They haunt me.
I can’t look into a person’s eyes without seeing the six-digit date of their death.
I’m helpless to change it, no matter how hard I try.
I’ve trained myself to look down. Away. Anywhere but at their eyes.
My camera is my escape. My salvation. Through its lens, I see only beauty and life—not death and despair.
Disconnected from all those around me, I’m content being alone, simply existing.
Until I meet him.
The man beyond the numbers.
How can I stay away, when everything about him draws me in?
But how can I fall in love, knowing exactly when it will expire?
The intercom crackles loudly throughout the classroom, interrupting Ms. Sherman’s rather uninspiring Friday afternoon lesson on the life cycle of a star. Even though most of the students around me are furiously jotting down notes about nebulas, red giants, and supernovas, I’m half listening while I doodle caricatures of me and my friends in the margin of my notebook. It’s not that I’m not interested in the material she’s talking about. No, that’s not the case at all. It’s quite the opposite actually; science is my favorite subject, especially anything that deals with astronomy and the unknowns in our universe.
But with a dad who is a super-smart astronomer at Johnson Space Center—or NASA, as most people here in Houston call it—I learned about this stuff she’s teaching before I ever started kindergarten. Heck, just this past summer before fifth grade, Mama and I went to visit him at a planetarium in Hawaii, where he was part of a team that discovered eleven new moons orbiting Jupiter! If I don’t ace this test next week, I better not even go home. I definitely wouldn’t be able to be an astronaut then.
“Ms. Sherman, can you please have Lyra Jennings gather her things and come down to the office? She’s leaving for the day,” the office lady who reminds me of Paula Deen—Mama’s favorite chef—announces through the ancient intercom system.
At the sound of my name, my chin jerks upward from my pencil sketches to the standard black-and-white classroom clock mounted above the projection screen. The hands read 12:45 p.m., nearly three hours before the end of the school day, when my parents are supposed to pick me up as we head out to Dallas for the weekend to celebrate my eleventh birthday. Ooh, maybe getting out of school early was my surprise they mentioned!
I’ve been looking forward to this day since we came home from this same trip last year, and I know my parents planned something special for this year. Every birthday, instead of having one of those silly kids’ parties with pointy hats and piñatas, they take me to the Texas State Fair. There, we spend the weekend riding as many rides as possible, stuffing our mouths with sausage-on-a-stick and fried Twinkies, playing games until we win the biggest of the stuffed animals, and laughing until our faces hurt and happy tears stream down our cheeks. Hands down, it’s my favorite three days of the year, even better than Christmas. And I really, really like Christmas.
Excitement jets through me as I stand up from my desk and hurriedly cram my spiral notebook and textbook into my purple paisley backpack. If we make it there early, I’ll be able to go swimming at the fancy hotel’s indoor pool before dinner.
“Sure thing,” my teacher calls out in response. “She’ll be right down.”
Hoisting the strap of the bag up on my shoulder, I turn to leave the room and my gaze meets Ms. Sherman’s. Her warmth shines in her bright amber-colored eyes, highlighting the numbers 051123 that I see imprinted in her pupils. The same six white numbers I see every time we make eye contact. The numbers I’m not allowed to talk about. The ones everyone thinks are all a part of my healthy imagination.
But they’re wrong. They’re all wrong.
The numbers are real, and they never change or go away. I only wish I knew what they meant. Mama and Daddy—who, by the way, are the only two people I know that have the same numbers—call it my special superpower, but I know they just pretend to believe me. I see the looks they share when they think I’m not watching. They don’t want me to think about all those things the doctors say about me. I may only be ten years old, but I’m 100% sure I’m not crazy, nor do I lie for attention. I’m an only child, for Pete’s sake; my parents are overly interested in my life. Though I do appreciate their support, even if they don’t understand.
“Have a nice weekend, Lyra. Don’t forget we have a test over CHAPTERs six through eight on Monday. Make sure you’ve read all the material,” she reminds me.
