Driven to Matrimony
Dina Maitland spends almost as much time extricating her movie star mother from personal messes as she invests in her forensic accounting job. So much time, she may no longer have a job once she cleans up her mother's latest fiasco, her engagement to a twenty-something film student. Vowing it's the last time she puts herself on clean-up duty, Dina sets off for South Carolina to stop the pending nuptials, and along the way, almost literally, runs into the father of the groom.
Ben Cutler has troubles of his own with his business under attack from competitors and a government audit looming. Not one to trust women, he must team up with Dina to balance his books as well as stop the wedding.
Though unwillingly thrown together Dina and Ben are surprised to find their interest and passion for each other growing. Can they face their pasts in order to create a union of their own?
I changed my college major from Anthropology to American History when I discovered that field work didn’t include air-conditioned hotel rooms with Diet Coke in the fridge. But American History didn’t offer many career paths; you either made it or taught it, and since the latter required I also coach athletics, which wasn’t in my skill bank, I was out of luck there too. So I hitched my wagon to the wheels of government, and, like “the man who came to dinner,” stayed on for several years.
Cutting-edge legislation, essential public services, policy development. Those weren’t me. No, I wound up in human resources analyzing jobs. And I loved it. Behind the usual complaints about their bosses, most people take pride in how they earn a living. Ask them a few basic questions about what they do, and you find yourself taking page after page of notes. And more times than not, somewhere in that exchange, they tell you how unique their job is from all the others.
At the time, my job was to see the similarities in jobs so I could match individual positions with other jobs that were essentially the same. But in my writing, it’s the distinctions in what people do for a living that fascinate me and infiltrate my plots to the point of my main characters’ occupations almost becoming secondary characters.
The HR professional inside me demands I mention the potential complications of love in the workplace, so be forewarned. Those tricky situations, however, are the very essence of a romance author’s plotting grounds. Even I, though, tend to stay away from “falling in love with the boss” scenarios. My readers will see how “romance works” in tales about love between co-workers or people whose jobs throw them together.
On the personal front, I am married to the man I met in sensitivity training when we were both dormitory floor advisers at the University of Iowa. We have two grown children and six grandchildren. I am now a resident of Florida, where I live in the shadow of the Mouse. Part of the year, I also live in my home state of Iowa.
Thanks for coming by. The weekly prize is a $10 gift certificate at The Wild Rose Press. Here’s this week’s Rafflecopter link. Be sure to enter below!
Wanted: Vampire: (Free Blood)
Three years ago, death blew out the candle in Alexis Hall's life and left her devastated. Nothing could replace what she'd lost, not even the sexy stranger she awoke married to. Still, she finds it hard to ignore the dangerous sparks he triggers within her. She knows Bradley Cox took advantage of her. What she doesn't know is he holds a secret that will change everything.
But Bradley isn't her only concern. In a moment of desperation to somehow reclaim what she had lost, Alexis made an offer to a vampire--free blood. Her blood.
In a story of heartbreak and obsession, a simple ad changed Alexis' life forever and on one fateful night her dreams and her nightmares will collide. Can she trust Bradley? Or is he her worst mistake? Can she retract her offer to the vampire? Or will she fall under his deceptive spell?
Lisa Rayns' first novel, Wanted: Vampire - Free Blood, was contracted by The Wild Rose Press in August 2011. After its release, it was nominated for Best Vampire Book in the Sizzling Award Nominations.
While she waited for that novel to get through the publishing processes, she released an Urban Fantasy novella, Curse of the Egyptian Goddess, a short story in the Cupid Painted Blind anthology, and another full length paranormal romance titled, A Destined Death.
In February, she released the second book in the Wanted: Vampire Trilogy, Wanted: Vampire - Bad Blood, and hopes to have the third book, Wanted: Vampire - Written in Blood, ready for release by August 2013. Estimated release date for the final book is December 2013.
She lives in South Dakota with her sons, a lynx point siamese, and three dogs she's babysitting.
Thanks for coming by. The weekly prize is a $10 gift certificate at The Wild Rose Press. Here’s this week’s Rafflecopter link. Be sure to enter below!
Title: The Eternal Gift
Author: Candy Crum
Genre: Adult Paranormal Romace Reveal Host: Lady Amber's Tours
Book Description: A young girl (Kailah) discovers that she is from a lost and forgotten powerful Immortal blood line after she meets a strange new physician at work. She begins to have visions and see spirits and has trouble controlling bad things from happening when she is angry. Along the way she discovers the terrible truth about who she is and the incredible power that is locked away deep inside her. Her Immortal ancestors want to use her to destroy the vampire race. Vampires want to use her power to destroy her Immortal ancestors. But hiding in the shadows are those who have been watching her since she was born. They want to help Kailah discover who she is and help her learn to use her abilities. They simply want for her to make the right decision before it's too late. Unfortunately for them time is not on their side and the Rogue Vampires have plans for Kailah no one could have imagined.
Candy Crum lives in Indiana and is the Author of âThe Eternal Seriesâ and other short stories. She published her first novel, The Eternal Gift, in May of 2011 and has been publishing ever since. Candy is an avid lover of the paranormal genre, stemming from years of reading the Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice when shewas a teenager. Later, she developed a deep love of the Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead and the House of Night Series by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast, furthering her love of the genre and pushing her to really push to finish and publish her novel.
