I hope everyone had a great time celebrating the start of a new year. My boys and I and the hubby spent the time at home binge-watching Lost In Space on Netflix before we toasted in the new year with sparkling cider.
I love a new year. It’s a great time to reflect on the prior year as well as look forward to all the things I would like to accomplish in the new year. Here’s a recap of what happened in 2019 as well as upcoming book releases for the beginning of 2020. Also, be sure to download your copy of the books I have on sale to celebrate 2020. Happy New Year, everyone!
Here’s what to look forward to for the first half of 2020:
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Thanksgiving is a time to pause and reflect on what we’re thankful for. I’m grateful for my health, my family and friends, and the chance to work at a day job I enjoy while also being able to pursue my passion for sharing the stories in my head with readers.
As a gesture of my thanks, I’ve put four of my books on sale for 99 cents. For the price of my favorite cup of Starbucks coffee (a Venti White Chocolate Mocha with Almond Milk), you can purchase the books below (click on the cover), exclusively at Amazon. While there, don’t forget to download If Only (FREE) and the second book in the Reckless Series, What If, also for 99 cents.
Can you believe it’s November??? And how about those Christmas commercials and the decorations going up at your friendly neighborhood stores BEFORE Halloween? I’ve been busy not only with sick kids (school starting and it’s that time of year), but also rewriting, yes REWRITING, two of my older books. I wanted to share my experience with that process as well as the process of pulling my books from Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited book subscription program and putting them into wide distribution. Let’s tackle this in bite size pieces.
Rewriting and Republishing an Old Book
First off, I didn’t plan on rewriting my older books or changing the series name, but I did intend on updating covers that I thought looked outdated compared to the current market. I’ll post the before and after. This journey, which started at the end of September, began from me “cover surfing.” It’s kind of like channel surfing, looking for something to watch as you flip from channel to channel. I went to my go-to eBook premade cover site, The Cover Collection, and instantly fell in love with a cover that would be the cover for Love, Actually (Red Meets Blue). For a series, it’s important that the covers convey that the books are a part of a series. So… I decided I would update the covers for the first and second book in my Willowbrook Series. My go-to sites for stock images are DepositPhoto and Adobe Stock. I found images that I like, made note of the image number, then sent those to a cover designer I’ve worked with in the past. I also sent her the cover for Love, Actually so that she can match the typography of If Only and What If to the cover.
While the covers were being mocked up, I contacted my go-to editor, Claudette, to get an idea of her schedule for copyedits. Once I had her response, I began to rewrite If Only and What If from third person POV, past tense (Beneath her umbrella, Asa kept her head lowered) to first person POV, present tense (Under my umbrella, I keep my head lowered). If Only took longer to rewrite than What If, and I think that had to do with taking certain parts out that didn’t move the story while shifting and adding other elements such as more sex scenes, lol.
I was happy with the final rewrite, I thought over what to rename the series. I
finally decided onReckless. Once I had everything ready, I contacted
Amazon to figure out what to do, republish under the original publication from
2012 or publish as a new book. They advised I publish as a new book. Below are
the step-by-steps I took to publish a NEW edition of an older book.
the eBook from all platforms.
the covers in the series to be similar, showing readers the books are a part of
off to editor.
a series name.
using aggregators. I publish direct to Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, and Google
Play, but use Draft2Digital (D2D) to distribute to libraries, B&N, Apple
Books, and other retailers.
the aggregator or direct sites, I specify that the books are a part of the
Reckless Series and include what number each book is in the series. I also include
in the book blurb that the first edition was published in (year), second
edition, revised published 2019 so that readers are informed that this book has
been previously published. For Amazon, I go to my Amazon Author Central Log-In
and include the disclaimer in the “From the Author” section.
To celebrate my books going wide distribution, I decided to make If Only FREE and What If 0.99 cents. I hope you’ll pick up the updated copies!
