A Wish For Us by Tillie Cole ~ Chapter Reveal

 

 

 

 

 


From the author who brought you A Thousand Boy Kisses comes the new emotional novel, A Wish For Us.
A story of music. A story of healing. A story of love conquering all.

Nineteen-year-old Cromwell Dean is the rising star of electronic dance music. Thousands of people adore him. But no one knows him. No one sees the color of his heart.

Until the girl in the purple dress. She sees through the walls he has built to the empty darkness within.

When Cromwell leaves behind the gray skies of England to study music in the South Carolina heat, the last thing he expects is to see her again. And he certainly doesn’t expect that she’ll stay in his head like a song on repeat.

Bonnie Farraday lives for music. She lets every note into her heart, and she doesn’t understand how someone as talented as Cromwell can avoid doing the same. He’s hiding from his past, and she knows it. She tries to stay away from him, but something keeps calling her back.

Bonnie is the burst of color in Cromwell’s darkness. He’s the beat that makes her heart skip.

But when a shadow falls over Bonnie, it’s up to Cromwell to be her light, in the only way he knows how. He must help her find the lost song in her fragile heart. He must keep her strong with a symphony only he can compose.

A symphony of hope.
A symphony of love.
A symphony of them.

Cromwell Brighton, England
The club pulsed as the beat I was pouring into the crowd took over their bodies. Arms in the air, hips swaying, eyes wide and glazed as my music slammed into their ears, the rhythmic beats controlling their every move. The air was thick and sticky, clothes slick to people’s skins as they crammed into the full club to hear me.
I watched them light up with color. Watched them get lost to the sound. Watched them shed whoever they’d been that day—an office worker, a student, a copper, a call-center worker—what the hell ever. Right now, in this club, most probably high off their faces, they were slaves to my tunes. Right here, in this moment, my music was their life. It was all that mattered as their heads flew back and they chased the high, the near nirvana I gave them from my place on the podium.
I, however, felt nothing. Nothing but the numbness the booze beside me was gifting me.
Two arms slipped around my waist. Hot breath blew past my ear as full lips kissed my neck. Spinning my final beat, I grabbed the Jack Daniels beside me and took a shot straight from the bottle. I slammed the bottle down and moved back to my laptop to mix in the next tune. Hands with sharp fingernails ran through my hair, pulling on the black strands. I tapped on the keys, bringing the music down low, slowing the beat.
My breaths lengthened as the crowd waited, lungs frozen as I brought them to a slow sway, readying for the crescendo. The epic surge of beats and drums, the insanity of the mix that I would deliver. I looked up from my laptop and scanned the crowd, smirking at seeing them on the precipice, waiting . . . waiting . . . just waiting . . .
Now.
I slammed my hand down, holding my headphones to my left ear. A surge, a thundercloud of electronic dance music plowed into the crowd. Bursts of neon colors filled the air. Greens and blues and reds filled my eyes as they clung to each person like neon shields.
The hands around my waist tightened, but I ignored them, instead listening to the bottle of Jack as it called my name. I took another shot, my muscles starting to loosen. My hands danced over the laptop’s keys, over my mix boards.
I looked up, the crowd still in the palm of my hand.
They always were.
A girl in the center of the club drew my attention. Long brown hair pulled back off her face. Purple dress, high necked—she was dressed nothing like everyone else. The color surrounding her was different to the other clubbers—pale pink and lavender. Calmer. More serene. My eyebrows pulled down as I watched her. Her eyes were closed, but she wasn’t moving. She was still, and she looked to be completely alone as people crashed and pushed around her. Her head was tipped up, a look of concentration on her face.
I built up the pace, pushing the rhythm and the crowd as far as they could go. But the girl didn’t move. That wasn’t normal for me. I always had these clubbers wrapped around my finger. I controlled them, in every place I spun. In this arena, I was the puppet master. They were the dolls.
Another shot of Jack burned down my throat. And through another five songs, she stayed there, on the spot, just drinking in the beats like water. But her face never changed. No smile. No euphoric high. Just . . . eyes closed, that damn pinched look on her face.
And that pink and lavender still surrounding her like a shield.
“Cromwell,” the blonde who was all over me like a rash said into my ear. Her fingers lifted up my shirt and tucked into the waistband of my jeans. Her long nails dipped low. But I refused to tear my eyes away from the girl in the purple dress.
Her brown hair was starting to curl, sweat from being sandwiched by clubbers taking its effect. The blonde who was one step from wanking me off in full view of the club snapped my fly. I keyed in my next mix, then grabbed her hand and threw it away from me, snapping my fly closed. I groaned when her hands slid back into my hair. I looked at my mate who had spun before me. “Nick!” I pointed to my decks. “Watch this. And don’t mess it up.”
Nick frowned in confusion, then saw the girl behind me and smiled. He took my headphones from me and moved to make sure the playlist I’d set up played on cue. Steve, the club’s owner, always let a few girls backstage. I never asked for it, but I never turned them down either. Why would I refuse a hot bird who was up for anything?
I swiped my Jack off my podium as the blonde smashed her lips to mine, pulling me back by my sleeveless Creamfields shirt. I wrenched my mouth from hers, replacing it with the Jack bottle. The blonde dragged me into a dark spot backstage. She dropped to her knees and started again on my fly. I closed my eyes as she went to work.
I sucked on the Jack as my head hit the wall behind me. I forced myself to feel something. I glanced down, watching blond hair bounce below me. But the numbness I lived with every damn day made me feel virtually nothing inside. Pressure built at the base of my spine. My thighs tightened, and then it was over.
The blonde got up. I could see the stars in her eyes as she looked at me. “Your eyes.” She reached out a finger to trace around my eye. “The strangest color. Such dark blue.”
They were. Coupled with my black hair, they always drew attention. That and the fact that I was one of the hottest new DJs in Europe, of course. Okay, maybe it was less to do with my eyes and more to do with my name, Cromwell Dean, gracing the headline spot on most of the biggest music festivals and clubs this summer.
I zipped up my fly and turned to see Nick spinning my next mix. I cringed when he failed to transition the beats like I would have. Navy blue was the backdrop to the smoke on the dancefloor.
I never hit navy blue.
I brushed past the girl with a “Thanks, love,” ignoring her hiss of “Prick” in response. I took my headphones off Nick’s head and put them on my own. A few taps of the keyboard later, the crowd was back in the palm of my hand.
Without conscious thought, my eyes found their way to the spot where the girl in the purple dress had stood.
But she’d gone. So had the pale pink and lavender.
I threw back another shot of Jack. Mixed another tune. Then zoned the fuck out.
*****
The sand was cold under my feet. It may well have been the start of summer here in the UK, but that didn’t mean the night wind didn’t freeze your balls off the minute you stepped outside. Clutching my bottle of booze and my cigarettes, I dropped down to the sand. I lit up and stared at the dark sky. My phone buzzed in my pocket . . . again. It’d been going off all night.
Pissed off that I actually had to move my arm, I pulled out my mobile. I had three missed calls from Professor Lewis. Two from my mum, and finally, a couple of texts.
Mum: Professor Lewis has been trying to get hold of you again. What are you going to do? Please just call me. I know you’re upset, but this is your future. You have a gift, son. Maybe it’s time for a fresh start this year. Don’t waste it because you’re angry at me.
Red-hot fury shot through me. I wanted to throw my phone in the damn sea and watch it sink to the bottom along with all this messed-up shit in my head, but I saw Professor Lewis had texted too.
