COVER REVEAL~ RAZED BY SHILOH WALKER with #Giveaway

Untitled-9

RAZED, a sexy romance by award-winning author, Shiloh Walker, is the much awaited sequel to WRECKED in the Barnes Brothers series and it releases this December from Berkley!

Take a look at the cover and let us know what you think!
Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a chance to win a signed paperback copy of WRECKED, along with some fabulous swag! (Yes, it’s international :))


 

Excerpt:

Humiliation burned in her.
Rejection turned her blood to ice while her skin shrank down about two sizes too small.
She wanted to sink into the floorboards, turn into something thin and vaporous so she could just disappear.
Pushing against his chest, she focused on the navy blue polo. “Then how about you let me go, huh? My mistake.”
The hand on her throat didn’t move.
It should have felt threatening.
But the feel of him touching her just made her melt that much more…and it was now a heavy ache inside because he—
His lips brushed her ear.
“You want to know what I want from you?” he asked, the words velvet, stroking over her like a caress.
Keelie closed her hands into fists to keep from reaching for him. He was messing with her. It pissed her off—and, to her disgust, it hurt. It almost felt like a betrayal, too, because she hadn’t expected to see this in Zane.
“Back off,” she warned, putting an edge into her voice and preparing herself to make him back off. So what if he had some moves on him? He hadn’t seen her moves yet. Not really.
“I want…” He slid his hand down from her throat, to rest on her chest, fingers spread wide where it rested above her heart. “This.”
The simplicity of the gesture stunned her into passivity.
She held still as he lifted his head and stared down at her.
She blinked, not moving, as he continued to stand there, his hand on her chest. “I want five minutes of your time…over a cup of coffee. An hour for lunch. I want you to pick up the phone when I call, talk with me for a while,” he said, staring into her eyes while the blue-green of his gaze cut into her.
Then he leaned in and pressed a hot, open-mouthed kiss to her chest, just above the neckline of her sweater. “I want to peel your clothes away, learn each and every one of these insanely sexy tattoos…each tattoo, and the reason behind them. I want to know what makes you laugh, and I want to know what makes you mad. I want to know what sort of book you’re reading whenever I’m in the office—I’ve asked, but you always toss it down when I walk by and you never answer me.”
His breath was a caress on her flesh and she broke out into goosebumps.
Her heart raced in her chest and she couldn’t even begin to understand why there was a knot in her chest.

 


 

Rafflecopter Code for Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Untitled-9About RAZED:

Tattoo artist Keelie Jessup can handle that someone else has claimed the man of her dreams. She’s just not pleased with her remaining options…

Keelie doesn’t believe in the “perfect man.” But the men who are worth the trouble are usually taken—like her business partner Zach Barnes. After a string of bad luck and the lost chance with Zach, Keelie decides that maybe flying solo—and living with suppressed desires—is the key to happiness.

As a photographer, Zane Barnes has an eye for the human form, and his eyes can’t get enough of Keelie’s curves. Unfortunately, Keelie is like most women—always fawning over his little brother, Zach. Zane is about ready to give up, but then a few stolen moments at his brother’s wedding have him thinking maybe there’s a chance there after all. Now he just has to prove that the perfect man does exist…for her.

Indiebound | BN | BAMM | iBooks | Amazon

Also in the Barnes Brothers series: WRECKED by Shiloh Walker!


Shiloh Walker - author pic, photographer Ayrica Bishop

 

About Shiloh Walker:

Shiloh Walker has been writing since she was a kid… she fell in love with vampires with the book Bunnicula and has worked her way up to the more…ah… serious vampire stories. She loves reading and writing anything paranormal, anything fantasy, but most all anything romantic. Once upon a time, she worked as a nurse, but now she writes full time and lives with her family in the Midwest. She also writes under the pen name J. C. Daniels.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

COACH BAG GIVEAWAY~ DEBUT AUTHOR~ KARA BRADEN~ THE LONGEST NIGHT

BradenSaleGraphic

THE LONGEST NIGHT
Author: Kara Braden
Pub Date: July 1, 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Contemporary Romance

TheLongestNightSummary
 
Years ago, former Marine Captain Cecily Knight fled her dark past and the nightmares forever haunting her nights. Alone in the remote Canadian wilderness, she survives day to day…until Ian Fairchild comes storming into her life and shatters her protective seclusion.
 
