Posts Tagged ‘fiction’

Happy publication day MJ Summers!

We are so excited to be the UK publishers of MJ Summers‘ Full Hearts series! Her books are clever, warm and incredibly romantic.

 

And sexy.

 

Did we say sexy?

 

SEXY.

 

Read on to discover the first two Break In Two and Breaking Hearts, out now from Piatkus Entice!

 

Having just discovered that her live-in boyfriend has traded her in for a twenty-two year old hostess, thirty-one year old Claire Hatley is on the run from Seattle. Devastated and alone Claire must make a fresh start. She answers an ad for a chef at a guest ranch just outside Colorado Springs and finds herself face to face with Cole Mitchell, quite possibly the sexiest man to ever ride a horse.

Common sense tells them to stay away from each other, but their attraction is not to be denied. He gives her a glimpse of what love should be, but just as she starts to trust him, the past comes back to tear them apart.

Join Claire and Cole as they embark on the stormy love affair of a lifetime.

 

 

 

Luc Chevalier, powerful billionaire and well-known heart breaker, has everything he desires: power, luxury, beautiful women . . . and no strings attached. Now, an accidental meeting is about to make him question everything.

Megan is a single mum leading a very ordinary life, when she comes crashing into Luc’s seemingly oh-so-perfect world for just one night in the city of love: Paris. Yet that night changes Megan. The part of her she’d hidden away for so long is brought back to life, and she knows she’s out of her depth: Luc is beautiful, ruthless and – somewhere deep down inside – irreparably damaged.

Will two people who don’t believe in happily-ever-after manage to put aside their doubts and find their forever?

 

 

And don’t forget the Full Hearts novella Don’t Let Go! It’s a bite-sized dose of one-click romance!

Thank you, Ambrose! by Sheila Roberts

The wonderful Sheila Roberts stops by Entice to tell us some inspiration behind The Nine Lives of Christmas, her forthcoming contemporary romance and movie on US television channel Hallmark! We knew we were cat people for a reason . . .

 

Who knew that a matchmaking cat would lead me to Hollywood?

But that’s exactly what happened when I created Ambrose the feline hero of my Christmas novel The Nine Lives of Christmas. I suppose in some ways Ambrose and I came full circle, because it was Hollywood that introduced him to me in the first place. I’d been thinking about a scene from my all-time favorite movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, specifically the scene where George Bailey is on that snowy ridge, telling God, “Please, I want to live again.” I remember thinking, I’d love to put a cat in the same position. What if I wrote about a cat who was on his last life and desperate to hang onto it for as long as possible? What would he have to do to keep that life? What would he be willing to do? Something to help a human, of course.

But if a cat has gotten a raw deal from humans in previous lives this might prove to be no easy task. He’d have to encounter some pretty special humans. And I think Ambrose did when he met Zach the commitment phobic fireman and Merilee, Pet Palace employee and veterinarian wannabe. I had a wonderful time weaving all their stories together.

Lo, and behold, I wasn’t the only one who fell in love with these characters, and this holiday season Ambrose and his two-legged friends will come to life on the Hallmark channel. I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Not only did my characters get to be in a movie, my husband and I did, too. We had a chance to visit the set during the filming of The Nine Lives of Christmas and take part in the fun. Being on the set of a movie is a fascinating experience. I was amazed at how many people it takes to bring a story to life. In addition to actors and extras (also referred to as “background”, which was what we were), you’ll find makeup artists, cameramen, people to run mikes, people to build the set and fix the lighting, the director, the producers, even a continuity expert whose job is to make sure that everything stays consistent from scene to scene. A movie in the making is like a circus on the move, with trailers parked everywhere to house various staff and actors and, of course, a big tent set up where all those workers can be fed. Days are long – these people put in twelve hour days – and while the work is fun, it’s still work. And tiring. Let me tell you, I have a new appreciation for all those people who expend so much energy just to entertain us. Filming one scene can take hours. Our simple part alone involved several retakes. But we wouldn’t have missed a minute of it!

Unless our debut scene ends up on the cutting room floor, you’ll see my husband and me getting escorted to a table in the restaurant scene. I now have mixed feelings about my screen debut. They say the camera adds ten pounds. I had already added thirty all on my own. Oh, dear!

But I probably don’t need to worry too much. I’m sure Ambrose the cat will steal the show.

 

The Nine Lives of Christmas is out in ebook on November 4th and paperback December 2nd 2014!

An extract from Tracy Anne Warren’s THE MAN PLAN!

The first two installments of the sexy Graysons series are out now on Entice: The Last Man on Earth and The Man Plan! If you haven’t read them yet, we’re super jealous. We wish we could start over and consume them both again for the first time!

Below, Graysons author Tracy Anne Warren introduces an extract from The Man Plan by sharing with us her love of romance and writing, a passion we can clearly see in her books,

 

 

 

Dear Reader:

Every so often, someone asks me why I write romance and the simplest answer is because I love to read romance. My love affair with romance novels began when I was a teenager. It was only natural then, I suppose, that my interest in writing merged with a need to tell my own stories of courtship, love and commitment.

There is something deeply satisfying and pleasurable about reading romance novels. It is the sense of happiness and hope these stories provide. The idea that despite all the challenges and disappointments and sorrows that exist in the world, there is also joy and kindness and steadfast love – the sort that will stand the tests of both time and trial. For me, there is nothing quite like settling down with a great romance novel and letting myself get swept away by characters who will stay with me long after the last page is finished.

I hope you will be swept away too when you escape into the fictional world of the Grayson siblings and discover how each of them finds happiness and lasting love.   Cheers,

Tracy Anne

 

Prologue

Bang.

The church door swung back hard on its hinges, caught in an icy blast of wind that raked James Jordan’s short hair and cut beneath the thick dark wool of his coat. He barely acknowledged the chill as he jogged down the stairs, strode across the concrete pathway, too deadened inside to be troubled by a little nip from the elements.

He’d been so happy just a short while ago, buoyant and brimming with anticipation. The late-December sky had been clear and sunny when he’d arrived for the ceremony, as if it too were celebrating the day. Now it was swathed in gray, broad clouds lumbering above in sullen gloom.

How could she have done it? he wondered. Madelyn, his friend, his love.

How could she have crushed him on this, the day they were supposed to have wed?

She’d suffered as she’d told him, he knew, the words passing from her lips in a strange, strangled whisper.

Sorry, she’d said, but I can’t marry you.

She loved him, but not that way, not enough to promise herself to him for a lifetime. Her face had been ruddy and swollen from tears as she pleaded with him to understand.

But he didn’t want to understand. Not now. Perhaps not ever. Nor did he want to forgive. She’d hurt him, betrayed him, shamed him in front of their guests, their families and friends.

Yet the humiliation was nothing, not compared to the chasm that had opened deep inside him. The pain of knowing he’d lost her.

He clutched a set of car keys—hastily borrowed from his best man—inside his fist. The hard-edged metal teeth bit into his hand. He squeezed harder, craving the pain.

He had to get away.

Had to be alone.

Where?

What did it matter where?

Just away. Anywhere away.

“James, wait,” a soft voice called to him, satin-slippered feet rushing up from behind.