From Amazon’s KU to Wide Distribution
Now on to wide distribution. I go back and forth between going exclusive with Amazon as part of their Kindle Unlimited subscription program and going wide distribution. Kindle Unlimited is great for authors with series. Voracious readers will read through an entire series. I know I have though I tend to buy the books, rather than subscribe to KU just because I know how much authors make. In KU, authors are making about 0.004USD per page read. So, for a 300 page book, that’s $1.20. If a reader buys that book for listed price of $3.99, the author gets 70% of list price at Amazon, so that is $2.79 minus Amazon’s delivery charge. $1.20 vs $2.79. It makes sense to go wide. But choosing KU or choosing wide is a personal choice for an author and has been greatly debated on several platforms. FOR NOW, I’m deciding to go wide distribution again. The process is slow as many of my books were put into KU at various times. Below is an example of when my books will come off KU. What I’ve learned from putting If Only and What If to wide distribution is:
Going direct with B&N is a PITA. Their book description is in HTML and if you don’t use the right formatting/rules, the text is jumbled and looks like crap. Lots of hair-pulling later and waiting for If Only to go live, I decided to use D2D to distribute books to B&N. Unfortunate. I was hoping to use their BOGO 50% as a promotion for my readers. Hopefully, B&N will make it easier and user-friendly for authors to go direct with them.
Going direct with KOBO was easy, but there was no option to make IfOnly FREE on their price page. So… I went with D2D again for the option of making a book FREE. When going through D2D, the price changes take effect fairly quickly and their online support is awesome.
I was thinking of putting the books that were due to come off KU exclusivity as PREORDERS on D2D to be distributed after the books’ time in KU was over, but apparently that is a big no-no and in violation of Amazon’s term of service. So… I will have to bind my time and upload the books as they finish their run in KU.
I was thinking of buying an Apple MacBook in order to use Vellum for formatting and to be able to upload direct to Apple Books (can only be done using MacBook or Macincloud). I’m a voracious reader of romance and I love the fancy formatting I’m seeing in my fellow authors’ books. But, I’ve decided I’m sticking with Jutoh for formatting. I love Jutoh for its ease of use. So for now, readers will have to put up with my basic, boring book formatting, lol.
an example of when my books come off KU:
Pieces of Me: November 8th, can go wide November 9th.
Kissing Game, and Nora Ever After: November 30th
UNFORTUNATELY, the box set that includes all three books is in KU so the books
in the Kiss Starter Series can’t go wide distribution until the box set runs
its KU time December 4th.
to Want You: December 1st.
and Lies: December 13th.
And now for the before and after covers to the Reckless Series. Enjoy everyone! And feel free to leave comments!
an independent author, I go back and forth on whether to publish my books
exclusively with Amazon through their subscription program, Kindle Unlimited,
or go wide. I’m still a small prawn in this business, and with the market being
oversaturated in terms of the romance genre, I’m happy and grateful when my
books do get read.
the past few weeks, I’ve also gone back and forth about the state and future of
my writing. Write more? Write faster? Write under another pseudonym? Stop writing
altogether? I did a lot of introspection. I also read up on other writers’ experiences
with their uncertainties on whether to continue writing or not. I also read. I
read a steamy paranormal romance that was predictable, but enjoyable, with
great chemistry between the H/H and not too angsty.
older I get, the more I realize I would rather have a great love story, an “us”
against the world, rather than an angst-filled story of the hero and heroine struggling
against one another AND the world.
also read an MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) series that inspired a different kind of
hero and heroine, as well as a story line of a feisty, independent couldn’t-care-less
heroine paired with a brooding and overprotective MMA fighter. He fights his attraction
for her every step of the way because well, you know, his world is too
dangerous for her. What he doesn’t realize is she comes from a far more
dangerous world than illegal underground fighting.
I’m thinking of writing this untitled story under a different pen name. National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo is coming up, and I’m feeling up to the challenge of churning out a rough draft of 50,000 words in a month.
back to the conundrum of exclusive versus wide. I’ve decided to put my books
back into wide distribution. I’ll be going direct with Nook, Kobo, and Google Play,
and will use Draft2Digital, a book aggregator, for other sales channels such as
Going direct with Nook and Kobo will give me the chance to take part in their author offerings. For example, I can run a BOGO on Nook. With Kobo, I can elect to have my books in their subscription service for ninety days, AND I don’t have to be exclusive with them, a win-win.
My books will also go out to library services, such as Hoopla. My audiobook, Stay, is already available on Hoopla. I checked out my own audiobook to listen to while I cooked. How cool is that?