Aloof but intriguing, defensive but undeniable, Ian is everything Cecily shouldn’t want but can’t ignore. He watches her with shrewd blue eyes, as if determined to decipher her secrets…and for the first time in years, she finds herself coming alive beneath the hands of a man with too many scars to count.
As the hushed and harsh winter closes in around them, two lost souls find themselves on the precipice of a love that could save their lives…or destroy them forever.


Excerpt
 
Cecily shifted her weight, and Ian caught her sleeve, silently cursing the bulky jackets and gloves that separated them both. At the touch, she went still, saying, “Ian—“
 
“Cecily,” he interrupted quietly. He wanted to pull away her sunglasses, but he sensed that she needed that little artificial shield. If Ian pushed too hard, she would shut down completely, and he might never get another chance at her. Even this might be too much, but Ian had to try.
 
Lightly holding her sleeve, he raised his free hand and used his teeth to tug off the glove. Her head turned sharply to watch the path of the glove as Ian tossed it aside. Cold air bit at his fingers, but he didn’t care. He set his fingertips to her face, for an instant feeling the icy skin of her jaw before she flinched away.
 
“Cecily,” Ian repeated quietly, soothingly, and touched again. This time, she didn’t pull back. She parted her lips and inhaled quietly. The motion drew his gaze down, and he saw no reason at all not to chase that breath.
 
Tight with tension, her lips tasted of cold and snow. Subtle, burning point of contact connected them skin-to-skin—Ian’s fingertips on her face, his thumb on the thinner flesh over her cheekbone, their lips touching lightly The kiss was barely more than the air they shared for one breath, two. Her exhale shuddered against his mouth.
 
Buy Links
 
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1p9O8eg 

 
KaraBraden-1Author Biography
 
Kara Braden makes her debut in modern romance with The Longest Night, a story of love in isolation. She believes that engaging, romantic fantasy can be found everywhere in the world, even in the most unlikely places. With the support of her wonderful husband, cats, and dogs, she writes from her home office outside Phoenix, Arizona, where she spends her time hiding from the sunlight and heat.
 
Social Networking Links
 
 
“One of the best debuting romance writers in memory… Braden has a genuine gift for this genre, and readers will hope to see many more books carrying her name.” – Booklist Starred Review
 
“In this touching and stupendously fresh debut, Braden proves that one doesn’t have to turn an entire genre on its head to get something new and exciting. Contemporary romance fans will savor every page.” – Publishers Weekly Starred Review
 

Note: This giveaway starts today and runs through July 1, 2014!

[A Coach bag and The Longest Night by Kara Braden]

Rafflecopter

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Violet Duke’s Love, Laughter, And Happily Ever Afters Boxed Set!

LOVE, LAUGHTER, AND HAPPILY EVER AFTERS Cover

Title: Love, Laughter, And Happily Ever Afters Boxed Set

Authors: Violet Duke, Melanie Shawn, Melody Grace , Marilyn Brant, Erin Nicholas, Jessie Evans, Marquita Valentine, Beth Michele

Release date: June 24th, 2014

goodreads-badge-add-plus-d700d4d3e3c0b346066731ac07b7fe47



About Love, Laughter, And Happily Ever Afters:

ON ANY GIVEN SUNDAE by USA Today Bestselling Author Marilyn BrantA shy dessert cookbook writer reconnects with her longtime crush–an ex-football star turned businessman–when they run an ice cream shop together.



FINDING THE RIGHT GIRL by NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author Violet DukeTessa Daniels has no idea why she told her friend’s brother she was some sort of fling expert. She’s never been flung before and she sure as heck doesn’t know where or how to begin flinging a guy like Brian Sullivan. The man’s got the body of a football god straight off a billboard, as many skeletons in the closet as she does, and worst of all, he’s got her thinking of the one thing she stopped letting herself hope for years ago. A happily-ever-after.