He walked onward without pause.

A slender hand reached for his shoulder, plucked at his coat sleeve. “Please, James. Please stop.”

He walked on. He didn’t need to look to recognize the identity of the speaker. Ivy Grayson, Madelyn’s teenage sister. “Let me be, Ivy.”

She kept pace with him, undaunted. “You shouldn’t go, not this way. Please stop.”

He did, finally, halting at the neat black iron gate to the fence that surrounded the church’s rear yard. With a sigh, he turned, found her standing, slender and pretty in her bridesmaid’s finery. Tiny fresh rosebuds were arranged in her fair hair, the flowers the same deep pink as her long formal gown.

“There’s no reason to stay,” he said in a lifeless tone. “The wedding’s off.”

“You shouldn’t be alone,” she insisted gently.

“But that’s exactly what I want to be.” He saw the distress in her blue eyes. “I’ll be fine,” he assured her. “Don’t worry about me.”

“But I will worry.” She bit her lip. “Why don’t I come with you?”

“No,” he said, more harshly than he’d intended.

Her face fell at the rebuke.

A fresh gust of wind swept over them on its rush toward the west. Ivy shivered in her thin garment.

He frowned. “Why’d you come out here without a coat? You’re freezing. Go back inside.”

She wrapped her arms around herself, shook her head. “No, I’m okay. It’s not that cold.”

He made a rude noise and began unbuttoning his coat. He slipped it off, revealing the fine, hand-tailored black tuxedo he wore underneath.

His wedding clothes.

He draped the coat over her shoulders, drawing the flaps closed in front.

Ivy sighed as heat enveloped her.

His heat, his scent trapped in the sleek silk lining and soft cashmere wool. She drank it in, all of it, luxuriating in the exquisite sensations. Despite her height—she stood five feet nine in her bare feet—his coat hung on her, voluminous as a tent. The hem just barely cleared the ground.

“I can’t take your coat,” she protested. “You’ll be cold.”

“I thought you said it wasn’t cold,” he chided mockingly.

“No. I said not much,” she hedged.

They eyed each other for a long moment, the air between them easy with the familiarity of years. For an instant the tension eased from his jaw as his natural sense of humor asserted itself. Then his eyes hardened again.

She read his pain, her heart aching. “I’m so sorry. Maybe I could talk to her—”

“No. There is no talking to her. She’s made up her mind. It’s done. She doesn’t want me.”

“I don’t understand her. Any woman would be thrilled to be yours. I’d marry you in an instant,” she blurted, saying the words she’d never, ever meant to say out loud. Revealing a wish she’d kept locked away inside her heart for such a very long time.

“It’s nice to know someone still would after today.”

Aware he thought she was joking, she lifted her chin. “I’m serious. I’ll marry you. I know I’m only fifteen, too young yet for you, but if you’d wait, I wouldn’t leave you at the altar. I’d make you happy. Grandma Bradford was only seventeen when she got married.”

“Ivy—”

“I know you still love Malynn,” she said, using the name she’d given her sister long ago, when her toddler’s tongue couldn’t wrap itself around the harder word “Madelyn.” “I wouldn’t expect you not to. But maybe as time goes on it won’t hurt so much. Maybe in a couple years there’ll be room in your heart for me. If you loved one sister, why couldn’t you love another?”

“Shh, Ivy. Enough.”

“I love you, James.”

He closed his eyes for a brief moment before meeting her gaze. “I love you too, sweetheart. We’ve always been the best of friends, haven’t we?”

She nodded, a spark of hope flaring to life inside her.

“And we’ll continue to be friends, good friends, no matter what. But, Ivy, as flattered as I am by your proposal, it wouldn’t be right. There’re a lot of years between us, too many years. Besides, what would you want with an old man like me when there’re so many young guys just waiting for a chance to be with a beautiful girl like you?”

“But I don’t want any of them. I want you. And you’re not old,” she protested.

“I’m thirty-one. When I was fifteen, thirty-one sounded as close to ancient as you could get without actually being dead. Come on; admit it. You know I’m right.”

She shook her head. “I don’t see you that way. I see you as you, as James. Your age doesn’t matter to me.”

“But it matters to others; you know it does. Your parents, your family, your friends—what would they think?”

She knew exactly what they would think, and they wouldn’t approve, no matter how much they liked James. And they did like him, even adored him. Her parents had all but adopted him years ago, when a then-teenage Madelyn had dragged him over from the house next door.

Maybe he was old enough to have known her since she was a baby. But she didn’t care. She loved him.

He gave her a sympathetic smile. “I know you won’t believe me, but six months or a year from now, you’ll look back on this and wonder what you could have been thinking. You’ll have met some great guy at school. You’ll be worrying about which college to attend and what dress to wear to the prom. I’ll be the last thing on your mind.”

A lock of her hair came free of its carefully styled knot and blew across her face. He reached out to tuck it behind her ear. She caught his hand, pressed his palm to her cheek and closed her eyes. “You’re always on my mind,” she murmured earnestly.

When she opened her eyes again, he met her look and sighed. “Ivy, you seem to have forgotten that until a few minutes ago, I was going to marry your sister. I love Madelyn and I wanted her for my wife. Getting over her is going to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. But I’m going to try my damnedest and so are you. You’re going to get on with your life and get over this . . . this crush you have on me.”

He pulled his hand away.

A tear slipped down her cheek. “You’re going, then?”

“Yes, I’m going.”

“When will I see you again?”

He tucked his hands in his suit pockets, hunched his shoulders. “I don’t know. A while. I have some business in Europe I’ve been neglecting because of the wedding. I may see to that.”

“Be careful.”

“I’m rarely anything else; you know that.”

“You’ll need your coat.” She slipped it from around her shoulders and held it out to him. “Mine’s inside the church.”

He shrugged into his coat. “You’d better run on. Someone’s probably looking for you by now.”

But she stood her ground, her eyes serious and intent. “She’s a fool, you know, to have let you go,” she stated, her words those of an adult.

He paused, then pressed a kiss to her forehead. “You’re a sweet girl. Don’t ever let that change.”

He turned and unlatched the gate.

She watched him walk away, the skin on her forehead and cheek hot and tingling where he’d touched her. She wished he’d kissed her on the lips, but it was too soon for that.

James was right about a great many things, she knew.

She was too young for him.

Her family would disapprove.

And less than an hour ago, he’d been pledged to marry her sister.

But not anymore.

Before, Ivy had been willing to let him go. For Madelyn’s sake. For his sake. Because she’d known he loved her sister, and above all else, she wanted him to be happy.

But now he was free. Now he could be hers. And he was wrong about her feelings; they would never change.

She loved him.

She always had.

She always would.

And someday, she promised herself, he was going to feel the same.

Happy Publication Day Chelsea Fine!

Sometimes wrong can feel oh, so right!

Yes! It’s publication day for the gorgeous Chelsea Fine and the 3rd in her Finding Fate series! Right Kind of Wrong is available on Piatkus Entice today!