Being an independent author also allows me to bring my old books up-to-date. I decided to change up the books in my Willowbrooks Series. The series will have a new name. The books will have more modern covers. And I’m changing POV from third to first person for If Only and What If, to be in line with Love, Actually (Red Meets Blue). Both books were written in third person, past tense. It’s a huge undertaking changing tenses as well as adding more to both stories (novella length at 20-25k words), but I hope what I’ve learned since the books were released seven to eight years ago will show in the updated versions.
to come, including cover reveals and the new name for the series.
Happy New Book Release Day to Dante and River! I’ve been meaning to write their story since I released the first book in my Universal Law Series back in 2013. However, life got in the way as well as other stories taking priority. I hope readers enjoy Dante and River’s short story as well as revisit the world of Universal Law again with cameos from Xavier Doom, Trader, Defcon, Sacred, and Fox Raine.
I don’t have plans to continue the series—there are SO many contemporary romance stories in my head I need to write first—but I do have a soft spot for Sacred, the Fallen with the snow-white hair and glacier blue eyes. Someday, he might have his own story. In the mean time, here’s a blurb as well as a sneak peek of Outcast: Dante’s Redemption.
The eBook is available at all retailers. Happy reading!
A disgraced Demon Knight in search of
redemption. A thief willing to do anything to avenge her family’s murders.
When her grandfather and father are murdered in
cold blood, vampire Slayer River Redding will do anything to avenge their
deaths, even strike a bargain with the sexy-as-sin Outcast, Dante Everton.
As a common criminal, River can picture a life with
an Outcast, the lowest of low in the hierarchy of creatures. But with Dante’s
regal posture and knack for commanding any situation thrown their direction, is
he truly who he portrays himself to be? Or is he more off-limits to River’s
heart than she could ever imagine?
Stripped of his title as a Demon Knight, Dante will
do whatever it takes to redeem himself in the eyes of the other Knights and
their leader. Yet to get the evidence that will bring down a gang rumored to be
trafficking children and killing Slayers, Dante needs a thief.
He finds help in the form of small-time thief,
River Redding. Now he just needs to stick with his original plan without the
complication of falling for the fiercely independent, secretive, and
Once his title is restored, he’ll be required to marry a woman with money and influence. As a criminal, River doesn’t fit the bill. Or does she?
The footfalls hit pavement inches from her. River
waited for her unwelcomed guest to make the first move or speak the first
words. She wasn’t in an accommodating or chatty mood.
“What you did back there was admirable. Next time
show more spine.”
His words were spoken in a deep British timbre,
laced with concern and a cockiness she didn’t care for.
Frustrated and angry with the current state of
her grandfather’s beloved city, in addition to being sleep-deprived, River
whirled and shoved her unwelcomed guest against the nearest wall.
“Hands above your head and legs spread wide
He surprised her and did as demanded. With her
palm between his shoulder blades, River looked him up and down. He was a head
taller than her five-foot-three frame. The parka clung to his torso, giving her
a glimpse of the ripples and contours of the muscles of his wide shoulders,
broad back, and guns for arms. His jeans molded to the curves of his ass and
the strength of his legs.
No doubt about it. This guy kept in tiptop shape.
“Why were you following me?” River leaned in and
inhaled the scent of him.
Being half-Slayer, she could detect werewolves,
vampires, and other Slayers by their scents, but not demons or humans.
He didn’t give off a scent other than the
undeniable scent of a male. Was he human or demon? Humans were weak, and
demons? Repulsive. At this point, whether he was one or the other didn’t
matter. His bulk and size blared danger.
“I wasn’t tailing you. Ever heard of being in the
wrong place at the wrong time? Well, sweetheart, I just happened to be at the
right place at the right time. The vamp you pissed off reports to the monster
responsible for killing off your kind. You’ll need my protection.”
The slow movement of his arm plastered on the
wall above his head caught her eye. Certain he was up to no good, River pressed
him further against the wall with her body.
“When you speak of the monster killing my kind,
do you mean Red and his gang of demons and vampires?”
She’d heard grumblings, but the sources were
unreliable. They were from Calamity’s rival gangs.