Since then, Candy has released three other books in The Eternal Series and will release another later in 2014. Now, Candy is trying her hand at more contemporary pieces of work, like that of Lean on Me and other books she will release in 2014.
Some of Candyâs interests include the usual reading and writing, music (of most types), movies (action and comedy or any combination of the two), cartoons (she loves to say that her children watch cartoons because she does), and drawing. She loves talking with her fans and loves reading the reviews that her fans are kind enough to leave for her. Always feel free to find Candy on Facebook and send her a message!
Links: Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4907614.Candy_Crum Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheEternalGift Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Candy-Crum/e/B006RZYQCU/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/candycrumauthor
Title: Gabby Revealed (Finding Perfect #2) Author: Amy Gregory Genre: Contemporary Romance Publication Date: March 25, 2014 Event Organized By: Literati Author Services, Inc.
SynopsisGabby James didn’t have the idyllic childhood many in her little hometown of Renlend, Kansas had. High school was a living hell, but when she graduated she couldn’t bring herself to leave Renlend. The town was her prison, but her family’s bookstore, The Looking Glass, was her one true love. It was the place she could run to, and escape the prying eyes of the ones who taunted her. Shane Compton was a literary agent in one of the most prestigious publishing houses in New York City. He found no greater rush than finding the next big talent, someone who could take the written word and turn it into an art form. In the span of one rude phone call Shane was drawn into the mystery of just who the fiery new author from Kansas was. When everyone else in the office refused to deal with her, Shane willingly accepted the challenge. There was no logic to the madness, but every time he had contact with her, she drove him wild. Gabby tried every trick in the book to keep Shane at arm’s length, but he had made good on his promise to come to Kansas. He wanted to pull her out of anonymity, he wanted her in the public eye. Now here he stood, on the sidewalk in front her bookstore, and one look told her he was everything she was afraid he’d be. Too bad she was anything but who he thought she was. Gabby quickly discovers Shane has more on his mind than just books and with a little help from an ornery matchmaker, he shows her a whole new life through her looking glass.
Gabby Revealed: Not Available at this time
About the AuthorWhen asked ‘when do you have time to write’, Amy Gregory simply laughs. The real answer is, “in bits and pieces”. She and her husband live in Kansas City with their three fantastic kids that keep them running in three very different directions. Because she sits so much, she always carries a notebook with her at all times. She has an off the wall, snarky, off the cuff sense of humor that often shocks even those who’ve known her for years. And she loves that her children have all been blessed that ability to make others laugh as well. At least she’s grateful most of the time! Her husband often teases her about how she “makes this stuff up” when he’s reading a piece of her work. … The answer—“it just comes to me when I’m typing”. Scary thought, huh!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Ten Words Describing… AMY GREGORY
Who ME? Oh crap! This could be scary!
Kind. I would truly hope someone would think this. Although, I wouldn’t ask my teenagers!
Funny. I always crack myself up so that counts, right?
Loyal. On a more serious note, but yes, I would say I care very much about those close to me and will do what I can for them.
Addict. OMG, have to have my morning coffee! And what the hell is a day without chocolate?
Smart@$$. (Stands proudly) Yes, yes I am! The poor girls in my books suffer from my snark on a regular basis. Well, maybe they don’t. More like the men that choose them! (evil giggles)
Shy. NOT! I have been told I could talk to a fence post. So? What’s the problem with that I ask you?
Gutter-mind. Self-explanatory. (almost falling out of Starbucks chair laughing)
Broken Filter. Oh wow. If you all only knew how incredibly difficult it is for me to not just talk like I normally would!
Homebody. Believe it or not, I’d love to never leave my couch. A perfect day is spent with pure silence, laptop on my lap (pun not intended) and thousands of words written.
Crazy puppy lady. Yes, yes I am. Have you seen my facebook pages? Blog? :D
Title: Secrets Revealed (The Secret Saga Series, Book Three)
Author: Angee Taylor
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Mystery
Tour Host: Lady Amber's Tours
Rose is tired of her and her family being hunted, so she decides to do the hunting herself and takes Cortne along with her. They end up taking a few detours along the way, learning more about Rose’s past and her family. Does being a Sun Witch add more problems to her life or does it make it easier? Facing severe fatigue and needing to feed frequently makes the hunt more difficult. They already found the traitor in the family, or did they? Is everyone who they appear to be? Has her family been honest with her? Has she been honest with herself? Are friends truly friends or are they enemies lying in wait?
“Cool tats!” I almost yelled when I saw the tats on the upper portions of both of Rose’s arms.
“The eclipses on each of your arms, they are mirror images of each other.”
“They marked me…” I heard Rose whisper.
“Nevermind, we have to set up a meeting with Drake.”
“I’m already on it. I called while you were still in bed. We have a meeting at four this afternoon. That gives you two hours to get your shit together. Whatever happened earlier you need to get your mind wrapped around it.”
“My mind is around it. I’m just tired. Maybe I will nap for a bit.” She snapped.
