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Archive for 'erotic romance'



In One Picture: Reina Torres’s “Far from Over” (Contest at Collections website!)
Wednesday, July 1st, 2020

Psst! We’re beginning a fun thing over on Delilah’s Collections, which involves the authors of FIRST RESPONSE. I’m repeating the blog here, so you see what we’re up to, but the contest itself, and future “In One Picture” posts, will happen over there!

“Far from Over” by Reina Torres
They missed their chance at the academy, but after she rescues him from a pile of rubble, a fireman decides it’s time to make her burn for him

From “Far from Over”…

Smokin’ Joe’s Bar wasn’t his normal haunt. Center City was a few hundred feet smaller than Chicago, not that Chi-town let them forget the difference. Still, Center City was big enough to house a handful of bars frequented by firefighters, but beyond that, Joe’s was one of two bars owned and run by firefighters.

It had probably been a great place to get together a few years ago, but the decorations inside looked like they hadn’t changed much since the Marlboro man was big. And he was still hanging on one of the walls. Things were clean and well kept, just old. Just go to any bar that was packed on a night like this and you’d see why they were packed. Joe’s had just gotten stuck in the past, but he wasn’t there for the decorations of even the liquor. He was there for one reason, Gina Ferrer. She was bartender in Joe’s every night she wasn’t working at Station Five.

Just $0.99!!
Order your e-copy here:
Kindle | Nook | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play
Get your print copy!

Contest happening now over on the Collections site:

Is there a bar in a movie/TV series/or book that you wish you could visit?
Name it for a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card!

FIRST RESPONSE is out today!
Tuesday, June 30th, 2020

First Response: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology

Just $0.99!!
Order your e-copy here:
Kindle | Nook | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play
Get your print copy!

We (all 15 authors!) are very proud of this edition! The stories are spicy and fun! We set the price low, not because we didn’t think people would be willing to pay a higher price, but because we want to share it with as many people as we can! So, get your copy! It costs less than a cup of coffee—even the straight, unflavored cup! Remember, I have a short story in this volume, too! One related to the Montana Bounty Hunters

Also, please visit the Collections website for the next wee while. Starting tomorrow, the authors will be sharing photos that depict an aspect of their stories, plus, there will be more contests! 

And reviews are always much, much appreciated!

Desiree Holt: Happy Birthday to me! (Contest — 6 Winners!)
Monday, June 29th, 2020

Happy Birthday to me! And a present for you!

Three people will win a digital copy of WEST DREAMS AND FANTASIES
Love Romances Café Best All Around Book of 2019

Three people will win a digital copy of MOVING TARGET

Leave a comment. I’ll pick the winners tomorrow!
You can find links to these books and more on my web site desireeholt.com

Yes, today is my birthday. I am 84 years young. And enjoyingevery day more. I am a mother, a grandmother and a great grandmother. And guess what? Still writing hot, incendiary romances and pulse-racing romantic suspense. And of course, enjoying every single minute of it.

My journey has been an interesting one. I always wanted to write but between raising three wonderful children and working a variety of jobs, the time just was not there. I finally retired at the end of 2000, but then we were all involved in our exciting move to Texas, building a new home and of course a new life. My late husband, however, was very encouraging and kept pushing me to sit down and write. So in 2005, I finally sat down and actually finished a book. A romantic suspense. TARGET. It’s been through many name changes and revisions but more about that later.

I’d probably still be wondering what to do next if not for SARA—San Antonio Romance Authors—and two women who have had and continue to have a wonderful influence in my life—Delilah Devlin and Elle James. With their guidance, I was able to figure out what the hell I was actually doing.

They were also the ones who told me when Ellora’s Cave had an open submission call, and that opened the door for what was to become an exciting career as an erotic romance author. It also led me to Totally Bound where I still continue to write. And out of that came—what else?— WET DREAMS AND FANTASIES, a box set of erotic fantasies to light up any woman’s dream!

Wet Dreams & Fantasies

AND JUST NAMED BEST ALL AROUND BOOK OF 2019 AT LOVE ROMANCES CAFÉ!

So, Happy Birthday to me! I am glad I am celebrating with all of of you.

