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A First Look at A Promise Broken by Anissa Garcia!
In A PROMISE BROKEN, Hilary is in need of a distraction from her wounded heart, and that distraction comes in the form of Zach Collins. The only problem is, he’s her brother’s best friend. Readers will love this standalone contemporary romance, featuring characters seen in A PROMISE KEPT and A PROMISE MADE.
Add A PROMISE BROKEN to your TBR pile on Goodreads! Then keep reading to get a sneak peek at A PROMISE BROKEN and to enter the giveaway for a $20 Amazon gift card!
Title: A Promise Broken
Author: Anissa Garcia
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Release Date: July 10, 2017
Publisher: AG Romance Reads LLC
Series: The Promise Series
Format: Digital and Print
Digital ISBN: 978-0-9975430-5-6
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After a relationship gone bad, Hilary Matthews felt unsure about where she belonged or what to do with her life. Cue Zach Collins, a love ‘em and leave ‘em, no strings attached type of guy. The perfect distraction for her wounded heart. Just one problem. Zach isn’t some random stranger. He’s her brother’s best friend, and more than that, he’s practically family. And to complicate matters, just when things start to heat up between them, she learns there’s more to Zach than he let on.
Zach’s job as assistant to an A-list actor allows him the luxury of women, travel, freedom and fun. But things changed the moment Hilary made her move, completely altering his world. Hilary is his fantasy come to life, his dream woman in the flesh…and his best friend’s little sister. Stepping over the line with her would not only ruin his friendship, but possibly alienate him from the only family he’s ever known.
The pressure mounts as truths are exposed. Embroiled in betrayal, lies, guilt, and heartache, Hilary and Zach must decide if the biggest emotion of all is worth the turmoil. With so much at stake, the repercussions from a promise broken would cause the battle of their lives.
Enter to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card from Anissa Garcia! Three (3) runners-up will receive an eBook of A Promise Kept
A Promise Broken Excerpt
Copyright © 2017 Anissa Garcia
I didn’t say anything. Instead my eyes roamed down his body as he approached. His jeans and shirt were perfectly snug. He sat beside me grabbing the remote, and I was hyper aware of his proximity. He smelled like fabric softener and aftershave. It was familiar and comfortable.
“Hilary,” his voice was soft as his eyes met mine. “Stop looking at me like that.”
“Like what?” I blinked at him with innocence.
“Like you want me to make love to you,” he said breathlessly.
My heart skipped a beat. I fumbled with my hands. “Don’t flatter yourself, Collins.” His phone trilled from his pocket. He reached in to check it, looked at the screen and hit the end button. “Who’s Isabella?”
He hesitated. “Uh, my chef.”
I rolled my eyes. “Bullshit. You know I can tell when you’re lying.”
“I’m not lying,” he laughed. “She’s my chef.”
“And your fuck buddy?” His eyes closed. Yup, he slept with her. His whole body tensed. “Do you like her?”
His eyes shot to mine. “No. I mean, yes, but…not in that way.”
The pang of possessiveness that swept through me was familiar to when Graham said he was working late, and that his co-worker was just that. “Is she pretty?” I asked quietly.
He nodded. “Very.”
“Oh.” Ouch, that stung more than I wish it had. I snapped out of my pity party and stood. “Well, then? Why aren’t you answering her call? You could be with her now.”
His bewilderment was obvious as I rushed to the window. It was hot and I needed a draft, and he was right. Drinking around each other wasn’t a good idea. He watched as I yanked on edges of the glass, trying to pry the window open.
“I told you I don’t care for her in that way.”
“So? You don’t have to care for her in that way in order to fuck. You did it already, didn’t you?” I struggled, but it wouldn’t budge. “Dammit, the window won’t open, and it’s so hot in here.”
“Only once,” he mumbled, as if reluctant.
“Spare me the details, Zachary.” I tugged, becoming breathless as I fought against it. My voice pitched higher as I hit the edges with my palms. “Stupid window.”
He drew up behind me, placing his hands over mine. I froze as his body pressed against me. We lingered, my back on his chest. Fast paced breaths escaped him. His mouth was near my ear, the humidity of his breathing caused me to tremble.