“Yes, ma’am. I’ll be ready,” I reply modestly, not sharing with her or the rest of the class I’ve already read through CHAPTER thirteen in the text, including answering the study guide questions at the end of each section. I may be an overachiever, but I’m not a brown-noser.
Luckily, school just comes easy for me, and my parents get over-Jupiter’s-moons proud when I bring home straight A’s on my report card. It reassures them that I’m normal and well adjusted. At least that’s what I heard Mama whispering to Daddy on the phone one night when she thought I wasn’t listening.
I mouth a quick goodbye to my best friend, Beth, who I pass by as I scuttle toward the exit. With her last name being Blackmon and mine being Jennings, we rarely get to sit near each other, as most of our teachers put us in alphabetical order. Beth’s numbers are 022754, and like Ms. Sherman’s, they light up vibrantly when she looks up at me and mouths the words Have fun before I slip out the door.
I never want to break the rules or get in trouble, so I somehow fight the urge to sprint down the deserted hallway and force myself to walk as fast as my long, skinny legs will let me. The swishing sound from my denim shorts rubbing together fills my ears, creating a soundtrack for my excitement. My cheeks ache from smiling so big while I drop off my folders and books in my locker then make a beeline to the front of the school, where my parents are waiting for me. This is going to be the best of the best weekends ever, one that none of us will ever forget. I just know it.
Only, when I swing open the glass door to the main office, expecting to see my favorite two people in the world, I’m surprised to find my Aunt Kathy standing there, her face puffy and pink, the corners of her mouth pointing due south. Our eyes meet, and I can barely see her numbers—123148—because of how swollen the lids are around them.
The fluffy white cloud of elation I floated in on disappears instantly as a dark fog of dread takes its place. Engulfing me. Swallowing me whole. She doesn’t have to say a word—I already know. Not how or when or where it happened, but deep in my bones, I know.
I was right. This will definitely be a weekend I’ll never forget, only it will be for reasons I’ll never want to remember.
“I’m so sorry, Lyra baby girl,” she cries. “I’m so sorry. They’re… they’re gone.”
The word bounces around between my ears, getting louder each time it echoes. The first time, it freezes my movements. The second steals all the air from my lungs. By the third time, I’m pretty sure I have no pulse. I want to go, too.
With my feet stuck to the floor and my body stiff as a statue, Aunt Kathy rushes over to me and wraps her arms around my shoulders. Pulling me up against her chest as uncontainable sobs shake her body, she breaks down in front of the receptionist and attendance clerk, neither of who bother to hide their open staring. Numb, I stand completely still while she wails for several minutes, and I never once make a single sound or try to break free from the death grip she has on me. My thoughts race so fast they’re standing still.
I’m just… here. And my parents just… aren’t. And they won’t ever be again.
Climbing into the passenger seat of Aunt Kathy’s fancy sports car—a car I usually beg to ride in because there’s no backseat—I fasten my safety belt and then close my eyes as I lean my head back on the black leather, warm from the hot southern Texas sun. Even though it’s mid-October, I’m still wearing shorts and sandals, and just last weekend I went swimming at Beth’s house. But as I sit here and wait for my aunt to start the car, my teeth chatter loudly and my entire body trembles uncontrollably. My heart is frozen solid, but I’ve yet to shed a tear.
The phone rings and I jump, automatically looking at the caller ID on the screen, thinking… hoping… praying it’s someone calling to let us know this has all been a big mistake, that my parents are really okay.
“Hey, Mom,” Aunt Kathy answers after just one ring. We still haven’t pulled out of the parking space. “Yeah, I have her now. She’s safe and sound.”
My heart plummets even lower into my stomach than it was before as she pauses to listen to Granny Gina on the other end. Granny Gina is my dad and Kathy’s mom who lives in New Orleans, where she moved about five years ago after my grandpa passed away from lung cancer. Since my mom’s parents both died before I was born, she’s the only living grandparent I have, and luckily for me, she’s a pretty awesome one. But today, nothing is awesome. Not even close.