Everyone has fantasies, right? The dreams we indulge when we’re alone in the dark. Those secret desires we only bring out when no one’s around. But what if you had a chance to make them come true? What if you had a chance to indulge your wildest, most erotic dreams? And what if, having realized one of them, you then realized there was a whole world out there where you could make all those erotic fantasies come true? For Lisa Graham, it became a journey through every fantasy she’d ever dreamed.

1 – Interlude
Rain-soaked Lisa Graham, unable to get a cab to stop for her, decided to wait out rush hour in a discreet little bar she’d never seen before. She hadn’t ever seen Mark, either, the man who invited her to share his private booth. Nor had she ever done the erotic things in public that Mark coaxed her into. Four drinks into the evening she was feeling totally wanton and completely dominated. And wondering exactly what would come next.

2 -Intermission
Lisa Graham’s erotic memories of Interlude prompted her to visit Danny’s Pub, its strange replacement, but five minutes into her first night there she got more than she bargained for.

Lisa Graham hugged to herself the memories of Interlude, the erotic pub that, it seemed, only appeared when it rained – and brought her unbelievable sex with the stranger, Mark. Scoping out Danny’s Pub, the bar that occupies the space when there’s no rain, she meets Jake, and falls into an erotic whirlpool that has a shocking surprise for her.

3. Game On
It was a picnic, but everyone was nude and Lisa Graham, was about to play the most erotic game of her life.

Brothers Mark and Jake had introduced Lisa Graham to more acts of eroticism than she’d ever fantasized about. Now they had invited her on a picnic, where everyone was nude, the main activity was a game of multiple partners, and she tumbled into new whirlpools of erotic sex. What would be next on the list?

Moving Target

And TARGET? It became MOVING TARGET and the first book in the romantic suspense series, GUARDIAN SECURITY.

They’re trying to kill her, and she doesn’t know why…

Kathryn Holt knows only that she has to get far away as fast as she can. In a frantic, cross-country odyssey, she transforms from pliable Kathryn to feisty, determined Kate Miller, staying one step ahead of the killers on her trail. Then Fate delivers her into the hands of a dark knight with a tortured past. The safety he offers is as tempting as he is.

After having his perfect life ripped apart, recluse Quinn sees protecting Kate as his chance for redemption. He never plans on wanting the guarded beauty, never mind falling for her. Denying the explosive chemistry between them is useless, and as danger closes in, he must fight to expose the killer or risk history repeating itself.

Here’s where you can find me:
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Vonna Harper: Where Inspiration Lives
Thursday, June 25th, 2020

Setting, for me, is where every book begins.

Yes, I love getting to know the characters that slip out of the shadows at the back of mind where they’ve been living, sometimes for decades without my being aware of them. I enjoy the plotting process which consists of waking up in the middle of the night to mull over possibilities, running down roads both promising and dead-end, and throwing possibilities into a Word program called “Notes”, but I have to have a strong picture in my mind of where everything happens before I can write the first word.

I love going for solitary drives accompanied by Neil Diamond going full blast while the world around me becomes part of me. I’m a mountain gal born and bred. I don’t understand cities. They don’t speak to me. But give me the wilderness and I come alive.

That’s true even when I’m writing erotica.

Case in point, I’m in the process of releasing two self-published books. Cry of the Wolves will hit the virtual shelves on the 29th. I haven’t set on a release date for the companion novella Call of the Wolves, sometime in July.

The two connected stories came to me unbidden. I had no idea that’s what would happen when I went for a hike near Crater Lake at a place known as The Gorge. The Rogue River of southern Oregon flows through The Gorge, or rather it fights to. As I explain in the forward for the two Wolves stories, an ancient volcanic eruption sent molten lava to the Rogue. At one spot, the river was squeezed into a narrow channel. Every spring during snow runoff, the river screams and boils as it struggles through the lava.

That’s where I found my characters. Each in their own way, they listened to and watched the ageless battle between rock and water. That wild place impacted them as deeply as it did me and gave rise to the ghost wolves. I’m including a couple of pictures I took. I just wish readers could feel the spray and sense the ground shivering.

A big part of the writing business consists of getting the word out, which is what I’m doing right now via a couple of projects designed to try to garner reviews.

In case you’re interested in getting your hands on some free ARC (advanced reader copies) in exchange for a voluntary review, I recommend becoming a member of Book Sirens, https://booksirens.com/advanced-reader-copies, and/or The Hidden Gems, https://www.hiddengemsbooks.com/.