“Gently,” he spoke affectionately, drawing the window up. The crisp air didn’t make a difference when his warm body was near mine. His hands wrapped around my waist and he squeezed for only a second as his lips descended between my neck and shoulder. He gave the skin there a sweet kiss. His lips lingered longer than they should’ve. “You’re beautiful,” he whispered. His nose grazed over my neck as he pulled away. “Graham will regret letting you go for the rest of his life.”
Chills ran down my spine, all thoughts of Graham long vanished. My ringing body turned, needing more of Zach’s touch. His warm palms cupped my cheeks. I wanted more of him. All of him. He looked amazing tonight. I loved the way his emerald green eyes anchored on mine, promising me my darkest desires were a whisper away. His thick, dark hair swirled in waves I wanted to run my hands through. His strong touch had me reeling, and when he denied himself being a good man, instead of pushing me away, it only made feelings trickle in through the cracks of my heart.
He backed off, headed to the stairs, escaping me, leaving me in complete need. Bitterness toward my brother was creeping over me. Zach wouldn’t lose his friend, his boss. I was a risk he wasn’t willing to take. I had to remember what Zach said when he left me that day. Hilary, this can’t ever happen. I was sure he’d stick by what he said. He was a good man, after all, and a good man didn’t break his promises, but maybe, just maybe, some promises were meant to be broken.
Praise for The Promise Series
“Fall in love with Evan and Grace in A Promise Kept, an absolutely delicious debut from Anissa Garcia.” – New York Times, USA Today Bestselling Author, J. Kenner on A PROMISE KEPT
“A super sweet, sexy romance that left me with the biggest smile on my face. I totally loved A Promise Kept!” – New York Times, USA Today Bestselling Author, AL Jackson on A PROMISE KEPT
“Anissa Garcia has the unique ability to draw out emotions that I didn’t even know I had.” – Devious Book Blog on A PROMISE KEPT
“This has to be the most beautifully and well written book that I have read this year!” – Danielle, Short and Sassy Reviews on A PROMISE KEPT
“A Promise Made was lovely, sweet, intriguing, and proved that true love can and will prevail. Five star contemporary romance.” – Audrey Carlan,#1 NYT Bestselling Author on A PROMISE MADE
“Anissa Garcia delivers us another sexy romance with strong characters you can’t help but fall in love with. She promises to be an author to watch out for and add to your must click list!” – Love Affair With Fiction on A PROMISE MADE
Other Books in The Promise Series
A PROMISE KEPT
A PROMISE MADE
A PROMISE IGNITED (a short story)
UNDERCOVER ATTRACTION (Coming soon!)
About Anissa Garcia
Anissa Garcia resides in Austin, Texas and earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Communications and English. She has held an array of jobs including Public Relationship Manager for Barnes and Noble. Wanting a change of pace, she moved to Los Angeles where she attended The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and trained full-time in theatre. After working in Hollywood, she returned to Texas where she has written articles for Cosmopolitan and Lady Couture. When not writing stores, watching movies, or drinking a latte, she loves to daydream about romantic fictional men. You can find her online at http://www.anissagarcia.com.
USA Today Bestselling Author J.L. Berg’s FRAUD is available now – and you can get it for a special release week price of just $2.99! Read an excerpt below, enter to win an Amazon gift card, and pick up your copy today!
From USA Today Bestselling author J.L. Berg comes a sexy standalone about love, lies and every dirty little thing in between.
It wasn’t just a job.
It was my way back to the top.
After losing my position as a journalist for one of the biggest news publications in the world, I knew I’d do anything to get it back.
Even if it meant breaking a few hearts to get there.
She was the hottest author in the country. Known only by a pen name, there wasn’t a person alive who wasn’t dying to discover her true identity.
And I’d figured it out.
Her real name was Kate O’Malley and not only did I plan on finding her, but I fully intended on learning every dirty secret she had and exploiting it for my own gain.
But I underestimated my prey.
I didn’t anticipate how her words would intoxicate me, or how the curves of her body would consume me.
I never meant to fall in love.
And now I had a choice to make.
Do I give up everything for the woman I set out to destroy, or walk away, making me the biggest fraud of all?
Add FRAUD to your to be read shelf on Goodreads!
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Read an excerpt from FRAUD
What had started as a fun little game to bring this timid beauty out of her shell somehow turned into a wrestling match.