“I don’t know. She hasn’t said a word. I’m sure she’s in shock.” My aunt talks about me like I’m not sitting right here, as I finally feel the car jerk back in reverse.
Another pause. The car lurches forward into drive then we bounce hard as Aunt Kathy flies over a speed bump. I think I’m going to throw up.
“Okay, I’ll take her home so she can pack a suitcase of whatever she wants to bring, and then we’ll go to my place until you get here. You should be in about 5:00?”
Pack a suitcase of what I want to bring where? Where am I going? Why is this happening to me? I’m a good kid. I make good grades and I’m nice to people, even those people who everyone else makes fun of, and I listen to my parents and my teachers. What did I do to deserve this? Why me?
“Yeah, Mom, I know,” Aunt Kathy hiccups. She’s crying hard again. “I’ll take good care of her, and we’ll see you later. I love you.”
I keep my eyes screwed shut as she disconnects the call, scared she’ll want to talk if I open them. I don’t want to talk to her or Granny Gina or anyone but my parents. I want my mom and dad!
Thankfully, Aunt Kathy doesn’t try to talk to me as we drive, but when I feel the car come to a stop and hear the engine turn off, she gently taps my arm. “Lyra, sweetheart, we’re at your house. We’re going to go inside, and I need you to pack up a suitcase or two of the clothes and things you want to take to New Orleans. Whatever you need.”
“New Orleans?” My lids snap open and I whip my chin in her direction. I don’t even recognize my harsh, scratchy voice. “I’m going to New Orleans?”
“Yeah”—she nods sadly as she swipes at the black mascara streaks on her face with her thumbs—“with Granny Gina. After we take care of, uh, of everything here, you’ll go live with her there.”
Scowling, I cross my arms over my chest and grunt. “I don’t want to leave Houston, or my friends, or my school. Why can’t I stay here with you?”
“You know I travel with my job, Lyra. Sometimes I’m gone a week or two at a time, and there won’t be anybody here to stay with you. Granny Gina’s house has an extra bedroom, and since she doesn’t work, she’ll be able to better give you everything you need.”
What I need and will be better for me is my mom and dad. And my perfect birthday weekend at the fair.
She reaches out to attempt to soothe me with her touch, but I wrench away, banging my elbow on the car door in the process. The whack is loud, and the place I hit immediately turns red, but my brain doesn’t register the pain. I feel nothing. I’m broken.
I glance over at my aunt, and the tears spilling down her cheeks make me feel bad for acting the way I just did to her. What happened to my parents isn’t her fault, but I’m angry and this is all moving too fast. How am I supposed to pack up what I need in a couple of bags? I want to stay in my room, in my house, living with my parents.
“I know this is all unfair, baby,” she says through her sniffles, “and I can’t even to begin to understand what you’re thinking or feeling. I mean, I’m freaking the hell out and I’m a grownup who’s supposed to know how to handle these kinds of situations. All we can do is cling to each other as family and try to get through this together. Between me and Granny, we’ll do the best we can for you, and right now, we think the best thing is if you get your things and go stay with her.”
“How did they die?” I blurt out, completely off topic from what she’s talking about. My mind can’t stay focused on any one thing, but this is the question that keeps popping up. “I need to know how it happened.”
Swallowing hard, Aunt Kathy inhales a shaky breath through her nose and blows it out through her mouth, visibly trying to collect herself before she answers me. “It was a car accident,” she whispers after forever, barely loud enough for me to hear. “I don’t know why they were together in your mom’s car this morning or where they were going, but an eighteen-wheeler lost control and hit them. They were already gone by the time the first responders arrived.”
I nod, still unable to cry. I hear the words she’s saying, but they aren’t really registering. They make sense, but I don’t understand. It’s as if I’ve been swallowed up by one of the black holes Daddy taught me about and the darkness is sucking away my ability to think, to feel. All I hear is the word “gone” still replaying over and over and over.
“Okay. I’ll get my stuff,” I say flatly, finally opening the door and stepping out of the car.