The stranger balled his hand, his slight movement
again snagging her attention. The streetlight shone on his fist and highlighted
the tat inked on his skin, a coiled serpent consuming itself, each scale on its
body bolded a fiery red.
River inhaled a quiet breath.
This man had the mark of an Outcast, wanted by no
one other than the dark shadow of sin that must follow and continue to taint
No wonder he accommodated her. Disobey the
demands of a Slayer, or any being higher in the hierarchy of creatures, and he would
face jail time. Not that it mattered with the city in chaos.
Why hadn’t he told her to shove off?
“Do you have shelter, food, clean water? I have
dry and wet packs. I also have the corner market on this beautiful spot where
two eaves kiss. Stay under there, and not a drop of rain will touch you.”
River went on and on, his mark causing her chest
to constrict. She had a similar symbol tatted at the base of her neck. Her
grandfather paid a huge sum to have the serpent placed there rather than on the
top of her hand for all to see she was an Outcast.
“You know what I am, yet you offer food and shelter?”
His accent sent tingles of heat up and down her
River blinked, surprised by her body’s reaction. “I
I’m so excited to be sharing news of a new book. When I’m working on a work-in-progress, I like to go on some of my favorite premade ebook cover sites and glance at what’s available to get a break from my writing. The cover for my newest contemporary romance, Secrets and Lies, came from The Cover Collection. Once I saw the cover, I knew there was a story behind that image. I even kept the title The Cover Collection had used as a place holder.
I hope you pick up your copy of Secrets and Lies, exclusively at Amazon. Continue reading for a sneak peek.
I grew up a social outcast. Girls avoided me, afraid my father’s sin would tarnish them. Guys kept their distance, fearing my grandfather’s shotgun.
But one guy took a chance on me.
Reed “Six” Haider made me his. Made me happy. We met in secret, like Romeo and Juliet. He’s the light to my darkness. Rich to my poor. Important to my insignificant. He was mine, and I was his. Nothing in the world could separate us.
Until one night shattered EVERYTHING, including US.
I told my lies. I held onto my secrets from that night. I can’t change the past no matter how much I long to. I can never take back Reed’s mom’s death.
When I return home again and come face-to-face with Reed, old wounds open and long-buried attraction flares between us. Do I tell him the truth from that night, hoping he’ll give us a second chance at happiness? Or should I walk away from our chance, taking with me his mom’s shameful secrets and lies?
Twenty-minutes from my grandfather’s property,
Charlie whines. He only whines on car rides when he needs to do his duty.
“I know just the place. Hang tight, Charlie
Brown.” I pull into the back lot of Raging River Bar, park, and run around to
the passenger-side door.
Charlie bolts out before I can put a collar and
leash on him. Weaving my fingers through my hair, I blow out a breath and
follow Charlie to the open field behind the bar.
I don’t like when he runs off, but when he has to
go, Charlie has to go. I glance around. It’s five o’clock on a
Wednesday, and from the looks of the near-empty parking lot, people aren’t
ready to hit up the bar until way later, if at all.
There shouldn’t be any harm in letting him
While Charlie does his thing, I text Andy I’m in
Pandora. Then I let my grandfather know I’ll be at his place soon with food. He
sends back the thumbs-up emoji. I set my cell in the cupholder and rummage in
my glove compartment for a poop bag.
I find one and pick up Charlie’s pile. Just my
luck a squirrel chooses that moment to skitter down the tree next to us and
scurries across the parking lot. Charlie takes off running on his short legs.
I run after him, holding the bag of poop.
“Charlie Brown, you get back here right now!”
He’s not listening. “Charlie Brown!”
Two things happen simultaneously. The squirrel
beats feet up a light pole. Charlie comes to a dead stop and barks. The door of
the bar swings open. Masculine laughter. I pivot my attention to the familiar
Reed. Six. Reed Haider is walking out of the bar,
his arms slung across the shoulders of two beautiful women in tight
mini-dresses and sky-high heels. I can’t stop staring. He is as hot at twenty-five
as he was when he was eighteen. When he was mine.
We met in secret and talked. Made love, too. We
were like Romeo and Juliet, and just like their story, ours took a tragic turn.