And I was the one about to lose.
Katelyn O’Malley was nothing like I’d imagined.
What had I imagined?
I wasn’t sure exactly.
I’d diligently done my homework— reading Scandal not once, but twice— before I’d hopped on a plane to Oregon. I’d thought the novel would give me insight to this perplexing woman I was about to meet.
Not one bit.
If anything, it’d created a thousand more questions.
At first, cracking her ironclad shell seemed like a daunting task. She had come off dry and dull.
But boring women didn’t do tequila shots until two in the morning.
Boring women didn’t lie to waiters for free wine and dessert.
And boring women definitely didn’t make me feel this way.
Needy. Desperate. And fucking horny as hell.
Even the way she licked the chocolate off her fork was making me shift uncomfortably in my seat.
This was a job.
Get your head in the game.
“You were pretty good at that,” I said, trying not to stare at the way her pink tongue darted out to grab the last bit of mousse from the tip of her finger.
“Good at what?” she asked.
She let out a choking cough, patting her chest with her palm. “I’m not a good liar,” she argued.
“Really? You seemed to have everyone around us fooled, including that charming elderly couple who offered their congratulations on their way out.”
“That really was sweet.” She smiled, a touch of whimsy in her gaze. “Did you see the way they held hands? I’m pretty sure he even grabbed her ass when she walked past him to go to the restroom.”
I laughed. “My kind of guy.”
“I just wonder what it’s like— to be that in love after all that time,” she said, bending forward and resting the curve of her chin on her hand.
“How do you know it has been a long time?” I asked. “Maybe they got married late in life.”
She shook her head. “I don’t think so.”
“Why?” I asked, curious how she’d reached that conclusion.
“There was a familiarity in the way they touched. The way they leaned into one another, the way they walked. It was as if they’d been doing so forever.”
I studied her for a quiet moment, recalling the intensity of her words and the passion in her voice. It was the first time since meeting Katelyn O’Malley, I could actually see a sliver of Laura Stone, the author, somewhere inside.
“I do believe you are a bit of a romantic at heart,” I replied.
She smiled sweetly. “Maybe a hopeless one.”
My hand reached out to hers, a needless gesture since we’d already achieved our goal for the evening and sold everyone on our false marital status.
This time, I touched her because I wanted to.
“Definitely not hopeless,” I said softly, knowing that instant that I was crossing the line between business and pleasure.
And heading straight to the land of hell.
“So, tell me about technical editing,” she said, shifting topics. “How does one get into something like that?”
I suddenly felt like I’d been hit in the face with a bucket of ice water. Here I was, in a dimly lit room, romancing the hell out of a woman I’d just met, and then reality hit.
I was lying to her.
I needed to remember that. “There’s not much to tell,” I said, straightening slightly in my chair. “Rather boring really.”
We continued to chat about our lives. She told me more about her work at the college. I rambled off more lies about mine until the check came around.
I was feeling quite good about myself as I led us outside.
My head was clear.
But then I saw the way the moonlight highlighted her golden-blonde hair. I became mesmerized by the sway of her hips and the soft curves of her body.
Katelyn O’Malley was casting a spell on me, and she didn’t even know it.
And I wasn’t sure I wanted her to stop.
About J.L. Berg
J.L. Berg is the USA Today bestselling author of the Ready Series, The Walls Duet, and the Lost & Found Duet. She is a California native living in the beautiful state of historic Virginia. Married to her high school sweetheart, they have two beautiful girls that drive them batty on a daily basis. When she’s not writing, you will find her with her nose stuck in a romance novel, in a yoga studio or devouring anything chocolate. J.L. Berg is represented by Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, LLC.
Title: Background Noise
Series: A Tennessee Grace Short
Genre: contemporary/erotic romance
Release Date: April 14
Read this sexy, erotic, short, romance for FREE everywhere!
He’s sexy, yet charming. He’s mysterious, but kind—and that dark, southern drawl of his gets me every time.
I don’t know who he is, the gorgeous stranger hiding out in this small town, but maybe—for just one night—I don’t care.
Title: Backwoods Belle
Series: A Tennessee Grace Novel
Genre: contemporary/erotic romance
Releasing June 2
Cover Design: Pink Ink Designs
She was meant to be mine. No other woman will do—but being engaged to the likes of me won’t be easy. The paparazzi, the media, my fans—we’re about to step into the eye of a storm.