My movements are robotic, and I can barely even feel the key in my hand as I unlock the front door to my house. Stepping inside, I’m overwhelmed by a combination of the sweet smell of my mom’s favorite vanilla cookie candle and the sight of my dad’s fuzzy slippers waiting by the coatrack—the slippers he puts on the minute he walks in the door from work every night. When I realize he’ll never wear those slippers again, nor will my mom ever be able to forget if she blew out the candle when we’re about to pull out of the driveway, an acute pain shoots through my chest and I stumble over to the staircase, grabbing the banister to keep my balance.
“I’m right here, Lyra,” Aunt Kathy murmurs from behind me as she slips her arm around my waist. “Let’s just get your things and head over to my place. Later, once we’ve had some time to deal with everything, we can come back to go through the house and all the stuff… if you want.”
Another nod and I let her guide me up the stairs to my room. I want to scream at her that there will never be enough time to deal with losing my parents, that I’ll never be able to go through their things, but I keep my lips pressed together and do as I’m told.
“Where do you guys keep your suitcases?” she asks, glancing around my room as if she’s doing an inventory of what I have. “I’ll go grab a couple while you start pulling out what you want to take. If you forget something, it’s no big deal, because you and Granny are going to be staying at my place for the next few days. I can just bring you back to get it, or I can even ship it to Louisiana if you remember once you’re there.”
“They’re in the storage cabinets in the garage,” I answer while walking over to my desk, my eyes locked in on a framed photo of me and my parents that sits next to my laptop.
“Okay, I’ll be right back.”
The thud of her heels on the hardwood floor grows quiet as she makes her way back down to the first floor, and just as I grab the picture and plop down on the chair, I hear her open the door to the garage. A few much-needed minutes by myself.
I gaze down at the photograph of the three of us from a day at the beach, me sandwiched between their cheerful, carefree expressions, and the first tear finally escapes. Once the dam breaks, I can’t stop the flow, and as I trace my finger over the outline of each of my parents’ faces, I cry for everything I’ll never have again. A supernova of tears.
Faces I’ll never see smile again.
Voices I’ll never hear say my name again.
Arms I’ll never be hugged by again.
A never-ending galaxy of love that I’ll never feel again.
It’s all just… gone.
After several minutes of vision-blurring bawling, I set the picture frame back upright on my desk. A hot pink heart drawn on my calendar with the words Birthday Weekend Begins written over today’s box catches my attention. I then notice the printed numbers next to my bubbly handwriting that read 10-18-02.
Snatching the picture up again, I stare directly into first my dad’s eyes, and then my mom’s. The numbers I see when I look people directly in the eyes only happens when I’m face-to-face with someone, never in photographs or through a screen or mirror. But even though I can’t actually see the numbers right now in the picture of my parents’ pupils, their numbers are forever etched in my brain from looking at them every day of my life. I used to think the reason they had the same numbers meant they were true soul mates, like God made them to match perfectly together, but now….
My gaze flicks over to today’s date of 10-18-02, then back to my parents’ faces, where I envision their numbers—101802.
My plummeting heart collides with my lurching stomach in an explosion of realization.
It’s my Big Bang Moment.
About Erin Noelle USA Today Bestselling Author
young daughters. While earning her degree in History, she rediscovered her love for reading that was first instilled by her grandmother when she was a young child. A lover of happily-ever-afters, both historical and current,Erin is an avid reader of all romance novels.
Most nights you can find her cuddled up in bed with her husband, her Kindle in hand and a sporting event of some sorts on television.
“I’m so sorry, Saxon.” I wrap my arms around his waist; his chin drops to the top of my head. We may be opposites, but we sure fit together perfectly.
“No need to be sorry, babe. It’s life and the cruel way it shapes us.” His arms pull me closer to him until I’m drowning in everything Saxon.
“I hurt for you.”
He pulls his head back without letting go of me. His beautiful, scarred face drops to mine. “All this pain and hurt brought us together, that’s what we need to focus on.”