SWEET TO YOU by iTunes & Barnes and Noble Bestselling Author Jessie Evans Where there’s smoke, there’s fire… When s’mores and whiskey shots lead to skinny-dipping at a singles’ camping retreat, Maddie Whitehouse knows she won’t be able to resist another steamy encounter with the sexy firefighter her childhood friend, Jamison, has become…even if he is off limits.



UNAFRAID by USA Today Bestselling Author Melody GraceBrittany Ray’s learned the hard way that some dreams aren’t meant for girls like her. Handsome, charming Hunter Covington is one of those dreams. Years ago, they shared one life-changing night together, but Brit walked away before he could break her heart. Now Hunter’s back in Beachwood Bay, their reckless passion can’t be ignored. But will dark secrets tear apart their new beginning?



LOVE LOVE by Amazon Bestselling Author Beth MicheleGabrielle Willis is smart. She’s funny. And oh yes, she’s a bit klutzy. But she’s also running. When she meets Brad Dixon, the sweet guy with the crooked smile, can he make her see that the very thing she is trying to run from is the very thing that just may push her to see the light?



GETTING OUT OF HAND, the brand new novel by Samhain Bestselling Author Erin NicholasGenius scientist Mason Riley can cure world hunger, impress the media and piss off the Vice President of the United States all before breakfast. But he’s not sure he can get through his high school class reunion. Then he meets the new girl in town. Adrianne Scott loves the sleepy little town of Sapphire Falls–the perfect place to open her candy shop and live a quiet, drama-free life. Until Mason Riley bids four hundred dollars just to dance with her.



TEMPTING LOVE by Amazon Bestselling Author Melanie Shawn — Haley Sloan knows exactly what she wants out of life. With her designer lingerie business booming, her career is moving forward, but her heart is still in the same place it had been for four long years…hopelessly in love with the former wild boy turned responsible adoring father, Eddie Thomas. Will this self-sacrificing single father finally realize that accepting his love for Haley may be just what his little girl needs to get the family they both deserve?



NOT OVER YOU by NY Times & USA Today Bestselling Author Marquita ValentineSummer Holland is set on one thing–convincing her childhood sweetheart *and* local preacher’s son, Gabriel Edwards, to marry her so she can get back the daughter she gave up for adoption. She’s always been able to count on him rescuing her when she needed it most, but this time is different… there’s a new woman in Gabriel’s life. Only, Summer’s not going to let that get in her way.

Get your copy today! This limited edition collection is available until July only – you don’t want to miss out on this deal!

 

Eight full-length romantic love stories for only 99c!

Amazon | iBooks | B&N

 

Logo2.png

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

COVER ME by Carrie Elliott Release Day Blast! Mature content, 18 + only, PLEASE!

Cover Me releasebanner

Title: Cover Me

Author: Carrie Elliott

Release date: June 23rd, 2014

goodreads-badge-add-plus-d700d4d3e3c0b346066731ac07b7fe47



About Cover Me:

 

cover meDerek Bast, always has the final say. In business and in his personal life, things are done his way, or not at all. So when a scathing review of his new band is published in The Scene and has his record producer second guessing his artistic choices, his band mate trying to call the shots, and Bast’s manager convinced he’s impossible to work with, it’s time to hunt down the source of his problems: Bess Halprin, reviewer for The Scene, the girl next door growing up, and his ex-best friend since senior year when she decided to hate him for no reason.

 

The last person Bess Halprin wants to see standing in the lobby of The Scene is Derek Bast. Unfortunately, she can’t deny that the last nine years look damn good on him. She expected to hate him. She didn’t expect the way he can still tug at her emotions, or the way his kiss—and his hands—set her on fire. Bess should’ve kept her distance, because Bast was right when he guessed her review was written for revenge. The problem is, to this day he has no idea what he did—how he screwed her over their senior year. The bigger problem? She’s giving him the opportunity to do it again, because she never could resist him.