FIRST RESPONSE releases next Tuesday! Read an excerpt! (Many CONTESTS!)
Wednesday, June 24th, 2020

First Response: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology

Pre-order your copy here:
Kindle | Nook | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play

Well, the book is in the can! Film-speak for it’s loaded and ready for release day! I can’t be more excited! The stories are all soooo good, with a wide variety of themes and genres! Something for everyone!

My own story, “In the Wild” is related to my Montana Bounty Hunters series. In fact, the hunter in this story will appear in the spin-off series, Montana Bounty Hunters: Dead Horse, MT! She’ll have her own full-length story, but you can meet her below in the excerpt. Yes, HER! 🙂

Have you checked out my Collections website where all my anthologies “live”? We’re running a ton of contests. If you haven’t already been on that site, here’s a list of contests that are still open. While you’re busy entering to win something, be sure to check out the authors who are part of this anthology. There are some very familiar names (Elle James, Reina Torres, N.J. Walters, Melanie Jayne) and some authors you might not be aware of just yet. You’re going to find new authors to stalk, promise!

Contests Still Open on the Collections Website

  1. Megan Ryder: Claiming Lyla (Contest–4 Winners!)Absolute last day to enter! (Okay, so this one’s right here! Still counts!) Win books or a gift card!
  2. January George: Blackout (Contest)Absolute last day to enter! Win an Amazon gift card!
  3. Tray Ellis: Falling Off the Single Track (Contest)Absolute last day to enter! Win an Amazon gift card!
  4. Melanie Jayne: Drive (Contest)Absolute last day to enter! Win the ENTIRE NOVUS SERIES!
  5. Megan Ryder: Claiming Lyla (Contest — 4 Winners)Absolute last day to enter! Win an anthology or an Amazon gift card!
  6. Reina Torres: Far From Over (Contest — 2 Winners!) — Win an anthology!
  7. Margay Leah Justice: Handcuffs and G-strings (Contest) — Win an anthology!
  8. Kimberly Dean: Thinking Time (Contest — 3 winners!) — Win an audiobook!
  9. Elle James: Sheltering Charlotte (Contest — 2 Winners!) — Win a FREE book!

So, yes! A ton of contests! Have you entered? Don’t miss the contest I’m running here, today. You’ll find it under the excerpt from my story!

Excerpt from Delilah’s story, “In the Wild”

If not for her GPS device, Martika Mills wouldn’t have had a clue where she was. All she knew was that she was soaked to the skin, mud sucked at her boots, and two days into this hunt, she was no closer to finding Marlon Oats.

Earlier that morning, after sliding a twenty to a gas station attendant on the Montana border, she’d thought she was getting close. She’d gotten a description of the car Marlon had “borrowed” on his flight into the wilderness and had found it parked in a narrow roadside viewing point, just inside Yellowstone National Park.

After that, she’d followed the narrow stream into a deep gully off the road, knowing Marlon considered himself quite the fisherman, or so his mother had said. No doubt he intended to live off the land until the heat died down after he’d failed to make his date with the judge in Helena, where he was due to be tried for robbing a pawn shop in Springdale at gunpoint. His mother had been very helpful, liking the fact that Marti seemed like “a nice girl” who might “ask” her son to let her put him in handcuffs rather than shooting him. His mother didn’t want Marlon hurt, even though his skip might cost her the home she’d lived in since she’d married Marlon’s no-account, long-dead father.

Marti was just about to call it a day, figuring she had just enough daylight left to get back to her SUV parked behind Marlon’s at the roadside park, when she spotted a puff of dark smoke rising over the gully. Noting its direction, she climbed up a steep embankment, seeking footholds in mud and rock and grabbing vines along the sides of the rocky face until she stood at the top and realized the land on this side of the stream was flatter and filled with tall spring grass—and a herd of buffalo that didn’t seem to pay her any mind as she bent over and dragged in deep breaths. She glanced at her hands braced on her knees and grimaced, because they were covered in mud, which she shouldn’t give a shit about because her jeans were streaked with dirt as well.

