifies her as a certifiable book hoarder.

Always looking to try something new, she dreams of being an extra in a Bollywood film, or a tattoo artist. (Her lack of rhythm and artistic ability may put a damper on both of these dreams.)





Wednesday, May 24, 2017

~New Release~ Tiger Trouble (Alaskan Tigers, Book 12) by Marissa Dobson

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Tiger Trouble by Marissa Dobson

Series: Alaskan Tigers, Book Twelve

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Release Date: May 23, 2017

Since stepping into the role of Alpha for the Texas Tigers, Tex’s sole focus has been on his members as he tries to help them heal from years of abuse and torment. Now, with Manetka Resort about to open, he’s taking a last minute trip to the Alaskan Tigers’ compound in search of guards to protect both the Elders and the clan. While there, he finds the unexpected—his mate.

Carleen comes from an enemy clan with a controlling and manipulative Alpha. Months of not belonging to a clan finally ends when she finds Tex, but it causes a divide between her and the only family she has left—her brother. Getting to know her mate forces her to realize there’s a bigger purpose for her, one in which she can make a difference.

With his many responsibilities, Tex isn’t sure he has time for a mate. Carleen is torn in different directions, too, and no matter what she chooses, she can’t please everyone. Happiness is something they both deserve, but can they get out of their own way in order to claim it?

On sale for a limited time for only $2.99!

