#NewRelease – Abbie and the Alien Official #Aliens #scifi @changelingpress

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Abbie and the Alien Official
Intergalactic Brides #14
Cover Artist: Karen Fox
Publisher: Changeling Press
Length: 120 pages

Abbie prides herself on being a strong, independent woman. Having been on her own since she was seventeen, she’s taken care of herself, doing whatever was necessary to keep a roof over her head and food on the table. But when she loses her job, her car, and her apartment, she begins to think maybe it’s time to admit defeat and ask for a little help. Even if it means becoming the bride of an alien and living on another world.

Councilman Larimar has only wanted one thing since he reached adulthood. A mate. But his duties have kept him from seeking a wife, no matter how many tempting humans enter the bride program. They’re all attractive, and certainly any of them would do. Then he meets Abbie. The moment he sees her, touches her soft skin, he knows he wants her more than his next breath.

Despite Larimar’s reservations when it comes to Abbie, he finds he can’t keep his hands to himself, and the only place he wants her is under his roof and in his bed. When she accidentally ends up pregnant, he knows he has to do whatever is necessary to make her his, and not just because she’s carrying his child. Even if it means studying human mating customs, or inviting her crazy mother to live with them.

One way or another, Abbie will be his.

 

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Available today at Changeling Press!

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Excerpt

A warm hand at her lower back made her jolt. She gave an apologetic glance at Sentir.

“I’m going to take the women to their apartments, but I think someone wishes to speak with you,” Sentir said.

“Who?” she asked, scanning the crowd.

A Terran who easily stood over six feet began making his way toward them. His long hair flowed down his back, and the black leather hugging his body showcased an impressive set of muscles. There was a flutter in her stomach and this time it wasn’t from nerves. He was handsome, by far the best-looking Terran she’d seen so far, and none of them were ugly.

The alien stopped in front of her. “Miss Abbie Carson?”

She nodded.

“I’m Councilman Larimar. I wanted to meet with you in person to apologize for what happened. Zlyer is looking into the matter. So far, it seems your letter was the only one that didn’t go out. Whoever is responsible will be punished.”

“Oh, I… I don’t think it’s necessary to punish anyone. I mean, I made it here, right?” she said.

He smiled at her kindly. “You’re not furious?”

“No. I’m just grateful I was able to come now.”

Sentir moved away. “I’ll have your belongings sent to your apartment. Councilman, will you escort her? I need to get the other ladies settled.”

“Of course,” Larimar said.

Abbie looked up at him, feeling dainty and delicate in his presence. “I’m staying in an apartment?”

“A small one, but yes. It’s our hope you won’t be there long. The sooner each bride finds a mate, the sooner we can bring more to our world. We try not to have more than six here at a time. In the early days, we brought more here, and even had some humans working here. But it didn’t work out as planned.”

He reached for her, placing his hand gently at her lower back and guiding her along. She fell into step beside him and tried not to gawk at everyone and everything along the way. There was a large pool area that looked promising, except she didn’t have a swimsuit. She’d always loved to swim but hadn’t had much opportunity for it.

When they approached a large building, easily fifteen stories high, she paused. “I’m staying there?”

“Yes. Is there a problem?”

“No, I just didn’t know what to expect. The building is quite large.”

“The top two floors are suites that are occupied by Terrans. Some of the apartments on the lower floors are also occupied by Terrans, but none will bother you. If anyone approaches you, it will be to ask you to join them for an outing or a meal. There’s no cheating on this world so if anyone asks you out, they’re single and looking for a mate.”

She bit her lip. “How exactly does everything work? The program wasn’t explained to me in detail, except for how to apply and the general idea of what happens afterward.”

“I can see we may have to make some more adjustments to the program. Not only was your letter lost, but no one explained anything to you. It was brave of you to come all this way without knowing what to expect.”

Abbie shrugged.

“The implant in your wrist will let you in and out of your apartment and the building. We encourage you to share meals with prospective mates, but should you dine alone, your implant will cover the cost of your meal. If there’s any shopping you’d like to do or need to do, please do not hesitate to use the implant to pay for them. Your mate would want you to be taken care of.”

“What happens if I don’t find one?” she asked softly. “What if no one wants me?”

He stopped and reached out to tip her chin up so that she looked him in the eye. “Someone is going to want you, Abbie. I have a feeling you won’t be single for long…”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#NewRelease – Moonlight Surrender #PNR #Fairies #werewolves

MoonlightSurrenderCover

Amazon / Bookstrand
coming soon to iTunes, Kobo, and B&N

Imprisoned by the dark fae for crimes against her people, Tulip was left to rot in the palace dungeon. When she finally escapes, she wills her magick to take her to Ashton Grove, in hopes the wolf pack will help her. She never counted on coming face to face with the most intriguing male she’d ever met, or that he’d be growling and intent on making her pay for a crime she never committed.