She turned and headed inside, leaving me alone on the balcony. My mind drifted to Sean. It had been months since I’d seen him. I’d kept our separation from Rose by lying to my best friend. I saw the love her and Caleb had. I wanted that, but Sean just couldn’t accept me being a wolf. He’d tried, he really had. I’d planned to tell Rose the divorce was final on our girls’ day. That plan had gone to hell.
I really needed to talk about this with someone, but Rose had too much on her plate now. She would be pissed when she found out I’ve been keeping this from her. I called Aj. Her voice filled with laughter as she answered the phone.
I was born in Houston, Texas in 1977, to an interesting family. My mother and father separated when I was young. I lived with my mother who later remarried a wonderful man, who had a huge impact on me as I grew up. I have always had a love of reading, mostly paranormal. As a child, I would sneak up at late night, when my mom thought I was sleeping, to read. We moved around a lot, eventually settling in Deep East Texas. I married at a young age and eventually divorced. I have raised my now 16 year old son alone. I work full time as a pre-hospital nurse and sometimes see things that would make the rest of you have nightmares. On other days, I'm blessed to see miracles. These things are what drive me to write.
I describes my job as- “I fight to save people’s lives. Sometimes I lose, sometimes I win. It's the emotional roller coaster of that job, which leads me to writing. I'm able to put those emotions into my characters and let them out of my heart and soul.”
In 2006, I was diagnosed with a rare disease, shortly after that I was told I would be on full disability in five years and most likely to be dead in ten. I've fought to live a normal life every day since and I'm beating those odds. I work at a demanding job, I'm a single mom, care for an elderly mother, and two hyperactive dogs.
On April 17, 2013 I faced another challenge in my life when my home was destroyed in the explosion in West, TX. I lost many friends and almost everything I own. Once again I have fought to get through it and I'm finally starting to feel normal again.
~ SYNOPSIS ~
what do you do when the one who is very wrong for you keeps coming back into your life? single mum heather is turning 30 and evaluating her life. set in 2011 in small town in Yorkshire England. look back into heathers past and follow her to the present. heather has for 6 years been torn between her feelings for the destructive kian and the harsh truth that they probably wont ever be together. over 6 years life has took them both in different directions, however heather can never seem to get kian out of her mind and sometimes at the most unexpected points in her life kian always seems to reappear. if it isn't really love then is the lust worth the pain of the heartache and can heather ever let kian go for good
~ Buy Links ~
Amazon <3 Paperback's
~ About the author ~
First off I would like to tell you a little bit about me,I am a massive book worm who has been inspired by many talented authors to pursue my own path.
I am a thirty two year old mum to an nine year old wonderful daughter. I am new to the writing scene, and as well as being a mum I run my own small business in massage and holistic therapy's which I started in April 2013. I have not been writing since high school were English was my favourite lesson and I loved writing reports and short stories but I lost touch with it after leaving school and working many bar jobs. I still stayed a massive book worm and love anything from horror, drama and romance to young adult novels. 2013 was were I started making many changes and doing things. I decided to enter a writing completion at which I did not get very far in the competition but by just entering it was the push I needed to carry on writing my first novel lust or love, It has been a bumpy journey but I am very happy that my first novel lust or love will be released very soon through http://www.npuniverse.com/.
Just recently it was decided that lust or love is to be a series ,it wasn't originally going to be,however it has been wrote in three parts and been added to ,I did start to write something else new ,but I have again come back to lust or love there is still more to come, and part 2 just lust and part 3 choose love will be out this year
~ Follow H. Barlow ~
Title: Fighting For Love
Author: LP Dover
Genre: Adult Romantic Suspense
Release Date: March 9th, 2014
Reveal Host: Lady Amber's Tours
Fighting for someone’s heart is more challenging than fighting for a title.
For a time, many years ago, love had grown, love was made, and in the end … love was lost. The decision to leave had been the worst mistake Shelby Dawson could have ever made. However, at the time—ten years ago—she felt her secret needed to stay hidden, even if it broke her heart and the heart of the man she loved. Back then, he was all hers and she was all his, but now things have changed and he isn’t the same guy she knew.
He happens to be the well-known MMA Heavyweight champion and famous bad boy, Matt ‘The Destroyer’ Reynolds, who once before struggled to help his family pay the bills. Now, he has money flowing with each undefeated win and an insurmountable number of women filling his bed. Everything is perfect for the illustrious fighter, until one day it all changes. In walks the girl from his past, the same girl who promised to stick by him but left and never looked back.
Their second chance to make things right will not come easy, for when one mistake is made an unwelcome consequence soon follows. Someone out there wants to rip them apart and they won’t stop until Matt and Shelby pay the ultimate price … their love.
Quotes from Fighting for Love:
She loved to tease me; she always had, but I fucking loved it. Her torture would come soon, and I was going to make sure she begged before I gave her what she wanted.
Sliding the box of strawberries to my side, I grabbed one of the dark chocolate ones and rubbed it across her swollen lips. “Sweetheart, I don’t think this is torture, but I am getting ready to show you what torture is.”
“It just feels like every step forward we take there’s always something that tries to hold us back.”