Lewis: The offer still stands but I need an answer by next week. I have all I need for the transfer except your answer. You have an exceptional talent, Cromwell. Don’t waste it. I can help.
This time I did drop my phone beside me and sank back into the sand. I let the rush of nicotine fill my lungs and closed my eyes. As my eyelids shut, I heard quiet music playing somewhere nearby. Classical. Mozart.
My drunken mind immediately drifted off to when I was a little kid . . .
“What do you hear, Cromwell?” my father asked.
I closed my eyes and listened to the piece of music. Colors danced before my eyes. “Piano. Violins. Cellos . . .” I took a deep breath. “I can hear reds and greens and pinks.”
I opened my eyes and looked up at my father as he sat on my bed. He was staring down at me. There was a funny expression on his face. “You hear colors?” he said. But he didn’t sound surprised. My face set on fire. I ducked my head under my duvet. My father pulled it down from my eyes. He stroked my hair. “That’s good,” he said, his voice kind of deep. “That’s very good . . .”
My eyes snapped open. My hand started to ache. I looked at the bottle in my hand; my fingers were white as they gripped the neck. I sat up, my head spinning from the mass of whiskey in my body. My temples throbbed. I realized it wasn’t from the Jack, but from the music coming from further down the beach. I pushed my hair back from my face then looked to my right.
Someone was only a few feet away. I squinted into the lightening night, summer’s early rising sun making it possible to make out the features of whoever the hell it was. It was a girl. A girl wrapped in a blanket. Her phone sat beside her, a Mozart piano concerto drifting quietly from the speaker.
She must have felt me looking at her, because she turned her head. I frowned, wondering why I knew her face, but then—
“You’re the DJ,” she said.
Recognition dawned. It was the girl in the purple dress.
She clutched her blanket closer around her as I replayed her accent in my head. American. Bible Belt was my guess, by her thick twang.
She sounded like my mum.
A smile tugged at her lips as I stayed mute. I wasn’t much of a talker. Especially when my gut was full of Jack and I had zero interest in making small talk with some girl I didn’t know at four in the morning on a cold beach in Brighton.
“I’d heard of you,” she said. I stared back out over the sea. Ships sailed in the distance, their lights like tiny fireflies, bobbing up and down. I huffed a humorless laugh. Great. Another girl who wanted to screw the DJ.
“Good for you,” I muttered and took a drink of my Jack, feeling the addictive burn slide down my throat. I hoped she’d piss off, or at least stop trying to talk to me. My head couldn’t take any more noise.
“Not really,” she shot back. I looked over at her, eyebrows pulled down in confusion. She was looking out over the sea, her chin resting on her folded arms that lay over her bent knees. The blanket had fallen off her shoulders, revealing the purple dress I’d noticed from the podium. She turned to face me, cheek now on her arms. Heat zipped through me. She was pretty. “I’ve heard of you, Cromwell Dean.” She shrugged. “Decided to get a ticket to see you before I left for home tomorrow.”
I lit up another cigarette. Her nose wrinkled. She clearly didn’t like the smell.
Tough luck. She could move. Last time I checked, England was a free country. She went quiet.
I caught her looking at me. Her brown eyes were narrowed, like she was scrutinizing me. Reading something in me that I didn’t want anyone to see.
No one ever looked at me closely. I never gave them the chance. I thrived on the podium at clubs because it kept everyone far away, down on the dancefloor where no one ever saw the real me. The way she was looking at me now made nervous shivers break out over my skin.
I didn’t need this kind of crap.
“Already had my dick sucked tonight, love. Not looking for a second round.”
She blinked, and even in the rising sun, I could see her cheeks redden.
“Your music has no soul,” she blurted. My cigarette paused halfway to my mouth. Something managed to stab through my stomach at her words. I shoved it back down until I felt my usual sensation of numbness.
I sucked on my cigarette. “Yeah? Well, them’s the breaks.”
“I’d heard you were some messiah or something on that podium. But all your music comprised was synthetic beats and forced repetitive bursts of unoriginal tempo.”
I laughed and shook my head. The girl met my eyes head-on. “It’s called electronic dance music. Not a fifty-piece orchestra.” I held out my arms. “You’ve heard of me. Said so yourself. You know what tunes I spin. What were you expecting? Mozart?” I glared at her phone, which was still playing that damn concerto.
I sat back, surprised at myself. I hadn’t talked that much to anyone in . . . I didn’t know how long. I took in a drag, breathing out the smoke that was trapped in my chest. “And turn that thing off, will you? Who the hell goes to hear a dance DJ spin, then comes to a beach to listen to classical music?”
The girl frowned but turned off the music. I lay back on the cold sand, closing my eyes. I heard the soft waves lapping the shore. My head filled with pale green. I heard the girl moving. I prayed she was leaving. But I felt her drop beside me. My world darkened as the whiskey and the usual lack of sleep started to pull me under.
“What do you feel when you mix your music?” she asked. How the hell she thought her little interview was a good idea right now was beyond me.
Yet, surprisingly, I found myself answering her question. “I don’t feel.” I cracked one eye open when she didn’t say anything. She was looking down at me. She had the biggest brown eyes I’d ever seen. Dark hair pulled off her face in a ponytail. Full lips and smooth skin.
“Then that’s the problem.” She smiled, but the smile looked nothing but sad. Pitying. “The best music must be felt. By the creator. By the listener. Every part of it from creation to ear must be wrapped in nothing but feelings.” Some weird expression crossed over her face, but hell if I knew what it meant.
Her words were a blade to my chest. I hadn’t expected her harsh comment. And I hadn’t expected the blunt trauma that she seemed to deliver right to my heart. Like she’d taken a butcher’s knife and sliced her way through my soul.
My body itched to get up and run. To pluck out her assessment of my music from my memory. But instead I forced a laugh, and spat, “Go back home, little Dorothy. Back to where music means something. Where it’s felt.”
“Dorothy was from Kansas.” She glanced away. “I’m not.”
“Then go back to wherever the hell you’re from,” I snapped. Crossing my arms over my chest, I hunkered down into the sand and shut my eyes, trying to block out the cold wind that was picking up and slapping my skin, and her words that were still stabbing at my heart.
I never let anything get to me like this. Not anymore. I just needed some sleep. I didn’t want to go back to my mum’s house here in Brighton, and my flat in London was too far away. So hopefully the cops wouldn’t find me here and kick me off the beach.
With my eyes closed, I said, “Thanks for the midnight critique, but as the fastest-rising DJ in Europe, with the best clubs in the world begging for me to spin at their decks—all at nineteen—I think I’ll ignore your extensive notes and just keep on living my sweet as fuck life.”
The girl sighed, but she didn’t say anything else.
The next thing I knew, the sun was burning its light into my eyes. I flinched when I opened them. The screech of swarming seagulls slammed into my head. I sat up, seeing an empty beach and the sun high in the sky. I ran my hands down my face and groaned at the hangover that was kicking in. My stomach growled, desperate for a full English breakfast with copious cups of black tea.
As I stood, something fell from my lap. A blanket lay on the sand at my feet. The blanket I’d seen beside the American girl in the purple dress.
The one she’d been wrapped in last night.
I picked it up, a light fragrance drifted into my nose. Sweet. Addictive. I glanced around me. The girl was gone.
She’d left her blanket. No. She’d covered me with it. “Your music has no soul.” A hard clenching feeling pulled in my stomach at the memory of her words. So I chased it away like I did anything that made me feel. Caging it deep inside.
Then I took my arse home.