Amazon - iBooks - Nook - Kobo

Chapter One

The Texas Tigers had been growing stronger with each passing day and their scars were fading. It had been an uphill struggle, but little by little, Tex was uniting the clan and slowly abolishing Avery from every corner of Manetka Resort. That’s why he was in Alaska. This trip would assist him when it came to steering the clan in the right direction.
Sitting in the balcony of the new training center, he was amazed by the work that’d been completed in the months since he had left. The new building housed everything the guards needed for their training, with the biggest area being the main gym—an open space with mats allowing for softer takedowns when practicing hand-to-hand combat. The balcony had been added so that the Alpha or trainers could watch without those below realizing they were being observed. His gaze scanned each of the guards as they partook in the practice fight, watching them closely to see how they handled themselves, while his thoughts circled around the clan. The journey before them was long and there would be obstacles they’d have to overcome before they’d remotely resemble a normal clan. They had been stifled for so long that they needed to learn to breathe again. Most of them weren’t psychologically or physically able to protect the resort yet. The damage caused by the former abusive Alpha—Avery—would need to be repaired over time.
If he wanted to keep his clan safe, he had to add strong members. Too many of his people were broken. For years, they’d been controlled until they had no will of their own. They were starting to realize that Tex wouldn’t treat them the way Avery had. For the first time, they were free to live their lives again. They didn’t have to worry about being abused for speaking their minds. However, like any Alpha, he still had the final say, and they needed to understand he had their best interests at heart.
Shifting slightly on the metal folding chair, he leaned forward and forced himself to focus on the action below him. Thinking about the clan and all the work ahead of them wouldn’t help him decide which guards would be the best to take back to Texas. They needed guards—actual guards who could protect them. He had a few, but not enough he trusted completely to protect his Lieutenant, Ben, and the rest of the clan.
“For his size, I’m surprised.”
Tex didn’t have to look at Rhett to know which guard he was talking about. He shifted his gaze away from Milo, who’d been sparring with another potential guard, and focused on what appeared at first glance a mismatched pair. Brody and Taber. At five-foot-six, Brody was the shortest candidate, yet he’d gone up against the Kodiak Bear, Taber.
“When they squared off, I somewhat discounted him,” Rhett said. “He doesn’t appear to be much of a threat.”
“Which is what we need. A surprise.”
That could work both ways. If someone underestimated Brody, it could mean safety issues for whomever he was guarding, but he was a strong possibility. This was why Tex had brought Rhett with him. As an Elder Guard, his priority was protecting Tex and Ben, while unofficially he’d become a trusted advisor to both men. Rhett was assigned as the Captain of Tex’s Guards, but whenever Ben left the resort, Rhett went along, assuming Tex wasn’t headed out on a mission. They needed more guards like him, not only for the Elder Guards but also to protect the members, resort, and the guests. Without more like him, the clan was at risk. With Manetka Resort scheduled to open in a few weeks, he needed to ensure he could protect his clan.
He’d been looking forward to the trip, hoping to catch up with friends he’d made during his time there. In the hours he’d been there, however, he’d only become more agitated. He was worried they wouldn’t find the guards they needed. He kept wondering what was happening back in Texas, and what the future would hold. Being in Alaska reminded him of how quickly things changed. Since he had left, they added the guards’ indoor training arena with viewing balcony, and the second floor Elders quarters would be finished in a few weeks. Time stood still for no one, but part of him missed the life he’d had here.
When Ben nominated him as Alpha of the Texas Tigers, he hadn’t thought twice. They needed him, and there was work to be done. He took the position without realizing it meant giving up what meant so much to him. The morning coffee chats he shared with Robin, and occasionally Harmony, had been times he’d treasured. Both women were happily mated, but he hadn’t been interested in them that way. The friendship they developed was important to him, and now, sitting in the guards’ training arena, he realized just how much he missed that.
Tex took his white cowboy hat off and dropped it on the seat next to him. The guards he’d been considering were all committed to Tabitha and her uniting the tiger shifters, leaving one less thing for him to worry about, but bringing in outsiders would be a challenge. How would his clan members react? Even the vetting he planned to do of those coming to Manetka wouldn’t eliminate every possible issue. All the more reason to have capable guards.
“What do you think?” he asked.
Minutes ticked by as he waited for Rhett to answer, allowing him time to continue reminding himself why he was there and why this was so important. He watched the guards closely as Styx, Milo, and Taber put them through their paces.
“Ty picked some good possibilities for you.” Rhett glanced down at the e-tablet he had in his hand, assessing each of the candidates participating in the training session.
Knowing there was more to that statement, he turned to Rhett and assessed his most trusted guard. Even though he had been through Hell with the rest of the Texas Tigers, Rhett came out better than most. His scars were minimal but the changes in him were astronomical as he embraced his freedom and his new role.
“But?” Tex asked when the guard remained silent.
“Dawson and Brody are my top choices.” He gave Tex a moment to find them in the group. “Dawson has a way of anticipating his opponent’s next move and being ready for it. If he can’t move out of the way, he blocks it. Brody’s like a boxer. He stays on the balls of his feet. This is allowing him to compensate for his size, giving him the ability to spring in any direction. An unknown opponent would discount him as a threat and believe he’d be easy to take down. His flexibility gives him an advantage. He’s a street fighter and he does it dirty. While others with martial arts training might take him down quicker, Brody’s going to do the most damage.”
“Going against Taber could have worked against him, but somehow he made taking on the bear look as if they were on a level playing field. Taber’s not only taller and outweighs him, but his arms are longer, so Brody has to get into his striking zone in order to hit him.” Tex turned from Brody and Taber, focusing on Milo and the candidate he was working with. “What about Thorn?”
“He’s got skills but needs polish.” Rhett tapped Thorn’s picture, bringing up his profile. “He’s formerly of the Mississippi Tigers. He left after his Alpha refused to commit to Tabitha.”
“The Mississippi Tigers are going to be a problem. I’m not sure Ty knows how to deal with them, but he’s going to have to deal with Lee sooner rather than later.” His gaze remained on Thorn as the man’s fist slammed into Milo’s shoulder.
In a fight, it was smart to go after the opponent’s weakness, but Thorn didn’t seem to realize it would only enrage Milo further. His injured shoulder kept him out of the field for too long. Even now he had to deal with the pain that came with it. When a shifter was injured, they could normally shift and heal, but Milo didn’t have the opportunity when the rouge sliced through his shoulder, severing some of the nerve endings and muscles. As an Elder Guard, he couldn’t allow a weakness to permit his enemy to overcome him during a fight, so he fought through it and the pain turned into fury. Which landed Thorn flat on back on the practice mat.
“We could have an issue with Thorn.” Rhett held the tablet out to him. “His sister is here, as well, and he’s seeking a clan for both of them.”