I’ve run from it before, but I won’t run from it again. She’s my sweetheart, and no bride of mine will be cast into the background—not by me. Not by anyone.
I’m a born and bred Coloradan. While I now reside in Virginia, the land of the Rocky Mountains is where I’ve left a piece of my heart and where my characters come to life. I started writing love stories when I was seventeen, and I haven’t been able to stop! With me, you’ll find that I dabble in a few different romance genres, but my voice is one that’s all about the heart. Writing is my dream; and as a dreamer, you can rest assured that there are many more novels in my head that I can hardly wait to share.
A larger-than-life firefighter inspires a career-driven woman to live in the moment—and trust in the power of love—in this flirty, emotional novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Searching for Harmony.
Finn Ward has two passions: being a firefighter and being single. Although his parents are constantly nagging him to settle down, Finn just wants to enjoy himself while he’s young. Then, at a union meeting, he meets a gorgeous lawyer with a dazzling smile—and suddenly, settling down doesn’t sound so bad.
Rory Adams is fresh out of law school and looking to make a name for herself at her mother’s firm. She doesn’t have time for silly games anymore. But when she catches the eye of a dashing fireman who makes her body tingle from across the room, something instantly ignites between them. The only problem? Her father is Finn’s boss.
Their relationship turns both of their lives upside-down. Rory tames Finn’s wild ways, while he shows her that life can’t be all work and no play. But it’ll take some serious determination to keep their love secret—and real courage to admit the truth.
Finn leaned back and took me in as he balanced the chair on two legs. “Tell me more about yourself.”
“Tell me something that would surprise me.”
I dabbed the corners of my mouth, then placed my napkin on the table and lifted my eyes in thought. “Something that would surprise you?”
I wasn’t sure why in the hell I said it . . . but it slipped out before I could stop it. “I haven’t had sex in five years.”
Finn did something with his body that caused the chair to go back farther, and before I knew it, he was on the ground.
I jumped up, ran over to him, and kneeled down. “Oh my gosh . . . are you okay?”
He looked up at me with a look of sheer panic. He opened his mouth to say something, then snapped it shut.
“Oh my! What happened?” the young worker cried out as she ran up and kneeled beside us.
“He um, he fell back. I think he’s okay. Maybe just in shock.”
Yeah, totally in shock. From you telling him you haven’t had sex in forever and a day. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!
Finn shook his head and sat up. “I need a moment, ladies.”
We both stood and took a few steps back.
The girl leaned over and whispered, “Why is he in shock?”
I cringed. “I might have said something he wasn’t prepared for.”
“Oh,” she whispered, and looked directly at me. “You told him you loved him?”
“What? No! I told him I hadn’t had sex in a while.”
I cringed internally. For the love of all things good. I did it again.
Her mouth dropped open.
“Oh God. I did it again.”
She nodded. “Yeah, ya did.” Turning back to Finn, who was still sitting on the ground and was now mumbling to himself, she stated, “Poor guy.”
“Why him the poor guy? What about me?”
She took me by the arm and led me away. “Now you’ve put pressure on him to perform good.”
My lips pressed together. “You think?”
She pinched her brows. “Oh yeah. It’s probably like being with a virgin all over again. Guys freak out about stuff like that.”
“I’m not a virgin!” I practically shouted. Finn moaned, and I slapped my hand over my mouth before dropping it and giving the young woman a dumbfounded look. “Why are we even talking about this?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know. You brought it up.”
I let out a huff and walked back over to Finn. “For Pete’s sake, stand up already.”
Kelly Elliott is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling contemporary romance author. Since finishing her bestselling Wanted series, Kelly continues to spread her wings while remaining true to her roots and giving readers stories rich with hot protective men, strong women and beautiful surroundings.
Her bestselling works include, Wanted, Broken, Without You, and Unconditional Love, to name just a few.
Kelly has been passionate about writing since she was fifteen. After years of filling journals with stories, she finally followed her dream and published her first novel, Wanted, in November of 2012.
Kelly lives in central Texas with her husband, daughter, and two pups. When she’s not writing, Kelly enjoys reading and spending time with her family. She is down to earth and very in touch with her readers, both on social media and at signings.