His laughter fades, and he stares back at me. His
arms fall from the women’s shoulders, and he glowers. Reed is still angry with
me. He hasn’t forgiven me for what I professed to have done that night, the
night that shattered us and our plans to be together. The night his mom lost
The force of his anger slams into me, and my body
stills. I can’t draw enough air into my lungs. My head spins. I can’t move or
speak. At my side, Charlie senses something is off. He snarls and bares his
And I… I relive the night that changed everything.
Rain pounding on my face.
Loud voices from the cliffside.
Oh, God, he’s hurting her.
I raise my voice above the relentless rain.
“Stop, please. She’s too close to the edge.”
Rough hands on my arms shoving me away.
Small, slender fingers grasping for mine.
The look of horror on his face.
The expression of fear on hers.
I reach for her. We reach for her. But
it’s too late. She’s fallen over the edge and into the darkness.
A string of curses followed by a man yelling my
name rips me out of my nightmare. I blink. Charlie has a firm hold on Reed’s
ankle. The women have taken refuge in Reed’s pickup truck.
I rush over and tap Charlie on the top of his
head. “Let go, buddy. It’s time to just. Let. Go.”
Charlie listens, and with a backwards glance my
way, he trots to the car and plops his butt in front of the door. He’s ready to
Too bad, so sad. There’s damage control to take
care of. I get on my haunches and raise my gaze to Reed.
“Do you mind?” I grab the hem of his jeans.
Brows angled low, Reed shakes his head. I lift
his pants leg and pull down his sock, avoiding touching him.
“He didn’t break skin.” I thought so. I pull up
Reed’s sock and lower his pants leg. “Charlie is more of a lover than a fighter.
His bites are love bites.” I stand. “He’s harmless.”
“He might be, but you’re not. Stay the hell away
from me, Emersyn.” He glares and backs up toward his truck.
I straighten my shoulders and tip my chin at him.
No matter how much his words hurt, I’ll keep my promise to Andy. I won’t let
Reed distancing himself from me shred my insides to pieces.
“I’ll do my best. Goodbye, Reed.” I’m relieved my
voice is steady, but I couldn’t conceal the pleading in my tone, the memories
from that night fresh on my mind.
Sorry she died.
Sorry I couldn’t save her.
If I could, I would take your mother’s place in a
But the past is the past, and I can’t change it no
matter how many times I relive that moment in my mind and in my nightmares.
FBI field agent and hacker Audrey Benson vows
never to be like her father. But when the Feds charge her brother for a crime
she believes he was coerced into committing, Audrey goes back on her word.
Guilt-ridden over the line she’s crossed,
Audrey arrives in the small town of Cedar Falls ready to find the answers that
will clear her brother of the charges and get her back her job.
She gets more than she bargains for when she
runs into the town’s homegrown star quarterback in a less-than-friendly first
She’s not into complicated and disgruntled.
He steers clear of perplexing and secretive. But they can’t deny their instant
Audrey’s search for answers bring them closer but will secrets from her past drive them apart
Craving an escape a steamy book can’t take care of,
I pull into the parking lot of a feed store and park near the front entrance. The
feed store is rectangular and painted clay red. The finish is lifeless. A fresh
coat of paint on the wood exterior can give this place much needed eye-popping
attention, but I doubt anyone out here cares.
Feed and Pet Supplies. I can’t stop smiling. The store’s name is original.
And in this small town at the easternmost part of Montana, I’ll find the
answers that can help J.D. out of his mess.
I shimmy out of my pickup truck and studying my
surroundings, I stretch my arms to the cloudless sky and shake my hips
side-to-side. The land is flat for as far as I can see and the winter air is so
crisp, I can taste the coolness when I smile.
What a difference from the gridlock of cars and
people in the city I live and work in. I tip back my head and inhale a bigger
I’m free from stop-and-go traffic, the grind of
city living, and the sexy-as-sin guy staring at me sitting in his jacked-up
black pickup truck.
My smile slips. I shoot the guy a sideways
checking out. His cowboy hat is pushed high on his forehead, giving me a decent
view of his face. The stranger’s face is an artist’s dream of chiseled angles
and smooth lines. Dark stubble shadow his chin and jawline and above his full
lips, like an angel’s wings.