“It’s doable.” He scanned the file but it didn’t say anything more about the sister. “We’re meeting with each of the guards individually after they’ve showered and changed. If he’s still on the short list after we’ve spoken with him, we’ll meet with her, too. If we choose him, they’ll both have to make the commitment to me as their Alpha.”
“I’d like to work with whoever makes the short list separately before you offer them the opportunity to serve you. I want to test their skills myself.”
That was another reason Rhett was their top man. Not only was he willing to speak his mind, but he thought things through. The clan meant as much to him as it meant to Tex and Ben. “We’ll arrange it for tomorrow. Today’s going to be long enough without adding to your schedule. You decide the order, but let’s not alert them. I don’t want to give them the opportunity to prepare for it. I want to know what they’ll be like if they’re caught off guard.”
“I know you’re hoping to add at least one Elder Guard out of this group. I suggest anyone you’re considering gets an extra dose of surprise.”
“What are you thinking?” He raised an eyebrow at Rhett, wondering if he had a devious plan in mind.
“We’ll call on the one you’re interested in during the night. Wake them up and see how they manage. Lack of sleep is something Elder Guards have to deal with at times and this will give us a chance to see if he can handle it. If there’s more than one, we’ll do them back to back so they can’t alert the others.”
“Better yet, if they speak about what happened they’ll be eliminated from the running.” A whistle blew, letting the potential guards know the session was over. “Only those who get through the session, as well as the Alaskan Tigers Elders, will know what we’re up to.”
“Considering our short time frame, it will be the best way to give us insight into how they function under pressure. Bringing a new team in is going to be hard enough, but if they don’t work out, it’s going to be for nothing.” Rhett hit the power button on the tablet, darkening the screen, and stood. “My Queen.”
“I’ll never get used to being addressed like that.” Tabitha smiled as she came to stand in front of them, with Felix beside her. “Ty’s attending to something, but I wanted to find out how things went. Did any of the possibilities match what you were looking for?”
“Your mate once again amazed me. He picked some worthy candidates.” He rose from where he had been sitting and smiled at Tabitha. It had only been a few weeks since he had seen her last, but it seemed like so much longer. He owed a lot to her and Robin. They’d brought him out of his depression, given him the strength to continue, and encouraged him when they learned he wanted to be part of the group that took Avery down. More than that, they became his first true friends and showed him it was possible to trust someone. They would be there when he needed them, just as he’d be there for them.
“Wonderful. Styx and the others have been working them hard since they arrived, trying to get them in shape to do the job you need them to do. He has preferences as to who would be able to handle protecting you and Ben, but all of them are capable of being ground guards.”
“I wouldn’t expect anything less. I know you understand the challenges for our species, as well as what I’m facing with the Texas Tigers and Manetka Resort.”
“Opening the resort with some of the members living on the top floors is going to create an additional challenge for you and your team, but I know you can handle it. You have to trust yourself and those you’ve surrounded yourself with. If you ever run into any issues, you know we’re all behind you.” Tabitha placed her hand on his arm, giving it a light squeeze. “Have Jinx’s men finished the security measures?”
“Keycard doors are being installed now for all of the suites. Larry installed the passcode doors to the floors the clan will use and the elevators will be coded to access those floors, as well. There are security cameras covering every aspect of the public areas of the resort. The clan areas have cameras in the hall to ensure there are no unauthorized persons on the floor, but that’s it,” Rhett explained. “I’ve sat down with Ben, Barry, and Larry numerous times to go over the security measures. I’m confident that we’re doing everything we can in that area to ensure the safety of the Elders and the clan. What we’re lacking are additional guards. Hopefully, this trip will help us secure that, as well.”
“I hope so.” Tabitha nodded.
“Why don’t we go to the conference room?” Felix suggested.
“There’s someone waiting to see you, Tex.” Tabitha smiled, her eyes glistening with amusement. “Ty will join us shortly. The potential guards will be brought in one by one, as they’re ready, unless you have an order you’d like to see them in.”
“No. Whoever is showered and ready first is fine. The conference room would be great. We have something to discuss in private with you and Ty, anyway.” Tex waited for her to lead the way as eagerness rose within him. He wasn’t sure who was waiting for him, but he had no enemies at the clan. It must be someone he knew—a reunion with an old friend, perhaps?
* * *
Lingering in the back, hidden in the shadows, Carleen watched as Thorn fought against Milo. He was working so hard, doing his best to make the guard team for the Alpha who was visiting. The Alpha of the Texas Tigers wasn’t the only one who would come to inspect the potential guards, but for some reason her brother wanted to impress him more than the others. He wanted to be chosen for Texas but she couldn’t understand why. They were from Mississippi, so coming to Alaska had been a huge shock to her system. Now that she was there, she loved it. She loved the snow. The fluffy white stuff cooled under the pads of her paws and when she rolled in it, white dust floated around her. It was even more beautiful to watch as it fell.
She knew they couldn’t stay there, but she’d hoped they could live in a climate that had snow. The Ohio Tigers’ Alpha had been looking for additional guards, and so were the Connecticut Tigers. This wasn’t the only opportunity but she hadn’t been able to convince Thorn of that.
It was wrong of her to sit there and watch, hoping he’d mess up. Some little thing that wouldn’t put him out of the running completely, but might cause this Alpha to turn him down. Hoping for him to screw up made her feel horrible. He was her brother and they’d been through everything together. The thought of her wanting him to fail was wrong, yet she hadn’t been able to stop herself from wishing until she saw him.
There was no doubt in her mind the man holding her attention was the visiting Alpha from the Texas Tigers. He watched the men in the fight session with such intensity, but he didn’t seem to notice her. Staying hidden in the shadows, she observed him. The authority pouring off him made him stand out against the other man sitting beside him. He wasn’t big and muscular like she expected from an Alpha. His body was lean and toned. The contours of the muscles in his arms were well-defined, making her want to run her tongue along them.
What the hell? She shook her head at the very thought, but the image of him lying naked on a bed, only a sheet draped over his waist, lingered in her thoughts. She could see herself crouched over him, kissing his body, feeling his hard muscles under her fingers as she leaned forward to drag her tongue along the contours of his arms. As if he could feel her fantasy, he turned to look at her and their gazes locked. Shit.
This wasn’t normal for her. She never had thoughts like this about someone and it unnerved her. She barely noticed the whistle when it blew, ending the session and allowing Thorn and the others to head to the showers. She needed to get away and clear her mind. Forcing herself to tear her gaze away from the visiting Alpha, she scurried off in the direction from which she’d come. Desperate to escape, she ran down the steps. The safety of the two-bedroom cabin she shared with her brother was her only security. She couldn’t allow herself to feel this way toward anyone when her life was so uncertain. Fantasies might be a way to escape the pressures of the indefinite future, but she couldn’t afford to focus on one man, especially not an Alpha. There was too much at stake.
Racing back to the cabin, her brother’s words echoed through her mind: Alphas are off limits, Carleen. Don’t ever forget what happened to Lucy.
 

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