I smirk. “For being a big badass biker, you sure can go all romantic on my ass.”
He growls and then attacks my lips. I react without thinking, opening up to him. Our tongues dance together, exploring every single space inside each other’s mouths. Saxon presses his want for me into my stomach, causing me to giggle into his mouth.
He pulls away even though I know he doesn’t want to. “Don’t be spreading that bullshit around about me. I ain’t no Prince Charming here.”
I crook up an eyebrow in protest. “Could’ve fooled me.”
“Darlin’, I’ll bend you over this fucking bike and take you from behind right out in the daylight.” Saxon whirls me around.
I can’t help the damn laughter rolling off me. His powerful palm presses down on the middle of my back while his other hand grips my hip.
“’Bout to Prince Charming the fuck out of you, babe.”
“Brick.” A gruff voice interrupts the playful banter. I wouldn’t put it pass Saxon to make good on his promise. I’d probably let him. I mean, come on. He’s bringing me to life. A life worth living. This might be the first time laughter has graced me in a long time. This man makes me forget everything and feel safe at the same time. It’s priceless.
Saxon pulls me up from his bike until my back collides with his chest. He keeps both arms laced around my front.
“Griff,” Brick barks back.
“Church, you dirty motherfucker.” The man called Griff takes a deep inhale on his cigarette.
“Fuck,” Saxon murmurs into my hair.
Griff strides right back into the club with no fucks given. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell these men aren’t worried about bedside manners. Saxon begins walking us forward.
I crane my neck. “Who was that?”
“Our sergeant of arms. He’s a brother.”
“Meeting where only brothers and the prez attend. Discuss club business. Nothing behind those closed doors leaves.”
Both of my eyebrows shoot up. I’ve entered a completely new world. It’s not until I step into the clubhouse that it hits just how far out of society these men function.
Grab The Hitchhiker for .99 Cents
Free in Kindle Unlimited
ABOUT CHARLIE LEE
FOLLOW CHARLIE LEE
Trouble by Avery Flynn
Release Date: June 27th, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Trouble, an all-new sexy standalone from Avery Flynn is coming June 27th!
A high school reunion is about to get down and dirty and a whole lot more complicated in this new romance from USA Today bestselling author Avery Flynn.
Brains and a badass attitude. That’s all troublemaker Leah Camacho took with her when she left Catfish Creek. She’d promised herself she’d never go back, but when the invite to her tenth high school reunion arrived along with the chance to show everyone who doubted her what a success she’s made of herself, she couldn’t resist. However, when she discovers a 15-carat, stolen diamond in her rental car’s glove box, there’s only one man she can turn to for help—the same sexy, stubborn domineering man who’d smashed her heart all those years ago.
Sheriff Drew Jackson knew a long time ago that Leah Camacho was nothing but trouble and has sworn to never get caught up in her again—no matter how damn sexy she is or how badly he’d failed to forget her. But, when the woman who test drove his heart right into a concrete wall rolls into Catfish Creek with some serious bad guys on her tail, it’s up to him to keep her safe—even if that means guarding her hot bod 24/7 without giving into temptation or losing his mind.
Spinning the wheel as he hit the brakes, he came to a stop behind the sports car at an angle that blocked it from reversing. Drew got out of his truck, keeping the open door between him and the other car and flicked open the leather strap on his hip holster that kept his sheriff’s office-issued 9mm locked in place.
“Get out of the vehicle,” he hollered.
The car’s driver’s side door opened wide. The first part of the driver to appear was one shapely leg wearing skin-tight denim punctuated with scuffed up black Doc Martens. Some sort of danger alarm sounded in Drew’s head, but not the kind that warned of bullets or other bodily danger. A woman got out, facing away from him, her hands up and her dark hair a long silky curtain that led his attention straight down her back to the high curve of her ass poured into those jeans. Parts of him that had no place in police business sat up and noticed. Her ass was a testament to the reason why society required women to wear full dresses for so long—because men were weak, lust-addled idiots when it came to asses like the one that looked more than a little familiar to Drew. His gaze snapped back up as his internal alarm went from quiet buzz to all-out blare. He knew that ass, that hair, and those damn boots.