Marlon had a lot to answer for, but thoughts of the rich bounty she’d score kept her from throwing in the towel. Her mother liked to say that stubborn was her middle name, which was a quality that worked well in her line of work. She always got her man because she never, ever gave up. She’d been bounty hunting for nearly three years now, the last one going solo because she didn’t like sharing her bounty with a partner or an agency, although she was considering working for one again. Agencies often served as bail bondsmen, too, and therefore had the downlow first on the richer bounties. Fetch Winter from Montana Bounty Hunters had been working on recruiting her to join a new satellite office he was trying to get off the ground in Dead Horse, Montana, to service southwest Montana and into Wyoming. He needed hunters with experience, and he’d heard good things about her.

She’d heard good things about the agency, too, if a you discounted the cable TV show that followed his hunters out of Bear Lodge. Fetch gave his crews a higher percentage of the bounty than most agencies did, and he’d assured her that he wouldn’t be looking to do any spin-off series featuring his other offices, but he had admitted that the bonuses for the hunters who permitted the production crews to accompany them were very generous. The job was hers, if she wanted it.

But first, she had to find Marlon Oats.

Trying her best not to draw the herd’s attention, she walked along the edge of the ravine, keeping within the narrow line of trees standing along the edge of the ravine as she made her way toward the place she believed a campfire had been lit.

As she drew closer, she stayed hidden and peered into a clearing. A small tent had been pitched, one that had seen better days. One of the screen windows was torn, and one of the poles that held up the tarp over the door was missing. But she couldn’t make out whether anyone was presently occupying the campsite.

Just then, she heard movement coming from the stream below and a soft off-key whistling. Hunkering down, she waited patiently until the person climbed over the edge of the embankment and stood.

“Marlon, you sweet idiot,” she said under her breath. Her heartbeats quickened, and she drew slow breaths. She needed calm, not adrenaline, to get closer to her target.

Marlon strolled toward his campsite holding a string of four fish, which he lowered into a pot beside the fire. As he began taking them out, one at time, gutting and filleting them, and then tossing the pieces into a pan he’d filled with oil, she moved closer, choosing her footsteps carefully, grateful for the chorus of gargling grunts from the buffalo nearby that masked the sounds her feet made in the suctioning mud.

She studied Marlon to see what challenges he might present. A rifle leaned against the tent, and he held a knife in his hand. Slowly, she dropped her backpack to the ground and drew her own 10mm Remington from the holster on her thigh, and then began to work her way toward the edge of the tree line, knowing she’d eventually have to expose her position to prevent him from making a move toward the rifle.

Soft chuffing grunts sounded from the herd, but she ignored the animals, keeping her gaze fixed on the more dangerous game in front of her.

Then she stepped on a twig, and it snapped.

Marlon’s gaze swung toward her position, and his eyes widened. His gaze shot to the rifle, but she shook her head.

“I’m a Fugitive Recovery Agent, so you know why I’m here,” she said, keeping her tone low and hard.

Eyes still wide, his body tensed as though he was preparing to bolt upwards and make a run for it.

“Don’t even think about running,” she bit out.

He blinked, and his gaze went to something behind her. “Bitch, you might want to think about making a run for it.” Then a smile stretched across his face as he slowly stood and waved his arms.

What the fuck…?

Then she heard it. A deep, gargling grunt. With her handgun still held in both hands in front of her, she darted a glance behind her.

A large bison bull faced her from about twenty feet away, his head lowered toward the ground, his gaze fixed on her.

Marlon laughed then darted toward the tent.

No way was she letting him get anywhere near that rifle, even if he promised to shoot the bull. As big as the fucker was, Marlon’s peashooter wouldn’t do anything more than piss the animal off. “Marlon!” she rasped as loudly as she dared as she weighed her rapidly dwindling options. “Stay clear of that rifle, or buffalo or not, I’ll shoot your ass.”

“Your choice,” he said, raising a hand to his mouth and issuing an ear-piercing whistle. Then he turned and ran toward the gully.

Another grunt, this one louder and harsher, sounded, and she knew she couldn’t just stand there; she broke into a run, following Marlon as he ran parallel to the gully, keeping twenty yards ahead of her.

Behind her, she heard the heavy thud of hooves striking damp earth, coming closer and closer.

Any second now, she’d have to veer toward the gully and jump, and hope like hell that she didn’t break something on the way down.

Then another sound came from a distance. An engine. Something small. She dared to glance back and saw an ATV running parallel but slightly behind the bull. The person driving it wore a green Park Service uniform.

Oh, thank God! But was he too late to distract the angry animal from trampling or goring her to death?