 

When circumstances bring them both home to Santa Cruz, Bast earns his way into the heart of the girl next door, but when they return to L.A. and real life rushes in, will he be able to keep her this time or are the mistakes in their past destined to be repeated?

Amazon | B&N

Excerpt

When the hell did Bess get so feisty? I thought I had her there for a minute. She was so close to giving in. Jesus, with any other woman, I’d already be in a room upstairs, naked and sweaty.

That wasn’t something I’d ever wanted before with Bess, so it was a strange thought. There was the one time we kissed and it was as much a shock to me as it was to her. I didn’t even remember who initiated it, but both of us agreed it wasn’t something that should happen again, so that couldn’t be what she was p**ed about.

Why had we agreed it shouldn’t happen again?

Oh, right, because she wasn’t whoever she was now. This Bess was a temptress, intentional or not. Her hair was silky soft, her scent somewhere on the side of floral, but with hints of vanilla that made me want to lick her like an ice cream cone. And those freaking glasses. My God, I wanted to f**k her in her thigh highs, red heels and black-rimmed glasses.

I downed half my Jameson to settle down. The point of this meeting was to get her to retract her review, not to get her out of her skirt. She’d already shot down my attempt at that anyway.

I hadn’t planned on the word vomit that came out about the day she left for college or Christmas Eve. It pissed me off, though. No matter what happened between us, no matter that we didn’t talk all senior year, she was leaving—going away—and I figured whatever went wrong between us would be put aside to say goodbye. Apparently, she’d ridded herself of me long before then.

Too bad for her, I was back and not going anywhere until I had answers and a retraction of the review she admitted had a personal slant to it.

I slammed back the rest of my drink, heard her heels clicking on the tile floor toward me, spun around and stood up.

“Ready?” she asked.

“For dinner. I’m starving.”

She heaved a sigh and gave me an exaggerated blink. “It’s been nice catching up. Good luck to you, Derek.” Then she turned and headed for the lobby.
“Where do you want to eat?” I asked, not letting her off the hook. I glanced down at my jeans and t-shirt. “I’m not really dressed for anything too fancy, but I remember you love a good burger.”

She stopped and faced me, let her eyes wander over my face, then down to my chest, my waist, my legs. When she looked back up her expression was odd, almost sorrowful. “What?” I asked.

Bess shook her head slightly. “I don’t want to regret this.”

Her words were heavy with meaning. I wasn’t sure I was ready for that much meaning. “It’s only dinner.”

She reached up and put a hand on my shoulder. “It’s never only anything with you.”

I wasn’t sure she meant that in a good way or a bad way. Maybe she didn’t know either. “Burgers then?”

Bess let her shoulders relax and her mouth shift into a smile. “Burgers.”

She turned and strode toward the doors. “Forgiveness?” I asked.

“Not on the menu,” she said, flinging the words over her shoulder.

“Maybe not tonight…” I said.

“Maybe not ever.” She smiled at the doorman as we passed.


About Carrie Elliot:

Carrie Elliott is the author of the rock star romance, Cover Me and its follow-up, the short story Listen To Me (available free to newsletter subscribers after July 23: http://eepurl.com/SYvZD). She lives in Ohio with her husband and two kids, is forever remodeling and undergoing a DIY projects, loves to read and hates to cook. Coffee and dark chocolate are her writing fuel and she’s stocking up! Look for more hot guys and feisty women to come!

 

Facebook | Goodreads | Website

 


Logo2.png

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

GIVEAWAY~ 18+ ONLY~EROTICA ROMANCE~ NATASHA BLACKTHORNE…ALEX’S ANGEL~MATURE CONTENT~

Alex’s Angel

Wild, Wicked and Wanton Series Book Three

by Natasha Blackthorne

Alex's Angel PinkApril22

Erotica Romance ~ Georgian Historical Set in USA ~ Novel Length 100,000+ words ~ Nineteen year-old, Idealistic & Headstrong Heroine Meets Tortured, Wealthy Hero

 In the wake of a devastating epidemic, sheltered Emily Eliot finds herself alone, making her own decisions for the first time. When desperation leads her to sell her virtue, she walks straight into trouble.