“And that’s why we’ll keep pushing,” he murmured low. “Nothing is going to hold us back because I’m not going to let it. I’ll fight for what’s mine, and you, my angel, are mine.”
“I want to be the only man to have the privilege of touching you like this, of making love to you. Because this right here,” he murmured, placing his other hand over my heart, “is where I want to be. It’s where I’ve always wanted to be … it’s where I belong.”
We only had to go down two more doors before he pressed me up against the wall and thrust his tongue in between my lips.
Reaching between my legs to the waist of his jeans, I undid them and he let them fall to the floor. If only mine were gone I’d get him to take me against the wall and fuck me hard. I didn’t want it gentle tonight, I wanted it hard and fast.
Barnes and Noble:
USA Today Bestselling author, L.P. Dover, is a southern belle residing in North Carolina along with her husband and two beautiful girls. Before she even began her literary journey she worked in Periodontics enjoying the wonderment of dental surgeries.
Not only does she love to write, but she loves to play tennis, go on mountain hikes, white water rafting, and you can't forget the passion for singing. Her two number one fans expect a concert each and every night before bedtime and those songs usually consist of Christmas carols.
Aside from being a wife and mother, L.P. Dover has written over nine novels including her Forever Fae series, the Second Chances series, and her standalone novel, Love, Lies, and Deception. Her favorite genre to read is romantic suspense and she also loves writing it. However, if she had to choose a setting to live in it would have to be with her faeries in the Land of the Fae.
L.P. Dover is represented by Marisa Corvisiero of Corvisiero Literary Agency.
Blog - http://www.lpdover.blogspot.com/
Pinterest - http://www.pinterest.com/LPDover/
More Quotes from Fighting for Love
“All I wanted was to hate you, but now that you’re right here in front of me I just hate myself because I still can’t. No matter how hard I tried, I could never get you out of my mind.”
I wanted him again, but then I knew I shouldn’t. I had to remember that so many other women had tasted his lips and felt his body between their legs while my heart ached. Although, it wasn’t a full day ago that I was in the arms of another man; kissing him, and vowing to myself that I was going to try and get over my past. It was a vow I knew I couldn’t keep.
“Okay, so I’ve made mistakes, but so have you,” he pointed out. “I’m pretty sure you didn’t stay innocent over the years, either. Right now I’d say we’re both fifty shades of fucked up. The question is … what are we going to do about it?”
With his hands caressing my back, his breath tickled my skin when he murmured in my ear, “You will be mine tonight, angel. Your body, your lips … all mine.”
“For how long?” I whispered back, shivering from his touch. “One night? Two?” I had to know what he wanted.
He nipped my earlobe with his teeth and a deep rumble sounded in his chest. “I want you always, but I’ll settle for as long as you want to give me. Whether that be one night, two, or fifty years. It’s all up to you.”
“Let me loose in a den of wolves, huh? Little does Ryan know I’m not a little lamb,” she thundered. “I’m also not a model. What if I suck?”
“You’ve never sucked at anything, Shelby. Just don’t get too comfortable with the guys, okay? I’m sure once we leave here word will spread they got to put their hands on what’s mine without getting their heads smashed in.”
“And who says I’m yours? I don’t think I gave you an answer yet,” she teased. “However, you did ask me to come here with you, so if I get excited being touched by your fellow fighters then it’s all your fault. I’m starting to think I might enjoy it.”
Title: Uncovering You
Author: Scarlett Edwards
Genre: Dark Romance
Release Date: March 17th, 2014
Series (Y/N) - Yes, first book in series. Second will be out April 20th, 2014
Tour Host: Lady Amber's Tours
When I wake up in a dark, unfamiliar room, I have no idea what's waiting for me in the shadows. My imagination conjures up demons of the worst kind.
Reality is much worse:
A collar with no leash. A prison with no walls. And a life stripped of meaning.
I am presented with a vile contract and asked to sign. It outlines the terms of my servitude. The only information I have about my captor are the two small letters inked at the bottom:
Armed with only my memories, I must do everything I can to avoid becoming ensnared in his twisted mind games. But in the end, it all comes down to one choice:
Resist and die.
Or submit, and sign my life away
I live near beautiful Seattle, Washington. I grew up reading all types of fantasy books before discovering the wonderful world of romances in high school. Now, I spend most of my time writing about sexy men and the women who love them.
Oh God. It’s him. There’s no mistaking that rich, masculine treble.
What’s he doing down here?
“M-Mr. Stonehart,” I stutter, turning. I curse my inability to hide my surprise. He totally caught me off-guard. I have to look up to meet his eyes. Then up some more.
The face that I find is so striking it should belong to a Greek god.
He’s younger than I expected. Late thirties, maybe early forties.
That means he started his company when he was younger than me!
Dark scruff lines his angular cheeks. His jet-black hair is styled in long, natural waves. My fingers itch to run through it.
He has a prominent nose that might be too big on a less imposing man, but on him, it’s perfect.
In short, he’s a package of the purest masculinity I’ve ever seen.
And then there are his eyes. Oh my God. His eyes. They pierce into me like honing missiles. They are the deepest black I have ever seen. They would be frightening if they weren’t so beautiful. When the light reflects a certain way, you catch a glimpse of the purple underneath.