Tillie Cole hails from a small town in the North-East of England. She grew up on a farm with her English mother, Scottish father and older sister and a multitude of rescue animals. As soon as she could, Tillie left her rural roots for the bright lights of the big city.

After graduating from Newcastle University with a BA Hons in Religious Studies, Tillie followed her Professional Rugby player husband around the world for a decade, becoming a teacher in between and thoroughly enjoyed teaching High School students Social Studies before putting pen to paper, and finishing her first novel.

Tillie has now settled in Austin, Texas, where she is finally able to sit down and write, throwing herself into fantasy worlds and the fabulous minds of her characters.

Tillie is both an independent and traditionally published author, and writes many genres including: Contemporary Romance, Dark Romance, Young Adult and New Adult novels.

When she is not writing, Tillie enjoys nothing more than curling up on her couch watching movies, drinking far too much coffee, while convincing herself that she really doesn’t need that extra square of chocolate.

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Confessions: Robbie by Ella Frank ~ Blog Tour w/ Review & Excerpt!

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Confessions ROBBIE AMAZON SBP

Confessions: Robbie, an all new tantalizing contemporary MMM Romance by Ella Frank is available NOW!

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Synopsis 

Relationships are complex.
Love ever-changing.
And when it comes to rules of the heart,
they were made to be broken…

That’s what Robert Antonio Bianchi was telling himself, anyway.
Otherwise, he really had no excuse for what—or who—he’d done.

No excuse, except for his lonely heart, a pitcher of margaritas, four Bitter Bitches, and the apparent need to confess all his weaknesses to the two men he knew would bring him nothing but trouble.

But trouble was nothing new.

Just ask his crazy sisters or any of his friends, and they’d be the first to tell you:
If there was a bad decision to be made, Robbie always had a knack for making it.

And thus begins the story of the priest, the princess, and the prick.

Read Today!

Available with Kindle Unlimited for FREE
Amazon US:http://amzn.to/2HdQ7IU

Amazon Universal: http://mybook.to/confessionsrobbie

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Review

Storyline: 5
Angst: 2
Tissue: 0
Value: 5
Panty Scorching: 5
Over All Rating: 4.25 Stars
Kindle eArc provided by Authors
Reviewed by Robin

Robbie Bianchi has been nursing a lonely heart. All of his friends are finding their “one” when all he seems to find is trouble. But when he meets two men who capture his attention and curiosity, Robbie finds he might be willing to try something new. If he can get over his fear of losing his heart once again.

“No one ever says they want to have a smart sexual experience. No.

They want a hot, wild, oh-my-God-there-goes-my-brain sexual experience. That’s the only excuse I have for any of this – I’ve lost my mind.”

Robbie’s story is the perfect set up to the complications involved in getting to know a couple. I really loved the idea of these three people together. Robbie is a flirty, sassy princess. But deep down he’s looking for his happily ever after. Julien has a broken past that’s hinted at during the beginning of Robbie learning more about these two. Priest and Julien really want Robbie to be a part of their relationship. Not just temporarily. But perhaps he’s the one that can smooth their alpha personalities out. Priest…he’s got some secrets too. I really can’t wait to find out more because I can just tell Robbie might be the person that can help both of these damaged men. Each of them seems to have something to offer the other two when they need a shoulder, hug or even a push. I just know their story is going to leave me in an emotional, blissful state of satisfaction when it’s all done!

My expectations for Robbie, Julien and Priest are way off the chart. I know that’s probably not fair to Ella but it’s only because she ALWAYS delivers. Her characters always tear me apart and then put me back together as they find their way and their hearts connect. I just fall in love.

Robin Profile

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Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

CONFESSION

 If there’s a bad decision to make, I will make it.

DRUNK-DIALING IS never a smart move. But drunk-dialing a married man? That is a monumentally stupid move.

That was the thought rolling around Robbie’s muddled brain as he stood with his best friend Elliot at the bar of CRUSH and tossed back his fourth Bitter Bitch. The conversation he was having with himself wasn’t a new one—or a welcome one, he thought as he swayed on his feet and kind of stumbled into the stool beside him. But forgetting his lonely life with alcohol and men who were all wrong for him seemed like an increasingly good way to cope tonight.

The hum and throb of the bass beat was rattling through him, but instead of feeling the pull he usually did to head out to the dance floor and have fun, tonight it seemed to be having the opposite effect. It was making him think really stupid thoughts.

“You’re so wasted, Bianchi,” Elliot said as he grabbed Robbie’s arm and guided him to the barstool. “What’s that? Your third shot? And how many margaritas did you have at dinner?”

Robbie held up two, then three fingers, and shrugged. “Who cares? Everyone had their New Year’s on Sunday. Tonight’s mine, and I want to celebrate.”

“If you celebrate any more, you aren’t gonna remember your first night out of the New Year.”

“Don’t care,” Robbie said, as he waved his hand through the air with flourish and leaned a little too much into the action. Luckily, Elliot was there to prop him up. “I wanna have fun tonight. Do something I shouldn’t.”

Elliot leaned his elbows back on the bar so he was facing the dance floor and said, “Why don’t you get out there and let someone do you instead? You look gorgeous tonight, darling.”

He’s right, I do look cute, Robbie thought.

In his skinny jeans and purple V-neck tee that was practically a second skin, Robbie had gone all out with smoky eyes and a new pink shade of gloss he’d bought a couple of days ago that tasted like—mmm, strawberries. He could totally hit the dance floor, find a willing man, and let him do all kinds of things. But that seemed so boring tonight, so normal, and so not what he wanted.

He wanted wild. He wanted adventure. He wanted danger. And when the two men he knew were both those things entered his mind, Robbie quickly shook his head, trying to shake them free.

Stop thinking about them, he ordered himself, but that was easier said than done. One of them was one of the sexiest men he’d ever seen, and the other the most frustrating—and what was worse was that he couldn’t have either of them even if he wanted to. What was with everyone being fucking married all of a sudden? And to each other?