To find out more about Kelly and her books, you can find her through her website.
Decadent… Sensual… Forbidden…
12 Masters. 12 Desires. 12 Fantasies Come to Life.
Meet the Masters of Blasphemy…
About MASTERING HER SENSES (Blasphemy #2, 2/21/17):
12 Masters. Infinite fantasies. Welcome to Blasphemy…
He wants to dominate her senses—and her heart…
Quinton Ross has always been a thrill-seeker—so it’s no surprise that he’s drawn to extremes in the bedroom and at his BDSM club, Blasphemy, where he creates sense-depriving scenarios that blow submissives’ minds. Now if he could just find one who needs the rush as much as him…
When an accident leaves Cassia Locke with a paralyzing fear of the dark, she’ll try anything to get help. Ready to fight, she knows just who to ask for help—the hard-bodied, funny-as-hell Dom she’d always crushed on—and once stood up.
Quinton is shocked and a little leery to see Cassia, but he can’t pass up the chance to dominate the alluring little sub this time. Introducing her to sensory deprivation becomes his new favorite obsession, and watching her fight fear is its own thrill. But when doubt threatens to send her running again, Quinton must find a way to master her senses—and her heart.
Amazon: Coming 2/21/2017 | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks
I’m having so much fun writing in the sexy, sensual world of Blasphemy that I couldn’t wait until release day to share a chapter from my next story in this series, Mastering Her Senses. Quinton is funny and sexy and smart as hell, but he also has that intense, dominant side that I just can’t get enough of! The Blasphemy series are stand-alone erotic romances all set in an exclusive play club located in the ruins of an abandoned church in downtown Baltimore. That means you can read them in any order and enjoy them all! Now, read on to meet the next Master of Blasphemy!
And don’t forget to preorder – now available everywhere!
Thanks for reading!
MASTERING HER SENSES (A BLASPHEMY BOOK)
BY LAURA KAYE
Quinton Ross was in his happy place.
Standing behind the bar at Blasphemy, the club he co-owned with eleven of the coolest assholes he’d ever known, he surveyed the roomful of wonderfully kinky people wearing a whole lotta nothing. Totally his jam.
And the fact that he’d get to play with one of them later? Seriously, a man’s life didn’t get any better.
Well, having a submissive of his own…that could be better. Theoretically.
Except the one and only time he’d attempted that, the woman had screwed him over so royally he’d almost needed lube. Heh.
But, whatever. Quinton tried really frickin’ hard to let things roll off his shoulders. People had much worse shit in their lives than him. Most of the time, he considered himself lucky and just focused on putting one foot in front of the other. Besides, he never lacked for company or partners around the club, and no submissive ever left him anything but fully satisfied. He made damn sure of it.
“Hi, Master Quinton,” came a feminine voice from further down the counter.
He turned to find a blond-haired woman with a sleek, silver prosthetic arm leaning against the marble of the ornate bar. Kenna Sloane. And right behind her stood her big mountain of a Dom and one of Quinton’s best friends, Griffin Hudson. “Aren’t you looking lovely tonight, Kenna,” Quinton said with a smile as he made his way to where Griffin was sliding into a seat and pulling Kenna’s slim hips between his legs. “And am I wrong or is this some snazzy new hardware?” He nodded at her arm. She’d lost everything below her right elbow while serving with the Marines in Afghanistan. If she and Griffin hadn’t been fuckin’ fated, Kenna might’ve been Quinton’s kind of woman.
Adventurous. Brave. Willing to push life to the extremes.
But they were fated, something the diamond on her finger and the platinum collar with its unique interwoven knot sitting at the hollow of her throat both indicated. Loud and clear.
Kenna smiled, so much more comfortable here at the club—and seemingly in her own skin—than she’d been when she and Griffin had first reconnected a few months back. “I have a couple different sockets. And a girl has to coordinate,” she said, holding it up to the almost sheer sparkling silver halter top she wore.
Chuckling, Quinton nodded and clasped hands with Kenna’s Dom. “Master Griffin, how the hell are ya?” Their wrists bore matching leather cuffs with embroidered Gothic M’s. Every Blasphemy Master—the experienced Dominants who owned the club and took turns running and monitoring it—wore one like it.