They are like midnight sapphires. His eyes reveal a cunning intellect. Those eyes do not miss a thing.
Add all that to his towering height, his wide shoulders, his confident-yet-at-ease posture… and Stonehart cuts an intimidating figure.
My gaze darts to his left hand before I can stop it. No ring. He’s unmarried.
He looks down at me, expectantly. His eyes narrow ever so slightly, and I feel like I’m being dissected, measured up, and tucked away in some small corner of his brain. I imagine this is what a gemstone feels like under the magnifying class of the most critical appraiser.
Stonehart clears his throat. I come to with a start, realizing I haven’t said anything in ages. I open my mouth, but the capacity for speech seems like a foreign concept to my brain. “I—”
Somebody bumps into me from behind. I stagger forward. I’m not used to these shoes, so my heel steps the wrong way. My ankle twists under me, and I start to fall.
I don’t fall far. The hand still on my elbow tightens, and Stonehart pulls me into him.
I plaster myself onto the solid steel wall the man has for a body. I catch a scent of his cologne. It’s a deep, musky smell with a hint of charred spruce that is all male. It scrambles my thoughts even more.
“Sorry!” a rushed voice calls out. From the corner of my eye, I see the postman giving a hurried, apologetic wave.
Although the sequence lasts less than a second, it feels like an eternity. Pressed up against him like that, I don’t want to move. I know that I couldn’t have made a worse first impression.
Stonehart eases me off him with a firm yet gentle grip. Our eyes meet. I flush the most vibrant red. His fingers graze my forehead as he brushes a lock of hair out of my face.
Any tenderness I may have imagined vanishes when Stonehart takes out his cell. He long dials a key and growls an order. “Steven. See the delivery boy leaving right now? Have his building pass revoked.”
I gape. Stonehart keeps speaking. “Wait. I thought of one better. Bar his company from accessing the building.” There’s a pause. “For how long? Indefinitely. FedEx can talk to me when they have an improved employee selection program in place.”
The phone call gives me just enough time to compose myself. My heart’s still beating out of my chest. But nobody has to know that.
I speak without thinking. “You’re going to restrict the entire company from serving this building because of that?”
Stonehart humors me with an answer. “A company’s employees are its most important asset. Their behavior reflects the organization as a whole. If FedEx decided that clown is good enough for them, it tells me they’re sloppy. I do not do business with sloppy organizations.”
“What about the other tenants in the building?” I ask. “Won’t that piss them off?”
When I hear myself and realize how improper my question is, my cheeks flame red again.
Stonehart’s eyes darken, as if he cannot believe I asked that question. I open my mouth to apologize for my imprudence, hating the way my professional skills have evaporated into thin air. I’m cut off by a short, barked laugh.
“Miss Ryder.” He sounds amused. “I believe that is the most direct and honest question anybody has dared ask me in weeks.” He takes my elbow again and leads me to the elevators. I have to take two quick steps to match one of his long strides.
“Yes,” he continues. “They will be ‘pissed off.’ But the perk of owning a building—” he hits the elevator call button, “—is that you get to make executive decisions.” He gives me an unreadable glance as the doors open. “That is, at the risk of being questioned by inexperienced interns.”
If that isn’t a loaded remark, I don’t know what is. I flush scarlet red for the third time since I’ve met him. I’ve never had a man throw me so off balance.
The elevator is packed, for which I’m infinitely thankful. The trip up will give me some time to properlycompose myself.
Gratitude turns to panic when the crowd files out, meek as mice, when Stonehart steps in. None of the people waiting in the lobby follow us.
The doors close. I’m alone in here with him. My heart’s beating as fast as a hummingbird’s wings.
He catches me staring. “Impressed?” he asks.
“They know you,” I manage.
His dark eyes flash with amusement. “Astute.”
As an extra special teaser, here is Chapter One. ENJOY!
October 2013. Date unknown.
A faint hiss, like the sound of an angry cat, jars me from my sleep.
I open my eyes to pure blackness. I blink, trying to get my bearings. A vague memory forms in the back of my mind, too far away to reach.
Why can’t I see anything?
My breath hitches. Panic rips through my body as the horrifying answer comes to me:
I scramble onto hands and knees and desperately claw at the dark, searching for something, anything, for my senses to latch onto.
A dim overhead light comes on.
Relief swells inside.
I plop back on my butt and close my eyes, taking deep breaths to dispel the rush of adrenaline released by my body. When my heart’s not beating quite so fast, I open my eyes again.
The light’s gotten brighter. I look up at the source. It’s far above me, like a dull, miniature sun. It spreads a little sphere around me, maybe ten feet in diameter. Past that, everything is swallowed by darkness.
An irksome memory keeps gnawing at me. But my head is too heavy to remember. I feel… strange. Kind of like I’m hung over, but without the telltale pounding between my ears.
Cautiously, I try to stand. My limbs are slow to react. They feel heavy, too, like they’ve been dipped in wet clay. I steady myself. Only when I’m satisfied that my knees won’t give out, do I strain my ears for that hissing sound again.
It’s coming from somewhere behind me. I turn back—and nearly smash my head on a gleaming white pillar.
What the hell?