Vaughn doesn’t trust the dark fae, especially ones who pop up out of nowhere, but it doesn’t take him long to realize that Tulip is different. His beast rumbles in pleasure when she’s near, and the wolf has never shown the slightest bit of interest in a female before. Claiming her for his mate was never part of the plan, but now that she’s his, he’ll do everything he can to protect her. Even if it means welcoming more fae into his home.

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Tulip tentatively pushed on the door of her cell. It opened with a loud creak that made her wince and she checked the dungeon entrance for approaching soldiers. There had been a shift in the air, and for a moment, it felt like the magick of the dungeon had dissipated. Since Onyx had died at the hands of a wolf pack, she’d been confined to this cage, left to rot. The palace dungeons were spelled to keep even the most powerful fae under lock and key, but for whatever reason, the spells had failed. Tulip crept from her cell and to the large arched doorway that led to freedom.

Her body was weak, and her legs barely held her. Her hands shook as she felt along the dark, damp walls in her search for freedom, the slick stones scraping against her palms. The hair hanging in her face was matted and dirty, and grime covered the rest of her body. It had been months since she’d been put in the dungeon, maybe longer. Time had passed slowly, even for a fae. Taking away her freedom, and locking her in the dark, was cruel for someone who would live for thousands of years. She had little doubt they’d have left her down here for a few hundred years or longer, before remembering she was a prisoner.

As she pressed her back against the wall, Tulip opened her senses and tried to feel for any vibrations in the air that would signal someone’s approach. The dungeons remained cold and silent. Creeping around the corner, she stepped into the corridor and looked around for any signs of nearby soldiers. The place was empty. A shiver raked her spine as she took in the changes to the dark palace. The tapestries hung on the wall like specters and dust covered every surface. Had it been abandoned? Had she been abandoned?

Tulip didn’t dare breathe a sigh of relief just yet, and made her way through the palace and out to freedom. Darkness clung to the palace walls, shadows reaching for her. The air was damp and suffocating; the must from unused rooms surrounded her. She eased through the door and into the courtyard, a place once filled with life and now covered in death and decay. There wasn’t a living soul around, so Tulip closed her eyes and willed herself to the mortal realm, her thoughts on the Ashton Grove pack and safety––and ended up straight in the middle of a bar fight.

The force of a male body slammed her to the sticky floor, the floor hard and unforgiving beneath her slight frame. She cried out as pain rattled her from head to toe. She’d been without magick for so long that she didn’t know if she’d be able to heal herself or not, already feeling bruises form along her hips and back. She shoved at the brute on top of her when he was suddenly lifted and tossed aside. Tulip looked up into the gaze of the most attractive male she’d ever seen. Dark blonde hair fell across his forehead and stormy blue eyes peered down at her. Tattoos peeked out of his shirt and she felt the urge to trace them with her fingers.

Then his eyes flashed yellow, and his fangs lengthened. Tulip let out a small squeak as she scurried away from him, putting a table between them, and nearly falling in her haste. Her legs trembled from the effort of holding herself upright. What she needed was a bath, food, and rest. Lots of rest. She’d been too scared to sleep in the dungeon, for fear things would creep into her cell and nibble at her fingers and toes.

“Fae,” he snarled.

“I’m not here to cause trouble.” She put her up hands. “I need your help.”

He growled and two more wolves joined him, their eyes flashing with anger. She could understand why they wouldn’t trust her kind, after what was done to the alpha’s mate, but it hadn’t been her fault. She’d heard of the plot against Autumn and had done everything in her power to stop Onyx, landing her in the dark fae palace dungeon.

“Why would we help you?” one of them snarled.

“Please, if I could just speak with your alpha.” Her lower lip trembled and she fought back tears. The emotional and mental stress from the last few months was starting to take its toll. The last thing she wanted to do was fall apart in front of the wolves. She needed to be strong. She was strong! But there was only so much a fae could take without feeling a little bit broken. Tulip straightened her shoulders. She hadn’t come this far to fail now.

“You think tears are going to spare you?” the hunky wolf asked.

“I–”

He snarled at her and leapt across the table, grasping her in a tight grip. Pain ricocheted through her body from his rough treatment and she couldn’t stop the whimper that escaped her lips. Tears pricked her eyes as she stared up at the handsome wolf. It hardly seemed fair that someone so attractive was so vicious. Or maybe it was only because she was fae. She’d hoped the wolves would be understanding, that they would hear her out. Now she wondered if she’d made a mistake. Perhaps she should have run to the light fae and begged for mercy. A swift death would have been preferable to whatever torture the dark fae had planned for her.

“I’ll call the alphas,” one of the other wolves said. “They’ll want to speak with her.”

The third wolf growled low. “I say we tear her apart. Her kind would have done worse to Autumn.”