Jenna Lacombe needs complete control, whether it’s in the streets . . . or between the sheets. So when she sets out on a solo road trip to visit her family in New Orleans, she’s beyond annoyed that the infuriatingly sexy Jack Oliver wants to hitch a ride with her. Ever since they shared a wild night together last year, he’s been trying to strip away her defenses one by one. He claims he’s just coming along to keep her safe-but what’s not safe for her is prolonged exposure to the tattooed hottie.

Jack can’t get Jenna out from under his skin. She makes him feel alive again after his old life nearly destroyed him-and losing her is not an option. Now Jack’s troubles are catching up to him, and he’s forced to return to his hometown in Louisiana. But when his secrets put them both in harm’s way, Jenna will have to figure out how far she’s willing to let love in . . . and how much she already has.

 

 

Praise for Chelsea Fine:

‘You’ll fall for Pixie and Levi, just like I did!’ J. Lynn (Jennifer L. Armentrout)

‘By turns humorous and heartbreaking, Best Kind Of Broken has become one of my favourites!’ Cora Carmack

Chelsea Fine‘s style is witty, visceral and fresh. All I wanted to do was crawl inside this book and live with the characters’ Chelsea M. Cameron

‘Tangled with friendship, history and heartbreak – not to mention a huge dose of humor – Chelsea Fine‘s New Adult novel is not to be missed!’ Jay Crownover

August 26th Book Birthdays!!

There hasn’t been this much excitement in the office since Benedict Cumberbatch did the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge! So many gorgeous authors are published today on Entice and we have something for everyone, from sizzling new adult to steamy erotica all the way to misty, magical historical romance! Check out today’s publications and see what strikes your fancy . . .

 

Madoc and Fallon. Two estranged teenagers playing games that push the boundaries between love and war . . .

She’s back.

For the three years she’s been away at boarding school, there was no word from her. Back when we lived in the same house, she used to cut me down during the day and then leave her door open for me at night.

I was stupid then, but now I’m ready to beat her at her own game . . .

I’m back.

Three years and I can tell he still wants me, even if he acts like he’s better than me.

But I won’t be scared away. Or pushed down. I’ll call his bluff and fight back. That’s what he wants, right? As long as I keep my guard up, he’ll never know how much he affects me . . .

He pushes her sexual boundaries . . .

From the moment waitress Karina meets him in a New York bar, she knows James is different. Daring. Dominating. Though he hides his true identity from her, the mysterious, wealthy businessman anticipates her every desire and fulfills her secret fantasies. Awakened by his touch, Karina discovers a wild side she hadn’t known existed and nothing is off limits.

She aches for more . . .

What begins as an erotic game soon escalates to a power play that blurs the line between pleasure and pain. Even as she capitulates to James’s sensual demands, Karina craves more. She wants his heart, his soul. She wants his love . . . and she’ll break all the rules to get it.

 

 

The fifth book in Kristen Callihan’s critically acclaimed Darkest London series set in Victorian London . . .

Holly Evernight belongs to a very special family of inventors. They have nobly served the Society for the Suppression of Supernaturals for generations. And Holly may have the most special creative powers of them all. But her skills are about to be tested as she tries to save the life of a half-man-half machine whose clockwork heart is ticking down to the bitter end…

William Thorne was a rebel, a hired assassin for the SOS’s greatest rival, before he was taken, tortured, and transformed. Now his mind and soul battles with his body as he becomes less and less human. But the true fight for his humanity will be waged within his heart.

Special message from Lia Riley to her UK readers!

Hey there, I’m Lia Riley, author of the OFF THE MAP series. These books sunk their hooks into my heart and I am excited they are now available outside the United States.

Writing Upside Down, Sideswiped and Inside Out was a fun and rather surreal journey. I had a vague inkling for a New Adult story, about an American girl who travels to Australia, but originally conceived a different plot. Instead, when I started writing, Talia and Bran barged into my brain, took over and steered the action in a completely different direction (thus the series name!). Next thing I knew, I had a surly surfer who wouldn’t behave and a quirky heroine hiding her obsessive-compulsive disorder beneath a veil of self-deprecation. I had to type as fast as possible to keep up with their hijinks (those two do love their banter). Upside Down was written in one dizzy month.

Throughout these books, I explore the idea that love – real love – takes you down unimagined roads within yourself, to places you wish didn’t exist while discovering possibilities you never imagined. When you find the person up for taking that challenge with you, there’s no adventure more terrifying, pivotal or beautiful.

Talia and Bran bounce between Australia, Malawi, Antarctica and coastal California. As they are tested by life’s challenges, they discover the courage to claim love and learn that sometimes in order to find yourself, you need to venture off the map.

I threw everything I had at the page. It wasn’t easy, and often felt raw and uncomfortable, but I hope you find something special to take away from their journey. I’m so proud of Talia and Bran and where they end up. Thank you for reading!

 

xoxo

Lia Riley

 

The first in the OFF THE MAP series, Upside Down, is out now! Join in on the inspiration at the Off the Map Tumblr page and be sure to enter the competition to win loads of Australian goodies! There is less than 24 hours to enter!

Meet the Graysons . . .

On Friday, July 25th we published the first in a brand new series by Tracy Anne Warren, The Last Man on Earth! It’s sexy, clever and we’re pretty sure we’re the ones who gave that guy his lipstick mark . . .

 

Read more about the beginning of the Graysons series below and be sure to pick up your own copy now! The Man Plan, second in the trilogy, is coming soon!

 

 

 

 

Idealistic good girl Madelyn Grayson believes in doing what’s right. Even as a high-powered executive in the mad world of advertising, she doesn’t cut corners, making her ad campaigns sizzle without having to burn anyone along the way.

Rival exec Zack Douglas never wastes an opportunity to land the next big deal – especially when it benefits him. A bad boy with a reputation to match, he has no qualms about doing whatever it takes to get ahead, no matter who gets in the way.

When a hot promotion pops up at their company, both Zack and Madelyn wind up on the short list for the position. But as the two square off, they discover that being heated rivals in the office makes for scorching bed play behind closed doors. Will Madelyn’s steamy, secret affair with Mr. Vice make her compromise her ideals – or worse, lose her heart?

 

‘Few things are more fun than an enemies-to-lovers romance, and Warren delivers with The Last Man on Earth Sarah Maclean

‘Effortless and light-hearted romance’ Eloisa James

 

BONUS CONTENT!! – Tate and Jared

Be still our beating little hearts!! Penelope Douglas has provided us with bonus content with a dual (yes DUAL!) POV! Jared and Tate, the stars of Bully and Until You, are back in this special Valentine’s Day scene. Read it as a companion to their two full-length books or, if you’re a first time Penelope Douglas reader, a teaser to get you hooked! It’s full of Penelope’s brilliant characterization and scintillating sexual energy!

 

Tate

“So where’s Jared?” K.C. asked as she propped her elbows up on the counter and peered down at me.

I rolled my eyes and turned back to the rows of bowling shoes I was putting away. “Well, obviously since I’m working, K.C., he’s not here. We celebrated Valentine’s last night.” I stuffed the shoes into their cubbies, keeping my back to her.

“Mrow! You’re touchy. What’s up?”