Enter one gorgeous, golden-haired gentleman bent on protecting her.

Alexander Dalton came to the Blue Duck Tavern seeking to lose himself in sexual pleasure. But when he saw the delicate and vulnerable young woman, he couldn’t turn away.

Emily is alarmed by her own intense responses as this charismatic and carnal man introduces her to erotic pleasure. Having lived as a virtual prisoner of her grandmother’s suffocating manipulation, Emily bridles under Alex’s possessive, protectiveness. And Alex’s charming smile hides a dark secret that could destroy their chance at happiness.

Will their passion burn them up or bring them together?

 

Giveaway

Enter to win a $5 Amazon Gift Card. You must be 18 or older to enter and a current US Resident. Winner will be selected on June 30, 2014.

 

To enter the giveaway, please fill out the Rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

To Purchase Alex’s Angel, please click here:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble

 

My Erotic Regency Romance, A Measured Risk is still on sale for .99 through Sunday, June 22, 2014. Click here to purchase:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble

Connect with Natasha Blackthorne:

Please feel free to “Friend” me on Facebook or subscribe to my public feed.

My Blog

 Follow Natasha on Twitter, as well @Nblackthorne

 


Alex's Angel PinkApril22*Mature Content, 18+ only*

Excerpt from A Measured Risk
©Copyright Natasha Blackthorne 2012, 2013
For Adults 18+ Only

As if reading her thoughts, he tossed some money down on the table.
She glanced up.
He smiled a lazy smile that set her body tingling. “Lead me upstairs.”
His words crashed over her like a tidal wave of icy water. Her hands shook and sweat poured out all over her.
Oh, God. The moment was upon her. Oh, God. She wasn’t ready.
This was how it happened? Just like that—so bluntly? Without any coaxing or wooing? Her heart dropped back down to where it belonged and pounded against her ribcage as if it wanted to jump clear from her body.
She’d never be ready.
She reached for her wineglass.
He touched her hand, feathering his fingers over hers.
Her hand shook on the glass and the wine sloshed. A vision splashed across her mind. The dance of firelight upon the walls, fine linen sheets sliding like silk against her bare body, strong hands reaching for her, touching her, pulling her close to his naked, utterly masculine body, his whispers in her ear…
Her insides went all fluttery and she inhaled deeply. When she’d come here tonight, she hadn’t thought much about being bedded by a man beyond the money. She especially hadn’t anticipated that there would be any pleasure associated with it. But here with this man, she could feel how it would be.
She hadn’t expected to be able to choose a man—certainly never a handsome and charming one. But he was her choice.
Suddenly, she felt lighter than she had in all the days since she’d first decided to sell herself. She did a have a modicum of power in this situation.
He dropped his hand from hers.
She immediately brought the glass to her lips and gulped half of the remaining contents. It burnt all the way down, and gave her something to center her attention on besides his effect upon her senses.
“Well?”
His commanding tone sent her nerves bristling. So did the way he tapped the stack of bills. She took a closer look. Twenty dollars lay on the table. Enough money to pay her rent, yes, but still…
She took another deep breath, set the glass down and flicked her gaze back to his. “Can’t you ask any better than that?”
His deep, rich laugh sent another thrill through her, right down to her very toes. “I see—expensive and hard to acquire.”
Retrieving the money, he pulled aside his coat to stash the bills in his waistcoat, his body rippling against the close-fitting, striped satin.
She couldn’t tear her eyes away from the sight.
How would it feel to be held against that trim, hard waist?
His hand froze halfway into his pocket. Looking up from his abdomen, she met his eyes. His expression was a shade speculative and maybe a bit amused. Dear heavens, he’d caught her ogling his midsection. Her face flamed and she glanced away quickly.
Had she just ruined her chance with him? Was he totally put off now? Oh, what a stupid, green girl she’d proved herself to be. She wanted nothing more desperately than to hide her feelings. She’d show him that his rejection didn’t matter.
“You might still stand a chance with her,” she said, nodding at the curvy redhead, who sat with several mariners, giggling.
“She’ll be around. I’d rather talk to you.” He tapped her gloved hand with a natural authority that rankled her. Grandmother had never ceased in her complaints about how arrogant gentlemen were.
She jerked her hand away. “Just like a man—so smugly sure of your appeal.”
“And just how much do you know of men?”
“Oh, I’ve had many—all quite handsome and wealthy,” she rejoined, in what she hoped was a casual tone.
He narrowed his eyes speculatively. “How old are you?”
“Twenty-five.”
He laughed. This time it was a soft, sensual sound that sent delicious shivers down her spine. “More like fifteen, possibly sixteen, but a very immature sixteen.”
“I’m nineteen!”
A small, satisfied smile spread over his lips and she regretted her outburst. In fact, she itched to wipe the smugness off his face. She took a deep breath and continued far more sedately. “The women in my family age very slowly. My grandmother looks about fifty.”
“Tell me something—why aren’t you with her now?”
She stared at him blankly, her heart pounding in short jags of rapid beats.
Grandmother was dead.
For ever and ever.
She didn’t want to talk about it.