Awareness grabs me low in the belly and I step
back. Oh hell, no. I haven’t felt this instant hot attraction since my junior year
in college and that was years ago.
He grasps the rim of his hat and acknowledges me
with a nod, his eyes never leaving mine. I’d say he’s flirting except the glare
on his face says otherwise.
I tip my chin and bring my arms to rest at my
sides. I must come across as ridiculous staring back at him with my fingers
pointed at the sky.
Ignoring his glower, I get in another feel-good
shake. My stiff muscles loosen. I chance another glance at the cowboy. His
glower deepens. I tip my chin higher and walk inside the feedstore.
No one’s told this brooding cowboy it’s rude to
Yesterday, I did the unthinkable. I cancelled and took off Amazon’s and
other retailers’ sites the pre-order for my upcoming book, King of Mine.
I apologize to anyone that the cancellation affected.
Impulsiveness is one of my weaknesses. My kids can vouch for me,
especially when I have an impulse for those yummy Hostess Snoballs.
Buying the cover for King of Mine, writing the blurb, and
putting the book up for pre-order was an impulse born out of my excitement to
share with readers that yes, yes, yes, there will be more of the Kiss Starter Series,
except with three different couples.
I was so excited, I put the cart before the horse!
I had the couples and the story lines in mind for all three books, but
once I started writing King of Mine, each couple’s stories became
clearer, which gave me direction for writing the book blurbs as well as picking
the images for the book covers.
My cover artist is mocking those up now and I can’t wait to share them
with readers. From the samples she’s sent me, the covers will be very steamy.
Below are the titles as well as the H/H. If you recognize the names, you’re not
crazy. Emma Moretti is Tyler Moretti’s little sister (Kissing Game). She
was supposed to be paired with Ty’s best friend, Dare Stratford (King of
Mine), but Bobby Bliss (bad boy big brother of Gwen Bliss stole the show
and the book). Poor Dare will have to wait for his book (maybe?).
Bliss is a name from Nora Ever After. Bliss Lavender Farm is where
Nora buys her lavender teas from. And Tanner Prescott? He’s Galley’s friend (Nora
Ever After) and plays for DU’s rival rugby team. He also has an identical
twin brother, Troy, which will make for some fun writing!
I can’t believe my three book series, Kiss Starter, is coming to an end with Nora and Galley’s story in Nora Ever After. When I wrote Before You, I knew right away I would be writing Asher’s and Nora’s story, too. What I didn’t know is who I would pair them with until I wrote the below in Before You.
Foreshadowing of Asher and Ezekiel’s story
They walk backwards to my truck and wave. Asher
stumbles. Zeke picks her up and carries her. The way he’s holding her with his
head buried in her hair… I run the pad of my thumb across my jaw.
No way could Zeke be interested in Asher that way. If he is, he might as well count on being disowned by his family. Zeke’s family is racist to their core.
Foreshadowing of Nora and Galley’s story
“I’m sorry, Xander. My fault. Why don’t you and
your friends crash here? I’ll stay with Asher or Nora.”
He’s rapid fire texting. The screen lights up.
Ping, ping, ping.
“Huh, that’s different.” He brings the screen to
his face. Downward slant of his brows. Thick silence.
“What’s different?” There’s an unbecoming panic
in my voice.
“Zeke’s gonna stay the night at Asher’s, and Nora
offered Galley her couch.”
What?! “Those girls are not my friends. They don’t invite guys to stay over. Aliens took over their bodies.”
In Before You, I hint at Nora’s “hang up” in the first chapter when Ryan, Asher, and Nora are at Jimmy’s Restaurant and Bar.
Nora pats my arm, surprising me, again. Nora doesn’t touch or like to be touched. Something to do with how she was raised.
Something to do with how she was raised. Teasing the reason out of my imaginary character, Nora, as well as teasing out the reason why Galley is into multiple partners, took some soul searching on my part as an author. In the end, the plot came together. Opposites attract. The no-touching hang-up of Nora attracts the very touchy Galley. And the more time they spend together, the more they realize they have similar insecurities about love and fidelity. I enjoyed so much writing their story and getting to know them as “people”. I hope you’ll take a chance on them and read their story. I’ve included a sneak peek.