Ahead of her, Marlon gave a gleeful laugh and ran toward the naked edge of the gully, took one last glance behind him, then slid down the side on his ass, disappearing from sight.

Time for her to do the same, although with the way her hiking boots were gliding in the muck, she thought she’d be a lot less graceful and likely pitch headfirst over the rocky ledge.

The ATV’s motor revved, bringing it closer by the sound behind her. But she didn’t dare glance backward. The bull’s hooves were shaking the ground beneath her feet.

With her lungs and legs burning, she veered right, just as the ATV pulled into the path of the bison.

She peeked behind her again. The buffalo slowed then gave a loud chuffing grunt, trotting now behind the ATV. The ranger slowed, too, coming alongside her and reaching out an arm.

No way could she swing onto the back. She wasn’t particularly graceful, would miss by a mile, and get trampled for her efforts. She waved him away and veered toward the ravine.

Glancing backward, she watched the idiot ranger stop his ATV and begin waving his arms high over his head as he walked backward towards her.

“Get on the ATV,” he said, his voice calm as the buffalo ran several steps forward then made a little circle, which left him a few feet farther away when he halted, still grunting his warnings.

How like a man.

“I’ll take my chances in the ravine,” she snapped. “Besides, that’s where my skip went.”

“Get on the goddamn ATV! I’m trying to rescue your ass.”

“They teach you how to talk like that at ranger school?”

“Jesus Fucking Christ.”

He walked toward her, giving her Remington a hard glare.

She holstered it quickly but backed away, holding out her hands. “We’re good. The bull’s more interested in your Tonka toy than me now.”

Just then, the bull proved her right when he ducked his head and butted against the ATV, flipping it onto its side.

Contest

For a chance to win a copy of one of our previous Boys Behaving Badly Anthologies, let me know whether you’ve already pre-ordered your copy of FIRST RESPONSE!

Megan Ryder: Claiming Lyla (Contest–4 Winners!)
Friday, June 12th, 2020

UPDATE: The winners are…gift cards: Colleen C and Mary Preston; and anthology: Debra Guyette and Becky Parsons!
*~*~*

Hi! My name is Megan Ryder, and thank you for having me back on the blog for another chance to talk about my books. Today, I’m thrilled to talk a little bit about making the transition between contemporary and paranormal romance.

I’ve been writing for a long time (longer than I care to admit) and I’ve been writing contemporary romance for most of that time. I’m published with a few books including sexy baseball heroes, a matchmaking bride and her bridesmaids, and lately, cowboys. While I love all of those, my first love has always been paranormal romances, especially shifters, but I was always hesitant to make the shift (pun intended) to a new genre. When I heard about this anthology, my short story popped into my head completely formed as a prequel to my series and the perfect way to test my skills.

My story centers around a female shifter who is trapped into running from a group of alpha males who want to forcibly claim her as a mate, only to run into another alpha who offers to save her. The only problem is – he really IS her mate and she doesn’t want a mate at all.

In paranormal romance, I wanted to deal with the concept of consent, because “fated mates” being a trope in the genre often blurs the lines for consent. In this story, I wanted her to be a strong alpha female and her mate to be willing to see her that way and accept her and look for her consent, even as their natures want them to mate.

It was fun playing with the paranormal world, setting up the shifter structure and society, and dealing with the biology, too. And I slipped in something I thought was relevant to our current times.

Check out the snippet below and let me know what you think.

Contest

For my giveaway, let me know if you like the “fated mates” trope, where characters have one and only one mate for them (and often they know it and can’t fight it for long). I’m giving away 2 electronic copies of the anthology – First Response (given on release day) – and 2 $10 gift cards to Amazon.

Excerpt from “Claiming Lyla”

A she-wolf being hunted by pack males during a claiming rite is rescued by a rogue alpha determined to make her his own, despite her desire to be independent…

First Response: A Boys Behaving Badly AnthologyLyla folded her arms in front of her, a defensive gesture, closing herself off from him, while plumping up her full breasts so they strained against the lace. “What do you want?”

He cocked his head at the howls growing closer. “You don’t have much time, or much of a choice, sweetheart. You either deal with me or them. And trust me, I’m the lesser of your evils.”

A laugh broke from her throat, a raw, harsh sound that held no humor. “I’d prefer none of you. Why can’t you leave me alone, you bastards? You want me to just roll over and spread my legs like a good little bitch. Well, fuck that.”