The sound is forgotten as I reach out and brush tentative fingers against the pillar’s surface. It’s cool to the touch. Smooth, too. I put my other hand on it. If I had to guess, I’d say it was made of marble. But what is a lone, white marble pillar doing in the middle of this room?
The memory is like a gong going off inside my head. But trying to reach it is like grasping at a smooth, slippery stone at the bottom of an aquarium. Just when I think I have it, it slips through my fingers and falls even farther out of reach.
I walk a slow, measured circle around the pillar. If I tried wrapping my arms around it, I doubt if I could even span half the circumference. Something far in the back of my mind tells me I should be alarmed. I look behind me and frown. By what? A dark room?
No, you idiot. By the reason you’re here!
My eyes widen. The reason I’m here? I don’t… I don’t remember.
I wince and bring one hand to my temple. Why am I having so much trouble remembering?
I gasp as a second gruesome thought hits me. Did I lose my memory? Do I have… amnesia?
I sink down with my back to the pillar. Desperation starts to take over. I hold my head between my knees and close my eyes to focus.
My name is Lilly Ryder. I was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on May 17th, 1990.
My eyes pop open. Joyous tears form in the corners. I do remember! I take a deep breath and try to keep going.
I was raised by my mom. I do not know my dad…
Suddenly, all my childhood memories come streaming back. Moving around as a kid. Never staying in one place longer than six months. All the cities I’ve lived in. All the apartments my mom and I called home. Even the revolving door of her boyfriends. There was Dave, and Matthew. Tom, and Steve. There was…
I shake my head to stop myself. I don’t doubt my memory anymore. But that still does not explain why I have absolutely no recollection of this place, or how I got here.
I push myself back up. The spotlight above me has gotten progressively brighter. The little enclosure of light doesn’t feel quite so tight anymore. I trail my eyes up the length of the pillar. I can’t see where it ends because of the light. But I can tell it’s tall, at least twenty, maybe twenty-five feet…
There’s also something about its surface that calls out to me. My hands itch to run over the smooth stone. A giggle bubbles up as I picture myself stroking it. The column is quite phallic.
I waver at the unfamiliar thought and have to catch my balance against the beam.
Focus, Lilly! I chide myself.
I have no idea where that thought came from. I have never been overtly sexual.
Nothing feels right. The fog that’s heavy on my mind is starting to lift, but not yet enough for me to understand—or remember—where the hell I am. This place is unfamiliar. I know that much. But right now, I feel almost like a surgery patient whose anesthetic kinked out: fully awake mentally, but completely impaired physically.
I go back to my memories. I can remember high school. I remember college. That’s where I spent the last three years of my life, isn’t it? Yes. Yes, it is.
“Hello?” I call out. My voice echoes into the surrounding gloom. “Is anybody there?”
I wait for an answer. All I get is the hollow repetition of my own voice.
…anybody there, there, there…
I spent the last three years in college… but that’s not where I think I am right now. No. I shake my head. I knowthat’s not where I am. My memories are fuzzier the closer I bring them to today. Time feels… skewed. Freshman year’s easy to remember. So is sophomore, and most of junior… but things get weird toward the end.
I… finished junior year, didn’t I? Yes. Yes, I did. And then…
And then I took an internship in distant California for the summer, I remember with another gasp.
Suddenly, my mind is crystal clear. That pressing memory hurtles into view. It’s from yesterday. The last thing I recall, I was alone in a booth at an upscale restaurant. The waiter brought me a glass of wine. I took a few sips, contemplating my future….
Oh, God! Fear wraps a stranglehold around my neck.
The restaurant. The wine.
I’ve been drugged!
I can’t breathe. A suppressing tightness constricts my throat. I feel dizzy, and terrified, and most of all… ashamed.
Holy shit, Lilly, way to look out for yourself! My semi-mad inner dialogue pans with a generous dollop of sarcasm.
I’ve always known about the dangers of sick men preying on unsuspecting girls. I just never thought I’d fall victim to it.
I’ve been on my own since I turned eighteen, after the final falling out with my mother. I’ve always been proud of how well I managed. Even the shabby holes I’ve lived in while saving up college tuition were an improvement over living with her and all her low-life boyfriends. At least there, I had autonomy.
I’ve dealt with landlords selling crack on the side and the junkies they attract. Always, I’ve been known as independent, and strong—maybe offputtingly so. But, those were the character traits I had to develop to have any chance of getting ahead.
And all that lead to what? To this? To letting my guard down for one night and ending up… here?
Wherever “here” is, I think to myself.
The shock of the revelation has subsided a bit. I push off from the pillar. I can figure this out. I take a deep breath and look at my hands and feet. I am not bound. I pick at my clothes. They are the same ones I wore last night.
Do you know what might be lurking in the darkness?
I shove the meddlesome voice down. I don’t need more worries. Not now.
Carefully, I place one foot in front of the other and edge to the outer reaches of the light. The strange hissing noise has gone away. I don’t know when that happened. Maybe it was in my head the entire time.
I strain my eyes, trying to pierce the surrounding darkness. It’s impossible. I reach out with one hand and find nothing but air. This far from the pillar, I can barely see my outstretched hand.
“Hello?” I try again. “Who’s there?”