“Turn around,” he ordered.
She did. Her lush mouth—one he knew far too well—was compressed into a tight line, her attention focused on something behind him. Leah Camacho was back and with her always came trouble—for him, for his sanity, and for the part of him that still thought of her at opportune moments in the shower.
“Drew,” she said, making his name sound like a curse and a promise. “Get on the other side of the door.”
Listening to Leah Camacho was the last thing he should be doing, but he did it anyway for reasons he didn’t understand. Just as he rounded the door, an extended cab pickup truck turned the corner. The tires were big, the windows dark, and the speed was slow. As it puttered by, Drew looked it over and mentally confirmed it didn’t belong to any of the usual suspects in Catfish Creek. Of course, the high school reunion was bringing in lots of folks who hadn’t been here in a while. At the corner, the truck sped up, peeling away from the stop sign and taking a hard right back toward the highway.
“Who was that?” he asked, the smell of burnt rubber drifting back toward them.
“No fucking clue but they’ve been on my ass for the past hour,” she said, reaching up and winding her long hair into a knot on the top of her head—the move emphasizing her amazing tits and making Drew’s mouth go dry. “I didn’t realize I’d be stopping on your turf.”
He bet not. After what happened last time they were together, she’d made avoiding him into an art form. However, the fact that he was the law in town, however temporarily, meant avoiding her was an impossibility because wherever Leah Camacho went, trouble was sure to follow. He glanced down at exhibit A.
“What happened to your tire?” he asked.
“No clue,” she said, her voice tight with a lie. “I must have run over something.”
Drew squatted down and took a closer look at the tire. It didn’t have a tear, it was just gone as if it had been a blow out. If Leah had run over something big enough to do that, she would have realized it.
“What in the hell is going on, Leah?”
Add to GoodReads
About the Author:
Avery Flynn is an award winning, USA Today bestselling romance author. She has three slightly-wild children, loves a hockey-addicted husband and is desperately hoping someone invents the coffee IV drip.
She was a reader before she was a writer and hopes to always be both. She loves to write about smartass alpha heroes who are as good with a quip as they are with their *ahem* other God-given talents. Her heroines are feisty, fierce and fantastic. Brainy and brave, these ladies know how to stand on their own two feet and knock the bad guys off theirs.
Connect with Avery:
★★★ EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT ★★★
THE LAST GUY
By Ilsa Madden-Mills and Tia Louise
© Ilsa-Louise Books, 2017
~ Rebecca ~
He kicks the door shut and without even turning on the light, he tosses me on my back on the bed. I prop up on my elbows. My dress is up around my waist, my bra is wet from Cade’s mouth, and my nipples are pointing right at him.
“Damn,” he rasps, and I watch, mesmerized as he reaches behind his neck to pull his shirt over his head, leaving his hair a sexy mess.
The light of the full moon blasting through my window covers him in a silvery glow. My stomach clenches when I see the lines of his muscles deepened by the shadowy light. My God, he’s gorgeous. He looks otherworldly.
“We really shouldn’t do this…” My voice is breathless.
He strides toward the bed, his eyes never leaving mine. He’s focused, determined, and I watch long fingers unfasten his belt, the top of his jeans, his zipper.
“This is a terrible idea.”
“Yes,” he murmurs as he cups my face. I sigh and lean into his palm, letting the sizzle between us electrify me. If I do this…if I go through with boning him…it’s going to be the best sex of my life, judging by the tiny raised hairs all over my body.
I scoot to the foot of the bed so I’m right in front of him and my head is level with his waist. Looking up, I slide my palms to his sides, pushing his jeans lower.
He’s standing in front of me in black boxer briefs. I slide my palms up and down against the hot planes of his pelvis, teasing him, tracing my fingers around the straining bulge of his erection. “We’re gonna regret this.”