He winced at her harsh tone and steeled himself. A breeze picked up her scent and tickled his senses with it, and his cock hardened further, painfully. His wrists burned hotter under the skin, prickling like a thousand fine needles that made him want to scratch an itch. Nothing would appease the sensation, he feared. He cursed under his breath. Fuck. Not the best time to find his mate. Not here. Not in this goddamn situation. This night had just gone to shit, and now the bonds were pulling him in even tighter.

Flashback: Quincy (Contest–3 Winners! Plus an Excerpt!)
Sunday, May 31st, 2020

UPDATE: The winner is…ButtonsMom!
*~*~*

The Montana Bounty Hunters series located in Bear Lodge is complete. However, I’m planning to write a spinoff series, Montana Bounty Hunters: Dead Horse, MT very, very soon. I loved writing the original series, and I can’t wait to immerse myself writing more of these heavy-duty, gritty guys in the near future. Have you seen the cover for Cage, which will release in July? Yeah. His story will rock! Some of the guys you love from the original series will pop up here and there in Dead Horse—after all, they all work for Fetch Winter. Someday, he’ll get his happy-ever-after, too!

Quincy

Quincy

MONTANA BOUNTY HUNTERS: Authentic Men… Real Adventures…

Sparks fly, as do inhibitions, when a bounty hunter and a beautician are forced to hide out together from a dangerous criminal gang…

Former Army Ranger Quincy James and beautician Tamara Davis met under less than idyllic circumstances–trapped inside her doomsday-bunker-turned-beauty-shop while he was hunting a skip. Now that he’s settled into his new job with the Montana Bounty Hunters, he knows he’s dawdled too long asking her out on a legitimate date. But then, he gets a new case right in the pretty beautician’s neck of the woods. A dangerous new assignment he doesn’t want her anywhere near, However, NOT bumping into her proves tricky and when they do cross paths, he blows it.

Tamara’s already feeling foolish over the fact she got way too friendly with Quincy when they were trapped together, but then, he never contacts her again. When she sees him on the street in her little town, she’s ready to give him a piece of her mind, but he acts like he doesn’t know her. What the hell?

When the pair find themselves forced together again, there’s time for a reckoning…

Contest

Are you all caught up reading the Montana Bounty Hunters?

For a chance to win a download of one of the stories you may have missed
(I’ll pick three winners!), tell me this:
Are you ready for more sexy bounty hunters?

Here are all the Montana Bounty Hunters!

MONTANA BOUNTY HUNTERS
Authentic Men… Real Adventures…
Reaper: https://amzn.to/2NztLpv
Dagger: https://amzn.to/2zo6Dav
Reaper’s Ride: https://amzn.to/2KKkisI
Cochise: https://amzn.to/2zq4avV
Hook: https://amzn.to/2UrpyYh
Wolf: https://amzn.to/2yUTjr5
Animal: https://amzn.to/2H4Roob
Big Sky Wedding: https://amzn.to/33GprwK
Quincy: https://amzn.to/2QlleM8
Brian: https://amzn.to/2ZV8m2G

Excerpt from Quincy

Tamara Adams blew at a strand of hair that flew into her eyes. Her hands were filled with flyers advertising her beauty shop, Curl Up & Dye, and she’d been papering the windshields of vehicles up and down Main Street. This was her latest idea to draw attention to her shop. If something didn’t give soon, she’d have to pay for a station in someone else’s shop, and she’d never realize her dream of owning her own business.

When she came to the line of motorcycles parked in front of S&S, she nearly passed them by. She really didn’t want to attract that caliber of customer, but then again beggars couldn’t be choosers.

Without windshield wipers to clamp against her papers, she used pretty washi tape to attach the flyers and quickly made her way down the row, eyeing the window of the bar with trepidation, because she really didn’t want any ornery biker confronting her about “trashing up” his bike.

Just as she was taping the last flyer to bug-spattered glass, she heard a commotion erupt inside the unsavory establishment. Curious, she strode toward the plate-glass window to peer inside, but the window was dirty and the interior of the bar wasn’t brightly lit, so she shielded her eyes and leaned closer to the glass. What she saw had her eyes widening.

An honest-to-goodness barfight was underway inside. From what she could tell, a bar filled with brawny biker-types faced three equally brawny dudes, but what the trio lacked in numbers, they made up for in sheer meanness.