But oh the dreams he’d been having lately. The three of them, all sweaty and naked; they were enough to make him want to

No, no, no. That is the worst idea you could have, Robbie told himself. Drunk or sober.

Worst.

Idea.

Ever.

Plus, you don’t even like one of them. So stop obsessing over it.

“Earth to Robbie…” Elliot said, waving a hand, and Robbie shrugged.

“I don’t know. I’m just not in the mood.”

You’re not in the mood to grind all over a naked man? Okay, where the hell is my best friend and what did you do with him?” Elliot asked as he swept his black bangs out of his eyes.

“I don’t know.” Robbie slumped forward on the bar, dramatic as ever, and looked up at Elliot from under his lashes. “I think I’m in a state of mourning, El, and I don’t know how to get out of it.”

Elliot frowned. “Is this about Logan? I thought you were happy for him and Tate?”

“I am, but— Ugh. They just got engaged, and now all of a sudden, he’s married. Married.”

“I know, babe. But you knew it was coming.”

“Doesn’t make it any easier. Knowing there are two more beautiful men off the market forever due to a ring and a piece of paper is just depressing.”

“Two more men?” Elliot said, regarding him with a suspicious eye. “Who else do you know who’s hitched?”

Julien, Robbie instantly thought, as an image of the famous chef came to mind.

Julien “the Prick” Thornton. And this time, as Julien’s name ran through Robbie’s head, he made a point to roll the Jul over his tongue the way Julien had when he’d introduced himself that night at the bar. That’s right…Julien “I’m gay, gorgeous, and, oh yeah, married to your worst enemy” Thornton. He was hitched.

“No one,” Robbie said, and pouted. Then he swiveled on the stool to look out at the men gyrating all over one another. “You go and play for the both of us. I’m going to sit here and—”

“Ferment?”

“Okay that word is too big for my brain right now,” Robbie said, and winced. “Go and feel up the muscles and men for me. Someone should get some enjoyment out of them.”

Elliot pursed his lips. “I don’t know…”

“I’m just gonna sit here. Not going anywhere,” Robbie promised, crossing a finger over his chest.

“Your heart is on the other side, genius.”

Robbie switched sides and did it again. “I’m just gonna drown my sorrows so my body hurts tomorrow and will take my mind off my broken heart.”

“Aww, cheer up, Buttercup. Your Prince Charming will come to you one day soon.”

“Well, until then”—Robbie gestured for the bartender—“I’m going to drink myself into a deep slumber in the hopes that maybe he’ll come on me, or, you know, at least kiss me back to life.”

Elliot placed a hand on Robbie’s arm. “Do not go anywhere. I’ll be back for you.”

“I can’t feel my legs to move, so… I’ll stay. Like a good little boy.”

“Don’t know how good you are, but…” Elliot chuckled, then before he headed out to the dance floor, said, “Where’s your phone?”

Robbie dug into his pants pocket and pulled it free.

Elliot opened the contacts and scrolled down to his name, and then set it on the bar in front of Robbie. “You need me, call. Do not leave this seat.”

Robbie touched his fingertips to his temple in a sloppy salute and then hiccupped. “Yes, sir.”

“Okay. Be back for you soon.” Elliot then turned to the bartender and said, “No more after this for him.”

When the bartender nodded, Robbie’s mouth fell open. “Hello, you’re not my mother.”

“Lucky for you. She’d be spanking your ass right now, not to mention your sisters, and I’m sure you’d much rather have that done by a man who would then pound it afterward. I’ll be back.”

Robbie dismissed Elliot with a wave of his hand, and then took great interest in scrolling up and down his list of contacts, searching for someone to occupy his time. It wasn’t until he saw Julien’s number that he realized how drunk he was, because that was the only excuse he could think of as to why he hit call.

Well that, and: If there’s a bad decision to make, I will make it. 

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About Ella

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Ella Frank is the USA Today Bestselling author of the Temptation series, including Try, Take, and Trust and is the co-author of the fan-favorite contemporary romance, Sex Addict. Her Exquisite series has been praised as “scorching hot!” and “enticingly sexy!”

Some of her favorite authors include Tiffany Reisz, Kresley Cole, Riley Hart, J.R. Ward, Erika Wilde, Gena Showalter, and Carly Phillips. 

Connect with Ella

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ella.frank.31/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/EllaFrank2012

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ellafrank1/

Mailing List:  www.bit.ly/1hEYtgn

Website: https://www.ellafrank.com/portfolio

Forget Me Not (Unforgettable Duet #1) by Brooke Blaine ~ Blog Tour w/ 4.5 Star Review & Chapter Reveal!

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Experience the heartbreakingly beautiful journey of Ollie & Reid in…

Forget Me Not, the first all-new contemporary MM Romance in The Unforgettable Duet, from Brooke Blaine is available NOW!

Title: Forget Me Not (Unforgettable Duet #1)
Author: Ella Frank
Release Date: February 12, 2018
Genre: M/M Romance

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33871822-bad-reputation

Synopsis

Three sugars, two creamers.

That’s how you took your coffee every morning at Joe’s Grab ’N Go.

But you don’t remember that.

You don’t remember anything.

Anything, that is, except me…

That day…

And the tragedy that catapulted us together.

Purchase Links

Amazon U.S.–> http://amzn.to/2nT2xPr

Amazon International –> myBook.to/ForgetMeNotebook

Book two, Remember Me When, will be released on February 26th, 2018.

Add to GoodReads: http://bit.ly/2nsupcb

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Review

Storyline: 5
Angst: 3
Tissue: 3
Value: 5
Panty Scorching: 5
Over All Rating: 4.5 Stars
Kindle eArc provided by Author
Reviewed by Robin

Ollie first saw Reid at Joe’s Grab ‘N Go. A latte with three sugars and two creamers. He was so excited when he finally learned Reid’s name. But Reid doesn’t remember their conversation. But he remembers Ollie. After the tragedy that brings them together.

“I curled my arm protectively around him, wanting to shield him from the nightmares, the emptiness he felt. Wishing I could give him back the missing pieces. How would that change him? Change us? And would I do it if it meant I could lose him? He’d become such an integral part of my life in such a short amount of time that the thought of being without him was unbearable. Unthinkable.”

I can’t even…wow. I just loved this story so much. Ollie was such a likeable character and my heart was right beside his when he pined after Reid in that convenience store. Seeing someone you are attracted to. Being nervous about making a move. Fear of rejection. But just when you think this will be a story about a chance meeting…BAM! Something happens to throw everything up in the air. I really liked these two together…friends who slowly become more. It was so cute and quick moving. I was pulled right into their building relationship. Reid was so adorable and sure of his feelings. I NEED the next book right now! These two men are driving me insane.

What I loved about this story is that for me…it was unique. I didn’t guess what it might even be about and it really kept me captivated. With every single word, I was shocked and somewhat excited about what was happening. So good and I’m super anxious about what happens next.