Standing up, I dusted off my black pants and turned around to face her. K.C. worked next door at the movie theater, and I’d been working at the bowling alley since November. She made it a point to come in on days when I worked, either on breaks or after her shift. I kind of wondered if she came over in the hopes of seeing someone other than me.

“Nothing.” I shrugged my shoulders and tightened my ponytail. “Jared took Jax out of town with him on family business.” I paused to make air quotes around “family business”. “And I offered to work for Lacey, since she wanted the night off with her boyfriend.” I quickly glanced at K.C. before looking away again, too afraid she’d see my aggravation. “It’s fine.”

“Fine?” She repeated in a flat voice as if confirming she heard me right. Her big brown eyes stared at me disbelieving.

“Yes. Fine.” I dismissed her and walked down the aisle behind the counter. I was trying to keep calm. Ever since last fall, I realized I had a –shall we say—anger problem. I took deep breaths, I started yoga, and I tried not jumping to conclusions. Right now, I focused on the thunder of bowling balls charging down their path and the clatter of pins crashing together.

I liked bowling alleys. It was a constant thunderstorm.

I heard K.C. slap her hand down on the counter. “Tatum Brandt. Your boyfriend goes out of town with his whore of a brother—on Valentine’s Day, no less—and you aren’t even slightly aggravated?”

“’Whore?’ That’s pretty harsh.” I smiled and almost laughed, forgetting my anger for a moment.

She was wrong. Jax wasn’t a whore. Not in the way Jared had been, at least.

But he was getting lots of attention.

Now that Jared was off the market, the girls at school welcomed the new Trent with open arms and open…everything. They looked at him like he was a toy—something to play with–and I could tell it pissed Jax off big time.

Jax didn’t like women that were controlling. In the few months he’d lived with Jared and Katherine, I’d only seen him go for the shy ones. The quiet ones.

The good girls.

Kenzie, the pretty and studious vice president, never knew what hit her.

“No,” I continued. “I’m not aggravated with Jared. I trust him. I’m just disappointed. If he says he had to go out of town, then he had to go out of town.”

“Well, he lied to you.” She said matter-of-factly.

I straightened my back, exhaling through my nose. “K.C. Knock it off.”

I looked over at her as she smoothed her long, dark brown hair and adjusted her bowtie—part of her theater uniform.

“I’m telling you…” She nodded. “He lied. He didn’t go out of town on family business.”

“And how do you know?”

She broke out in a huge smile. “Because he’s walking this way.” She almost laughed it out in her excitement, and my eyes went wide as I darted my gaze behind her.

Jared and Jax walked side by side down the red and gold carpet between the lanes and the concessions stands, straight for me.

What the hell?

My whole face tingled, seeing the corner of his mouth turned up in that I-really-want-to-smile-but-I’m-too-cool way that turns me the hell on.

His eyes glowed. My knees went weak.

His dark gray t-shirt draped loosely at the waist but tighter in the chest and arms, and my eyes burned when I realized I wasn’t blinking.

And when he winked at me? Holy shit.

I snap my mouth shut before I start drooling.

Who is this girl? Every damn day I want him more! I’m supposed to be getting tired of him. Bored. Isn’t that how relationships work? We start arguing over our little quirks?

But no. I’m like a stupid, little puppy still panting away over my boyfriend after five months. I ogle him. I fantasize about him. And the little bastard knows it, too. He tries crooking his finger in the lunchroom to get me to come.

I don’t obey, but man, I want to.

“Happy Valentine’s Day.” He hops up on the counter, swings his legs over and jumps down.

“Happy—” His mouth crashes down on mine, cutting me off. His lips are smooth and refreshingly cold from the February chill outside, and I eat up his cinnamon taste. Backing me up, his hands stay on my hips as he guides us through the swinging door to the back room. I barely register Jax’s voice.

“Hi.”

And then K.C. mumbled something about unsupervised children not being allowed in the bowling alley.

Then they were gone. Jared’s breath is in my ear, kissing a trail across my cheek.

“I thought you went out of town.” I closed my eyes, running my hands up his arms.

“On Valentine’s Day?” He puts his nose to mine. “How many times do I have to tell you? Where I go, you go.”

He leans in again, devouring my mouth and taking my ass in both of his hands. As he yanks me into him, our hips come together, and I groan.

Son of a bitch. Everything is warm, and my muscles tingle with a sweet weakness. I have no idea how I’ll get through medical school with Jared around.

I grab the back of his neck and push into him, pressing my lips into his and my body molding to his every curve.

He lifts me up and on the counter, deepening the kiss.

I pull back. “Wait, wait. Don’t get too hot. I’m still working.”

He doesn’t even pause as he starts kissing my neck. “K.C.’s taking your shift,” he whispers. “Well, actually your co-workers are and K.C. will help out. You have two hours before curfew, so you’re coming with me.”

I thread my fingers through his hair. “Where are you taking me? The lake?” Our usual private spot for… privacy.

His head pops up, and he narrows his eyes at me. “No, I’m done with that.” He fists my red necktie—part of my uniform–and wraps it around his hand, slowly bringing us nose to nose. “We’ve been sneaking around for months as if your dad doesn’t know we’re going to find some way to have sex. I’ve had enough.”

Chills spread up my neck and down my arms. I clear my throat. “Jared, I’m sure he knows we’re finding the time. It doesn’t mean he’s going to support it.”

He kisses my nose and between my eyes. “Well, I’m sick of it. My car, your car, my garage last week.

Rushing around between the end of school and him getting home from work. It’s ridiculous, and we’re not doing it anymore.”

Okay, now he was scaring me. “So what does that mean?” I pulled back.

He smiled. I mean smiled smiled. To where I actually saw teeth.“It means I’ve got a present for the both of us. Come on.”

He grabbed my hand, and I hopped off the counter.

***

We drove for a while. Jax had brought his car, opting to stay at the bowling alley, so Jared and I headed to the other side of town. Houses started getting bigger, city lights started getting dimmer, and Jared remained silent, only nodded his head ever so slightly to Alice in Chains’ Would?

He pulled up the Boss to a huge black gate and punched in a six digit code while my heart started pounding in my ears.

What was all this?

I didn’t ask, but—damn—I was intrigued. We were heading into the Seven Hills community, which I’d heard of but never been and Jared had the gate code?

The drive dipped, and we rode down a well-lit avenue lined in trees and tall hedges protecting the privacy of the houses behind them. Jared slowed and turned into a black brick driveway.

Holy crap!

My eyes couldn’t take in everything fast enough. The house—and I use that term loosely—sat bright and huge in front of us. It looked almost French in its architecture, but not over the top in its grandeur. The brickwork was light colored—beige, mauve, off white—while the trim was painted in deep red. Lights were everywhere. On the sides of door, over windows and in a few rooms of the house.

“Jared, whose house is this?” I asked as he pulled onto another driveway off to the side of the house.

“Madoc’s.” He put the car in neutral, set the e-brake and killed the engine “Wait here.”

Climbing out of the car, Jared rounded the front and came over to open my door.

“How did I not know Madoc was this rich?” I mumbled more to myself as he helped me out of the car.

“I think Madoc likes to forget that fact.” He laughed under his breath. He led as we walked hand in hand further along the side of the house. Brick stairs led up the side toward the rear, and I followed behind, completely confused as he pulled keys out of his pocket. I had no idea what was going on, but I had no idea what to ask next.