Don’t forget to fill out the rafflecopter!

 

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

DIRTY ANGELS BY ~ KARINA HALLE….*MATURE CONTENT, 18+ PLEASE*

*May content mature content, or things offensive to others, 18 + only, PLEASE*

DirtyAngels

Title: Dirty Angels (Dirty Angels Trilogy #1)
Author: Karina Halle
Genre: Dark Romantic Suspense
Release Date: June 15, 2014

goodreads-badge-add-plus-d700d4d3e3c0b346066731ac07b7fe47

 

Synopsis

dirty angels karina halleFor Luisa Chavez, a twenty-three year old former beauty queen, a better life has always been just out of her reach. Sure, she’s had men at her feet since she was a young teenager but she’s never had the one thing she’s craved – security. Having grown up in near poverty, her waitressing job in Cabo San Lucas can barely let her take care of herself, let alone her ailing parents. Every day is another unwanted advance, every day is a struggle to survive.

When Salvador Reyes, the depraved leader of a major Mexican cartel, takes an interest in her, Luisa is presented with an opportunity she can’t afford to pass up. She’ll become Salvador’s wife and exchange her freedom and body for a life of riches – riches she can bestow upon her deserving parents. But Luisa quickly finds out that even the finest wines and jewels can’t undo the ugliness in her marriage, nor the never-ending violence that threatens her every move.

Soon, Luisa is looking for an escape, a way out of the carefully controlled life she’s leading. She finally gets her wish in the worst way possible.

As it is, being the wife of Salvador makes her an ideal target for rival cartels and there’s one particular man who needs Luisa as part of his cartel’s expansion. One particular man whose quest for power has destroyed lives, slit throats and gotten him out of an American prison. One particular man who will stop at nothing until he gets what he wants.

That man is Javier Bernal. And he wants Luisa. He wants to take her, keep her, ruin her.

Unless she ruins him first.

Amazon US | Amazon UK

Are you a Dirty Angel? Spread the word about Karina’s latest release using the hashtags
#JaviersDirtyAngels
#AreYouADirtyAngel
#CartelQueens,

 

 

Excerpt:

(Unedited)