Tulip’s heart raced as fear coursed through her veins. They wouldn’t really harm her, would they? She’d thought the wolves in Ashton Grove were civilized. Had she been wrong to come here? She’d willed her magick to bring her to the wolves and safety, and it had chosen this bar and the unfriendly wolves in front of her.

She stared up at the wolf holding her and willed him to see her for who she truly was, and not just an evil dark fae. Tulip had never done anything wrong a day in her very long life. It wasn’t her fault she’d been born amongst the dark fae. Her mother had protected her as much as she could, but Tulip had always felt like an outsider amongst her people.

“I’m not like the others,” she told the wolf softly. “You have no reason to trust me, but I honestly mean no harm to anyone in your pack. I have nowhere else to go and need your help.”

“Why would we help you?” he asked harshly.

She wiggled in his grasp. “Please. I’ll show you, but you have to release me.”

His grip loosened and she turned, lifting her hair. She heard his gasp a moment before a callused finger traced the ridges where her wings had once been. She hadn’t seen them, could only feel the pain, but she knew the puckered, angry skin had to look ghastly.

“This is what happens to a fae when she betrays her people,” Tulip said softly. “I did everything in my power to free the light fae, and tried to stop Onyx from coming after your alpha female. This was my reward, along with a trip to the dungeon, where I would have been left to rot until they got around to torturing and killing me.”

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So, what did it take for this book to come into being? TONS of caffeine, some really good music, and a lot of patience from my family. I may or may not have burned dinner a time or two while working on this book. I think “in a minute” became my go-to phrase for a few weeks.

I’m often asked if there were particular songs or movies I listened to or watched while working on certain books. For me, a playlist doesn’t so much have to do with the lyrics as it does the beat. Looking at the song titles for my playlist of this particular book won’t give you much insight into what was going through my mind, but I’m going to share it with you anyway. As you can see, I have rather eclectic taste LOL

  • Love Shack – B52’s
  • Hello, Goodbye – Beatles
  • Kokomo – Beach Boys
  • Roam – B52’s
  • Three Little Birds – Bob Marley
  • Burning House – Cam
  • Goodbye Earl – Dixie Chicks
  • Along Comes a Woman – Chicago
  • Ready to Run – Dixie Chicks
  • Hot Blooded – Foreigner
  • Love the Way You Lie – Eminem
  • Here It Is – Flo Rida
  • Stand – REM
  • Lips of an Angel – Hinder
  • Wild Thing – ToneLoc
  • Red Red Wine – UB40
  • When Will I Be Loved – Linda Ronstadt
  • Hold On – Kansas
  • Work From Home – Fifth Harmony
  • I Am Invincible – Cassadee Pope

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You can find Jessica on:

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#NewRelease – Summer and the Alien Guard #scifi #aliens

AlienGuard Cover

Amazon / iTunes /  B&N / Kobo

Summer would sacrifice everything to save her family,

but the alien Vordro is too sexy to ignore.

When her family is evicted from their home, Summer knows things can’t get much worse. She blames herself. She should have done something sooner, but now it’s time for drastic measures. There’s only one thing left to do, even if it means tying her life to that of an alien. She drives straight to the Terran Station.

From the moment he first sees the young Human step out of her car, Vordro is mesmerized. He’s never seen anyone so vibrant, so beautiful… or so troubled. He wants to be the answer to her prayers, even if he knows he’s too old for her. The thought of her mating with anyone other than him leaves a sour taste in his mouth. But moving Summer into his home proves to be far more temptation than he’s able to withstand.

When things get off the charts hot between them and Summer ends up pregnant, Vordro knows he’ll do anything to protect her and their unborn child — even if it means defending her from her own family.

Excerpt

Summer watched as the last of her family’s possessions were carted out of their home and loaded onto a truck. If she’d known things were this bad, she might have been able to act sooner, but her parents had never said a word about the bank foreclosing on their property or that they would literally lose everything but their clothes. She didn’t know where they were going, or how they would survive. They’d even lost all but her beat-up Toyota, an ancient car even the bank didn’t want. At twenty, she should be worrying about college. Not whether or not she’d be eating tonight.

There was only one thing she knew to do, and her parents weren’t going to be happy about it. She’d mentioned the bride program once before, and her father had shot down her idea. She’d known that money was tight, but she hadn’t realized how tight until now. If she’d known, she wouldn’t have listened to her dad and would have joined the program anyway. She’d heard they paid well if you signed up.

“We’ll stay with Aunt Martha tonight,” her dad said. “And then we’ll figure something out tomorrow.”

“I need to run some errands after we go to Aunt Martha’s,” Summer said. “I probably won’t return until dinner or later.”

Her father nodded absently as he loaded their meager belongings into the trunk. The drive to her aunt’s house was quiet and gave Summer time to think. She dropped off her parents, then drove straight to the Terran Station. When she pulled into the parking lot, she smoothed her hair and wished she’d stopped to put on makeup and maybe change her clothes. She smoothed on a little gloss, then took a breath before stepping out of her car.

As she approached the station, a tall Terran opened the door for her. She smiled her thanks and stopped at the reception desk. The woman there was on the phone, so Summer waited patiently. There was warmth at her back, and she looked over her shoulder, and up. The same Terran who had opened the door for her was now standing extremely close. She wondered if maybe she looked like someone who was about to go postal on the place.

“I promise I’m not here to cause trouble,” she said.

“I’d be happy to escort you to your destination. Are you here to meet with someone?” he asked.

“I need to sign up for the bride program.”

He studied her. “Interesting choice of words.”

“Excuse me?” She didn’t think she’d said anything wrong. Maybe he hadn’t understood her?

“You said need. Not want.”

She licked her lips. “I meant want.”

“We only take serious inquiries for the bride program. If you aren’t entering it for the right reasons, you might as well turn around and go home.”

Tears misted her eyes. “I can’t.”

His gaze softened, and he placed a hand on her waist, guiding her away from the desk. He motioned for her to take a seat and he hunkered down in front of her, the leather of his pants creaking from the movement.

“Why don’t you start by telling me what’s wrong,” he said. “And then we’ll go from there.”

“I said I need to sign up for the bride program because it’s my only hope. My family was evicted from our home today, and all our possessions were taken as well to pay off creditors. All we have are some clothes and a few pairs of shoes. My father works hard, but it’s not enough. I don’t know how else to help them.” A tear slipped down her cheek as she looked down at her lap. “Please don’t send me away.”

He reached out and gently took her hand. “I’m not going to make you leave, but I don’t think the bride program is the right choice for you.”

“I don’t know what else to do. I can’t keep a job no matter how hard I try. No one will hire me. I even saw one manager tear up my application as I exited the store.”

“Are you hungry? Or maybe you’d like some coffee?” he asked.

“I don’t think I could eat if I tried. I’m not a big coffee drinker, but I like hot chocolate.”

The Terran rose to his full height and pulled her up. “Come on. We’ll see if the café has hot chocolate.”

She let him lead her through the station to a food court area. He settled her at a table before walking off. Summer looked around and noticed several of the Terrans were watching her with interest. Would it be like that on their world, if she were to sign up for the program?

When the Terran returned, he had two cups in his hands. He gave her one with a smile and then claimed the chair next to her. She was amazed he could fit his long legs under the table, but he managed somehow.

“I’m Summer,” she said as she took a sip of her drink.

“It’s nice to meet you, Summer. My name is Vordro. Now, why don’t we talk a little about your problem and see if we can come up with a solution other than the bride program.”

#NewRelease – Moonlight Rescuer #PNR #werewolves

MoonlightRescuerCover

Amazon / iTunes / Kobo / Bookstrand

Winnie loves her son and would do anything for him, even apply for demeaning jobs, if it means putting a roof over his head. Spending their days in her car, and their nights at a shelter, hasn’t been easy, but she does whatever she must to keep him safe, even if it means sleeping with one eye open. She’s never asked for a handout, and she’s never expected one. Hard work is all she’s ever known, but sometimes that isn’t enough. It’s been so long since she has believed in fairy tales that the last thing she expected was for Prince Charming to come along and save the day.

Braxton has no idea what it is about Winnie that draws him like a moth to a flame, but his wolf is intrigued by her, and that’s more reaction than he’s ever gotten from the beast where women are concerned. When he overhears her conversation with her son, he knows he can’t let them spend the night somewhere as unsafe as their car or a shelter. But getting Winnie to let him help is another matter. A woman like her isn’t going to trust easily.

Despite her hesitancy, Winnie allows the wolf to help for the sake of her son, even though she knows getting close would never be wise. But the more she gets to know the stubborn man, the more she realizes the kindness showing in his eyes isn’t a mask. Sawyer doesn’t want anything from her that she isn’t willing to give, which makes him all the more intriguing. Can Winnie put her past behind her and trust a man again? Sawyer makes her want to believe that fairy tales really do come true.

Excerpt

Sawyer Braxton sipped his beer as he looked out over the crowd at Lagoona’s. He’d been watching the woman at the bar, for the last fifteen minutes, as she filled out an application. There was something about her that drew his attention. Her clothes were worn in places, her hair unkempt, but her tiny stature and dainty features made his protective urges rise to the surface. Even from the span of the four tables that separated them, he could see a dirt smudge on her cheek, and he wondered where it had come from.

She handed the application over to the bartender and then turned to leave. She hadn’t taken three steps before the asshole behind the bar ripped her application in half and tossed it. Sawyer bit back a growl as he rose to his feet, intent on going after her. Something didn’t seem right, even if he couldn’t figure out what. She cleared the door before he could catch her and he raced into the parking lot. Scanning the bumper to bumper cars, he saw her slip into an older hatchback with more than its fair share of dings and scrapes. A small figure moved in the backseat.

Not wanting to scare her, he walked slowly toward her car, his keen sense of hearing picking up the conversation she had with what he assumed to be her child. He’d never been one to chase after a single mom before, assuming she was single, but for some reason, he wanted to get to know this woman better.

“I’m sorry, honey,” she told the child. “We missed curfew at the shelter. We’re going to have to sleep in the car again tonight.”

What the hell? Was she living out of her car, with a small child in tow? He didn’t know how she’d fallen so far, but Sawyer knew that he couldn’t leave them in this parking lot with their future so uncertain. If anything happened to them, he’d never forgive himself.

Sawyer approached the vehicle and hunkered down next to the door, in hopes he wouldn’t frighten them. The woman was turned toward the back, still talking to her child.

“Benjamin, I’m doing the best I can.” She sounded tearful. “We’ll get to the shelter on time tomorrow, okay?”

“I don’t like the shelter,” a small voice said. “Why can’t we have a house again?”

“Soon, baby. Mama just needs to get a job first.”

Sawyer tapped on the window, making the woman jump. It was cracked enough that he could talk to her, without her fearing for her safety.

“I didn’t mean to eavesdrop,” he said, “but it seems you’re in a bit of a bind.”

Her lips thinned, and her eyes flashed. “And let me guess, in return for certain favors you’ll get us a motel room for the night.”

He sat back on his heels. “Um, not exactly.”

“Then what do you want in exchange for a place to stay?” she asked, distrust etched on her lovely features.

“Nothing. I just want peace of mind from knowing that your son and you are safe for the night. I heard you say something about sleeping in your car, and despite how small Ashton Grove is, that still isn’t the safest thing you could do.”

“You really just want to help us?” she asked, seeming uncertain.

“That’s all I want. I’m in the blue truck over there,” he said pointing to his new ride. “Why don’t you follow me? I’ll get you a room at the motel for the night, and then I’ll pick you up for breakfast in the morning, and we can figure out something more permanent for you.”

“Permanent?” The distrust was back in her voice.

“I work construction for the local wolf pack. My boss and alpha might know of a place where you could stay while you get back on your feet.”

Her eyes widened. “You’re a-a-a wolf?”

He nodded. He scented the air and didn’t smell fear. Curiosity and a hint of…arousal? Interesting. Maybe she was just as intrigued with him as he was with her. The boy in the backseat gazed at him with a bit of wonder in his eyes.

“I’ll wait to make sure your car starts, and then I’ll get my truck,” he said.

#NewRelease – Ella and the Alien Gamer #scifi #Aliens

Ella Cover Small

Available Now from Changeling Press

Pre-Order for May 12th at:  Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo

This Prince Charming is going after what he wants, even if Cinderella is playing hard to get.

Ella has had a hard life as a single mom who barely makes ends meet. But she’s never once asked for help, and she never would. When Valero barrels into her life asking for things she’s not ready to give, she holds herself back. Mostly. The thought of taking the sexy alien to bed is more than a little tempting… except he’s playing hard to get.

Valero has wanted a mate ever since he was old enough to think of having a family of his own. He’s never thought of claiming a female with a child in tow, but Connor’s amazing gaming skills intrigue the video game designer. Asking the small family to move in with him seems reasonable enough since he plans to claim them as his, but Ella’s commitment issues prove to be a problem.

What’s a geeky gamer to do when the Cinderella of his dreams wants sex, but nothing else?

Dedication

For Jason. Thank you for pushing me to keep writing, even when the going gets tough. Without your love and support, none of these stories would be possible.

Excerpt

Valero growled as he jabbed at the buttons on the controller. Rory and her damned dragons! When she’d said she couldn’t beat this level, he’d thought it would be a piece of cake. How hard could a game be that centered around an adolescent purple dragon? Harder than fuck, that’s how hard.

“Bust the gem, turn the wheel,” he muttered as he went through the steps. Little green things attacked him. “Argh. Die, you little bastards!”

“My mama will wash your mouth out with soap,” said a small voice.

He glanced to his right and nearly dropped the controller when he saw a small human child. Where the hell had he come from?

“You’re doing that wrong,” the boy said.

No shit. That was why he’d been trying to put out the fires for the last half hour without success. What the hell did the small child know about it though? He held out the controller.

“Since you seem to know what you’re doing, want to show me how it’s done?” Valero asked.

The boy grinned from ear to ear, snatched the controller, and started playing with the finesse of an advanced gamer.

“How the hell did you know where the buckets were?” Valero asked.

“Soap,” the boy replied in response to his bad word. Apparently hell wasn’t allowed either. “And I have this game at home. I beat it on the second day. I probably would have done it sooner, but Mama wouldn’t let me stay up playing all night.”

The boy beat the level and handed the controller back.

“What other games can you play?” Valero asked. He’d never met such a young gamer before and he had to admit he was a little fascinated. He hadn’t even known such a small human could play video games.

“I have Minecraft, Sonic, Lego Harry Potter, Lego Star Wars, and a few others.”

“What about Halo or Gears of War?” Valero asked.

“Mama says they’re too violent for me. But I wish I could play them. The kid games are too easy. I don’t see why the adults are the only ones being challenged.”

Valero’s eyebrows went up. A challenging children’s game? Was there a market for such a thing? Unless this child was a gaming prodigy, then there were probably others out there feeling his same frustration. Definitely something worth looking into.

“What types of challenges would you like to see in a game?” Valero asked.

“Well, I like the time challenges where you have to complete so many tasks in a certain amount of time. I like the fighting levels in Lego Star Wars. But collecting stuff like the rings in Sonic or the gems in Spyro can be fun. I just wish you could do more with it.”

The kid was rather insightful for someone so young. And he was giving Valero an idea. His game company was still in the fledgling stages and he needed something new and edgy to put him on the map. Or so he’d thought. Maybe he was looking at the wrong demographic. He’d been thinking of a game adults would like where you blew up stuff, but if gamers were starting out as young as this kid, children who weren’t allowed to play the more violent games, then maybe he needed to tap into that audience. The only problem was that his game testers were Rory and Zwyk, and neither would be able to give him the information he needed.

“He’s not bothering you, is he?” a soft voice asked.

Valero stood and faced the woman, and damn near swallowed his tongue.

“I, um… No! He’s not bothering me. He actually helped me figure out the level on the game I was playing.”

She smiled a little. “He loves video games.”

“Can I play some more, Mama?” the little boy asked.

“Connor, this man was already playing. Mind your manners.”

Valero handed the controller back to Connor. “I think you’re doing a better job than I was. Why don’t you finish playing? Or if you prefer something else, Zwyk and Rory have a ton of games. I’m sure there’s at least a few your mother would approve of.”

“Can I, Mama?” he begged.

“All right. But if someone else wants a turn, you give them the controller.”

The little boy gave a whoop and leapt onto the couch to settle in and play the game. Valero smiled at his enthusiasm before facing the mother once more. He moved a little closer and held out his hand. “I’m Valero.”

“Ella.”

His hand closed over hers and a little jolt went up his arm. Since moving to Earth, he’d never felt such an instant attraction to someone before. He’d gone on dates, but they were lacking. There was humor glinting in her eyes as she smiled a little wider and he realized he was staring at her like an idiot and hadn’t released her hand. “Do you play?” he asked.

“Me? Um, no. I’ve never understood the draw of video games. I’m more of a reader.”

He leaned against the sofa and folded his arms over his chest, feeling a bit of a thrill when her gaze was drawn to his muscles and she licked her lips. Good. The attraction wasn’t one sided. The question was, what did he want to do about it? He’d never dated a mother before. He knew others of his kind had adopted human children as their own, like Reyvor and his houseful of girls.

“What do you like to read?” he asked.

“Romances.” Her cheeks flushed. “I like the hope in them. No matter how dire the heroine’s circumstances in the beginning, she always finds her happily-ever-after. Whether it’s a knight rescuing her from a tower, a billionaire who falls for the poor waitress, or a shapeshifter who finds his mate, everyone falls in love at the end and all their dreams come true.”

He smiled. “And what’s your dream?”

Her expression sobered. “To provide a happy and stable home life for my son. I hate telling him he can’t have things, or wondering if he’ll have a good Christmas or birthday. And I’m tired of struggling to pay the rent.”

She blinked at him in surprise, as if she hadn’t meant to admit so much to a complete stranger. He’d been told he was a good listener and people divulged secrets to him even if they didn’t want to. His family had tried to get him to become a warrior, a spy to be exact. Valero hadn’t had the slightest bit of interest in it. He’d gone through the warrior training, but in the end, he’d been miserable. When others of his kind started making their homes on Earth, he’d jumped at the chance for a new start. A chance to be anything he wanted. It hadn’t taken him long to discover video games, and shortly after that, he’d figured out how to create them and had discovered his true passion.

“I’m sorry,” Ella said. “I don’t know why I said all that.”

“Not to pry, but are things hard at home? Since you’re here alone, I’m assuming Connor’s father isn’t in the picture?” At least, he was hoping the bastard was long gone.

“No, we split up in high school and I haven’t seen him since. Not in person anyway.”

His brow furrowed. “How do you see him if not in person?”

“He’s a football star now. I would sometimes see his college games on TV and now he plays for an NFL team. He’s done well for himself, but he’s not part of our lives. He didn’t even want to know if I was having a boy or girl, so I had him sign away his rights to Connor.”

“Your job doesn’t provide everything you need?” he asked.

“I can only work part time while Connor is in school, and all I know how to do is waitress. I took some computer classes in high school, but all of the office jobs around here are full time. Whatever extra money would be in my check would just go straight to daycare, and I don’t like the idea of strangers raising my son.”

What the woman needed was a husband, but he wasn’t about to say any such thing to her. No, he wasn’t about to offer his services no matter how tempting. With that fiery red hair of hers, she’d probably slap the hell out of him for even suggesting it. He’d discovered early on, and the hard way, that redheads were feisty and quick to temper. That didn’t mean he couldn’t help her though.

About the Author

Award-winning author Jessica Coulter Smith has been in love with the written word since she was a child writing her first stories in crayon. Today she’s a multi-published author of over seventy-five novellas and novels. Romance is an integral part of her world and spills over from her professional life into her personal one. When she went on that first date with her husband, she never expected to hear the words “marry me” pop out of his mouth — and judging by the shocked look on his face, he hadn’t meant to say them either. But, being the hopeless romantic that she is, Jessica said yes and they’ve been married since 2000.

Jessica firmly believes that love will find you at the right time, even if Mr. Right is literally out of this world. She’s often gazed at the stars and wondered what, or who, else might be out there. Who’s to say that hunky model on the hottest romance bestseller isn’t really from some far off galaxy? Maybe that blue Martian you saw at Halloween wasn’t really in costume. After all, there’s an awful lot of space out there for us to be the only ones living in it.

Jessica loves to hear from her readers! You can follow her on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/jessicacoultersmithauthor and Twitter https://twitter.com/kitcatjms. Visit her website: http://www.jessicacoultersmith.com. Want to be noticed of new releases or special discounts? Sign up for her newsletter! http://eepurl.com/bwPvbT.

Find more Changeling Press books by Jessica Coulter Smith at http://www.changelingpress.com/author.php?uid=144.

#NewRelease – Moonlight Keeper @kitcatjms #PNR #romance

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Genre(s): New Adult, Paranormal, Mainstream
Published: May 3, 2017

Broken. Damaged. And nearly without hope.

Aria McFay has suffered at the hands of her uncle and his twisted pack, but she’s not giving up just yet. When she manages to escape, the first place she runs is to Ashton Grove, Georgia, and her childhood friend, Lucas Adams, in hopes the pack will take her in and protect her.

Heartbroken, yet determined.

Seeing Aria again only serves to remind Lucas that he’s known his destined mate since he was ten years old, except Aria never knew, because Lucas didn’t feel worthy of her. He’s worked hard to build a life for himself in Ashton Grove, but how can he claim her after everything she’s been through? Even he isn’t that selfish.

What the heart wants…

Aria may be damaged, but she still wants Lucas just as much as she did when they were kids. But the sexy wolf seems determined to keep their relationship as friends only. What will it take to make him see her as something more than his childhood friend? If Aria can’t have Lucas, she doesn’t want anyone.

Available Here:

Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iTunes / Kobo / Bookstrand

Excerpt

Aria’s body ached, her latest beating having left fresh welts and bruises. She felt like one, big, walking sore, but no matter what they dished out, no matter how severe her punishment, she refused to bend to her uncle’s wishes. It would be a long, cold day in Hell before she’d bow and scrape before the likes of Boudreaux LeBlanc, her uncle’s best friend. The man was insane, not to mention the meanest son of a bitch she’d ever met. He’d never had a kind word for anyone in his life, and now her luck had run out because he’d decided he wanted her for his mate. Even worse, her uncle was in complete agreement. Sadistic bastard.

Boudreaux wasn’t the first man her uncle had tried to pair her with. There had been three others over the past two years, and Aria knew what would happen when she refused to back down. The pain and horror of what happened those other times lived on in her mind. While it may not have scarred her physically, emotionally…well, let’s just say she wasn’t going to trust men very easily ever again.

She pushed the curtain aside and peered through the window. It had been quite a while since she’d been free to roam the pack grounds. Uncle Remus had deemed her unfit company until she’d give her word that she would mate with the loco Boudreaux. Because she had refused, she’d been locked in her room for a week now, and it was never going ot happen; she’d never give her word to mate with him. She was lucky her small closet had been turned into a tiny half-bath when she’d joined the pack shortly after her eighteenth birthday; otherwise, she wouldn’t even have had a toilet to use, or a sink so she could wash up. Her hair was filthy, the long strands greasy and repellent. She’d plaited it, doing the best she could with what little she was given.

Uncle Remus was afraid if he let her out of her room, she’d find a way out of the small cabin, and once that happened, he knew she’d hit the road. Well, swamp. It was a long way to the nearest town. What he didn’t realize was that the boards in the corner of her room were loose, enough so that she’d been able to dig a little each night. It wasn’t a big hole, but it was big enough for her animal to fit through. All she had to do was shift, dig the rest of the way out, and she would be free! Naked, but free. But hey, everything came with a price. At this point, anything was better than prostituting herself to an abusive asshole for the rest of her life. However long that might be. Boudreaux had already had one mate. She’d died less than a year after their mating ceremony. There were rumors that he’d killed her, not that anyone was going to step up and do something about it.

She winced as she moved, her muscles pulling and contracting painfully. Aria had heard murmurs in the hall earlier, when no one thought she was listening, or maybe they just didn’t care if she knew her fate. Her uncle was desperate and had determined the best way to control her would be to drug her. He’d ordered Ruth Ann, the pack cook, to dose her food with sedatives, like valerian root. She was certain there would be other things in there, things meant to keep her calm and docile. She had little doubt they would continue to dose her food until it took effect, and since she didn’t plan to eat it, that could be a while. Well, either that or she’d starve to death.

No, she needed to escape, and she needed to escape right now.

A glance out the window showed the sun was setting, which meant the guards outside the cabin would be changing shifts. If she was going to run away, it was now or never. Aria slipped out of her clothes, shifted into her animal, and dug her way out of the room. Once she popped out on the other side, nose twitching, she froze and scanned the area, looking for signs of trouble. It looked like no one was paying attention to her. Fast as she could, she made a dash for it, leaving the pack behind her.

Aria didn’t stop until she reached a small settlement not far from the highway. She shifted back, grabbed some clothes off a line in someone’s backyard, and made her way to the road. She’d have to be careful, if her pack had realized she was missing, they would be searching for her. Watching from the tree line, she waited until she saw a car with out-of-state plates on the front. Texans were friendly, right? Then again, they probably ate rabbit stew.

Stepping up to the edge of the highway, she held out her thumb, hoping they would stop and give her a lift. Hitchhiking was dangerous, but it had to be safer than staying with her family. Anything had to be safer than that.

The car slowed and pulled over. The man behind the wheel appeared to be in his sixties and gave her a kindly smile. Aria pulled open the door and slid into the passenger’s seat.

“Thank you for stopping,” she said.

“Young thing like you shouldn’t be hitchhiking.” He noticed the bruises on her arms and frowned. “Are you in some sort of trouble?”

“My family can’t find me,” she confided. “I need to get as far from here as possible, as fast as possible.”

He nodded and put the car in gear. “Buckle up. I’m on my way to Chattanooga. You just tell me when you want to be let out.”

“Is Ashton Grove, Georgia on the way? I think it’s in the mountains.”

He smiled at her. “Well, if it isn’t, I’ll get you as close as I can. You just sit back and rest. We’ll have you somewhere safe soon.”

“Thank you.” Aria let her eyes drift closed, finally able to relax for the first time in a while. Not much longer and she’d be safe with Amber, the shifter she’d been talking to in Ashton Grove.

When the call had gone out last year that the Ashton Grove pack was seeking new members, she’d contacted them, without her family’s knowledge. She knew at least two members of the pack and thought it would be a nice place to call home. Now, things were different. She didn’t delude herself into thinking she’d have a happily-ever-after there. It would be a resting spot. Maybe the alpha would be able to give her sanctuary while she figured out the next leg of her journey. That’s all she would ask of him. It wouldn’t be fair to bring danger to his door, not after everything the pack had been through. Her friend, Amber, had told her demons were on their way to Ashton Grove; of course, that was more than six months ago now. She hadn’t heard from Amber in a while, and she worried about her friend, but she was trying to keep her contact with Ashton Grove to a minimum so her family wouldn’t look for her there first.

Letting the hum of the car lull her, she fell into the first restful sleep she’d had in a week or more.

It’s been seventeen years…

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On this morning, seventeen years ago, I got up and showered like any other morning. Then I put on a long white dress with a large floral print, fixed my make-up and waited for my then fiance to put on his suit. We went to lunch at Cotton Patch Cafe in Dennison, Texas. I had blackberry cobbler for dessert. And once we were stuffed, we set out to begin the adventure of a lifetime.

We were married that afternoon at the Justice of the Peace. We only had plain silver bands because we were just starting out with a new house and new jobs, and we couldn’t really afford anything else. I wore that ring until it broke and had to be replaced. These days I wear something a lot sturdier, for the simple fact I’m extremely rough on rings and dent, scratch, or break them.

When we started that journey, I’d never have guessed that in seventeen years we’d have two kids, one a teenager, and would be working completely different jobs. I’ve worn a lot of hats over the years (Information Systems, Administrative Assistant, Compliance Coordinator) but the mantle of “author” seems to fit me best. It’s a job I love and I can’t imagine doing anything else. And I wouldn’t be able to do this job without the support of my husband, who always tells me to keep writing, even on bad days when I doubt myself.

So, Happy Anniversary to my other half. Thank you for the love and support you’ve given me the last seventeen years…here’s hoping we have seventeen more in our future.

 

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