“This part of the house is closed off from the rest,” Jared said back to me. “There’s another door into this room, but no one comes to this side of the…um…”

“Mansion?” I offered.

“Yeah.” He unlocked the door at top.

We walked in slowly but immediately I felt different. The smell of new things, furniture polish, the leather in a car, and the faint smell of cologne filled my lungs, and I felt warm all over.

Jared turned on the dim overhead lighting and switched on a lamp, all creating a soft glow in the very masculine bedroom. The walls looked freshly painted a very light tan color, the hardwood floors were accented with a spotless beige rug, and the king-sized bed was adorned with pillows big enough for me to lay my body on. A rustic, stone fireplace sat along one wall, and I couldn’t remember ever feeling so safe and comfortable in a room before.

I realized that while I’d been absorbing every nook and cranny, Jared had stopped moving.

“It’s beautiful.” I locked eyes with him. “Almost like a cave.”

He leaned against the dresser, watching me. I shifted my eyes to his left and noticed a picture of us at

Homecoming last fall sitting pretty in a black frame.

Wait a minute.

Heading to the chest of drawers, I yanked on one of the handles and spotted some of Jared’s clothes.

Opening another drawer, I saw some t-shirts.

I had to force back my smile before I turned to face him. His eyes were waiting, But I could see the smile inside.

“So…” I started, “you have clothes here. And some T-shirts for me. We have keys and a gate code. This is our room, isn’t it?” I guessed.

He inhaled deeply and pushed off the dresser. “Madoc’s parents are always gone, and we’re going to be here a lot this summer with all of his parties. There’s not much I can do about your curfew, but at least now we have our own space. With a lot of privacy and comfort.”

“And a bed,” I added.

“It’s not about that.” He blinked. “Well, it kind of is.”

I met him halfway and wrapped my arms around his waist.

“I’m just done with quickies and sneaking around, Tate. It feels like we’re doing something dirty.”

“Oh, we are,” I waggled my eyebrows and whispered before snatching his bottom lip between my teeth.

He sucked in a breath, and we nibbled at each other in short, soft kisses. Lifting me up, I wrapped my legs around this waist and moved my hands over his shoulders and onto his back.

“Ugh,” he grunted, pinching up his face, and that’s when I noticed the slight ridges and crinkly sound coming from underneath his shirt. It felt like a plastic bag.

“What is that?”

He laughed out his nose. It looked like his teeth were clenching together. “Your other present,” he forced out.

Lifting up his shirt, I pulled it over his head and lost my breath when I saw his shoulder wrapped up in a plastic, black bag secured with medical tape.

“Jared!” What the hell was this?

“It’s okay. It’s just a tattoo. Help me take off the wrapping.”

I followed him into the bathroom, and that’s when I saw it.

The rest of the tattoo.

“That’s why I had to come up with a story of being unavailable tonight.,” he explained as I helped him take off the tape and bag, throwing the trash into the sink. “I needed to buy time. Aura was taking longer with the tattoo than I anticipated, and she couldn’t finish until tonight. It took 5 sittings. I was going to surprise you at home, but then you picked up a shift, and I had to get K.C. and your work friends to help get you out of there early.”

Jesus. My mouth went dry, and I could only stand there.

His back was to the bathroom mirror, and I faced him, studying the image in his reflection. It was unmistakable.

It was our tree. Down to the last branch.

The trunk travelled up the right of his back, and then the branches and leaves started spreading out about halfway up. Some of the leaves went over his shoulder and down the back of his arm. It was all in black, and my stomach felt like it sat in my feet.

I could barely speak. “Jared. You’re beautiful.”

***

JARED

 

Beautiful?I laughed to myself. It wasn’t really the look I was going for, but I guess a tree tattoo wasn’t that badass.

Tate always saw what she wanted to see in me, and I loved it. I still didn’t see the man I wanted when I looked in the mirror, but every day I felt better and better about who I was.

The tree was for her, and it was for me. I wanted my scars covered, and I wanted to take the tree with us to New York in the fall. Aura saw a picture and took no time drawing it up and getting started. It had cost a lot of time away from Tate and some stealth maneuvering, so that she never saw my back, but it worked. Aura saved the last part for today. The part that I wouldn’t be able to hide from Tate that traveled down my arm and over my shoulder. The skin still burned to the touch, but there was no way I was telling her not to touch me tonight.

“Enough talking.” I reached out and grabbed her hip, pulling her to me. “We haven’t showered together since your birthday, and we only have an hour left.”

“Why? Do you have somewhere to be?” She leaned into my ear and whispered. “Because my dad texted two hours ago that he had to hop a plane to Colorado on business until Tuesday.”

My nerves fired, and my eyes widened. “Hell, yes!” I took no time scooping her up and planting a fat kiss right on her mouth.

She pulled back and pointed her finger at me. “You’re not allowed inside the house, though.”

“I don’t want inside the house. I want inside you. Right now and at 2am or whenever the hell I feel like it tonight.”

The idea of waking up next to her in the morning, or—hell—even in the middle of the night, and having what I want right there made me feel all kinds of selfish, but I didn’t care.

I loosened her necktie, and pulled it over her head while she unbuttoned her white dress shirt. In no time at all, she’d shed her bra, too, and I pulled her naked chest against mine, feeling the very familiar fire pool in my dick. I had three levels of horny-ness. 1. Eh, I can if I want to. 2. Wow, I wish Tate was around. 3.

Now.

And with Tate naked, it was always a 3.

I unbuttoned her black pants and slipped my hands inside the back, cupping her ass and bringing her to me like glue. She wrapped her arms around my neck, and I ignored the slight discomfort on my back.

Who the hell cared?

“Are your shots up to date?” I asked in between kisses.

“Yeah,” she gasped out as I took her breast in my hand and nibbled her neck. “Jared. So much time now.

What will we do?” she teased, rubbing me through my pants.

Shit.

I squeezed my eyes shut and hot air poured in and out of my nose.Backing us up, I opened the shower door and turned the knob. Two shower heads sprayed water from both sides, filling the small area with thick steam. I pulled away from her but kept my eyes trained on her panting face. Her cheeks were flushed, and her lips glistened. She’d taken out her ponytail, and I could see her nipple peeking out of her hair. God, she was beautiful.

All fire and passion. All mine.

Yanking off my belt, I tossed it and tore out of the rest of my clothes. She did the same with her pants and backed into the shower, not losing my eyes for minute. I probably looked like the lion stalking its prey, but that wasn’t it. She was the predator luring me in.

Closing the door behind me, I watched her watch me as she leaned against the shower wall, waiting for me. Even though Tate was the one in control, she always let me feel like I was hunting her. I loved that.Pressing the length of my body against hers, every muscle tingled with chills. I was warm and high.

Lifting her leg, I held it at my hip and put my fingers between her legs, rubbing long, slow strokes as I looked down at her. Tate preferred my cock to my fingers inside of her, but she loved to be rubbed.Slow.

Always slow.

So slow that I could see the exact moment when her body started to lose control, and it was addictive. Her breathing dipped, and she almost lost eye contact when her lids fluttered.