There’s no answer.
What kind of madman would do something like this? I wonder. What is hidden in the shadows?
Without warning, my imagination starts to run wild. Torture devices? Bondage equipment? Something… worse?
Snap out of it! I tell myself firmly.
I refuse to give in to despair, even if my entire self-preservation mechanism is on high alert. Despair is what whoever brought me here wants me to feel.
I will not succumb to that.
I look down at the floor. It is made of some expensive stone. I kneel down and brush my hand over the large, square tiles. They feel solid. Sturdy. They don’t belong in a dingy basement or a dirty warehouse.
Somehow, that thought strengthens me. Things aren’t quite as bad as they could be.
I stand up and peer into the black. I glance back at the safety of my pillar. If I venture past the light, I can always find my way back.
Go slow, I warn myself. Who knows what might be waiting for me out there?
I’ve seen the horror movies. Just because I don’t get the dungeon vibes here does not mean I’m not in one.
Haltingly, my foot reaches past the edge.
A thousand bright lights flood the room. I gasp and shy back, shielding my eyes on instinct.
After a few seconds, I lower my arm, blinking through the sharp pain that shoots through my head. I can almost groan. Light sensitivity, too?
Then I see the room.
It’s huge. Massive. It must be at least five thousand square feet of pristine, flat space. I’m smack dab in the middle of it all.
The lights come from embedded ceiling lamps high overhead. Three of the walls, far away from me, are decorated with black and white abstract paintings created in bold brush strokes. The fourth wall is shielded by a heavy red curtain. The entire floor is made of rich, creamy white tiles reminiscent of steamed milk.
The ceiling is so high above me I almost feel like I’m in a cathedral. It’s made of exquisite dark oak beams.
But this is no church.
I do a slow turn. Something about this is all wrong.
Why am I here? What is behind the curtain? Other than the massive pillar and the paintings, there is nothing in the room.
If I’m being kept prisoner, why am I unbound? Why waste so much space on me?
I cup my hands around my mouth and yell.
“HEY! Anybody? Where am I?”
As before, I’m greeted with silence.
I take one more careful look around. If I got in, there must be a way out.
My eyes dart to the curtain.
I start toward it, my bare feet making determined slaps against the cold floor. I’ve not even gone ten paces toward it when I feel a small tug on my ankle.
I stop and look down. I discover a thread, so thin it’s almost translucent, tied loosely around my foot. The other end is attached to the base of the pillar.
I bend down and finger it.
What on earth is this?
The thread looks like it should snap with the smallest amount of force. I wrap my hands around it and tug.
It doesn’t give.
I frown, and apply a little more effort.
This time, it breaks in a clean cut.
I shake my head as I straighten.
I half-expected something to happen when I did that. Alarms to blare, the lights to go off, something.
That’s when I notice a small white envelope leaning against the pillar. It’s right where the thread connects. In fact, it blends so well with the marble that I’m sure I would have missed it were it not for the string.
Exploration forgotten for now, I pick up the envelope. Maybe it will give some clue about what the fuck is going on.
It’s made of heavy paper. A wax stamp seals it, imprinted with a two-faced drama mask that I would find unnerving no matter where I saw it.
The only time I saw a wax-sealed envelope was when my ex got tapped by the Spade and Grave at Yale. I can understand the need for antiquity in New Haven. It makes no sense here.
My finger slips under the flap. I carefully ease it open. A foreboding sense of doom swirls around me as I pull the folded letter out.
I stare at it for a long minute. This is all so surreal. It feels like being caught in a bad dream. Once, I play myself right into my captor’s hands.
My natural inclination to resist, to fight back, tells me to tear the paper up without another glance. But that would be madness. The only clue I have to my whereabouts might be contained inside.
My thirst for information gets the better of me. I sit on the floor, cross my legs, and slowly unfold the paper.
It’s handwritten in swift, flowing blue ink. The rows of words make perfect strides across the page. Precision is the first word that comes to mind to describe the owner of the handwriting.
I set the sheet on the floor in front of me, lean forward and begin to read:
Two items require your immediate attention.
1. You may spuriously assume you are being held here against your will. Nothing could be farther from the truth. You are a guest. As a guest, you retain full ability to leave my home at any time. The door behind the drapes shall remain open for the duration of your stay. There are no physical barriers to speak of—though I would advise you to read to the end of this letter before making decisions based on a flawed understanding of your situation.
2. You may have already noted the new adornment around your neck. If so, well done! I applaud--
Adornment? I stop reading. What adornment?
I bring my hands to my neck. I feel the unfamiliar shape against my skin. Why hadn’t I noticed it before?
I scamper closer to the marble pillar to try to make out my reflection. I can’t see much, but I can make out the “adornment”. There’s a black collar around my throat. I touch it with one hand.
It’s smooth and flat. It’s made of some kind of matted plastic, like the edges of a computer screen. It’s not tight or uncomfortable.
It frightens me. If it warranted a place in the letter, there must be something to it. I need to get it off.
My fingers dart around the edges, seeking the clasp that opens it.
I don’t find one.
The collar is smooth inside and out. It feels like a single piece of plastic. I trail one finger around the rim on the inside, and, finding no discrepancies, do the same on the outside. Again, I feel nothing.