A long shudder comes from him, and his eyes are heavy-lidded as he watches me. “I don’t think so, Stone. Not in a million fucking years.” He leans down and his lips capture mine, his tongue sweeping inside my mouth, exploring, owning me.
One Uptight Reporter.
One Ex-NFL Star.
Too Much Fireball.
The Last Guy is a new standalone romance from Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author Ilsa Madden-Mills & International Selling Author Tia Louise. Meet Cade Hill on June 12th!
Add to your TBR here
Get an email alert when THE LAST GUY goes LIVE on Amazon
Get a Text Alert as soon as it’s live! Text “TiaLouise” to 64600 Now.* U.S. only
SEE the inspiration board on Pinterest
LISTEN to the playlist on Spotify
By: Ilsa Madden-Mills and Tia Louise
Photographer: Wander Aguiar Photography
Model: David Wills
Designer: Shanoff Formats
From Wall Street Journal bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills and international bestselling author Tia Louise…
The first rule of office romance is don’t do it—especially if your dream is to hold the anchor spot on the nightly news and your boss is trying to get you fired.
But one look at Cade Hill, the sexy new sports director, and uptight reporter Rebecca Fieldstone is daydreaming about other things.
Sex in his office…
Sex in the on-set kitchen…
Sex in the supply closet…
She can’t stop thinking about the former NFL quarterback and how perfect he’d look between her sheets—except he’s an arrogant jerk with a huge…ego.
He’s the last guy she’d ever have a one-night stand with.
Cade Hill draws a thick professional line on office romance—until it comes to the hyper-focused Rebecca. He wants her, and he gets his wish when a chance encounter has them having the hottest sex of their lives.
It’s just a hook-up, she says.
When can we do it again? he says.
With Rebecca determined to keep Cade in the friend zone, it’s going to be an uphill battle for Cade to convince her he’s the last guy she’ll ever want.
About the Author
Wall Street Journal bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills and the “Queen of Hot Romance” Tia Louise are not a secret duo, but simply themselves.
Great friends, former English teachers, and southern gals in real life, they’ve teamed up to bring you laugh-out-loud naughty romances with strong leading ladies and sexy alpha males who know how to please their women—and who sometimes you just want to slap.
“Filthy, fun, and filled with heart. Hot Cop is going on my re-read shelf.”
–Audrey Carlan, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author
Hot Cop, an all-new sexy, standalone from New York Times Bestseller Laurelin Paige and USA Today Bestseller Sierra Simone is coming June 13th!!!
Hot Cop by Laurelin Paige & Sierra Simone
Genre: Contemporary Romance
From NYT Bestselling Author, Laurelin Paige and USA Today Bestselling Author, Sierra Simone comes a steamy contemporary romantic follow-up to last year’s bestseller P*rn Star.
You have the right to remain sexy.
Anything you say can and will be used to get you in my bed.
You have the right to use my body to give yourself a delirious, life-changing orgasm.
If you have trouble…don’t worry, I’m a bit of an expert in that department.
There’s nothing ‘thin’ about my blue line, if you catch my drift, and trust me, I know how to put those handcuffs to good use.
Livia Ward wants a baby before she’s thirty. And even though Officer Chase Kelly is exactly the kind of cocky jerk this librarian has sworn off, he is undeniably hot. Both of them think they can give each other what they want–a few nights of fun for Officer Kelly, a no-strings baby for Livia–but this hot cop is about to learn that sex, babies, and love don’t always play by the rules.
I’m absolutely serious when I repeat my request. “Your baby. I want your baby.”
He swallows. “That’s.” He nods. “No.” He shakes his head. “I.” He fidgets in his chair, looking around the restaurant. “Waiter!” he calls to the server walking by who is most definitely not our waiter.
“Can I get you something, sir?”
“I’m going to need another drink.” Chase holds up his beer. “Another two drinks.”
“I’ll tell your server,” the waiter says and slips away.
I open my mouth but Chase says, “I’m going to need a minute.” I start to speak anyway, and he puts a finger up to silence me.