Robin Profile

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Chapter Reveal

CHAPTER ONE

“IT’S MONDAY, AND you know what that means,” Mike said as he cut off Big Bertha’s engine and looked over at me expectantly.

I patted my pants pocket to make sure I’d shoved my wallet inside before we’d headed out this morning, and when I felt the outline of the trifold, I nodded. “Yep. Extra-bold coffee comin’ up.” As I popped open the passenger-side door, Mike’s hand landed firmly on my arm, halting me before I could get out of the ambulance, and I looked back at him over my shoulder.

“It means don’t be a chickenshit, Ollie, that’s what it means.”

Lifting my eyebrows, I glanced around, searching for whoever it was Mike thought he was talking to, and when he read my quizzical expression, he snorted.

“Yeah, that means you,” he said.

“You callin’ me out?”

“Damn right I am.”

I shook my head. “I’m not a chickenshit, and you know it.”

Mike shrugged and let go of my arm. “Fine. Prove it.”

“I can’t do that.”

“You can. You just won’t.”

Yeah, whatever, he had me there. Something always held me back from saying much more than hello to the guy in the fitted chinos and starched collared shirt and tie that I saw most mornings in the coffee aisle at Joe’s Grab ’N Go, and Mike never could resist an opportunity to rib me for it. I never should’ve told him about my crush in the first damn place, but being my best friend as well as my work partner meant we tended to overshare in the time between calls.

“He’s straight, Mike. Leave it alone, huh?”

“You don’t know that for sure.”

I picked up a container of mints and shook a couple into my mouth before tossing it back in the console. “Trust me. I know.”

“You ask him since the last time I saw you?”

Rolling my eyes, I ignored his question and pushed open my door. “You want that coffee or not?”

“Mhmm. The date for you, too.”

“Jesus,” I muttered, slamming the door before he could make any other requests. I could hear him chuckling behind me as he got out to pump the gas. And out of the corner of my eye, a flash of red pulling into a parking spot had my heart beating a bit faster. It was ridiculous that I’d even wonder for a second if I’d see him, since hardly a weekday had gone by in four months when I hadn’t. But that flutter of anticipation still sent a thrill through me, the handful of minutes seeing him every morning the highlight of my day.

That’s it. I need to get my damn life back. Working all these overtime shifts to pick up some extra cash over the holidays—and giving the guys with families some time off—had sent my extracurricular activities into a tailspin. If I didn’t get laid soon, I’d crash and burn. Or, worse, hit on the straight guy.

“Hey, Ollie,” Mike called out, and I paused with my hand on the door to the Grab ’N Go before moving aside to let the woman behind me pass through. When I turned around, a mischievous grin played on his lips as he inserted the gas pump into Big Bertha’s tank and began to hip-thrust.

Oh for the love of—

“And while you’re at it, maybe grab me one of those apple fritters, would ya? And a soda for later?”

So much for New Year’s resolutions, I thought. That had lasted less than a week. Not that I could blame him when it came to the tempting basket of freshly baked goods that sat by Joe’s register every morning—even I had a hard time passing on those. Still, Mike had wanted to lose the twenty pounds that had crept up since Halloween and made me swear I’d keep him in check.

“You sure you wanna do that?” I asked.

Mike looked pointedly over at the red Mazda3 and his smile grew. “Life’s too short to pass on the good stuff, wouldn’t you say?”

That fucker. I shook my head and shot a glare his way, and then I went inside, determined now to buy out the apple fritters and personally stuff ’em down his meddling throat.

“Morning, Oliver,” Joe greeted me from behind the counter where he was ringing up a customer, and I smiled his way before grabbing a handheld basket and heading down the aisle for Mike’s Sprite. I took the third bottle from the front—yeah, I never took the first one of anything—and laid it in the basket as the freezer door slapped shut behind me.

I kept a tight grip on the handle as I took my time walking toward the far aisle, the anticipation building in my gut. Finally, I rounded the corner, and just as he was every day, Bluebird stood in front of the coffee station, refillable mug in hand and somehow looking more gorgeous than I remembered. My memory never did him justice.

I didn’t move as he placed his mug beneath the machine’s spout and hit a button, and I knew exactly what he’d get, the same as every morning: a latte with light foam and three sugars, two creamers.

Today he was dressed in a pair of black slacks, with a white button-down shirt and a midnight-blue tie—always so well put together, from his stylishly tousled dark brown hair, so dark it was almost black, down to his black loafers. A couple of days of stubble covered his usual freshly shaven jaw, and I imagined how it’d feel under my hands as I took either side of his face and pulled him toward mine—

“Dammit!”

Bluebird’s curse shook me out of my stupor as my feet managed to move again, and as I got closer, I saw that the usual brown liquid coming out of the machine was a cloudy white instead.

He let out a frustrated sigh. “Hey, Joe,” he called out to the owner. “Latte machine’s down.”

“Again?” Joe scratched his jaw and then said, “Sorry about that, Reid. I’ll get someone out to fix it today.”

“No problem,” Reid replied, dumping out the hot water from his mug into the tray, and hello, I finally had a name to go with the face: Reid. How was it I’d gone so long without knowing?

I pulled out a couple of large disposable cups from the rack and reached for the coffee pot at the same time as Reid, our fingers brushing each other ever so slightly before we both jerked back. His touch shot through me like an electric jolt to my heart, and the surprise that lit his eyes told me I wasn’t the only one affected.

“Sorry,” he said, and then cleared his throat. “Damn static.”

That wasn’t static, I thought, but I wasn’t about to enlighten him, so instead I gestured to the almost empty coffee pot. “No problem. Go for it.”

“Oh…uh…” He glanced at how little was left and shook his head. “That’s okay. You were first.”

“Nah, go ahead. Something tells me you need it more than I do.”

“You sure?” Reid asked, his forehead creased like he didn’t want to impose, but I wouldn’t have minded him taking the last of the coffee every day, so long as those dark chocolate eyes of his stayed on me.

“I insist,” I said, and then leaned in to whisper conspiratorially, “Besides, I know where Joe keeps the spares. I’ll just make another pot.”

A grateful smile lifted his lips. “Thanks.” Then he poured himself a full mug of coffee and scratched his jaw as he said, “Ever have one of those mornings?”

“All the time.”

Reid looked up at me, and then his eyes shifted down to my name and title patched in on my uniform. Oliver McFadden. Paramedic. “Yeah, of course you do. Paramedic, huh? I don’t know how you do it.”

“Helps that we can filter caffeine through IVs for a quicker hit on bad days.”

He laughed as he ripped open three sugar packets and dumped them into his drink. “I think I’m in the wrong field.”

“What is it you do?”

“I teach music education at Castle Hill.”

“Middle schoolers?” I whistled. “I think I’ll stick with my job.”

“I wouldn’t blame you some days. They’re mostly a good group, but man, there’s a few whose mission is to run off the new teachers.”