There’s no crack, no edge, nothing to indicate how it was put around my neck.
I jam all my fingers between my skin and the plastic and pull with all my might. The collar flexes ever-so-slightly but doesn’t give.
Dammit! I cry out and try again.
I pull with all the strength God gave me. It’s not enough. I try again, and again, and again.
I realize I’m panting at this point. The exertion has me almost hyperventilating.
I drop my hands. It’s just a stupid, harmless little piece of plastic. Why do I want it off so much?
Because the idea of having anything foreign touch your skin is repulsive.
The voice is right, as always. But what can I do? The collar is bound to be part of the mind game in which I’m an unwitting participant. Reacting the way I just did is probably exactly what my captor wants. He—and I am certain it’s a “he” now, from the wording of the letter—wants me to feel terrified.
I will not give him the pleasure. I return to the letter and continue to read:
…applaud your perspicacity! You should know, however, that it is not an ordinary collar. Contained inside is a small positioning chip and two electrodes. They become activated the moment you stray outside your designated safe zone.
The string around your foot offers a conservative estimation of the distance you may roam past the marble column. Stay close, and you will remain untroubled. I am told that the electric shock the collar provides, while not lethal, can be quite unpleasant.
My spine goes absolutely straight and I forget to breathe. Now the collar has meaning. It feels like a live serpent wrapped around my neck.
My eyes are wide as I look down to my foot. The piece of string is still there, but it’s not connected to the one linked to the pillar.
I’d ripped it like a moron.
How far do I dare go? I’ll have to retie the string—unless I find a way to get the collar off my neck, first.
Another thought occurs to me:
Maybe this is a bluff? Does the collar really have an electrode in it? It’s so thin. Where would it draw power from?
I stand up. Assuming the collar is rigged, and the pillar is the center point… but that’s just what he wants me to believe, isn’t it? The letter claims there’s a door behind the drapes. It could be my path to freedom. I would have to be an idiot to stay here without testing the boundary myself.
I can’t trust anything the letter says. But, I can’t give in to despair, either. My only choice is to contest everything that’s thrown at me. If this is supposed to be a battle of the wills, the guy chose the wrong girl to mess with.
I pick up the remainder of the string and hold it in my fist. I square my shoulders to the long, drawn curtain. I hold my head high. My free hand itches to tug at the collar, but I keep it still. If my captor is watching me—which I’m sure he is, because I’m positive there are cameras hidden all around me—I will not give him the satisfaction of seeing me hesitate.
I take a deep breath and start toward the curtained wall. My strides are strong and purposeful. I will not waver. I will not turn back. Fear of a little shock will not keep me from testing the true limits of this prison.
The string goes taut, and I stop.
So far, so good.
It’s the next few steps that will determine everything.
I glance at the floor to mark my position. So, he expects to keep me in an invisible cage, does he? A cage of my own imagination?
Yeah, tough luck.
I drop the string and take one solid step forward.
I risk one more.
The corner of my lip twitches up in a hint of a smile. I called his bluff. But, I’m not home free yet. The veiled wall is another thirty-odd paces away from me.
I take two more steps forward, and, when nothing happens, start to walk more briskly.
My stroll is cut short by a sharp little zap beneath my left ear.
I tense and wait for more.
Well, color me surprised.
It looks like the collar does have bite, after all. When a second jolt doesn’t come, I can’t stop my smile from becoming a satisfied smirk. I knew the collar couldn’t possible have enough juice to hurt me. Where would the battery go?
Extremely pleased with myself, I venture onward, toward the curtain and its promise of freedom.
The violent torrent of electricity blindsides me. One second I’m on my feet, the next I’m writhing on the floor.
The current pours into me. I thrash about like a grounded fish. Fierce convulsions rock my body. And all I know is pain, pain, pain.
I can feel the source of it, snug around my neck. I’m helpless to fight the onslaught. My head flails about on the ground, throwing hair into my face. A high-pitched squeal sounds in my ears and I desperately hope that pathetic sound is not me.
My eyes roll up and all goes black.
Title: Untimely Return (Book Two)
Author: J & L Wells
Genre: New Adult, Time Travel Romance
Tour Host: Lady Amber's Tours
An awakening tick of the grandfather clock, its rusty hands moving once again, slowly, in reverse.
Thirteen years have passed since Heather’s sudden and unexplainable disappearance. An ultimate betrayal sparks anger, awakening vengeful spirits from the past as Dannika steps into the role of leading lady.
Being thrown back into the nineteenth century brings with it the return of familiar faces, and the rekindling of intricate love triangles. Will Dannika have the strength to fight off unwanted suitors and the benevolent forces held within Freesdon Manor?
Mother and daughter, Judith and Laura, writing duo from Staffordshire, England. When they are not writing they are busy looking after, and walking their four beautiful dogs. They are presently working on a number of different genres, and are really excited to see Regina Wamba work her magic on their forth coming covers. They are both very happy to be published by Jeff and Amber Bennington of Nexgate gate press, Jeff is a big inspiration to them both due to his success with his own novels. The authors are presently looking forward to the release of An Untimely return, the second in the untimely series.