I sigh. I knew I was going about this wrong. I should have blown him first. Or I shouldn’t have approached this from the sex angle at all. Should never have let him think it was a date. Should definitely not have let him touch me like I did.
God, though. I can still feel his fingers. Feel how they brushed across my pussy. Feel how they stroked inside me.
I shiver at the memory.
He was right—I didn’t just come here tonight without panties because I didn’t want panty lines. The truth is I’d been prepared to use any means necessary to get what I wanted, including the old razzle dazzle. Problem was he razzled me first.
I should have been straightforward from the beginning. Hopefully this isn’t too botched to salvage.
I glance at Chase who is studying me, eyes squinted. He hasn’t indicated that he’s ready for me to speak, but fuck that. I have things to say.
Leaning forward, I rest my elbows on the table. “Look. I’m not a crazy cop stalker, if that’s what you’re thinking. Or someone who’s trying to trap you into a marriage or a relationship or even child support.”
His expression doesn’t change. “You have no idea what I’m thinking.”
“Then what are you thinking?”
The twinkle is back in his eyes, which is a relief. “That you’re a crazy cop stalker who’s trying to trap me into a marriage or a relationship or child support.”
I stifle a laugh. “I’m not. I promise. I don’t want anything from you. Other than the baby, I mean.” And really hot sex. Repeated hot sex.
“You don’t want anything from me,” he repeats, somewhat skeptical.
I clarify. “I want a baby. But no marriage. No relationship. No child support. No parental claim at all.”
He finishes the last of his beer and leans back in his chair. “I still don’t understand.”
He’s a smart guy. So either he’s playing dumb on purpose or he’s caught up on some part of the details.
I decide to make it as simple as possible. Speak the language he speaks best. “It’s easy, Chase. You want to have sex with me.” I feel sensual and strong with my bold statement.
But suddenly I’m afraid I’ve jumped to conclusions and my confidence falters. “You do want to have sex with me, don’t you?”
It’s his turn to look at me as though I’m playing crazy. “Yes, Livia,” he says with wide emphatic eyes. “Yes.” He pauses only a second before adding, “Do I need to make myself clearer? Because I can, but it wouldn’t be appropriate in a public venue.”
I bite my lip, pressing my thighs closer together to ease the newest wave of agony. “I think we’ve already pushed the limits of public decency. But you’re the cop. You’d know better than I would.”
His lip curls up on one side, and I know he’s considering. Damn, what I’d give to have a peek at the naughty imaginings going on inside his mind, because I know they’re naughty from the gleam in his eye. Very naughty.
“Chase…” I warn.
“You’re right, you’re right. Already pushed the limits. Go on.” But the gleam in his eye remains, and I’m giddy knowing that I’m prey, and he’s a predator just biding his time.
“Okay,” I say, my voice barely steady. “So, when you have sex, there are these microscopic things called sperm that come out of a man’s body when he ejaculates.”
“Liv, I know about sperm. But go on ahead and tell me about ejaculation. I’d like to hear what you have to say about that.”
His gaze never leaves mine and I flush picturing his cum in unproductive places—places that won’t make a baby—on my belly, on my breasts, spilling down my throat.
No, inside me. That’s where I want it most.
I lick my lips. “I’m saying you want to put it in me. I’m just asking to keep it afterward.”
Add to GoodReads
USA Today and New York Times Bestselling Author Laurelin Paige is a sucker for a good romance and gets giddy anytime there’s kissing, much to the embarrassment of her three daughters. Her husband doesn’t seem to complain, however. When she isn’t reading or writing sexy stories, she’s probably singing, watching Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead, or dreaming of Michael Fassbender. She’s also a proud member of Mensa International though she doesn’t do anything with the organization except use it as material for her bio. She is represented by Rebecca Friedman.
Connect with Laurelin Paige:
About Sierra Simone:
Sierra Simone is a former librarian who spent too much time reading romance novels at the information desk. She lives with her husband and family in Kansas City.
Connect with Sierra: