It’s almost time to get Merry & Wright!

merry

Is it too soon to wish you a happy holidays? I don’t think so. I’ll go even further and give you something to smile about. Merry & Wright is available for pre-order right NOW and will be available in just a few weeks. Here’s an early and barely edited peek at like the first chapter and a half, because it’s cold out there, my loves!

Our story opens with our hero’s arrival…

“Finally,” Meredith sighed as the cab driver hefted the last suitcase out of the trunk and onto the sidewalk. He’d never heard of Covington before he agreed to fill in as the town’s librarian but it required almost six hours of travel on a train and three taxis to reach the small coastal town.

“That’s your library down there,” the driver said and pointed at the town square as Meredith squinted through his glasses and the snow. It wouldn’t be too long of a walk. “I always liked that it looked like a castle,” he added and Meredith nodded as he pulled his wallet out of his pocket and paid the driver. Meredith glanced back at the library and nodded in approval. It was fieldstone and wrapped in ivy and had turrets on each corner. He regarded the inn and his brows rose despite the tightening of his facial muscles as his lips and nose tingled from the bitter cold. It was a stately colonial house and lamps glowed invitingly in every window and the white picket fence and front garden were draped in fairy lights. The entire town was wrapped in garland, red bows and tiny white lights. 

“It’s just for a few months,” Meredith told himself as the cab pulled away from the curb. He frowned up at the sky and a snowflake landed on his nose.

“You’d better come inside! We’re expecting a good bit of snow tonight!” A short, plump elderly woman urged as she waved wildly at Meredith from the front steps of the Malbourne Inn. She was wearing a red dress and a white apron and bounced excitedly as Meredith pulled the largest of his suitcases behind him.

“I’ll get the rest of those!” An older man insisted as he hurried past Meredith on the flagstone path through the front garden.

“Come in and have something warm to drink!” The woman said then pulled Meredith into the house. “Just leave your bag there and he’ll take care of it. I’m Mary Clark and that was my husband, Marvin. You must be our Mr. Crane,” she babbled as she hooked her arm around Meredith’s and led him to the fireplace in the sitting room.

“Yes,” he said as he warmed his hands. His neck stretched as he admired the lovingly polished antiques, the soft floral wallpaper and the wide staircase in the center of the house. The inn was bright and clean and smelled like cookies.

“Here! A few sips of this and you’ll feel nice and toasty,” she said as she pushed a mug into Meredith’s hands then gave them a squeeze. “Goodness, they’re like icicles! Where are your mittens?” She scolded up at him. Meredith shook his head then sniffed cautiously. “It’s mulled cider with a good dose of whiskey!” She whispered and Meredith’s brow rose as he took a sip.

“That’s lovely,” he murmured as sweet, spicy warmth spread down his chest and limbs. “Thank you,” he added and Mary laughed as she reached for his cheek and gave it a gentle pat.

“I thought we’d need something a little stronger than tea tonight. Winter’s finally decided to show up. We’ve barely had any snow this year!” She complained and Meredith nodded along. People were generally happy to do most of the talking if Meredith nodded along and allowed them to worry about the dips and lulls in the conversation. He didn’t the mind long, quiet pauses that made people uncomfortable. They gave Meredith a break and allowed him to enjoy his own company for a few blessed moments but he was happy to listen to others ramble. “We’re going to put up the tree soon and we’ve got the holiday festival next month. You’ll love that! Won’t he Marvin?” Mary called as she leaned toward the foyer.

“What’s that?” Marvin asked as he wrestled the last of Meredith’s suitcases through the door.

“The holiday festival!” Mary said and Marvin gasped.

“Oh, yes! Our holiday festival is always lots of fun. And we’re finally getting some snow!” He laughed breathlessly as he dabbed at his forehead with his handkerchief. His thin white hair fluttered with the breeze as he shut the door then dragged Meredith’s suitcase toward the stairs.

“I’ll get those,” Meredith said but Marvin and Mary both waved him off.

“Let him! It’s the most exercise he’s had in days,” Mary said but Meredith still felt bad, letting Marvin handle everything. “And we’re both so happy to have a new librarian after…everything.” Her voice broke and her eyes watered.

“I did hear about that,” Meredith said and she nodded solemnly and her lower lip wobbled.

“Emmet Haynes was beloved by everyone and it was a terrible blow for us all,” she whispered and Meredith’s brows fell but she flailed her hand as she took a fortifying breath then smiled. “Let’s not dwell on that! The Covington Holiday Festival is the highlight of our year! Wait until you see all the lights and decorations,” she told Meredith and his eyes widened as he sipped.

“There’s more?” He asked in disbelief but Mary snorted dismissively.

“We’re just easing into it, now that we’ve got Thanksgiving out of the way,” she said then turned and gestured for Meredith to follow her. “Let’s get you checked in and then we’ll get you settled into your room, dear. You can bring your cider. You still look a bit chilled.” She hurried back into the foyer and Meredith followed with his mug. She stopped at the desk at the foot of the stairs and opened a ledger then turned it so he could sign. “Here’s your key. You’ll be in the Blue Room. We’ve never had anything go missing for more than a day but we give tours from time to time so you’ll want to lock your door when you leave,” Mary said as she came around the desk and Meredith followed her up the stairs. “You said you weren’t sure how long you would be staying in Covington,” she prodded and Meredith nodded.

“I’m not,” he confirmed and she laughed as they reached the top of the stairs then waved at the hall on the right and stopped at the first door.

“You’re not much of a talker, are you, Mr. Crane?” She asked as she opened the door and let him pass.

“No,” he said as he leaned into the room then stepped over the threshold. “Please, call me Meredith.” He liked the blue and white color scheme, it reminded him of English china.

“Breakfast begins at 6:00 a.m. It’s just you and Edith staying with us but people often pop in for a cup of coffee or a hot meal. We can usually count on Decker, our sheriff. He lives across the street and just a few houses over.” They stepped aside as Marvin delivered Meredith’s luggage and he gave Meredith a playful nudge with his elbow.

“Make sure you warn him about our other guests!” He told Mary and she nodded.

“I was just getting to that,” she said as she crossed the room and opened a door. “This is your bathroom and there are extra towels in the linen closet in the hall. If you find anything’s missing, don’t panic. It’s just Eliza and things usually turn up in the greenhouse or wherever she sees fit,” Mary explained and Meredith’s head pulled back.

“Eliza?” He asked but she just laughed and gestured dismissively.

“Her mother drowned her in the housekeeper’s bathroom before she hung herself from the banister in the hall. Eliza’s always up to mischief. The Malbourne Inn is a popular attraction and we give tours during the day,” she stated casually, as if it wasn’t appallingly morbid and ridiculous.

“I’m sorry?” Meredith replied weakly and Mary laughed.

“Don’t let it trouble you! Eliza and Jane are harmless and like to play the occasional prank but you’ll want to avoid the attic. Billy has been known to act out and we did lose a priest during an exorcism when I was an infant,” she said breezily as she turned down the quilt.

“Right,” Meredith murmured as he frowned at the door. It was too late in the evening to look for other accommodations.

“Don’t worry, though! You’ll be fine, as long as you avoid the attic. Jane and Eliza are harmless,” she insisted then clasped her hands together as she beamed at him. “We’re delighted to have you. Let me or Marvin know if we can do anything to make your stay more comfortable,” she said and Meredith nodded.

“Thank you,” he replied then let Mary give his cheek another tender pat as she left.

“Sleep well and don’t hesitate to call if you need anything!” She said then took herself off and quietly shut the door behind her. Meredith stared for a moment then snorted.

“Ghosts,” he muttered as he shook his head. “Obviously a gimmick to attract and entertain tourists,” he decided then set the matter aside and focused on unpacking.

The following morning, Decker arrives at the inn and…

“Good morning, Decker!” Marvin called as Decker kicked the snow off his boots at the door.

“Morning, Marvin,” he said then tapped his brow as Fred waved at him from the sofa in the sitting room. “Edith taking her time this morning?” He asked and the older man chuckled as he winked at Decker over his newspaper.

“She says it’s far too cold for her venture downstairs for breakfast. She’s having her tea and muffin in bed so I thought I’d keep Marvin company.”

“What are you up to this morning?” Marvin asked as he helped Decker out of his coat and hung it on the hook.

“Breakfast and I thought I’d welcome the new librarian,” Decker said and the three of them flinched and winced and the mood in the foyer dropped. Marvin coughed softly as he wiped at the corner of his eye and Decker gripped his shoulder reassuringly. “How are you all holding up?” The last few weeks were terrible for Covington’s residents, especially Haynes’ closest friends. Like Decker, they blamed themselves for not seeing it and felt deeply betrayed by Emmet.

“There’s no making sense of it, is there?” Marvin mused quietly and Decker shook his head.

“No. All we can do is help each other carry on and heal,” he said and Marvin nodded then offered Decker a brave smile.

“But Mr. Crane seems like a very sensible and capable young man!” He said and Decker’s brows rose.

“Does he?”

“Indeed! He should be down shortly, I imagine,” Marvin stated as he guided Decker through the more formal sitting room and toward the sunroom.

“Great. I’ll see what Mary’s up to,” Decker said as he left them. He found Mary arranging the pastries on the sideboard and her face lit up when Decker leaned into the room.