The water poured around our legs, and the steam made our bodies stick together. The air was thick and hot. I used the tip of my tongue to lick her bottom lip. “Fuck my hand, Tate,” I whispered against her mouth.

She moaned, and her eyes closed as she grasped my shoulders and started rocking herself against my hand. Soft and slow at first. Then the friction started getting harder. She pushed against my palm rougher and faster, more demanding. I felt her wet against my fingers.

She grabbed onto my hand, and I hooked her at the neck, tasting her lips and feeling her orgasm spring up from her throat and echo into mine. She shook and rocked against my hand, slowing down more and more. I swear I could hear her heart pounding.

“Goddamn, Tate,” I gasped out as she shuddered against my body. Pulling up her other knee, I guided her legs around my waist, and pushing her into the wall, I slammed inside of her.

“Ahh,” she cried out again. “Jared,” she whimpered.

I grasped her thighs hard, probably leaving bruises, but she felt so good.

We’d stopped using condoms two months ago. I got tested, she got on birth control, and we never looked back. After that first time without one, there was no way in hell I wanted to go back to using them. Feeling her, not having that barrier between us, was as close to heaven as I’d ever get.

“I like it when you moan my name.” I took her bottom lip between my teeth and drew it out while I slid in and out of her. “You’ve been turning my world upside down for eight years. I can’t get enough of you.”

“Never enough.” She brought her mouth to mine, covering my lips. Her tongue tasted mine and darted out to flick my lip.

Never enough.

***

I blinked awake in the nearly pitch black room to my phone beeping. Looking at the clock on the bedside of table, I saw that it was just after one in the morning. Tate and I had only been asleep for about an hour.

Grabbing my phone, I opened a text from Jax.

Home, it said.

I smiled to myself, surprised by how much him being safe comforted me and by how quickly he’d come to think of my house as his home.

I had started asking him to check in with me, just to let me know where he was. Since Tate and I had gotten together, Jax and Madoc had grown closer, and who knew what trouble they’d get into together.

I shot a text back. “Madoc?”

“Should be home. He left the bowling alley an hour ago.”

Awesome. At least Tate and I had been asleep by that time, so he wouldn’t have heard anything.

“‘Night.” I texted and put my phone down.

Rolling over and sitting up, I saw that Tate was turned onto her stomach and hugging a pillow underneath her body. She was faced away from me, but I could see the soft moonlight coming through the windows landing across her face and naked back. The sheet sat at her waist. Peering over, I smiled at her relaxed features and swollen lips.

Even though I knew I should just let her sleep, I leaned down on my elbow and ran my other hand up and down her back. I couldn’t not touch her. Like hard candy that I could suck on nonstop or an ice cream cone that I wanted to lick, Tate was food. After only a few months together, there was no part of her body that I didn’t have memorized. I knew that she liked sex in the mornings, that running my fingers through her hair immediately melted her, and that her sweat was the only perfume I wanted her to wear.

Getting up on my hands and one knee, I leaned over her, straightening my other leg over her sleeping ones and began…not leaving her alone. Coming down on her back, I touched the tip of my tongue to her skin and left a moist trail up her spine.

She squirmed. “Baby…” she mumbled, her words muffled by the pillow.

“I want you,” I breathed out, and sliding the sheet down off of her, I opened my mouth and took her ass between my lips and teeth.

“Jared!” she yelped and whipped her head up. “What…?”

But she trailed off when I continued nibbling and kissing, and her head fell back down to the pillow.

“You awake now?” I taunted. I’m sure she heard the smile in my voice.

She sucked in air through her teeth, tensing up her body, looking like she was in pleasure or in pain.

I got my answer when she suddenly squirmed off the bed, and I had to rear back to avoid her kicks as she landed on the floor.

“It’s ticklish,” she squealed. “And it freaks me out.”

My stomach swam with flutters, and I laughed. “I didn’t actually bite you. At least not hard.”

Her eyes darted down to the extreme hardness between my legs, and I raised my eyebrows at her. She looked so cute, legs drawn up to her chest and leaning back on her hands, looking at me like she was ready to run.

“Are you going to take care of this or what?” I gestured to my cock, purposely trying to act like a dick.

What can I say? Tate and I had a weird kind of foreplay.

She pushed herself off of the floor and grabbed the white bed sheet, wrapping it around her body.

“My ass is a “no” area,” she stately firmly, looking at me with her big blue eyes and a lot of fear.

“A “no” area?”

“Yes. Your hands are fine. But not your mouth or…” she stuttered, gesturing up and down my body, “anything else. Got it?”

I smirked, teasing her with mischievous eyes. “What else could I possibly do to you there?”

Her eyes dropped, and she moved her lips left to right, thinking. I chuckled, climbing off the end of the bed and slipping on some black pajama pants I’d left on the floor.

“No part of you is off limits to me, Tatum,” I warned with a grin, and I immediately saw her eyes flare at the mention of her full name that she hated. “Come over here. Now.”

She didn’t. She launched herself across the bed, and bolted for the bathroom. I moved like a bullet, darting after her so she wouldn’t have a chance to lock me out.

“Nooooo,” she screamed and laughed at the same time as I caught her against the sink counter.

This was how Tate and I played. I knew she wouldn’t come when I ordered. She never did. She gave chase, and I always followed.

And she knew I had no intention of trying to put my dick anywhere new on her tonight. I’d never done that before, and that made me happy. Since I hadn’t been able to give Tate my virginity, at least I could say she was my first with that. Someday.

But damn, I loved her excitement and how she kept me on my toes. She breathed hard, looking at me with fire and a challenge in her eyes while she gripped the sheet tightly around her body.

I stepped forward, backing her into the sink counter.

“Absolutely not.” She shook her head, looking at me like I was crazy. “No anal for me.”

I exhaled a laugh. “I’m not asking for anal, moron,” I joked. “I never did. That’s your overactive imagination at work. But I do want something.”

We were chest to chest, and the low counter had to be biting into her thighs, but I didn’t move. Looking down at her flushed face and stormy eyes, I got hard simply breathing in her scent.

Leaning down, I held her head under her ear and devoured her hot neck, feeling her go limp next to me. I took that opportunity to pull the sheet from her body and throw it to the floor.

She had enough time to yell, “Jared!” before I hauled her up and set her down on the counter, securing her arms behind her back.

Maneuvering myself between her legs, I smiled down at her like the cocky asshole I couldn’t help being.

“Jared, seriously? Let me go.” She struggled against my hands, squirming against my already hard dick, and I closed my eyes for a moment, trying to steady myself.

She wasn’t really trying to get away either, because I knew I wasn’t holding her that tightly.

“We were in this position once before. Remember?” I asked, our lips almost touching as she looked up at me. “I always wondered what would’ve happened if you hadn’t pushed me away.”

She rolled her eyes. “It had already gone far enough. I should’ve pushed you off immediately.”

I rubbed my nose against hers and let go over hands, placing mine one the counter at her sides. “I’m glad you didn’t. Nothing tasted better than you, and I finally knew what I wanted and needed. It’s what love tastes like.”