“Never better, my friend. Never better.” The skin crinkled around Griffin’s dark eyes as he spoke, his smile coming a million times easier than it ever had before. Quinton guessed that was what happened when you were not only able to correct one of the biggest mistakes of your life, but find a submissive who was also your soul mate in the process.
“I know that’s true,” Quinton said, winking at Kenna. She ducked her chin but was smiling bright enough to light up the whole room. And that was saying something given the size of Blasphemy. Located in the renovated remains of an old abandoned church, the massive rectangular nave formed the central part of the club. Filled with lots of seating and play areas, it had a soaring ceiling, massive stained-glass windows all around, and a performance and demonstration stage where the altar had once been. Themed rooms and other private spaces stretched off from the main floor. In addition to the very private and exclusive Blasphemy, the public front of their business—Club Diablo, a three-story dance club in a renovated warehouse—stood across a courtyard.
And Quinton provided hands-on management over it all.
He’d been with the clubs from the beginning, and had used his savings and the money he’d made selling a small but successful bar of his own to purchase his ownership stake in Blasphemy, a deal that got even sweeter when his partners had offered him the job of managing the bars and all the food service at both clubs. Food, drink, and sex all tantalized the senses and therefore were equally high up on the list of things he loved, and always had been. Given his prior experience, he pretty much had full control of the operation. Just like he liked.
Griffin placed an order for him and Kenna, then asked, “You have a scene set up tonight?”
Quinton got busy making their drinks and shook his head. “No,” he said with a grin. “But I’m looking forward to the thrill of the hunt.”
Griffin chuckled. “Good luck with that.”
The quip on Quinton’s tongue died when a flashing red light under the bar’s edge caught his eye. An emergency in one of the rooms. He glanced at the tag over the light to determine which one, then slammed the drinks down in front of his friends harder than he’d intended. “Shit, G, sorry. Emergency in the dark room. Get someone to cover?” he said, moving without waiting for an answer. He knew Griffin would have his back.
Quinton moved as fast as he could without calling undue attention. Their members knew that the Masters and a team of other Doms who worked as monitors responded to all sorts of problems around the club, some as mundane as an equipment malfunction and others more delicate situations involving disputes between players in a scene. Hell, a few months ago, Quinton had responded when Kenna broke down during a bondage scene, and Griffin had called for help extricating her from his intricate ropework. Sex at the extremes was bound to run into a few issues, which was why consent and safety were hallmarks of BDSM and Blasphemy itself. But none of that meant any of them wished to distract players from their pleasures with worry or curiosity, either.
Off the main floor, Quinton picked up his pace as he moved down the long hallway off of which most of the themed play rooms were located. The dark room was at the far end. Master Wolf came up beside him. “Hey, man,” he said.
Quinton gave him a nod. “Didn’t know you were on tonight, Wolf. Good to see you.”
A little taller than Quinton, the guy had dark blond hair, the brightest green eyes you’d ever seen, and a chiseled Scandinavian face that turned heads all over the club. “Running the security control room. Relieving Isaac because the baby’s sick,” he said, referring to Isaac Marten, their head of security operations, who had a two-month-old son.
“Damn. Sorry to hear that,” Quinton said as they closed in on their destination. The dark room was actually a series of three interconnected rooms. In the center was a pitch-black bedroom, accessed only through two changing/waiting rooms on either side of it—one of which let out into this hallway, and the other of which let out into a different hallway so that the players couldn’t run into each other before or after the anonymous scene. The dark room was very popular, and given Quinton’s interest in sensory deprivation, it was one he’d used many times.
He heard someone in distress before they even got inside.
Quinton and Wolf burst through the door to find one of the monitors trying to calm a woman curled on the floor, gasping like she couldn’t breathe. She wore a slinky bronze dress that bared most of her legs.
“What happened?” Quinton asked, grabbing a blanket from a shelf and going to his knees beside her. He tucked the soft fleece around her.
“I don’t know,” the monitor said. I sounded the alarm but she told me not to call an ambulance when I asked.
“She just freaked out. I swear. Nothing hardly happened between us,” a shirtless man said from the doorway to the dark bedroom.
Quinton hadn’t even noticed him there, but Wolf was already questioning him. He nodded to the monitor, a Dom in his forties, and then peered up at Master Wolf. “You all clear out. Debrief him and get his information.”