“Oh, hello, Decker!” She hurried around the tables and her arms stretched as he bent to give her a hug.

“How are you doing?” He asked as he kissed her cheek and she sighed heavily.

“Some days are dreadful but I find it helps to focus on the happier news. Marvin’s going to put up more lights later and we’ve got Mr. Crane staying with us now!” She informed him and he grinned as he reached for a plate.

“I heard. I came by to introduce myself and see what we can do to welcome him,” he said then began filling his plate while Mary poured a cup of coffee for him.

“That’s so good of you. It’s always nice to have a friendly face, when you’re new in town.”

“Marvin says he seems like a capable young man,” Decker said and she gasped.

“Oh, he is! I think he’ll fit in nicely!”

“Excellent!” Decker replied then he sat by the window so he could watch the doors.

“I have a good feeling about him,” she whispered as she set his mug on the table and patted Decker on the shoulder. “Goodness! I almost forgot about the banana muffins. You keep an eye out for Mr. Crane while I run to the kitchen,” she said and Decker chuckled as he waved her off.

“I’ll make sure he doesn’t get lost, if he shows up,” he promised as she rushed to the kitchen. Decker waited until she was gone then frowned at his coffee as he stirred in the sugar. The people of Covington cherished their library and revered Emmet. Under different circumstances, a new librarian would have very big shoes to fill but Decker was praying that the new librarian would just be a decent human being. He needed someone dependable and capable to help the people of Covington make a fresh start and put Emmet and the hangings behind them. “Just be normal and not a serial killer,” he begged under his breath as he stirred distractedly then jumped to his feet as a slight but starkly beautiful man with thick framed glasses and bright blue eyes cautiously peeked into the sunroom. 

“Just go right on in!” Marvin called from the foyer and the other’s man’s eyes widened when he found Decker.

“Mary ran to the kitchen for a moment,” Decker said as he stepped around the table and offered his hand. “I’m Sheriff Decker Wright, you must be Mr. Crane.” The other man nodded as he took Decker’s hand. He was tall and lean and the sharp angles of his cheeks, jaw and chin were striking as his long, elegant neck stretched as he scanned the sunroom. His brown tweed suit was severely tailored and he paired it with a Fair Isle sweater vest and a tie. It was so perfectly appropriate for a librarian but the ensemble made Decker’s uniform feel a bit too tight and the room a little too warm. Decker guessed he was in his mid thirties but it was hard to tell, Crane’s complexion was pale and smooth and the shave was immaculate.

“Please, call me Meredith,” he said quietly and Decker stifled a shiver but leaned into the warm, low murmur. Decker’s pulse became heavier, as if Meredith was sharing something far more intimate.

“There you are!” Mary said as she reappeared with a basket of muffins then beamed at Decker. “I see you’ve met our Mr. Crane.”

“Just Meredith is fine,” he insisted then frowned at their hands. Decker was still holding onto Meredith’s.

“Sorry!” Decker laughed and finally released his hand. “I wanted to introduce myself and welcome you to Covington,” he explained and Meredith’s lips curved just slightly as he bowed his head.

“Thank you, Sheriff,” he said then cleared his throat softly. “Might I trouble you for a cup of coffee, Mary?”

“Of course! Have a seat and I’ll get that for you. I’ll make you a plate as well!” She said and Decker waved at the seat across from his.

“Would you like to join me?” He asked and Meredith opened his mouth to stop Mary but nodded as he sat.

“I usually just have coffee,” he said quietly then offered Decker another weak smile as he folded his hands in his lap. His eyes followed Mary as she stacked his plate with pancakes, bacon, sausage, fried potatoes and scrambled eggs. “That’s far too much…” He whispered as he held up a hand and Decker cleared his throat. Meredith’s gaze darted back to him and Decker shook his head.

“There’s no point in arguing, you’re her Mr. Crane now. She’s going to smother you,” he warned under his breath. Meredith’s eyes widened as he looked at Mary.

“Her Mr. Crane?” He whispered and he looked startled as she lowered a heaping plate in front of him then returned with his coffee. “Thank you, Mary. This looks perfect,” he said and she laughed as she gave his cheek an affectionate pat.

“He’s not very much of a talker, our Mr. Crane. Is he?” She asked and missed the tightening of Meredith’s lips and the way his eyes narrowed as he draped his napkin over his lap. Mr. Crane was a people pleaser but he bristled when he was criticized for being quiet. Probably because it required a lot of effort on his part to talk to people, judging by the way his fist clenched in his lap the slight flare of his nostrils.

“I think that would be a good quality in a librarian,” Decker offered and a grin tugged at Meredith’s lips and there was a hint of pink in his cheeks as Mary laughed.

“Of course, but you know how Emmet loved to talk and talk…” Her voice died away and she took a shaking breath as she pulled a handkerchief from her sleeve. Decker shushed soothingly as he reached for her hand.

“We’ll get through this and it’ll get easier,” he told her and she nodded then offered them a watery smile.

“We’ve got each other and we’ve got Mr. Crane to get settled,” she stated then sighed as she went back to the sideboard and covered the dishes. Decker watched as Meredith added sugar to his coffee and became mesmerized by his hands as he stirred. They were slender and elegant, like Meredith, and his touch was light and precise. He stirred silently and didn’t strike or tap the ceramic before setting the spoon on the saucer. He took a cautious sip and there was a soft hum of approval. Then, Meredith picked up his fork and prodded the potatoes and eggs. Decker’s brow rose as Meredith continued to prod and frown at his plate.

“Is something wrong?” He asked and Meredith shook his head but he looked unsure until his nose wrinkled.

“I laid all my clothes on the bed this morning and everything was there. I’m sure of it,” he mumbled and Decker found himself leaning forward again, so he could follow what he was saying.

“But…?” He said and Meredith’s teeth dug into his lip.

“Both of my socks were there and I stepped into the bathroom for just a moment and when I turned back to the bed, one was missing. I know it was there. I saw it, but then it wasn’t. I looked everywhere but it’s gone. My door was locked but I’d swear someone must have taken it,” he said. He looked so concerned and earnest, Decker had to bite down on his lips to keep from laughing.

“Oh! This is yours, then!” Mary said as she pulled an argyle sock from her apron. “It turned up in the pantry while I was making the muffins,” she stated. She held the sock out to Meredith but he stared at it as if she’d found a severed finger.

“How did my sock…?”

“Eliza,” Decker and Mary said. Meredith’s eyes swung to Mary and then Decker.

“Eliza?” He asked warily. Decker snorted as he used his fork to cut into his pancakes and Mary nodded.

“I told you about Jane and Eliza last night! Remember, dear? Eliza likes to take little things and put them in the oddest places or switch things around but she’s harmless,” she insisted and Meredith was frozen and still staring at the sock in her hand. “I’ll just leave this here. I’m going to get a fresh pot of coffee,” she said then left them.

“Jane looks pretty terrifying but she won’t hurt you. She might ruffle your hair and clothes but she usually just screams then disappears,” Decker said then took a large bite of his pancakes. Meredith pulled his gaze from the sock and blinked at Decker.

“You can’t be serious,” he said and Decker laughed.

“I know it sounds crazy…”

“Impossible,” Meredith corrected and Decker hissed.

“I promise, Covington isn’t full of lunatics.” He flashed Meredith a sheepish smile before he sipped his coffee and prayed they wouldn’t scare him off. Meredith’s lips attempted to make words before he shook his head and turned his attention to his plate. He picked up his fork and knife and Decker’s eyes kept drifting to his hands. They were so fine and smooth and his touch was so light. He drizzled syrup onto his pancakes and cut them then licked his finger and Decker swallowed a groan. If the ghosts don’t run him off, the creepy sheriff might… 

 

Pre-Order Merry & Wright on Amazon NOW for $2.99 and it will magically appear on your device the minute it’s available!: https://amzn.to/2CBZou4

merry

It’s almost time to get Merry & Wright!

We’re going on a spooky adventure!

LGPromo2

I lost my dog, gang. It broke my heart right in half so I went to my happiest place and Aiden and Mr. Lavender helped me heal. In the dark, I found the light. I also found the love, because it is Lake Cliff and this has become home. I know many of my readers love these characters and feel at home here too, so it makes me so happy to welcome you back. We’ve been waiting for you!

Here’s the whole first chapter:

Authorities struggle to explain 27 hanging corpses in the Rhode Island woods.

“Whoa,” Aiden said as his eyes scanned the news article from 1986. He flipped to the police report from earlier in the year. “Eleven more since the 80’s?” He checked the math again and his brows jumped. “How am I just hearing about this?”

“Hey! I’m leaving. Are you coming with me?” Lane asked as he leaned into the study and Aiden’s lips pulled tight as his eyes darted between Lane and the email on his desk. “Bring it with you. You’re not interested in football or the Chicago Bears,” Lane pointed out and Aiden nodded quickly as he sent the email and the attached files to his phone. He grabbed his hoodie as he slid out of his chair and followed Lane.

“Is that conference with the governor next week?” Aiden asked distractedly then made sure he didn’t miss the step while Lane locked the front door behind them. His thumb slid across his screen and his head fell as he squinted at a close up of a noose. “I’ve seen this somewhere…”

“Next week. We’re still getting everything ready and I’ve got to meet with the D.A. on Thursday about the Barker trial,” Lane said as they got into the car.