Grabbing hold of her, one hand at her neck and one hand on her waist, I brought my mouth down on hers and pulled her against me.

Her knees arched up, and her feet rubbed the backs of my thighs, while her hands slowly roamed. My chest, my back, sliding under the back of my pajama pants…

She pulled back and gasped, “I love you.” And then her mouth was back again. Tate’s chest rubbed against mine, and her hard nipples grazing my skin were like streams of fire trailing to my groin.

Standing up straight and pulling away from her lips, I gently pushed her back on the counter so that her head and shoulders rested against the mirror, and then I dived into her chest, sucking the soft skin of her breasts. Her hands threaded through my hair, her knees reared up, and her back arched as she moaned.

“Now, Jared. Right here.”

Wrapping my hands around her thighs, I pulled her to the edge of the counter and then pushed my pants down over my ass.

Positioning myself at her entrance with one hand and leaning on the mirror behind her head with the other, I looked at her watching me with arched eyebrows. She was rolling her hips against my cock like she couldn’t help herself.

The corner of my mouth turned up. “Love you, too.” And I slipped inside of her, feeling chills erupt over my body as she arched her back again and let out a low moan.

I started slow at first. She was in an awkward position, and I hoped she wasn’t uncomfortable. The set up was great for me, though. I was buried to the hilt, and I bared my teeth as I breathed, fucking loving how good this felt. The counter was the perfect height, and through the mirror I could see her hands gripping my biceps.

With one hand still flat on the mirror and the other at her waist, I upped the pace, faster and faster. She was so damn wet, and I moved in and out of her, feeling like I was losing more breath than I was taking in.

“Tate, can I—”

“Faster.” She knew what I was going to ask. “Go faster.” She squeezed her eyes shut, and I let loose, pounding into her and eating up every whimper and gasp of hers like the food it was.

Pumping inside of her, my hips slamming against hers, I groaned at the sweet rush of blood between my legs. Nothing had ever felt as good as this, and I wanted to fuck her until she could barely walk.

Her insides tightened around me, contracting and releasing, and she bit down on her lip.

“Let it out, babe,” I grunted, my head hanging next to my propped up arm and a drop of sweat running down my temple. “You’re so tight. And so damn wet for me. Let me hear you come.”

She cried out, digging her nails into my arms, and I clenched my teeth and sucked in oxygen as we both exploded around each other. Her whole body went rigid, and her breathing turned shallow. Fast and shallow.

My pace slowed as everything inside of me spilled inside of her, and she took everything I had.

Damn.

We stayed there for a minute, breathing and trying to unclench every muscle, and when I finally opened my eyes, she was looking up at me.

Reaching up, she threading my sweaty hair through her fingers and held it. “No part of me is off limits to you,” she whispered, her voice raspy. “But some things have to happen in due time. Got it?”

A tired smile spread over my face. “Got it.”

***

TATE

 

I rested my head on Jared’s chest as we lay in bed after the bathroom sex. I was exhausted but not tired for some reason. We’d had sex in the shower, the bed, the bed, the bathroom counter, and I was sure I was going to be in for it again by morning. But still, I wasn’t tired.

“You should talk to Jax,” I told Jared. “He should ask K.C. out.”

“What for?”

I lifted my head and looked up at his still flushed face and damp hair. “He watches her. You see it, don’t you?”

I knew Jared had ordered Jax to leave K.C. alone, and I knew why. K.C. and I weren’t as solid as we used to be, and Jared wanted her at a distance. At least for now.

He shook his head, his chest rising and falling harder under my chin. “K.C. is weak. That’s all Jax is attracted to.”

“That’s not fair.”

“Jax will take her out. He’ll get into her pants eventually. One time. Maybe five times. And then he’ll be gone.” His bitter laugh made the room seem a little colder. “He needs someone genuine. Someone who knows how to love. Someone that’s steel. That’s not K.C. She’d crack under the weight of a feather. I’m not setting up that train wreck.”

“And Madoc?”

He twisted his head to look at me with his eyes pinched up in confusion.

“Madoc? What about him?”

Oh, that’s it.

I threw off the sheet, swung my leg over his body, straddled him, and slammed my fists down on the pillows on both sides of his head. “Madoc covers up everything with a joke or some crazy display. He has nothing that he cares about except you, Jax, and me. What is he going to do at college next year without you?”

He hooded his eyes as if I were being ridiculous. “Tate, Madoc’s fine. I promise. And so is Jax.”

“I hope you’re right,” I stated flatly. “For your sake.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means that they don’t stand strong without you. Do you have any idea how much Madoc looks to you for direction? How much Jax relies on you? They’re your responsibility whether you like it or not, and you better take care of them, because they won’t ask you for help.” I lowered my face to his, nose to nose and whispered. “Got it?

I sounded like a threat, and it was supposed to. But he smiled. “Yes, ma’am.”

It pissed me off that Jared didn’t take the lead Madoc and his brother obviously gave him. He watched out for them somewhat but mostly brushed them off, saying that they could take care of themselves. They needed him more than he realized.

And K.C. had issues. I knew what they were, which is why I cut her slack for her behavior. But I also knew that someone like Jax would be good for her. I had my doubts about whether she’d be good for him, but I figured one date wouldn’t hurt.

And Madoc wasn’t okay. He was visibly uncomfortable with anything heartfelt, and he seemed entirely too content with his endless stream of one night stands. I could count on one hand the number of genuine moments I’d had with Madoc. I loved him. But I still felt like I didn’t know him.

“I need a bottle of water. Do you think Madoc would mind if I raided his fridge?” I climbed off Jared and started getting dressed in one of Jared’s T-shirts and his pajama pants.

“I’ll go.” He started to get up.

“No, it’s fine.” I put my hand out to stop him. “I’d like to get a look at this place anyway. Be right back.”

“Just be warned. Madoc might be roaming. I don’t think he sleeps a lot. At night, anyway.”

Um, okay.

I slipped out the door and padded down the thickly carpeted hallway, stopping dead in my tracks when I looked up and saw just how long the hallway actually was.

Toffee colored walls were lit up with evenly spaced brown wall sconces, and paintings with gilded frames adorned the spaces between where pieces of furniture sat.

Yeah, furniture in the hallway. That’s how wide it was.

On bare feet, I treaded softly. I had no idea if anyone other than Madoc was home, and I didn’t want to have to explain myself.

I stopped when I came to a break in the hallway. There was the option to either keep going to what looked like more bedrooms or take a right down a flight of stairs to a tiled foyer.

I was about to head down the stairs when I heard music and stopped.

Crap. I curled my toes.

I didn’t want to run into Madoc. Not dressed like this.

But as I twisted my ear to the sound, I knew it was someone playing the piano, and it was coming from downstairs. It could be a recording, I guessed. It was beautiful, and I didn’t know instruments or composers, but it was slow and very soft, almost like a whisper.

Like it was buried somewhere.

Heading down, one slow step at a time, I made another right into another hallway and found myself in the kitchen.

The music was louder now, and I swear I could feel its vibrations under my toes.

Ignoring the refrigerator, I walked around the spacious kitchen with a center island big enough for five of me and saw the door leading to the basement. I knew it was the basement because that’s where the music was coming from.