“You got it, Q,” Wolf said, motioning the other men out into the hall. “Call if you need help.”
As they left, Quinton brushed the woman’s shoulder-length hair back off her splotchy face. “We need to get your breathing under control or I have to call an ambulance.”
“No…no…I…it’s…” Clenching her eyes, she shook her head and growled as if in frustration.
Damnit, he needed to do something for her. The part of him that needed to care and soothe decided, and he scooped her off the floor and carried her to the couch. Everywhere they touched, her pulse hammered against her skin. If this was a panic attack, it was one of the worst he’d ever seen.
He sat with her in his lap, the blanket still wrapped around her, and cradled her so that they were facing each other. “Breathe with me, little one. Do you hear me? Look at me and breathe with me.” Striking hazel eyes with flecks of gold cut to his. Almost familiar…
Focusing, he exaggerated one breath, than another, and another, until she struggled to match her rhythm to his.
Griffin appeared in the doorway, questions clear on his face. Quinton spared him the smallest of glances and gave a single shake of his head. Griffin nodded and closed the door. Quinton had this. The others would be there in a heartbeat if he was wrong, but he didn’t think he was.
Because the woman’s body was calming. Her breathing was evening out. Her pulse was slowing. Her muscles were losing their tension.
“That’s it. That’s good. Just watch me and breathe with me. Don’t stop. We’ll kick this thing, don’t you worry.” He stroked his hand over her hair, wanting to soothe her. The color was so rich it almost matched the bronze of her dress. Her hair was beautiful and soft. As was the rest of her, all golden skin and pretty curves. Her weight felt good in his arms. She turned her face into his hand, just the littlest bit, and he stroked her hair again. A jagged scar ran along her forehead and into her hairline over one eye.
The scar triggered the oddest thought: That wasn’t there before.
His gaze cut back to those eyes. Hazel with the gold. And he suddenly knew he’d seen them before. Years ago. Right here at Blasphemy. A name clicked into place.
“Cassia?” he asked. Cassia. As in Cassia Locke, a submissive he’d flirted with quite a few times and was once supposed to play with…but she’d stood him up the night of their scene.
“Y-yes, Sir,” she whispered. “H-hi, Mas-ter Q-quinton.”
So she recognized him, too. Did she remember that night? He shook off the thought. Their history wasn’t something to deal with just then.
“Hi yourself, kid.” He gently scratched his fingertips against her scalp and concentrated on taking slow, deep breaths that she mimicked. Studying her, Quinton noticed another scar on her right shoulder. Her hair was also much longer than the almost boyish style she used to wear. Finally, Cassia went limp in his lap, and her ease unleashed a satisfaction in his blood. “Feeling better?”
She gave a long sigh, the sound exhausted and defeated. “As better as I can feel after utterly humiliating myself. Sir.”
He shook his head. “No such thing happened. Not as far as I’m concerned.”
Her gaze skittered away.
“Did I tell you to stop looking at me?”
Cassia’s eyes snapped back to meet his. “No, Sir.”
Her obedience unleashed even more of that satisfaction. The attraction of BDSM, to him, was as much about the psychology of it as the physicality of the acts. Her reaction—that obedience—represented an ingrained instinct, a need to serve, a desire to surrender. And that fucking heated his blood. He arched a brow and nodded. “Good girl.”
She shifted in his lap, but kept her eyes on his. The movement reminded his body that he’d been planning to find a partner, but he locked that shit down tight. First, because she’d been through something tonight he didn’t entirely understand. And second, because given that she’d stood him up and never bothered to follow up to explain, he wasn’t sure what to make of her anyway. And trust was kind of a thing, for him. Well, for most Doms, really. Which meant he needed to know.
“Now, tell me what happened,” he said, nailing her with a stare. “And tell me the truth.”
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About Laura Kaye:
Laura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thirty books in contemporary and erotic romance and romantic suspense, including the Blasphemy, Hard Ink, and Raven Riders series. Growing up, Laura’s large extended family believed in the supernatural, and family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses cemented in Laura a life-long fascination with storytelling and all things paranormal. Laura also writes historical fiction as the NYT bestselling author, Laura Kamoie. She lives in Maryland with her husband and two daughters, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.