Sneak Peek: Nora Ever After
She picks at the buttons of her shirt. “You’ve had
a rough day.”
Nice. She’s too damn nice. Too innocent for my
taste. My curiosity heightens.
“I’ll make you hot tea. Tea is safe and
comforting after a difficult day.”
Tea? Is this girl for real?
I’m messed up, but what’s with this no-touching
deal of Nora’s? I’ll drink tea. Give up hard liquor. Do whatever the fuck Nora
wants me to do so long as she clues me in.
“Sure. Tea sounds good. Wait here.”
I scramble out of Xander’s truck and run around
to the passenger-side door. I open the door. Skitter the fuck back. Give Nora a
wide berth. Watch her slide out of the jacked-up truck and land on her
She studies me with those keen brown eyes of
hers. “Asher told you about my hang-up, didn’t she?”
“Yeah. You were asleep.”
On our two-hour drive back from Jimmy’s Bar in
Ravenna to Dumas.
“She’s a good friend. Has your back. Is that what
you call this no-touching deal of yours? A hang-up?”
“How would you label it? Weird? Strange? Screwy?
Standoffish? Germophobe? I’m a freak? Not in my right mind? I’ve heard them all
through the years, so if you want to add something new, I won’t be offended.”
Her small shoulders rise and fall. She couldn’t
care less, but I don’t miss the slight tip of her chin. Nora’s challenging me
to call her out. I don’t hold back.
“Interesting. Unique. Sexyas fuck.”
Her eyes widen. “You think so?”
“I know so.”
Her eyes light up as though she’s never been told
a compliment in her life.
I shove my hands in my pockets.
Otherwise, I’ll go with this insane urge to tuck Nora’s
hair behind her ear. Skim my fingers over the soft shell. Cup her face. Strum
my thumb across the smooth arch of her cheek.
But I don’t do shit like that. Tender shit. Romantic
shit. Any kind of shit that could be misconstrued as caring. This is my
last year at DU. Translation: don’t
start any kind of caring shit with a girl that’ll want more from me than what
I’m ready for or am willing to give.
Then why the hell am I saying romantic, tender
words like, “I’ve never met anyone like you, Nora. The honest truth”?
Her face softens, and that’s my reason. When Nora
puts down her guard, I swear the heavens open and the angels sing.
The fuck? Romantic shit like that doesn’t cross
my mind. I blink. Reset my brain. This girl jumbles my brain with her hang-up.
I hit the key fob and lock Xander’s truck. He’ll kill
me if anything happens to his “baby.”
I put distance between us and sweep out my arm.
She smiles. “You’re a good guy, Galley
“I’m grateful you drove Asher and me home.
Grateful your friend Xander is driving my friend, Ryan, home in her car. She
was so shaken up after her run-in with that dangerous guy. But it’s best we
walk side by side, okay?”
The streetlights above us are bright. I see the
knowing gleam in her eyes.
“What, and not get the chance to check you out
from behind?” Interesting. Unique. Sexy as fuck she’s onto me.
She flips her hair. Sets her hands on her hips.
“I’ve seen the girls you’ve been with. After being with them and the stuff you
do with them and to them, there couldn’t be anything more you haven’t seen or
She’s wrong. I’ve never been with a girl that
doesn’t like to touch or be touched.
“I take it that’s a no? You won’t change your
“Side by side, Galley.”
I nod. We walk alongside one another. I listen to
what she’s telling me. What her friend, Asher, had told me in a panicked
voice. I give Nora space.
She unlocks and opens the door. Distracts me with
her take-charge attitude, telling me to go in first.
It’s dark inside Nora’s place.
She turns on the lights.
What I’m seeing has my jaw dropping.
I can’t speak.
For the life of me, I’m speechless.
Inside my head, though…inside my head I’m thinking it’s a damn fucking jungle in here.
The story behind Pieces of Me came to me as soon as I saw the cover. That was how the story behind Stay also started. In the same vein as Stay, Pieces of Me is a short, amnesia trope story. I’m so excited to share Ava’s story with you. Continue reading for a sneak peek.
It’s been eighteen
excruciating months of surgeries, intense rehab, and soul-searching therapy.
Eighteen months of reliving my assault in my nightmares.
I want the nightmares to
stop. I want to pretend the scars on my body don’t exist, but he won’t let me. Every time his email hits my inbox, I’m reminded of his
role in my assault, and I…I can’t let him go.
Imagine my surprise when he
agrees to help me get over the trauma from that night. We’ll meet face-to-face
and talk. I’ll get my closure then forget I ever met Gavin Langston.
But when we finally meet again, he isn’t the man I’m expecting. This man is different and more dangerous to my heart than I’ve ever imagined.
The sun isn’t in my rearview but dead center in my line
of sight as I take the turn that will get me to my place.
I flip the visor down. My fingers shake from the
memory that flashes in my mind, coming at me any time, day or night.
Bright lights in the darkness. Twin beams.
Headlights aimed at me. I’m drunk. Dazed. Not too certain I’m seeing what I’m
seeing. I wave my arms to get the driver’s attention.
Does the person see me? The car drives at me. Oh,
God, oh God. I run and stumble in my high heels. Heels I’d bought specifically
for this night out.
Hulking metal slams into my body. Sharp pains.
Bone breaking. I’m thrown in the air and hit the ground with a “whoosh” from my
I gasp for breath and see stars behind my
I’m going to die.
I’m going to die alone in this dark and empty
I didn’t let my friends know I was going out
tonight. Didn’t tell my dad, either. They would be all up in my business, and
I’m not ready to share with them a piece of the good-looking hunk I’ve been
messaging for the last month.
Brakes screeching in the silence brings me back
to the present. That same unbearable sharp pain gnaws at my left hip and shoots
down my leg. I clamp my hand over my leg and dig my nails into my skin through
my dress, hoping the pain from my fingernails will help ease the other
Sticky, wet goo on my fingers. I’m bleeding.
Bleeding and broken. I need to call for help. I open my eyes and shield them
from the glaring headlights with my blood-stained hand held high.
The person behind the wheel has turned the car
around, and I’m dead center in the street. The car comes at me.
No. No. No.
I cry out for help and scramble onto my hands and
knees, dragging my small purse cinched at my wrist with me. A gunshot pierces
the air. I duck my head and will my body to move, but my left leg doesn’t get
Another gunshot and the car veers to the side,
missing me. I stretch out on the pavement and fumble for my purse.
My heartbeats slam against my ribcage. Bile coats
the back of my throat. I dry heave. Heavy footfalls come toward me.
Oh, God, oh, God, the person is returning to hurt
me. I grapple inside my purse for my cell phone. The footfalls get closer. I
raise my head, but I’m tired. So tired.
I stick out my arm in an attempt to stop another assault.
A large hand grips my wrist. Thick fingers search for my pulse. A man. The
heavy footfalls belong to a man.
“Help me,” I croak.
“Please,” I beg. I can’t see his face. It’s too
dark. “My hip, my leg…broken. Please.”
A ping breaks through the silence.
His phone. He’s getting a message. He
pulls out his phone the same time I grasp mine. His screen lights up the night,
giving me a hazy view of his face through my drunken and shock state. I gasp,
“You were in the restaurant. My date and I
arrived first. They gave us your table.”
The table with a stunning view of the city
skyline. The most sought after table at the Ambrosia, according to my
sophisticated, foodie friends when they later visited me at the hospital.
He had made a scene when he saw me seated at the
table, but acquiesced when my date returned from using the restroom. The
annoying stranger with the quick temper never apologized to the hostess for
reaming her out. What a jerk.
My cell in my hand grows heavy. “Call nine-one-one,
The air shifts, and the man is…gone.
But he isn’t gone.
He’s been with me since that night. He comes to
me in my nightmares. My dreams, too. Six months after my assault, he reached
out to me through email. I almost deleted the message. Hesitated to respond.
The questions I had from that night were answered
by the detectives that handled my case.
Why did you abandon me?
Why didn’t you call for help?
Why did you leave me in that empty street
bleeding and in pain?
The questions were answered to satisfaction by
the detectives, but not him.
I had called for help. I had stayed
conscious long enough to tell the cops what happened.
Gavin Langston didn’t so much as apologize or try
to see me until that first email a year ago.