“Mama, papa,” I said. I cleared my throat and straightened up in my chair. Even though my mother couldn’t see me, I felt her looking. Only my dad remained lost in lost thoughts, and for once I was okay that he would have no reaction. “I met a man.”
“Oh?” my mother asked, her interest piqued by the foreign subject. “Who is he? Where did you meet him? Do you like him?”
“I met him at work,” I said, skirting the other questions and shoving a piece of stewed tomato in my mouth. I chewed slowly, planning my words. “He took an interest in me. He is very wealthy and has promised me the world.”
Her face fell slightly. “I see.” She paused, pushing her plate away from her. “I am not surprised, Luisa. You are a beautiful, intelligent woman. I am only surprised that this is the first man you have talked about to us.”
Here it came. “That is because it is serious. He has asked to marry me.”
The room stilled, choking on silence and the oppressive heat. My heart throbbed with fear from just hearing those words out loud.
It was the cold, hard truth; Salvador Reyes had asked me to marry him.
I couldn’t read my mother’s expression at all. She was in shock, that was for sure, but whether she was happy, sad, angry or suspicious, I didn’t know. Finally she said, “When did this happen?”
“A few days ago,” I told her. He had come into the bar every day, sometimes with David, that creepy crony of his who always wore his shades inside. A few times, though, it was just Salvador. I never had any doubt that there was an army of people stationed all around, so we were never really alone, but it was during those times that he would ask me to have dinner with him, even if I was in the middle of the shift. At this point, Bruno knew who he was and what was going on, and he had to allow me as many breaks as I wanted. Salvador controlled the entire bar from the moment he stepped into it until the moment he left.
And he controlled me.
The curious thing, however, was that each day I grew more comfortable with his presence. It wasn’t that I was less scared or intimidated by him. It was just that I got used to the fear. The fear of Salvador, of what he wanted from me, of what he would do next, became as soft and easy as my favorite blanket. And because he was the scariest of them all, I no longer feared anyone else but him. Bruno, he was nothing in comparison. My terrors had become consolidated into one greasy, mustached man with a beer gut and bad hair. A man who ruled such a violent part of the world and who would now rule mine.
Because, when he asked me the other day, when I had finished my shift early and he insisted I walk down to the marina with him, I knew I had to say yes.
If I was being honest with myself, there was a part of me that could have swooned at the proposal. When Salvador got down on one knee and took my hand in his, his palms sweaty, his fingers large and fat, I tricked my mind and heart into momentarily believing that Salvador knew me, cared for me, loved me. Of course, he only wanted me to look good at his side and that was it. Well, that and be in his bed. What else could there be after just a few weeks?
So I said yes and tried to believe I meant it. If I said no, I would be killed. There was no doubt about that. No woman turned down Salvador Reyes, not for a date, not for marriage.
“I will treat you like a princess,” he had said to me, a stupid, lopsided grin on his pockmarked face. “And you will have everything you ever wanted. You’ll be richer than the President.”
And that’s when I found the tiny shred of hope to cling to. By marrying the country’s most notorious drug lord, a man who had politicians and police under his thumb, a man with more money than he probably knew what to do with, I would be buying myself safety from everyone but him, and I would be buying me and my parents a life we would never get to experience otherwise. I would no longer have to work for Bruno. I could have my mother and father taken care of and their every whim catered to.
It was at that thought that I was finally able to give Salvador a genuine smile. He responded by kissing me for the first time, his mustache tickling my upper lip. I wished it could have meant something to me, but all I could do was concentrate on the two competing feelings in my chest: relief.
And dread.
“Did you say yes?” my mother asked quietly, snapping me back to reality, to the kitchen table with the one wobbly leg, to the overhead fan that did nothing to disperse the hot air, to my father’s kind but desolate eyes as he stared curiously at my mother, perhaps seeing her for the first time today.
I nodded and dabbed at my mouth with the napkin. “I did. It is for the best, Mama, you will see.”
She gave me a funny look. “You act as if marriage is a bargain you have to make.” When I didn’t say anything, she went on. “So what is the bargain here?”
“He has a lot of money, I told you. He will take care of me and I can take proper care of you.” I quickly reached across the table and put my hand on hers. “Mama, please, this is a good thing.”