“That’s too bad,” Aiden murmured. He pulled his eyes from his phone long enough to buckle his belt then rested his ankle on his knee. His attention caught on a black and white photo. A woman in a sundress hung from a massive oak tree.

“Tell me about it. It’s bad enough that I’ve got to deal with Matt Bowden, but I’ve got to babysit the governor next week,” Lane said as he reversed out of the driveway. Aiden hummed along but he was reading the newspaper article. “Oh! While I’m thinking about it, don’t mention Matt’s brother, if you see him. He’s still not talking about that,” Lane warned.

“I won’t,” Aiden replied then sighed impatiently as Lane pulled into Sage and Lavender’s driveway. He shut the file and unbuckled his belt then got out.

“Did you remember to add coffee to the grocery list?” Lane asked as they walked up the porch steps.

“No. I don’t drink coffee,” Aiden replied and hugged his arms as the wind picked up then leaned to look into the window. He saw Sage and nodded.

“I do,” Lane said and he sounded a bit testy. Aiden raised a brow back at him.

“You should probably put it on the list, then,” he said and Lane’s eyes widened.

“That’s why I… Never mind,” he sighed as the door opened.

“Hey! The game’s just getting started!” Sage said as he waved them in.

“I put apple juice on the list. I tried some of Robin’s and I like it now,” Aiden told Lane.

“Aiden!” Robin cried as he ran to him then wrapped around his knees.

“Hello,” Aiden said and ruffled Robin’s curls. They were soft and Aiden liked the way Robin hugged his legs then moved on to Lane.

“Are you a foot taller than yesterday?” Lane asked as he swept Robin into his arms. Robin giggled as Lane raised him over his head. Robin stretched his arms out in front of him and made a plane sound as Lane steered him into the living room.

“Can I get you something to drink?” Sage asked as they followed but Aiden waved him off.

“I’ll get it. Go watch the game,” he said then pulled his phone out and wandered into the kitchen. Aiden went back to the black and white picture of the woman in the sundress.

“What’s that?” Lavender asked as he peeked over Aiden’s shoulder.

“Where did you…? I think it’s a case,” Aiden said then stepped out of the way as Robin darted between them. Aiden chuckled as Rose trotted after him then opened the fridge and grabbed a Sprite. 

“Show me how to do the trick!” Robin cheered as he hopped up and down and Lavender winced as he looked toward the living room.

“I suppose I could with the cutting board…” He murmured as his neck stretched and Aiden’s eyes flicked toward the living room. He didn’t know what Lavender and Robin were up to but it would probably get one of them in trouble. Aiden shrugged as he stepped back and rested his shoulder against the fridge and crossed his ankles. “If we’re very quiet,” Lavender whispered as he pulled a knife from the block then waved for Robin to come to him. He lowered onto his knee then held out two fingers and balanced the blade on its side. “The center of this knife is right here,” he said quietly as his fingers bounced. The knife remained steady and Robin’s eyes followed it as Lavender flipped it into the air and caught it by the handle. “Next, you want to…”

“Do not teach him to throw knives!” Sage cried as he hurried into the kitchen. Aiden ducked and shook his head as he stepped away from the fridge so Sage could open it.

“That’s obviously a very inappropriate thing to teach a child,” Aiden agreed then held up his hand when Lavender glared at him.

“You’ve seen the state of schools these days. It might not be a bad idea for him to learn how to throw a knife,” Lavender argued. Sage opened his mouth then shut it. He was frozen for a moment then shook his head.

“You can teach him how to react and defend himself but he’s too young for knife throwing. And not in the kitchen,” Sage added then shook his head as he pulled out two bottles of beer and a tray of raw vegetables and dips. Aiden decided that wasn’t as exciting as knife throwing lessons and slid his phone back out of his hoodie pocket and went back to the case.

“I’m going to read with Rose,” Robin grumbled and Lavender sighed as Rose followed her boy up the stairs.

“I’ll join you in a little bit,” Lavender called after them then nodded at Aiden’s phone. “What’s this case?”

“Hangings,” Aiden replied then went to the door so he could lean into the living room. “I’d like to go to Rhode Island,” he announced and Lane frowned but he waited until the players on the television fell into a pile before he looked away.

“Sure… I can look at the calendar and see when I can take some leave,” he said but Aiden shook his head.

“I need to go tomorrow. Thirty-eight people have been hanged and the F.B.I. has asked me to look into it,” he explained.

“Oh.” Lane’s head pulled back.

“Christ!” Sage gasped and his face twisted. “I guess you’d better go,” he said. Lane groaned as he scrubbed the back of his neck.

“You should but I can’t get away for the next two weeks,” he worried.

“I don’t have anything going on and I enjoy a good hanging just as much as the next guy,” Lavender offered. Sage and Lane each held up a finger. Lane decided to let Sage handle it.

“No. Nobody enjoys hangings, Jeremy,” he said then gave him a hard look. Lavender’s eyes rolled as he nodded.

“Yes, yes… It’s just an expression,” he said dismissively and Aiden frowned.

“Is it?” He asked. Lane shook his head.

“No. It’s not. No one says that.”

“Don’t they?” Lavender asked then shrugged. “Regardless, I’d love to go to Rhode Island with Aiden and help him investigate,” he said and Aiden thought that was an excellent idea.

“I could use your help! You know a lot about hangings and psychopaths!” He agreed as he pointed at Lavender. Sage swore under his breath and glared at the television as he hugged his beer bottle. Lavender shushed Aiden then offered Sage a gentle smile.

“Let’s not forget Aiden’s tendency to attract psychopaths. We wouldn’t want to risk this following him back to Lake Cliff. I’ll give him a hand with the investigation and make sure he doesn’t get into any trouble,” he promised soothingly. Sage shrugged and relaxed but Lane’s eye twitched before he took a long sip of his beer.

“I guess I’ll just stay here. Again,” he added and Aiden flinched then hissed apologetically.

“Are you upset because you had to sit things out with Stedman and you missed everything in London?” He asked. Lavender cleared his throat and shook his head faintly as he rubbed his nose with his knuckle.

“Shhhhh…” Lavender whispered softly then flashed Lane a brilliant smile. “It looks pretty dry and it’s probably not worth your time. I’ll be nothing more than a glorified errand boy; just fetching chicken nuggets and apple slices,” he said dismissively and Aiden frowned.

“Actually, it looks like it might be…” Aiden grunted when Lavender’s elbow jabbed his ribs. Aiden’s eyes flicked to the ceiling and he asked himself why Lavender wouldn’t want to be contradicted. He looked at Lane and Aiden hummed when he finally caught up. “It’s probably not worth your time and I just need him to fetch my nuggets and apple slices,” he said then smiled like Lavender. Lane cringed as he leaned back.

“Too much,” Lavender said under his breath and Aiden’s face blanked.

“Shouldn’t be a big deal,” Aiden added.

“Whatever. We’ll talk about it after the game. Go in the kitchen and plan your little adventure,” Lane grumbled as he crossed his arms over his chest and scowled at the television too. Sage was still hugging his beer and he didn’t look pleased but he cocked his head at the kitchen before he turned his attention back to the game.

“Very smooth,” Lavender said and Aiden smiled.

“Really?” He asked as he turned.

“No,” Lavender replied as he pushed Aiden into the kitchen.

LostFull

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LGPromo

We’re going on a spooky adventure!

And Now For Something Completely Different: Vampires

You scoff. I hear your dubious snort from all the way over here. Stop it.

A reader asked if I’d ever considered writing paranormal during an Ask Me Anything. Someone else said “Oh! What about vampires?” I said I probably wouldn’t because what’s left to add to the genre? Is there any way to bring something new? I didn’t think so but the thought became a tickle in my brain. Then, it became an itch that spread like a rash and refused to be ignored. I asked myself: “Sarah, IF you were going to write a vampire, what would that vampire look like? How does one become a vampire?” My first instinct was to catch up on modern vampire tropes. I was a morbid, depressed, lonely girl in high school. I’d just moved to Upstate New York and I kept my nose buried in a copy of Interview With A Vampire and it had passages highlighted in various colors, for academic reasons. I just don’t understand why I wasn’t more popular… I think those kids are considered emo and introverts now but in my day we were just called freaks. But, back to my itchy brain! I was obsessed with Anne Rice’s vampires until around Memnoch. I also read Dracula too many times but I didn’t pick up another vampire book until I skimmed Twilight to see if it was ok for my then ten-year-old. I’d missed just about everything else. I was aware of True Blood and The Vampire Diaries but they sat on my “To Watch” list and life happened. “Do I need to, though?” I asked myself, as I pondered who my vampires would be. I decided I didn’t want to get caught up on what was currently happening in vampires these days. I didn’t want to subconsciously pull from other people’s work and went in with as close to a clean slate as I could get. I pondered the beginning and my research started with the Bible. There, I found a curse.

Screen Shot 2019-09-30 at 7.14.34 AM

 

I am also aware that Cain is pretty popular and there are many books and TV shows with Cain-based characters but I took another step back from his story and the curse. Cain was a farmer and God took the soil from him. God told Cain he couldn’t touch the soil or rest in it. Imagine that? Taking the very earth from a man born to turn his hands in the soil and bear fruit. Cain was the first farmer and father of farmers and God cursed him with the ground and I made that the essence of my vampires. What does that even mean, Sarah? Well, take a look:

 

“How was the farmer’s market?” Darcy asked giddily as she dropped onto the sofa next to Sebastian and he rolled his eyes but he didn’t look up from the report on his knee.

“Delightful,” he murmured and she hummed knowingly as her arm stretched along the back of the sofa and she curled her feet under her.

“Jasper seems quite happy. He’s singing and dancing and working up quite a sweat in the kitchen,” she whispered and Sebastian looked toward the kitchen and swallowed hard as his heart began to slam against his chest and his groin tightened.

“Is he?” It came out a little hoarse and strained so Sebastian coughed into his fist then squeezed his hand tighter as it trembled.

“Don’t tell me you can’t smell him from over here,” she purred in his ear and Sebastian swore as he tossed the report on the table.

“I’m so glad you’re amused.”

“Oh, but I am! Do you know how long it’s been since you were smitten?” she cooed and Sebastian hissed for her to keep it down.

“I am not and nothing is going to happen!” he vowed in a loud whisper as his hand cut through the air and her lip pushed out.

“Why not! He looks so yummy and you could use a little distraction,” she pouted and Sebastian shook his head.

“That’s what I have Tiffany and Miguel for,” he said firmly and she made a loud spluttering sound as she waved it off.

“That’s just sex. You need more than that. You’re lonely, Seb,” she accused and he gave her a flat look.

“How can I be lonely when you’ve got your nose pushed right into every single corner and crevice of my life?” he asked sweetly and she clapped her hands as she silently applauded.

“I try my best, my love, but I can’t give you everything you need,” she said as her fingers dragged up the back of his neck then sifted through his hair. He sighed as he shut his eyes and enjoyed the tingling of his scalp as her nails scraped. “It’s been too long since you’ve let someone in and opened up,” she scolded and Sebastian chuckled.

“And you think it’s time I opened up? To a twenty-eight-year-old vegan?” he confirmed and she made a thoughtful sound as she chewed on her lip.

“Obviously there are challenges…”

“He’s a child. And a vegan,” Sebastian repeated and she hushed him.

“And you want him,” she added heavily and he let out a long, weary sigh as he pinched the bridge of his nose.

“Of course, I want him. He’s beautiful, incredibly fit and probably quite flexible,” he said then gasped when she swatted his chest hard.

“That’s not it and you know it! I see how weak you get around him,” she said as she poked at his chest and Sebastian pushed her hand away.

“None of that matters because I don’t get involved with my employees,” he stated firmly and she gave him an arch look.

“You do whatever you please, whenever it pleases you,” she said just as firmly and he held up his hands.

“This time it pleases me to keep my hands to myself and my pants zipped. We are nothing but animals without our control,” he replied and she blinked at him for several moments before her head snapped back and she cackled.

“You’re going to fail miserably,” she predicted then raised a finger, halting him when he tried to argue. “You won’t be able to help yourself because he’s exactly what you need and it’s time, Sebastian. You’ve punished yourself enough and it’s time you started living again.”

“My problem is that I can’t stop living,” he muttered back and she wagged her finger at him just before Jasper’s head popped around the wall.

“There you are!” he said brightly before he stepped into the living room and pulled a tray from behind his back. “I have a surprise. I made cookies!”

“Oh! I need to call Beijing!” Darcy yelled as she clamored from the sofa and Sebastian cursed as she slipped from his grasp and fled.

“I should go with her,” he began but Jasper clicked his teeth as he pushed the tray at Sebastian. He pulled his head back and leaned away but Jasper’s eyes grew wider and more hopeful as he waited. “I wouldn’t want to spoil my dinner,” Sebastian attempted.

“Nonsense! One or two won’t hurt and it’ll be a few hours,” Jasper said as he watched Sebastian’s face excitedly. “Don’t they smell amazing?” he asked and Sebastian took a quick sniff then bit back a whimper as goosebumps rushed down his arms and the hairs on the back of his neck stood. All he could smell was Jasper. He’d worked up a light sweat in the kitchen and Sebastian trembled as his mouth watered and need burst within him.

“Amazing,” he breathed as his eyes clung to Jasper’s. They were the softest, clearest blue and seeking, so full of honest curiosity as they spilled into Sebastian’s.

“Here,” Jasper said as he took a cookie and guided it to Sebastian’s lips. He was utterly helpless as his jaw fell and he obediently took a large bite. The cookie turned to ash on Sebastian’s tongue but he moaned rapturously as he chewed and was rewarded by a bright flash of joy and pride in Jasper’s eyes as he watched him. Sebastian swallowed loudly and made his eyes appropriately wide as he took the cookie from Jasper.

“Delightful!” he said as he waved the cookie at him. “In fact, I have to take one to Darcy. May I?” he asked as he swiped another cookie from the tray then slid off the sofa and around Jasper.

“Sure! Want me to send some tea?” Jasper asked as he started to follow and Sebastian shook his head quickly as he backed away from him.

“No! These are absolute perfection!” he insisted then crammed the rest of his cookie in his mouth before he bolted into the hall. Sebastian made sure Jasper wasn’t behind him before he flew up the staircase and down the hallway to the master suite. The bathroom door slammed behind him and he collapsed against it as a plume of red dust burst from his lips and nose as he coughed. He staggered forward and tossed the cookie in the toilet as molten pain twisted his stomach and his chest began to heave.

“Sebastian?” Darcy called softly as she tapped at the door and he groaned as he leaned over the toilet and a boiling froth of red mud spilled from his lips. “Ew,” she noted as she crossed her arms over her chest and rested her shoulder against the bathroom door. “I was wondering how you’d handle that,” she murmured as he coughed up the last chunks of lava.

“Without any help from you, apparently,” he panted as he held onto the wall and waited for the room to become steady around him.

“Well… He’d be even more suspicious if we both acted like he was feeding us poison,” she said and Sebastian gave her a disgruntled look as he went to the sink. “How are you going to survive this three times a day plus snacks and tea?” she asked and Sebastian shook his head as he turned on the water and reached for his toothbrush.

“He’ll be a bit overzealous in the beginning and want to make a good impression but I’m sure we’ll settle into a routine quickly and learn to ignore each other. I just have to time it so I can be away for most of my meals,” he said and she looked dubious as she flushed then closed the lid so she could sit.

“He’s quite excited about dinner. He’s got big plans for you and some lentils,” she warned him and Sebastian whimpered as he looked toward the kitchen.

“I can tell him I’ve already got plans,” he said and she grimaced hard, making Sebastian’s stomach clench again.

“He asked and I said you’d be staying in,” she admitted sheepishly and he swore as he reached for her throat. “I’m sorry! I thought he was testing the waters to see if you were single or if we were a thing and I totally misread that. I told him you usually go for a run in the evening but the rest of your night was wide open,” she said and Sebastian muttered several more curses as he jammed his toothbrush in his mouth. The toothpaste and water evaporated almost immediately as he scrubbed then swished but it carried the taste of the dust with it and he felt stronger as he stood and dried his face with a towel.

“Do not meddle, Darcy,” he ordered then gave her a hard look. “This is just a temporary arrangement. He’s going to find another restaurant or rich client and move on soon,” Sebastian predicted. “In fact, you and I are going to do whatever we can to help him find a new arrangement as quickly as possible,” he added and made sure she was tracking before he leaned forward and checked his eyes in the mirror. The fine wrinkles at the corners were more pronounced and there were a few wisps of grey at his temples. “I’m going to change and go for a run. I need to eat,” he said and she nodded as she stood and her hands glided up his back and over his shoulders.

“You’re fading a bit. Try running by the canyon. I think I picked up his scent by the trail that goes past the overlook,” she murmured soothingly as she kneaded and he pushed out a cleansing breath.

“I’ll see if I can find him. I need something more than a few mangled cats and puppies,” he complained as he turned and let her cradle his head against her chest.

“Have you thought about hunting for something larger? It’s peak tourist season. I’m sure someone’s up to no good,” she suggested and he shook his head as he pulled away.

“I can’t afford to slip right now, not with someone like Jasper this close,” he said and her lips pulled tight.

“I don’t know how long you’re going to be able to last like this,” she worried as she brushed the hair away from his face and he shrugged.

“I’m going to be gone during lunch and I’ll see what I can learn over dinner. I want you to talk to your contacts and see if we know of anyone stupid enough to open a vegan restaurant in a town that caters to rich old people who worship red meat and wine,” he grumbled and she held up her thumbs and gave him her biggest smile.

“I’m on it, boss!” she promised and he rolled his eyes as he shooed her off.

“Hurry and find something before this vegan murders me.”

 

Now, some have asked why Isla Bright? I didn’t want longtime K. Sterling readers to go into Crave expecting a K. Sterling book and feel misled. Sebastian is pansexual and has sex with females. The next book in the series will follow Sebastian and Jasper’s relationship but it also splits focus with Darcy’s storyline and she’s all over the place. We’ll have f/f, f/m, f/m/m/m… sexual relationships in the series and I didn’t foresee those future books appealing to K. Sterling’s general audience. I also didn’t want anyone to love it or hate it just because it’s a K. Sterling book. Mostly, different genre, different name. Just like I write (terrible) m/f romance as Abigail Graves and m/m romance as K. Sterling, I write queer vampire romances as Isla Bright. I’ve begun the next book in the Curse of Cain series and I’m hoping to get back to it soon. I’ve just got a few Lake Cliff itches to scratch before I can jump into Seb, Jasper and Darcy’s world again but I can’t wait to go back!