“And you’re one of the new ones?”

“Four months running.” He tossed the empty packets into the trash and then held his hand out to me. “I’m Reid, by the way.”

I stared at his hand for a couple of heartbeats before taking it in mine. His long fingers were cool to the touch, unlike my perpetually hot ones. It could be negative fifty outside, and my hands would still be warm. “Ollie,” I said, and then shook my head slightly. “Well, Oliver, but everyone calls me Ollie.”

“Ollie,” Reid repeated, still shaking my hand. “I’ve never met an Ollie before.”

“Mom was a big fan of Laurel and Hardy. I’m just glad she didn’t go with Stan.” As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I realized that was an unnecessary reference because he probably had no idea who the hell Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were, but Reid surprised the hell out of me by laughing.

“Your mom has good taste. I used to watch their stuff at my nan’s,” he said, and then let go of my hand.

I missed the contact immediately.

Before I could respond, Joe’s gnarled fingers clamped down on my arm as he hobbled in between us and hit the side of the latte machine with his cane.

“I don’t think it’ll respond to a beat-down, Joe,” Reid said, as he stirred two creamers into his coffee.

“Worked once before. By George, I’ll do it again.”

As Joe whacked at the machine, Reid shook his head at the stubborn man. Then he capped his mug and smiled at me. “Thanks again, Ollie. I owe you one.”

“Anytime,” I said, and meant it. “Hope your morning improves.”

“I’m counting on it. Bye, Joe. I’ll leave the money on the counter.”

Joe grumbled what sounded like a goodbye and kept fiddling with the latte machine as I rinsed out the coffee pot and started up a fresh brew.

Two steaming mugs and a bag full of apple fritters later and I was climbing back into Big Bertha, still reeling from my run-in with Reid. It was so unlike me to moon over a guy, for fuck’s sake, but there was something about him that had caught my attention from day one and never let go. Today’s encounter had only served to pique my curiosity. I’d always thought him older, maybe mid- to late twenties, but he said he’d only been at Castle Hill for four months. Maybe that meant he was fresh out of college? Or could be he’d relocated from somewhere. Definitely somewhere still in the South, since he seemed to have the manner of someone who’d grown up with parents who drilled in the Yes, sirs and No, thank you, ma’ams so telling of this part of the country, though his accent didn’t betray much of a twang.

“That has got to be the biggest, dumbest grin I’ve ever seen on your ugly mug,” Mike said, staring at me like I’d grown two heads. “Did you finally do it? Did you ask him out?”

I tossed the bag of fritters and soda into Mike’s lap. “Feel free to choke on those.”

“Ahh, I’m gonna take that as a yes, then. He shoot you down?”

After setting the coffees in the console, I fastened my seatbelt and waited for Mike to get the hint we needed to get moving.

“The hell, man?” he said. “You gonna leave me hangin’?”

I arched my brow in his direction, and when I didn’t say anything, he gave a grunt and started up the rig.

“One of these days, Ollie,” he grumbled, pulling out of the gas station. “You know all my personal shit. See if I spill my guts anymore.”

“You wouldn’t know what to do if you couldn’t talk about Deb twenty-four seven.”

“Hey, it’s not my fault I scored a good one. Just letting everyone know what they’re missing out on.” As Mike slowed down behind traffic, he glanced over at me and waggled his black eyebrows.

“Make sure to do us a favor and hand out barf bags the next time you get started.” I nodded at the bag of pastries in his lap. “And don’t tell Deb I’m doin’ a horrible job of keeping you accountable.”

“Nah, she likes my love handles.”

“Bullshit.”

He laughed and tore into the bag of fritters with one hand, while keeping his other on the wheel. When he’d made me swear last week that I’d keep him on track while he “cut the crap,” I’d thought he was nuts. Even with an extra twenty pounds on his strong six-foot build, Mike was as attractive as ever. Black, close-cropped curls, a permanent tan, and dimples that only seemed to have deepened the past few months.

The hot ones are always straight. At least they are in Floyd Hills, Georgia, I thought, my mind drifting back to the man I always made sure to run into during the workweek. And yeah, I got that straight vibe from Reid too, though even he couldn’t deny the spark that had ignited when our hands had brushed against each other. That wasn’t enough to hang any hope on, though, much as I wanted to.

“His name’s Reid,” I said, breaking up the quiet in the cab, and when Mike’s head jerked in my direction, a fritter half shoved in his mouth, I was unable to keep the smirk off my face anymore. “Teaches music at the middle school.”

As I casually sipped my coffee, Mike’s jaw practically hit the ground. “No shit.” A horn sounded from behind us, and Mike stepped on the gas, shaking his head. “About damn time. What else did you talk about?”

“Nothing. Joe came over to give the coffee machine a concussion, and that was the end of that.”

“Dammit, Joe. Way to cock-block.”

“Nah, he didn’t know.”

“Well, you have an opening now,” Mike said, winking at me. “And that was only a pun if you want it to be.”

“Oh, Jesus. I’ve done it now.”

“What?”

“Created a monster who uses puns against me.”

Mike laughed as I flipped on the radio to drown out any other comments his sugar high wanted to lob out, but when Bing Crosby began to croon about a winter wonderland, Mike groaned and jabbed at the buttons to change the channel.

“I can’t believe they’re still blasting Christmas music in January. Didn’t they get the memo that Santa Claus already came to town, and all he brought me was a damn snow blower? When the hell am I gonna use a snow blower around here? I think my in-laws called in a favor.”

Chuckling, I brought my coffee up to my lips and blew softly, while Mike continued to flip through the stations until a country song began to play. He started to sing along, something about naming babies and dogs, which would normally have me eye-rolling him to death. But since his mouth was now otherwise occupied and he wasn’t digging for more information out of me, I didn’t bother putting up a fight to change the channel. Let him belt out “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” for all I cared. Until a call came in, my mind would be preoccupied by…other things.

A quick tone alert came through the radio, and I punched the music off as a call came through from dispatch.

“Unit 110, please respond Code 3 to the intersection of Mercer and Thomas on a multi-vehicle accident with injuries. Fire responding for possible extrication.”

I picked up the receiver. “Ten-four, Unit 110 en route. ETA less than two minutes,” I said, as Mike dropped the plastic bag on the ground at my feet and flipped on the lights and siren.

“Not how I’d want my day starting out,” he said, cutting through an intersection to make a left on Mercer.

“Saddle up,” I said. “I have a feeling it’s gonna be a long one.”

Traffic going east was already beginning to back up, the roads congested at the height of morning rush hour. Now with the accident up ahead and the cars unable to move to the side, Mike had to pull us into the suicide lane to get by. From the opposite direction, a backup unit, along with two police cars and a fire truck, veered toward the intersection, though it looked like we’d get there first.

I could see the smoke rising up ahead, and as we got closer, it seemed to be coming from beneath the hood of a black four-by-four truck that had smashed into a—

“Oh shit… Ollie…” Mike’s voice trailed off as we both caught sight of the crushed passenger side of the car that had been T-boned. The crumpled car had been no match for the bigger vehicle; it looked like they’d skidded into the middle of the intersection during impact. The car’s hood punched up at an awkward angle with the truck half inside, and broken glass littered the road.

I’d seen the sight so many times before, but never had the breath left my lungs in a rush, never had a faint ringing sound filled my ears, and never had a wild sense of panic seized my chest like it did right then.

Because the mangled car, the one I was responding to, was none other than Reid’s bright red Mazda3.

About Brooke

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Brooke Blaine is a USA Today Bestselling Author of contemporary romance that ranges from comedy to suspense to erotic. The latter has scarred her conservative Southern family for life, bless their hearts.

If you’d like to get in touch with her, she’s easy to find – just keep an ear out for the Rick Astley ringtone that’s dominated her cell phone for years. Or you can reach her at www.BrookeBlaine.com.

Connect with Brooke

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Hooking Up by Helena Hunting ~ Chapter Reveal!

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Title: Hooking Up

Author: Helena Hunting

Release Date: November 7, 2017

Genre: Contemporary Romance

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33871822-bad-reputation

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Chapter One

Wedding Unbliss

Amie

This is the happiest day of my life. I allow that thought to roll around in my head, trying to figure out why it doesn’t seem to resonate the way it should. This should be the happiest day of my life. So I’m not exactly certain why the uneasy feeling I associate with cold feet is getting worse rather than dissipating. I’ve already done the hard part; walked down the aisle and said “I do.”

My husband excused himself to go to the bathroom several minutes ago and, based on Armstrong’s itinerary for the day, speeches are supposed to begin promptly at eight-thirty. According to my phone, that’s less than two minutes from now, and he’s not here. The emcee for the evening is awaiting Armstrong’s return before he begins. And then the real party can start. The one where we get to celebrate our commitment to each other as partners for life. As in the rest of my breathing days. Dear God, why does that make my stomach twist?

I sip my white wine. Armstrong pointed out that red is not a good idea with my dress, even though it’s my preference. Besides, I don’t want it to stain my teeth. That would make for bad pictures.

I glance around the hall and see my parents, who are probably celebrating the fact that I didn’t walk down the aisle with a convicted felon. And frankly, so am I. My dating history pre-Armstrong wasn’t fabulous.

The sheer number of people in attendance spikes my anxiety. Speaking in front of all of these people makes me want to drink more, which is a bad idea. Tipsy speeches could lead to saying the wrong thing. I check my phone under the table again. It’s after eight-thirty. The longer Armstrong takes to return, the further behind we’ll get. The music playlist, devised by Armstrong with painstaking efficiency, leaves no room for tardiness. If we don’t start on time I’ll have to take out a song, or possibly two, to compensate for his delay and he’s selected the order in such a way as to make that difficult and that will annoy him. I just want today to be perfect. I want it to be reflective of my decision to marry Armstrong. That I, Amalie Whitfield, can make good choices and am not a disgrace to my family.

“Where the hell is he?” I scan the room and take another small sip of my wine. I should switch to water soon so I don’t end up drunk, especially later, when all of this is over and we can celebrate our lifelong commitment to each other without clothes on. I’m hopeful it will last more than five minutes.

Ruby, my maid of honor and best friend for the past decade, puts a hand on my shoulder. “Would you like Bancroft to find Armstrong?”

Bancroft, or Bane for short, is Ruby’s boyfriend who she’s been living with for several months. Recently I find myself getting a little jealous of how affectionate they still are with each other, even after all this time. Cohabitation hasn’t slowed them down on the sex or their PDA. I have hope that Armstrong and I will be more like Bane and Ruby now that we’ll be sharing the same bed every night.

I’m about to tell Ruby to give him another minute when a low buzz suddenly fills the hall. It sounds like a school PA system. I start to panic—they can’t start the speeches without Armstrong at my side. What’s the point of speeches if the groom isn’t present?

I’m halfway out of my seat, ready to tell the deejay, or whoever is behind the mic, he needs to wait, when a very loud moan echoes through the room. The acoustics are phenomenal in here, it’s why we chose this venue.

I glance at Ruby to make sure I’m not hearing things. Her eyes are wide. The kind of wide associated with shock. The same shock I’m feeling.

Another moan reverberates through the sound system, followed by the words, “Oh, fuuuck.”

A collective gasp ripples through the now-silent crowd. While the words themselves are scandalous among these guests, it’s the voice groaning them that makes me sit up straighter, and simultaneously consider hiding under the table.

“Fuck yeah. Ah, suck it. That’s it. Deep throat it like a good little slut. Fuuuuuccckkkkk.”

My mouth drops and I look to Ruby to ensure I have not completely lost my mind. “Is that—” I don’t finish the sentence. I already know the answer to the question, so it’s pointless to ask. Besides, I’m cut off by yet another loud groan. I clap a hand over my mouth because I’m not sure I’m able to close it, my disbelief is as vast as the ocean.

Ruby’s expression mirrors mine, except hers is incredibly animated since she’s an actress. “Oh my God. Is that Armstrong?” Her words are no more than a whisper, but they sound very much like a scream. Oh no, wait, that’s just Armstrong on the verge of an orgasm. But these sounds are nothing like the ones he makes when he’s in the throes of passion with me.

I clutch Ruby’s hand. The next sound that comes from him is a hybrid between a hyena laugh and a wolf baying at the moon. And every guest at our wedding is hearing the same thing I am. Our wedding. Someone other than me is blowing my husband at my own wedding. My mortification knows no end.

I grab the closest bottle of wine and dump the contents into my glass. Some of it sloshes over the edge and onto the crisp white tablecloth. It doesn’t matter. There’s plenty more where it came from. I chug the glass, then grab Ruby’s.

People lean in and whisper to each other, eyes lift to the speakers. A few people, the ones who are probably just here for the social-ladder-climbing potential, question who it is.

“Is the deejay watching porn?” That comment comes from a table full of mostly drunk singles in their early twenties.

Several eyes shift my way as I carelessly down Ruby’s wine and someone asks where the groom has disappeared to.

The grunts and groans grow terrifyingly louder. This is nothing like what I’m used to in bed with Armstrong. The dirty words aren’t something he ever uses with me, mostly it’s just noises and sometimes a “Right there” or “I’m close,” but that’s about it. He’s never talked to me like he is to the woman currently providing oral pleasure. And I’m very adept at oral. Although with Armstrong it’s very polite, neat oral, with no sounds other than the occasional hum. Slurping is uncivilized and a definite no-no.

I reach past Ruby for the bottle of red since I don’t really give a flying fuck about purple teeth right now. As I sink low in my seat I pour another glass of wine, surveying the people in the ballroom from behind the cover of the centerpiece. The centerpieces are huge and excessive and I don’t like them at all, but at least provides a protective barrier between the guests and my disgust, which I’m certain they must share. He sounds like a wild animal rutting. It is entirely unsexy. I have no idea who he’s getting intimate with, but I’m suddenly very glad it’s not me.

And doesn’t that tell me more about our relationship than it should.

It’s only been about thirty seconds—the most humiliating thirty seconds of my life—before Armstrong comes. How do I know this? Because he says, very clearly, “Keep sucking, baby, I’m coming.”

And “baby,” whoever she is, makes these horrific gurgling noises. It sounds like some form of alien communication. It’s way over the top, and apparently Armstrong is loving it, based on the string of vile profanity that spews from his asshole mouth.

“Holy crap. Is this for real? That was really fast,” Ruby mutters.

I guzzle my glass of wine. Then decide the glass is unnecessary and take a long swig from the bottle before Ruby snatches it away. Wine dribbles down my chin and onto my chest, staining the white satin purple. My dress is ruined. I should be freaking out. But I really don’t care.

“Come on,” Ruby tugs on my hand. “We need to get you out of here while people are still distracted.”

My older brother Pierce and the emcee are standing in the middle of the hall, gesturing wildly to the speakers above us. My other brother, Lawson, is on his way toward the podium in an attempt to do something. I don’t think there’s anything he can do to stop this train wreck from there.

Ruby tugs again, but I’m frozen, still trying to figure out what exactly just happened. Well, I know what’s happened. I just can’t believe it.

The sound of a zipper and the rustle of clothes follows. “Thanks for that, now I’ll be able to last later tonight,” Armstrong says.

“What about me?” A female asks. Her voice is nasally and whiny.

“What about you?”

“Well I helped you, aren’t you going to help me?”

“Didn’t you come with a date?”

“Well, yes, but—” God her voice is familiar. I just can’t figure out where I know it from.

“My cousin, right? He loves my sloppy seconds. Speeches are starting. I gotta get back to my ball and chain.”

Gasps of horror ripple through the room, followed by a few giggles. These people really are assholes.

I think I’m going to throw up. I can’t believe he’s going to come out here and pretend nothing just happened. Like some other woman didn’t just have her lips around his cock. His distinctly average cock. Maybe even slightly below average in length, if I’m being one hundred percent honest.

A door opens and closes.

Lawson turns on the mic behind the podium and taps it, sending screeching feedback through the room, making people cringe. Too bad no one did that a minute ago.

Murmuring grows louder and glances flicker to the head table and then away as Brittany Thorton, a seriously skanky debutante, comes strutting through the doors, using a compact to check her lipstick. She’s made it her mission to attempt to get into the pants of half the eligible men in this room. She’s followed, not five seconds later, by a very smug-looking Armstrong.

“I’m going to kill him.” I grab the closest steak knife, but it appears my hasty, and possibly felonious, plan is unnecessary. My brothers leave their respective posts and stalk toward him. Across the room my mother is gripping my father’s arm, whispering furiously in his ear. Great. Just what I need, additional family drama.

“Oh shit,” Ruby gasps.

I follow her gaze to find Bane converging on Armstrong with my brothers. Bancroft is a tank and he used to play professional rugby. I’ve seen him with his shirt off, he’s built like a superhero and he’ll probably crush Armstrong, or at least break something. Possibly multiple somethings.

For a second I consider that Ruby should probably stop Bane from destroying Armstrong’s pretty, regal face, but then I realize I don’t actually care. In fact, the possibility that he might break Armstrong’s perfectly straight nose fills me with glee. Armstrong’s wellbeing is no longer my concern, it’s more about Bane ending up in prison for murder.

“I hope Armstrong has a good plastic surgeon, he’s going to need it once Bane is done with him.” Ruby echoes my internal hopes and her chair tips as she jumps up. “Come on, let’s get you out of here.” She nods to the right.

I notice my mother and father engaged in a heated discussion with Armstrong’s parents. I really don’t need this right now. Not the drama. Not the humiliation. All I wanted was a nice wedding. Instead I end up with a husband who gets a blow job during our reception—and it’s broadcast to everyone attending.

Ruby urges me into action. “Don’t worry about them. Get your stuff and we’ll get you the hell out of here. I’ll have the limo meet you by the entrance near your bridal suite as soon as I can.”

I nod and stumble unsteadily to my feet, thanks to having consumed the better part of a bottle of wine in the last minute and a half. It’s amazing how ninety seconds can change a person’s entire life.

All hell breaks loose as more men jump in to either pummel or extract Armstrong from the pummeling. I grab my clutch and phone from the table, gather up my stupid, too puffy gown, and head for the bridal suite, where I had prepared for what was supposed to be the most amazing day of my life. And now it’s likely the worst, at least I hope the mortification level I’m experiencing can’t exceed this. I feel like the foulest version of Cinderella ever.

I rush down the empty hall and grab the doorknob as I fumble around in my clutch for the key. I’m surprised when it turns. I thought I’d locked it before we left for the ceremony. Regardless, I need to get away from everyone before I either lose it or commit a felony. Maybe both. Murder in the first. Armstrong will be my victim. And maybe that horrible skank, Brittany.

I thrust the door open and slam it closed behind me, locking it from the inside. Tears threaten to spill over and ruin my makeup. Not that it matters since there’s no way I’m going out there again. I can’t believe my forever lasted less than twelve hours. I can’t believe the man I’m supposed to spend the rest of my life loving couldn’t be faithful to me for even one day. What the hell is wrong with me? With him? I’m as devastated as I am angry and embarrassed. Once I annul this farce of a marriage I’ll become a spinster. I should probably go ahead and adopt six or seven cats tonight.

“I need to get out of this dress,” I say to myself. I reach behind me and pull the bow at the base of my spine. Instead of unfurling, it knots and I only succeed in pulling it tighter. Of course my dress has to be difficult. I growl my annoyance and rush over to my dressing table where my makeup and perfume are scattered from earlier today. Half a mimosa sits unconsumed beside the vase of red roses Armstrong had delivered.

The card read: I can’t wait to spend forever loving you.

What a load of bullshit. I drain the contents of the champagne flute, not caring that the drink is warm and flat. Then I throw the glass, because it feels good and the sound of shattering crystal is satisfying. Next I heave the vase of roses, which explodes impressively against the wall, splattering water and shards of glass across the floor.

I yank out a couple of the drawers and find a pair of scissors. They actually look more like gardening shears and seem rather out of place, but I don’t question it. Instead I reach behind me with my back to the mirror and awkwardly try to cut myself free. It’s not easy with the way I have to crane my neck.

“Goddammit! I need to get out of this stupid dress!” I yell at my reflection. I think I might actually be losing it just a touch now. I stop messing around with the laces in the back and shove the scissors down the front. I nearly nick myself with the blade—they’re a lot sharper than I realized—but that doesn’t slow me down. I start hacking my way through the bodice; layers of satin, lace, and intricate beading sliced apart with every vicious snip.

I just want out of this nightmare.

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About the Author

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NYT and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She’s writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.

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