Cracking the door open, the tinkling notes flooded through, and my heart instantly started pounding with the soft play of the keys that had suddenly picked up pace.

I don’t why I decided to pry, but I was curious if it was Madoc. As far as I knew he didn’t play, but there wasn’t much I did know about him, so I decided to be nosy.

Descending the stairs on light feet, I got about halfway when Madoc came into view. Sure enough, it was him. The “Fallen” tattoo blazed across his upper back, and his blond hair—what I could see—was still styled to perfection.

I almost wanted to laugh. He actually played the piano. I shook my head, wondering why the hell he didn’t talk about this. He was fantastic.

He wore black and white pinstripe pajama pants, and his head was bowed to the keys, moving side to side with the music. Lost and completely real, Madoc caressed the keys gently and slowly, taking his time as if each note he played had a purpose and a soul.

When the rhythm picked up, his body tensed, his muscles flexed, and his hands moved with precision.

When the tempo slowed, he looked as gentle as if he were touching a woman.

I leaned against the wall, watching him and wondering.

I wondered why the piano was in the basement, and I wondered why he hid this.

Looking around, I saw everything you’d expect to see in a finished basement. It was decorated almost as posh as the upstairs, except for a completely out of place looking skate ramp between the wall and piano. As far as I knew Madoc didn’t skate, either.

Finishing up the piece, Madoc’s fingers stayed on the keys, frozen as the last note disintegrated into the air.

I started to back my way up the stairs but stopped when he took the sheet music from the rack and almost methodically tore it in half and then put the two pieces together, tearing them in half as well. I narrowed my eyes, watching as he tossed the now ruined music into the trash and then closed the lid to the piano keys.

I turned and crept back up the stairs, sneaking through the door and heading for the refrigerator.

Jared probably didn’t know that Madoc played. I can’t see Madoc sharing something like that, and I wasn’t sure if I would tell Jared. He probably wouldn’t care, and Madoc obviously didn’t want people to know.

The fridge was jam packed with Madoc’s Gatorades and meat. Lots of meat. I found the Evian bottles on the door and quickly took one out, my hands still shaking.

I felt bad for spying on him, but it was too damn interesting. I wanted to know what else he was hiding.

“Need a midnight snack?”

I swung around to find Madoc resting on his forearms and leaning over the island.

I gripped the water bottle to my chest, probably looking guilty.

He smirked and waggled his eyebrows. “I can get you a midnight snack.”

Of course. This was the Madoc I knew.

“I’m not hungry,” I grumbled. “Do you mind?” I held up the water bottle, asking permission.

He waved me off. “What’s mine is yours.”

I closed the refrigerator door and squeezed the bottle, hearing it crack under my fingers.

“Thank you for our room. It was really nice of you,” I offered.And that was true. Madoc was a good guy. He took care of his friends. “No problem.” He nodded. “Just promise me one thing. If Jared ever gets kidnapped by aliens or turned into a zombie, you’re mine, right?”

I smiled, loving how he always worked in his harmless little flirts.

“You got it,” I promised.

Turning to head back up the stairs, I stopped and looked back at him, studying his handsome face.

His half smile told people that he was fine, and his quiet eyes never gave anything away, but I felt like Madoc always had something clawing to get out.

Something like what I saw downstairs.

“I heard piano music,” I said quietly. “You like classical?”

He pushed off the counter, laughing and locking his hands behind his head. “It’s not my style. You know that.”

I don’t why I didn’t tell him that I saw him, but I guess I just wanted to see if he’d lie or be honest for once.

I took a deep breath and braced myself.

“And the skate ramp?” I ventured, knowing that I had indeed just outed myself for spying on him. “Do you not skate either?”

His arms dropped to his side, and his back straightened. The amusement in his flat eyes was gone.

Now he knew that I saw him playing the piano, and it was clearly something he didn’t want people to see.

Rubbing his hands together slowly, he stared at the granite island. “The skate ramp’s not mine,Tate,” he said softly and looked up at me. “It’s just trash.”

Walking back over to the basement door, he didn’t even turn around to look at me. “See you tomorrow, okay?” And then he disappeared back into the basement.

Right then I knew I was right about one thing.

Madoc was not fine.

 

Erin Knightley’s Top 10 Tips for Historical Romance writers!

Do you think you could be a historical romance writer? Have a story inside you waiting to be put down with quill and ink? Does Colin Firth walking out of the water in history’s first ever recorded wet t-shirt contest inspire you to publish your own dashing duke or rogue?

Well, both us at Entice and the wonderful Erin Knightley think you should do it. And Erin has provided you with some tips for how to begin, how to research and how to stay find your own particular voice. Read on and write on, Enticers!

 

1. Read, read, read! No matter what genre you write in, this is important. Know what’s out there, know the trends, and know the elements that you like and dislike about the genre. And, you know – you get to read, so this is the easiest step of them all 😉

2. Write, write, write! I know, it sounds obvious enough, but a lot of times we can get caught up in the planning and research stages. While those are important, actually putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) is what makes us better. After all – practice makes perfect!

3. Decide what type of historical romance writer you want to be. Do you want to be the type of writer who meticulously recreates the setting one detail at a time (construction of the settee, fabric of the drapes, livery of the servants, etc.)? Do you want to have a historical flavor while focusing on the characters? Do you prefer some anachronistic elements so that modern readers thoroughly relate? None of these are right or wrong – just be sure that you chose your path and do it with purpose! Oh, and if you fudge historical details, I do recommend saying so in the acknowledgements.

4. If at all possible, travel to the places you are writing about. My newest series is set in Bath, a place I had the pleasure of visiting a few years ago. It was so rich in historical elements, I felt as though I could close my eyes and be back in the time Jane Austen called the city home. Best part? If you’re a professional writer, the trip is a tax write-off!

5. Research books are your friends. I have amassed a small personal library filled with books about the Regency era. What they wore, recipes for what they ate, diagrams of the houses they lived in . . . the list goes on!

6. Google Books is also your friend.  By setting the publication dates to a window suitable to your time period (for me I usually go from Jan 1, 1810 through Jan 1, 1830), you can search books written during the era you wish to write in. I’ve been able to read journals of doctors treating the kinds of wounds my hero had in one book, to find a traveler’s perspective of how the city looked at that time, to discover exactly what an archery target would have looked like during a competition in the decade my book was set in—the list goes on and on. That kind of first hand information is priceless!

7. Chocolate.

8. Don’t be afraid to challenge conventions. We may imagine a certain time period with certain givens, but the truth is, human nature has and always will make us unpredictable. Just because they may not have written home about such behaviors doesn’t mean it didn’t happen!

9. Embrace your inner historical writer. If you’re not using bluestocking, bloody hell, dicked in the knob, wonton, and on-dit in everyday life, then you’re not doing it right 😉

10. Realize that you are never going to get everything perfect, historically speaking. And even when you do, someone will inevitably think you are wrong anyway. But as far as I’m concerned, a good story trumps all!  Write the story of your heart, write it well, and everything else will fall into place.

 

The Baron Next Door is already out in ebook, but the paperback will grace the bookshelves on the UK on September 30th!