Get Crave on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited: https://amzn.to/2oBbcJw

Crave

And Now For Something Completely Different: Vampires

Lake Cliff is now available on AUDIO!

Did you know that? I’m so damn proud of these and you’re going to love them. The sexy and talented Mr. Sterling narrated and produced these himself and he did an amazing job. We’re almost done with Hide And Kill (LC#5) but books 1-4 are available now! You can watch our trailer below and find Hide And Keep, Safe And Sound/Spark And Flame, and In The Kill on Audible!

The Boys of Lake Cliff trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2K6MmgxGIYc

Screen Shot 2019-09-21 at 11.18.12 AM

Hide And Keep on Audible: https://adbl.co/2YGId8c

Safe And Sound & Spark And Flame on Audible: https://adbl.co/31AIrLf

In The Kill on Audible: https://adbl.co/2lVnrPA

 

Want to watch an interview with Mr. Sterling?: https://bit.ly/2m7Bi5CScreen Shot 2019-09-09 at 5.52.29 AM

Lake Cliff is now available on AUDIO!

Lavender is back! Ready for a peek at Lake Cliff #7?

Hello, my loves!

I’ve been a stranger and I apologize. The last few months have been a roller coaster but I’ve managed to get a bit of writing done! I got a little sidetracked by some crazy pain and sleepless nights that I thought I could muscle through because it “was just an ulcer”. Let’s skip ahead to the part where it wasn’t an ulcer but the ugliest, angriest gall bladder ever, according to the surgeon who removed said gall bladder. Add a few weeks of being lazy and enjoying very nice pain meds and you’ve got an unintended but delightfully restful vacation. I took many naps, did some gardening and annoyed my kids as much as their hectic summer schedules let me. I also finished Lake Cliff #7! I had the idea for the book “mapped out” in my head just before my gall bladder attacked but I wasn’t able to really focus until a few weeks ago. But it all flew out of me once I got to typing. I won’t get all sentimental or bore you with a discussion of themes and such because I’m excited to share this excerpt. It’s my favorite because we learn that Lavender can dance and it’s full of so much foreshadowing. Here’s a peek at In The Wind:

 

**Warning! Adult Language & Behavior! Warning!**

InTheWindPromo

 

Now, you can rest but don’t drift too far off, Lavender said and Sage sighed as he let go and gave in to the bone deep exhaustion and shut his eyes. He didn’t go too far, just back to Lake Cliff and one of the last warm nights by the pool, in the backyard.

“Our son is a wonder,” Jeremy announced as he skipped down the deck steps and Sage grinned over his sketch book at him.

“I’m aware but what did he do this time?” He asked as he reached for the joint in the ashtray and Jeremy gave him a hard look. “Daddy gets to smoke and play while Robin’s away,” Sage reminded him before he took a long drag and his head fell back onto the lounge before he slowly let it out. Jeremy rolled his eyes but his lips twitched at the corners.

“His Russian might be better than mine. We talked about school and his plans with Grandma and Grandpa Bradley on the way to Chicago and I don’t think he said a word in English,” he said as Sage took another hit. Sage hummed softly and a smile curved his lips as his limbs became lighter and tingled.

“You should join me,” he said as he set the joint in the ashtray and tossed his sketchbook on the other lounge then stretched. He was shirtless and Jeremy’s eyes caught on the semi pressing against the front of Sage’s jeans.

“I might…” Jeremy said as he unbuttoned his coat then rested his knee on the lounge, between Sage’s legs. He crawled over Sage and growled as he pecked at his lips then groaned in disapproval. “It is less noticeable once my mouth tastes as awful as yours,” he added and Sage pouted for another kiss as his neck craned then gasped as he heard the metallic click and felt cold metal lock around his wrists.

“Come on!” Sage complained as he tugged but his hands were cuffed to the lounge, above his head.

“Daddy gets to play…” Jeremy sang as he braced his hand next to Sage’s chest then reached for the joint. He stuck it between his lips and grinned tauntingly as he lit it then took a deep pull. He held it in for several seconds then angled his head and brushed his lips against Sage’s. He sucked as Jeremy blew and Sage pulled the smoke into his lungs then whimpered as he undulated restlessly beneath him.

“Unlock these!” He begged but Jeremy clicked his teeth as he slid away and rose to his feet.

“Hurry and I’ll reward you,” Jeremy said silkily before he took another drag from the joint and Sage became painfully hard. Sage definitely had a smoking fetish. Jeremy always made him weak but it drove Sage nuts, the rare times he took a hit off a joint or smoked a cigar with Lane.

“I’ll reward you if you take these handcuffs off right now. I’ll do anything you want,” Sage pleaded but Jeremy flicked the joint at the gravel and wagged his finger at him.

“What’s your very favorite thing?” He asked and Sage’s brows pulled together.

“Aside from this, right now, or you and Robin?” He asked as he considered and Jeremy chuckled as he pulled his phone from his pocket and swiped at the screen.

“What’s your favorite thing, Sage?” He asked as he dropped his phone on one of the cushions then smirked as a hard, driving beat floated from the speakers. He gave his tie a tug as his hips thrust in time with the music and Sage’s fingers frantically picked at the tiny nubs on the side of his watch.

“Oh, my God!” Sage groaned as Jeremy’s tie flew through the air and landed in one of the rose bushes by the deck. Jeremy hated dancing because he said it made him look undignified but sweet, sweaty Christ on the 4th of July, he could move. His shoulders popped along with the pulsing, throbbing beat as he shifted out of his coat then tossed it at the other lounge and Sage was desperate to get the cuffs off. He worked the pin sized strip of metal out and eventually found the key hole but his hands were sweating and he needed Jeremy. Sage was hard and shaking as Jeremy bounced on the balls of his feet and unbuttoned his shirt. He spun and rocked from side to side as his shirt slid down his shoulders and back and Sage’s teeth dug into his lip as he begged the lock to catch. Jeremy let the shirt fall and Sage whimpered as he pulled his undershirt over his head and threw it at the porch. His pants were about to come off and Sage was desperate as Jeremy toed off his shoes. He pulled his belt free and Sage gasped in gratitude as the lock on the cuffs clicked and they loosened. “Yes!” He cheered as he sat up and quickly replaced the tiny pick while Jeremy bucked his hips and slowly tugged at the zipper of his trousers. “Please don’t stop!” Sage cried as he dove and captured Jeremy’s face and kissed him hungrily. Jeremy hummed seductively as their lips tangled then blew Sage’s mind when his trousers dropped and landed in a puddle at their feet. “Holy shit. You’re almost naked outside.”

“One minute and ten seconds. That’s your best time,” Jeremy drawled and Sage nodded in agreement as he unzipped his jeans and shoved them down his thighs.

“I’m getting better, you twisted lunatic,” he panted as he hastily kicked his jeans away. Jeremy chuckled as he locked their hips together and pulled Sage with him as he danced them back to the lounge.

“Find northwest,” Jeremy commanded. Sage made a dismissive gesture as he reached for the elastic waist of Jeremy’s boxer briefs.

“Later,” he said then gasped and his lip pushed out when Jeremy slapped his hand away.

“Point to northwest and I’ll reward you,” Jeremy whispered as he traced the cleft of Sage’s ass, causing goosebumps to spread down his back and arms.

“Fine,” Sage groaned as he squinted at his wrist. He pressed the wrong button and the flashlight glowed bright and hard. Jeremy clicked his teeth scoldingly again as his hand covered the watch.

“Don’t forget that a light can be as loud as a siren if you’re trying to hide at night,” he reminded him and Sage rolled his eyes and snorted as he turned it off and found the compass.

“What exactly do you think I do while you’re gone?” He asked as he turned and found north then pointed. “Ha! There!” He declared and Jeremy clapped like an insufferable prick.

“I am so proud,” he said then hissed as he tilted his head conspiratorially. “And let’s not pretend that all manner of terrible things aren’t possible, given our history,” he added and Sage raised a brow at him.

“I will divorce you if you get me kidnapped again,” he warned and Jeremy shushed him.

“You will not,” he murmured as his lips brushed against Sage’s and he cradled his face tenderly. “And your reward,” he purred as he found a packet of lube behind Sage’s ear.

“You didn’t tell me this was going to be romantic,” Sage teased as he nibbled on the end of Jeremy’s chin and enjoyed the very faint stubble. “I thought you were just going to torture me with your Go-Go-Gadget watch,” he said and Jeremy’s brows fell as he leaned back.

“That watch has saved my life and sanity more times than I can count. I wanted you to have it because it’s useful but mostly because it’s brought me a tremendous amount of luck. Specifically that garrote,” he said as he raised Sage’s wrist and studied the watch. “Remember: if you ever have to use the wire, make sure you clean it well before retracting it. It’s a bitch to take that part of the housing off and clean it,” he added and Sage’s face twisted as he grabbed his wrist.

“Ew. Exactly how many times…?” He started as he found the clasp but Jeremy took his hands and raised them to his lips.

“Don’t all heirlooms have a bit of a past? It adds to the charm and character,” he said and Sage frowned but he was becoming distracted as Jeremy’s tongue flicked at the seam between his fingers.

“I don’t know if a body count adds to the appreciation of an item,” he argued and Jeremy snorted.

“I actually think it might…”

“Let’s stop talking about the watch, 007,” Sage ordered and Jeremy raised a shoulder.

“In this instance, I feel more like Q,” he said and Sage laughed.

“I’d be all about a James Bond movie with him fucking Q,” he decided and Jeremy’s head rocked from side to side.

“I haven’t seen any of the films since I was a kid but I’d be interested in Bond fucking the older, crankier Q,” he said as Sage plucked the lube from his fingers.

“Hot,” he stated. “But I’m going to put a pin in that and focus on this,” he said as he grabbed the front of Jeremy’s boxer briefs and fell back on the lounge. Jeremy fell with him and Sage groaned in relief as their bodies interlocked and their legs tangled. They kissed wildly as their hands gripped and pulled. Jeremy shifted and stretched until his briefs floated away and they were both naked. Sage’s jaw stretched and he moaned as Jeremy bit into his shoulder and sucked before he slid down his body. 

 

In The Wind will be available on Friday, July 5th on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited. You can PRE-ORDER it now and the book shows up on your Kindle as soon as it’s available and I get a little boost in the rankings on Release Day!

In The Wind by K. Sterling on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07TJKQ68W

InTheWind

Lavender is back! Ready for a peek at Lake Cliff #7?

A battered boy named Roan, my favorite scene from The Godfather and a true BROmance.

I’m still here! I’ve been busy but I’ve missed you. I decided I’d be generous with the excerpts since it’s been a while and I’m so stoked to tell you all about Roan. He was the happiest accident and totally caught me by surprise and took my breath away when I heard his story.

It started with the concept for Snatched. I was in the mood to write something angsty and pair two people who had no business falling in love. Jake, from Throttled, was tapping on my shoulder and I asked myself who would be the last person a medical examiner would want to hook up with. A mob boss! Right? We got rid of one nasty bad guy in Throttled and it made sense that another would step forward to fill the vacuum. But, what if our bad guy didn’t even want to be there in the first place and who’s the last person the leader of an Irish crime family would want to get involved with? A cop! BOOM. And then we were off. I needed to get our guys in a little trouble and I thought it would be fun if there was a rotten little brother to stir the pot… BANG! Roan. As soon as I wrote Roan’s first appearance I had to keep a tight hold on him because he did his damndest to steal the book from Dilan and Jake:

“There you are. How’s it going?” Connor asked when Dilan found him in the kitchen.

“Fine,” Dilan said as he went to the fridge and chuckled to hide a pained grunt as he reached for a beer. “At least it was, until Roan fucked up my day. Have you seen him?” He asked as he leaned against the counter and twisted off the top and Connor gave him a pointed look.

“He got in about ten minutes ago. I told him to wait for you in your office. He responsible for this?” Connor asked as he waved a set of tongs at Dilan and he shrugged.

“Nothing I can’t handle,” he replied.

“What’s this about you needing help bringing a body here?” Connor said as he went back to prodding the roast he was browning. He was part house mother, part advisor and part bodyguard. Before last night, Dilan trusted him with his life and his family but Connor was one of the three men pushing him out of O’Malley’s bar after the fight. Everything was upside down and under water and Dilan was drowning. He didn’t know who to reach for, so he held onto the medical examiner.

“Just a prick who gave me too much trouble but I need to see if he saw something before I decide what I’m doing with him,” he said vaguely then saluted Connor with his beer as he headed out. He waved at the men in the dining room and the living room then headed upstairs, to his office. Roan was sitting on Dilan’s desk and his feet were kicking idly as he and Mick watched the unconscious coroner. Dilan slid an indifferent glance at the couch. The coroner was sprawled on his stomach and looked almost angelic. If an angel could have a really nice beard and a tight ass. “Mick, do me a favor and make sure the boys are ready for that run later. I need to have a word with Roan,” he said and Mick winced at Roan as he left. Dilan gave Mick a disgruntled, irritated look before he jerked his head at the door, telling him to get out. Mick was also behind Dilan when they were leaving the bar.

“I heard you were looking for me. What did I do this time?” Roan asked as Mick shut the door behind him. Dilan gave it a moment before he hurried across the room and grabbed Roan by the front of his shirt then threw him into the small storage room behind his desk. Roan’s back hit the shelves as Dilan pulled the door shut. “What about that guy?” Roan hissed as he pointed at the door.

“Where the fuck is he going to go? There’s almost three dozen men downstairs and they’re all carrying,” Dilan hissed back then grabbed Roan’s shirt again and pulled him close. “I just took care of Bannon. Are you out of your fucking mind?” He demanded and Roan’s head pulled back.

“Bannon? What are you talking about?” He asked and Dilan’s eyes tightened as he searched his face. He was legitimately confused.

“Where have you been? I’ve been trying to find you since you stood me up for dinner, yesterday,” Dilan said and Roan’s mouth stretched on a silent, horrified gasp.

“I knew I was forgetting something! I’m sorry, D!” He said then gestured for Dilan to move on. “What do you mean you took care of Bannon?” He asked and Dilan shook his head. His little brother liked to pretend he was dumb and charming and gloss over things that might get him in trouble. He usually got away with it, as long as he wasn’t trying it with Dilan.

“Save it for mom, Roan. I got a text saying you were meeting Bannon. It said you were walking into a trap so I got my ass down there,” he explained and Roan’s head cocked forward.

“It sounds like you walked into a trap,” he said and Dilan gave him an extremely loaded look.

“I didn’t have a choice. You turned off your phone and I had no way of knowing if you were even alive,” he growled and Roan bit down on his lips as he nodded slowly and made a thoughtful sound. 

“I see how that was really stupid of me and I’m really sorry,” he said then gave Dilan an apologetically sheepish smile.

“Well, then…” Dilan said flatly then scrubbed his hand over his lips as he glared at him. “The problem was… Bannon walked into the trap too and someone put a bullet in the back of his head,” he stated and Roan’s eyes widened and he mouthed a silent “Wow!”. Dilan nodded in agreement. “I don’t know how many people were told about your meeting with Bannon but I found your message on his phone and your number’s the last one on his call log,” he continued then cocked his thumb at the couch on the other side of the door. “Which is why I’m now in possession of one of the city’s medical examiners. I had to get rid of fucking Bannon before everyone found out it was you,” he added and Roan shook his head.

“But it wasn’t me! Why the fuck would I call Bannon or message him? Everything’s just about ready to go. And I was…definitely somewhere else,” he insisted suggestively and Dilan squeezed his eyes shut.

“Where were you?” He repeated firmly and Roan looked defiant as he shook his head.

“I think I’d rather go down for murdering Bannon. Half the city will think I’m a hero,” he said and Dilan swore as he pushed Roan against the shelves and several folders fell and slid off, spilling old faxes and invoices.

“This isn’t a joke!” Dilan whispered as his eyes pleaded with Roan. “I need you to take this seriously,” he said then released him and stepped back. He quickly pulled up the back of his hoodie and the layers of t-shirts he was suffocating beneath as he turned and Roan stifled a curse as he grabbed Dilan. 

“Who did this?” He asked and Dilan jumped and hissed as Roan poked gingerly at the angry wound throbbing in the middle left side of his back. Dilan heard him groan as he looked away.

“I don’t know. We were at O’Malley’s last night and I got into it with Gleeson. They pulled me off of him and they were rushing me out of the bar when someone stabbed me in the back. It was Connor, Mick or Johnson. I tripped and he couldn’t get a hold of me and get the blade in deep enough. It was dark and the fight followed us out and we were all fighting again. I didn’t have time to think about it until we were in the car and realized nobody else knew, so I kept my mouth shut,” he stated and Roan threw his hands up.

“You should have stopped and figured it out! We’ve got a fucking traitor in the house!” He said as he pointed and Dilan’s hand clamped over his mouth as he shushed hard.

“We’ve known there were traitors but we’ve got a bigger problem if it’s one of those three,” he screamed under his breath. “I’ve worked my ass off to keep them on our side because we can’t make it without them,” he reminded Roan and he was finally taking it seriously.

“I was with Abbie Burke. Her dad was out of town and her mom was drunk so we spent the night in the pool house,” he said and Dilan pushed the heels of his palms into his eyes before his hands dragged down his face. The mayor’s daughter.

“Whyyyyyy?” He groaned and Roan held up his hands.

“She thinks the whole Romeo and Juliet thing is hot and it’s a lot more fun when you know you shouldn’t be doing it. You know?” He said and raised his brows at Dilan.

“No. I don’t fuck with naive girls or follow my dick everywhere it tells me,” he said and Roan snorted.

“First of all, she’s twenty-four, engaged to an investment banker and thinks my name is Rooney. She likes me because I’m gorgeous, hung and I’d disappoint her parents. I like her because she always has good drugs and loves anal. We’re not exclusive,” he explained and Dilan hated his life as he rubbed at the stabbing pain behind his forehead. It was almost as bad as his back.

“Could I interest you in a book about a man named Jesus?” He muttered softly then reached for Roan’s cheek and cupped it tenderly. “Do me a favor and stop adding names to the list of people who want to kill you. I’ve already got my hands full with trying to find out who wants to frame us for Bannon and who’s literally stabbing me in the back. We’re nearly there,” he said then gave his cheek a hard slap. Roan hissed as he jerked his head away.

“I got it, D. But you need to see a doctor, that looks pretty serious,” he warned and Dilan smiled tightly.

“That’s why I hung on to him,” he said as he gestured at the door and Roan’s face twisted.

“He’s a doctor of dead people,” he complained and Dilan shrugged.

“He can see me now or he can see me later,” he said.

“Don’t say shit like that,” Roan scolded before he pushed out a hard breath. “What are we going to do?” He asked and Dilan pulled out his phone.

“Go get supplies. If anyone asks, I’m questioning someone but we don’t want it getting out because we’ll have the police in our business. Word’s going to get around soon that a cop was taken but I’m hoping I can get this fixed before people start asking us about Bannon,” he said and Roan was nodding along but a frown tugged at his lips.

“You’re not getting a flat tire fixed. You were stabbed and it looks pretty deep. That’s going to take a lot more than stitches and a while to heal,” he predicted and Dilan shook his head.

“I don’t have a while. I just want to get everything stitched up so I can keep moving but I’m pretty sure it’s infected. Find someplace I can hide for two days and help me trick everyone into thinking I’m still on my feet and running things,” he explained and Roan’s eyes became focused as he planned.

“I know of a vacant house out in West Elmwood. I’ll get it set up in a few hours and I’ll keep your phone so I can take calls. I can run interference and bounce people off each other,” he said and Dilan pulled him close and kissed his forehead hard.

“I need you to be my eyes and ears here too. Whoever did this is freaking out. Be careful and don’t talk to anyone,” he whispered and Roan nodded. He was a younger, prettier, smoother version of Dilan and a total shit. But he was Dilan’s heart and he’d kill the Pope to save his brother. He was the only person Dilan could trust at the moment, and after a lifetime of being an obnoxious little brother and a prankster, Roan could mimic his voice flawlessly. “Hurry up and let me know when you’re ready. I need to convince this doctor to help me,” he said and Roan cleared his throat.

“It might be better if I talked to him,” he suggested gently and Dilan’s head tilted.

“Maybe but I’d like to negotiate with him myself, so I know I can trust him before I allow him to sedate me and put a scalpel in my back,” he stated and Roan pointed.

“That’s a good plan. You apologize to the cop and see how much he costs while I get everything ready. Give me about three hours,” he said.

“Perfect,” Dilan sighed as his head hung and he pinched the bridge of his nose. He had complete confidence in Roan’s ability to pull off something illicit at a secret location and cover their tracks. But Dilan had a feeling there was no amount of money in the world that would convince that medical examiner to help him if he didn’t think it was the right thing to do.

 

It didn’t take long for me to realize Snatched was about Dilan and Roan’s bond, their struggle to free themselves and help each other find true love. A true BROmance, if you will. I’d be a complete and utter fraud if I tried to pretend The Godfather isn’t where I learned half of what I know and the whole reason I’m fascinated with the mafia. The first two movies are masterpieces and I’ve cherished them. When I started writing my mafia family I wanted a moment that felt like the family meal scene at the end of the second movie. Here’s why I love it and why it sticks: It’s real. It’s a candid but rosy moment that feels like the exact sort of moment we cling to when we miss who we were and the people we’ve lost. We see a real family beneath the politics and tension and those four minutes and fifteen or so seconds are full of the laughing, scolding and love that gives us a glimpse at the history behind those characters and a little foreshadowing. It’s one of the lighter, happier moments but also one of the saddest. We know Sal will let us down and we’ll lose Sonny and Connie ends up with a piece of shit. We know how much Michael will fail to turn the family around and break free. We know how much Fredo will break his brother’s heart but we love this moment because we get a peek at them all in better times.

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I wanted my own family meal scene when I wrote my mafia romance and I wanted it to be both a wink to my favorite Godfather scene and an opportunity to reboot those classic themes in my own unique way. Here’s what we ended up with:

Everyone rolled their eyes whenever Roan mentioned his work on “the spreadsheet” but it gave Dilan no amount of joy to watch the accounts explode. They could get on a plane as the embattled and struggling O’Shea brothers and land as millionaires with new identities in about a dozen different countries but Dilan’s pride had nothing to do with the money. The whole family and just about the entire world wrote Roan off as nothing more than an adorably empty but dashing conman. They thought he was cocky and shallow and bound to get his dick caught in a trap but he’d outsmarted them all and robbed them blind. And not just the entire Charles Hill Gang. He’d created a Ponzi scheme and roped in some of the wealthiest Irish crime families with a meticulously crafted investment banker/money launderer. Many of them shook Cillian McGregor’s hand at parties and didn’t realize it was Roan in disguise as they asked him to dump their money into offshore accounts. Roan fooled them all and laughed charmingly in their faces as he did it. They wouldn’t catch on for months and they’d never know it was him. 

“It’s going to be brilliant,” Dilan said and Roan’s smile was incandescent.

“I won’t forget to mention your name when I’m thanking the Academy,” he replied and Johnson sighed as he passed Roan in the hall and gave his shoulder a shove.

“Sure you will. Connor said to get downstairs. Dinner’s ready and everyone’s here,” he said and Roan pulled a face as he shoved him back.

“I’ll still let you be in my entourage but you’re doing all the dumb shit,” Roan threatened Johnson as they headed down the hall and Dilan laughed as he pushed his chair back. He didn’t stop laughing as he followed them downstairs and the insults and horseplay escalated.

“Yeah, I’ll make you fresh squeezed orange juice but I’m gonna give it an extra squeeze or two,” Johnson said as he grabbed his balls and Roan guffawed as he dropped into his seat at the far end of the table, across from Dilan’s.

“Get it to work, first. You limp asshole!” He cackled as he hugged his stomach and hands slapped the table and chairs scraped loudly as everyone lost it.

“Go fuck off!” Johnson yelled as he sat and Roan nodded as he checked his watch.

“I’ve got a date, if you shitbags can get on with it,” he drawled and Connor rolled his eyes at Dilan as they sat.

“Letting the widow ride your dick after the prayer vigil is not a date,” he muttered and Dilan groaned as he scrubbed his hand over his eyes and it echoed around the room.

“That’s so messy, kid,” Mick said and Roan hummed in agreement.

“It is but what kind of man would I be if I abandoned her in her hour of need and what the fuck was Eddie thinking, marrying a girl like that? God bless him,” he said as he raised his beer and a very frank and uncomfortable discussion of the widow’s best features followed.

“Speaking of Eddie,” Dilan said loudly as the lamb stew was passed around. “We all leave for the church together and the rest of you need to behave, Roan’s making enough trouble for all of us,” he grumbled and Roan jumped as someone kicked him under the table. It would have been Mick or Joe.

“So jealous…” Roan said then clicked his teeth as he stirred and Dilan cleared his throat.

“We all show up for Mass and behave then I need the rest of you to hustle back and get ready for this weekend. We’ve got two shipments coming in and I don’t want any surprises this time so we hired extra security for the docks,” he lied. They weren’t taking extra measures because they didn’t care if there was a bust. His men moved quick and wouldn’t expect to see a few extra sets of eyes and guns hidden around the pickup sites.

“I suppose you’ll be busy spending time with Mrs. O’Shea,” Connor said and Johnson bit into the side of his cheek to keep from laughing.

“Connor won’t be needing any salt for his stew,” he said as he slid the shaker down the table and Dilan winked and shook his head at Connor. He was the only one who still worried about what Caitlyn did. Dilan promised he didn’t care and they’d come to an understanding years ago but Connor refused to accept that on his behalf. He insisted Dilan deserved to marry for love and be happy. 

“I’ll spend time with her on the way to Mass and we’ll probably have dinner while she’s here,” he said then scooped a large bite of stew into his mouth. He grunted in approval as he chewed and pointed at the bowl with his spoon. Conner’s stew was always perfect and nobody could admit it was better than their mother’s. “You can always taste the love,” Dilan said and Roan groaned in agreement as he chewed then swallowed. 

“Very true, unlike your marriage,” he said as he pointed at Dilan with his spoon then held up his hand so Connor could slap it.

“You know, my sister would give you enough kids to have your own football team and she’d never sleep around,” Connor said and Roan gasped.

“Dear Lord, no one wants to marry your sister,” he said as he shivered. “Let alone fuck her,” he added quietly then ducked as Connor winged his roll at him.

“She’s tried really hard to fix herself up, you stuck-up cunt!” He yelled and Dilan grabbed the arm of his chair as he wheezed and cried. He was going to Hell because everyone knew Connor’s sister, Erin, had been in love with Dilan since she was a little girl. He’d done his best to make everyone be kind about it and did what he could to be gentle with her, but not for any amount of grace or glory. Connor was so ugly, he was strangely handsome but his twin sister was just brutally ugly. And she was aggressively sweet and stupid, bless her.

“She’ll make some man a very lucky husband but I’m never making that mistake twice, if I’m ever brave enough to break my mother’s heart,” Dilan said and Connor shrugged.

“I don’t know, I think Eileen would get over it. She might be cool about it, if you asked her. She can’t stand Caitlyn,” he said and Dilan waited until their eyes touched to shake his head slightly. He didn’t mind a little teasing and some mild nagging but he wasn’t discussing the intimate details of his marriage with eight of his closest friends and advisors. It didn’t hurt to plant the seeds and let people know divorce was on his mind but Dilan wasn’t going to disrespect Caitlyn.

“Thank you, Dr. Phil,” he said then reached for the pepper. “Why didn’t anyone mention the Escalade that got totaled last week? What are you, teenagers?” Dilan asked as he looked around the table and the room exploded in accusations and denials. He exchanged a knowing glance with Roan and they were both content to let the chaos swell around them and enjoy a blessedly typical family dinner.

 

As I’ve said, it was hard to keep a leash on Roan and he was so ready to jump out of my head and get his hands on Sherman, I couldn’t wait to write Flipped. He was so ready to go and so loud, it took me a while to figure Sherman out because I couldn’t take my eyes off Roan. But once I figured out how Roan could help Sherman find his new beginning, Flipped became a whole new book and we moved away from a heartwarming bromance to a steamy romance about finding yourself and starting over. Don’t worry, Roan has a lot of fun as Flynn and gives Dilan and Sherman plenty of grief before we get to happily ever after:

“Flynn’s my last dead-end so I figured I’d just hang out for a while to make sure he’s not in any danger and see if anyone contacts him about McGregor,” Sherman stated and Dilan raised a brow as he caught on to Roan’s game.

“Ah. Flynn’s not the subject of your investigation,” he said and Sherman snorted then shook his head.

“I can’t find too many laws he’s broken that I need to worry about yet but I’m keeping my eye on him,” he said and Roan smiled as he hooked his arm around Sherman’s neck. He looked as irritated and uncomfortable as always but his hand splayed against Roan’s back before it drifted lower and cupped his ass.

“I might have to up my game and commit bigger crimes so I can keep him,” Roan said and Jake shook his head.

Don’t,” he begged then offered Sherman a sunny grin. He was settling into the routine and Roan gave him an encouraging wink. “I need a beer and a shower but it was great to meet you,” Jake said as he pointed at Sherman and backed away.

“I’ll see you around. I’d love to pick your brain about this investigation after you’ve had time to catch your breath,” Sherman said and Dilan chuckled but there was a hint of panic.

“That sounds like fun. How long are you planning to stay in Sanctuary Mills?” He asked and Sherman shrugged.

“I haven’t decided. I’m kind of killing time until I retire now. Once I close the case on McGregor, I’m just out-processing and using up my leave,” he said and Dilan’s eyes tightened.

“You’re retiring? You don’t look old enough to retire,” he attempted and Sherman’s brows pulled together. Roan gave Dilan a very hard and threatening look.

“He doesn’t look like he’s forty-nine but that’s what karma and good manners gets you,” Roan countered severely and Dilan held up his hands.

“I just said he looked young to be retiring but forty-nine’s not that young,” he replied and Sherman looked confused as he tried to follow along.

“I don’t think I’m offended but I’m going to go and run our dinner inside. I don’t want the car to smell like Chinese food,” he said then gave Dilan a nod. “It was great to meet you. Everyone in town’s obsessed with you and Jake right now and Flynn’s told me a lot,” he said and Dilan raised a shoulder but he grinned and a red rash crept up his neck as he blushed.

“We’re newlyweds and it’s a small place. Everyone’s been great, though,” he said then gave Sherman’s hand a slap. “It was great to meet you too. I’ll see you around,” he added and Sherman offered him a salute before he turned and ran to get the food from the car. “Seriously?” Dilan hissed as soon as Sherman was out of earshot. Roan watched Sherman duck into the passenger side and enjoyed how tight his ass looked and the way his jeans hugged his thick thighs.

“Yeah… I think so,” he murmured as his head tilted appreciatively.

“He’s a cop!” Dilan scolded under his breath as Sherman carried a box of takeout containers up the driveway. Roan’s eyes swept upwards as he turned on his heel.

“So. Is. Jake,” he said as he pointed at Dilan and he threw up his hands.

“And look at how complicated that was! We had to train him and make sure we weren’t going to get him arrested or killed. Do you really want to go through all of that again? Everything was just getting so easy and quiet,” he said and Roan’s lips twisted before he nodded.

“I’ve got a really good feeling about Sherman. And let’s be honest, do you think a civilian is going to have a chance at coping with this?” He asked as he gestured at himself. “I think a firm grasp of the law and hand-to-hand combat training is going to come in handy,” he mused and Dilan’s shoulders sagged as he scrubbed his brow.

“I guess it wouldn’t be fair if you were to trap a decent woman or a normal guy.” He grabbed Roan’s shoulder and he squeezed it as if he wanted to shake him until his teeth fell out.

“What the hell would I do with decent or normal?” Roan asked petulantly then pushed Dilan off him. 

“He’s been around long enough to know all about the Charles Hill Gang, he’ll make us if he’s a half decent agent,” Dilan warned.

“We just limit how much time he spends with us until I’m sure I’ve got it under control,” Roan said and Dilan squinted.

“By it, you mean the investigator who’s hoping you’ll help him put you in prison and would also be more than happy to put us in prison, if he had the chance,” he clarified and Roan blinked back at him.

“Whatever. I’ve got this. I’m going to go enjoy my Kung Pao chicken while I decide if I’m in the mood to ride Sherman like a Hippity Hop or top him tonight,” he said and Dilan pulled in his lips and blinked back at Roan in shock/horror. Shorror? Roan wondered then shrugged and flicked Dilan’s nose. “Don’t come knocking unless you want to feel really uncomfortable,” he warned before he jumped back, out of Dilan’s reach as he tried to slap him in the stomach. “Later!” He said then turned and ran across the street and up the lawn.

“Try to stay out of trouble,” Dilan called after him.

“Not if I can help it,” Roan said as he pulled open the door and Sherman was arranging their food on one of the sectional’s ottomans and Aretha was playing. “Perfect!” Roan gasped then prowled toward Sherman.

 

Roan’s so rotten and beautiful and full of optimistic generosity. I can’t wait for you to read Flipped and fall madly in love with him. He’ll be available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited on April 30th but you can meet Roan, Dilan and Jake in Snatched and get caught up while you wait!

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Snatched on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited:

https://amzn.to/2vaIHlJ

 

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PRE-ORDER Flipped on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited:

A battered boy named Roan, my favorite scene from The Godfather and a true BROmance.

Big Pervy NEWS Day!

Hello, my Pervy Loves!

It’s been a while since we’ve talked. I’ve dropped books here and there but it’s been an age since I’ve checked in, hasn’t it? If you’ve read the posts about Throttled and Snatched, you already know I’m super excited about my new book babies. But I’ve had a lot going on behind the scenes too! Mr. Sterling and I produced an audiobook for Hide And Keep and he did a fabulous job narrating it. I’ll have links for that as soon as it’s released on Amazon and Audible.

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We had such a great time making the audiobook and Mr. Sterling’s looking forward to narrating the rest of the Lake Cliff series, if Hide And Keep is well received. Cross everything and keep an eye out for details! Mr. Sterling also made a brilliant website for me so I look like a legit author now. Please, please, please check it out at ksterlingbooks.com and subscribe because he also made a fancy new newsletter for us! Sign up so I can give you monthly updates on new releases and maybe the occasional recipe or playlist.

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EVERYTHING is on the new website! All my books, the newsletter, the Lake Cliff guide a link to book playlists… Go!: http://www.ksterlingbooks.com

You can find a link to a NEW PERVY PODCAST on the website too! Scott and I just recorded a new episode and we discussed all the wild things we’ve been up to.

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Pervy Corner podcast:https://soundcloud.com/user-321457733/pervy-corner-ep-17

While I was preparing for episode 17 I had to do a little hunting for an author to feature and I was blessed to cross paths with Kat Cassidy. She’s brilliant and wrote my new favorite MM noir romance mystery, Backstreets. It’s the second book in the Hot Wire series and should definitely be read in order (I did not read it in order and I have bigly regrets). Please check Backstreets out and follow Kat on Facebook and Twitter!

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Backstreets by Kat Cassidy on Amazon and KU: https://amzn.to/2XLh7c8

 

I’m getting to work on the sequel to Snatched and can’t wait to reveal the cover and excerpts for that later. Snatched will be available on March 26th but is AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER NOW!!!! Please pre-order it now! You’ll give me a huge boost on release day and more readers will see Snatched.

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Snatched on Amazon and KU: https://amzn.to/2Tvnq4i

 

If you haven’t read Throttled, you better! Go get that and read it before Snatched! They’re stand alones but you’ll enjoy Snatched just a little bit more if you read Throttled first. And it’s such a special love story.

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Throttled on Amazon and KU: https://amzn.to/2EW9AQ1

 

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Want a playlist for Snatched?: https://open.spotify.com/user/sahoney79/playlist/4o5fSLWwzqvtGDb3sCCjHr?si=ayZ3Bft_QmCruNTKILHcPQ

 

I’ll be adding playlists for past books and posting new ones for future books so check in often so you can hear what K. Sterling books sound like!

 

Big Pervy NEWS Day!