The two in the center of the bar sent one biker after another flying through the air from well-placed kicks and bone-rattling punches. One of the men wore a prosthetic arm, which he used to great advantage, following his powerful left-fisted punches with thudding body blows delivered by his mechanical arm.

To the left, she watched as a huge orange-bearded man grabbed the third brawler by his collar, only to be head-butted, and while still stunned, swing an arm wide, which propelled him over the hunched body of his adversary where he landed flat on his back and sucking wind.

Curiosity satisfied, and her original gut instinct to give the bar a wide berth confirmed, she moved back from the glass and returned to the curb where she reached over the hood of a car and stuck her pink flyer under a wiper blade.

The door behind her swung open, and she peered over her shoulder.

A familiar man appeared, his gaze sliding past her bent-over body before returning to glance up at her face. His eyes widened for a second, but then he quickly turned his head and walked away.

What. The. Fuck. The man she’d mooned over for weeks, before she’d realized he’d never intended to call her after they’d shared an afternoon of illicit delight, had just walked past her like he didn’t even know her. Not a nod. Not a “Hi, there.” Not a knowing, smirky smile. Nothing.

Her breath caught in her chest as she acknowledged the blow. She’d actually thought they’d shared something special. And she’d been making excuses for his failure to communicate all this time.

Just that morning as Miss Gracie had finished stocking the shop’s refrigerator with her eldercare protein drinks, Tamara had leaned an elbow on her table as she’d sat in her beautician’s chair staring into the lit mirror, remembering how he’d sat there and flirted with his sexy, hazel-green eyes—after she’d zip-tied him to the chair. After all, she’d just been locked inside her bunker by a bail jumper on the lam. The new stranger had claimed to be a bounty hunter, but why should she trust him? His dark beard and intense gaze had sent shivers of awareness through her body.

Okay, so she had a thing for bad boys. Obviously. She’d dated some real winners, but this time, she’d thought…well, she’d hoped…that Quincy James wasn’t a douchebag.

As he strode purposefully away from her, her heart hammered against her chest, and her eyes stung with tears that she quickly blinked away.

No way in hell was he getting away with pretending he didn’t know her. Or worse, that she was bubblegum stuck to the bottom of his shoe. Holding her sheaf of flyers against her chest, she ran after him.

When she caught him, she’d give him a piece of her mind. A man did not use a woman and make sexy promises with his eyes. He’d fooled her with his I don’t know how to flirt with a woman bullshit line. She’d swallowed it—and his big cock—and then she’d waited, day after day for him to call. Hell, she’d turned down a date with Mason Jernigan, whom she’d planned to seduce into asking her out on a date before Quincy had been trapped inside her shop. But no! She’d turned Mason down. A good looking man who owned his own small car dealership had asked her out on a date, but she’d held out for the hope of Quincy James, because she wanted more of his wicked kisses.

“Stupid! That’s what I am,” she muttered under her breath. “Thirty fucking years old and I wasted a month of my prime years for you, Quincy James.” She picked up her pace, but although she was running, his long-limbed gait still left her breathless. When he turned the corner to enter a dark alley beside the bar, she didn’t hesitate. She was too mad to take heed of the warning bells ringing in her head. The dark narrow space smelled like old beer and vomit, and her Sketchers made a sound similar to the one they made when she walked across the floor surrounding Miss Gracie’s station where the buildup of hairspray sucked at the rubber bottoms of her shoes.

Ahead, Quincy moved more furtively, running up to the corner of the building to the access road behind the business. She slowed and melted into the shadows, wondering what the hell he was up to, and then he flattened his back against the wall. She did the same, not knowing why, but the tension in his frame transmitted a jolt of fear into hers.

Just then a tall, greasy-haired, bearded man slipped around the corner, moving so quickly he didn’t see Quincy, but he did see her. His eyes widened. “You with those damn bounty hunters, too, bitch?” he growled, not slowing down as he came toward her.

“Not a bounty hunter,” she squeaked. “Beautician.” She raised her flyers to prove her claim, but it was too dark for him to read, or maybe he’d already made up his mind, because the snarl on his face nearly made her wet her pants.

Panicked, she tossed up the flyers like they were a ninja’s magic dust, turned on her heel, and ran for the street.

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