“Then why can’t I hear it in your voice? You are anything but happy.”
“I am happy,” I said. “I will be happy. In time. It’s all so new and…”
“And so who is this man who you suddenly agreed to marry?”
“You don’t really know him,” I said carefully. “But he has a lot of power and a lot of influence.”
“And what does he do?” she asked, her voice taking on a strange steely quality. She knew that no wealth in our country came honestly.
There was nothing for me to do but tell the truth. The truth would hurt her, but it would also keep her safe.
“His name is Salvador,” I said. “And he is in charge of a cartel.”
My mother’s mouth dropped open while my father muttered the first words I’d heard from him all evening. “Salvador Reyes,” he said, musing over it. “He is a bad, bad man.” Of course he could forget his own wife and daughter sometimes, but a notorious drug lord lived in every memory.
“Luisa,” she said breathlessly. “You can’t be serious.”
I gave her a tight smile. “Unfortunately, I am.”
“Salvador Reyes. The Sal? The drug lord? The jackal?” She shook her head and folded her hands in her lap. “No. No, I refuse to believe this.”
“But it is the truth.”
“But why? Why here? Why you?”
“I wish I could say, Mama. I don’t know. He thinks I am beautiful and worthy of a better life.” He thinks I am worthy of his bed.
She snorted caustically. “A better life? Who does he think he is? Has he been here? We are not living in squalor, Luisa. We have everything that we need right here.”
“No, we don’t!” I yelled, surprised by the ferocity in my voice. “Every day I struggle to get by, for you, for Papa. And it’s still not enough.”
She rubbed her lips together, taken aback. I could see the wash of shame on her face and I immediately regretted losing my temper.
“I’m sorry,” I said quickly. “You know I’ve done everything to take care of the both of you and I’ll do whatever I can to keep doing so. This is an opportunity —“
“This is a death sentence,” she muttered.
Her words sent cold waves down my spine. I swallowed hard. “No,” I said, though I didn’t believe it myself. “He can protect me. I will go and live with him in a mansion in Culiacán. I will be safe, safer than anyone in the country. And you will be safe too. I will make sure that you and Papa are taken care of, you can live with us on the compound or stay here, in some place really nice. I will do whatever it takes. I am doing this for you.”
She just shook her head, a few strands of her greying hair coming loose around her face. “This is wrong. You deserve to marry a man for love, not money.”
“Maybe I can learn to love him. Maybe he can learn to love me.”
Her mouth twisted into a sad smile. “Oh, Luisa, I know you are not that naïve! He is a drug lord. They do not know how to love a fellow human being. They only love money and they only love death. He will never love you. He will have other women on the side. You will never be able to leave. You will become a prisoner of his life.”
Is it any different than being a prisoner to this life? I thought to myself. I sighed. “You know I have no choice. Whether I’ll love him or not, whether he’ll love me or not, you know I can’t say no.”
“There are always choices, my daughter. God gave you free will to make them.”
“Then I am choosing to die later instead of dying now.”
I thought my mother would admonish me for talking so fatalistically, but she understood. There was nothing easy or right about this situation, so there was nothing left for me to do but try and make the best of it.
“You deserve so much more,” she finally said, staring at nothing.
I looked pointedly at her and my father. “As do the both of you. And now, we shall have more. Let’s just ignore the cost for now.”
She nodded and went back to her food, picking aimlessly at the chicken that had grown cold. Now that she knew of the weight on my shoulders, she didn’t have an appetite either.

 

10289789_10154196514150254_3487213601241312265_n

 

About the Author

Karina Halle

With her USA Today Bestselling The Artists Trilogy published by Grand Central Publishing, numerous foreign publication deals, and self-publishing success with her Experiment in Terror series, Vancouver-born Karina Halle is a true example of the term “Hybrid Author.” Though her books showcase her love of all things dark, sexy and edgy, she’s a closet romantic at heart and strives to give her characters a HEA…whenever possible.

Karina holds a screenwriting degree from Vancouver Film School and a Bachelor of Journalism from TRU. Her travel writing, music reviews/interviews and photography have appeared in publications such as Consequence of Sound, Mxdwn and GoNomad Travel Guides. She currently lives on an island on the coast of British Columbia where she’s preparing for the zombie apocalypse with her fiance and rescue pup.

Facebook | Goodreads | Karina‘s Website | Twitter | Amazon Author Page


Presented by:

Logo2.png

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail