Book Highlight: My Date From Hell by Tellulah Darling

Title: My Date From Hell by Tellulah Darling

Genre: Young Adult

Series: The Blooming Goddess Trilogy, #2

Sophie Bloom’s junior year has been a bit of a train wreck. After the world’s greatest kiss re-awakened Sophie’s true identity as Persephone (Goddess of Spring and Savior of Humanity), she fought her dragon-lady guidance counselor to the death, navigated mean girl Bethany’s bitchy troublemaking, and dealt with the betrayal of her backstabbing ex, Kai (sexy Prince of Darkness). You’d think a girl could catch a break.

Yeah, right.

With Zeus stepping things up, it’s vital that Sophie retrieve Persephone’s memories and discover the location of the ritual to stop Zeus and Hades. So when Aphrodite strikes a deal that can unlock Sophie’s pre-mortal past, what choice does the teen goddess have but to accept?

The mission: stop media mogul Hermes from turning Bethany into a global mega-celebrity. The catch? Aphrodite partners Sophie and Kai to work together … and treat this suicide mission as a date. Which could work out for Sophie’s plan to force Kai to admit his feelings for her–if she doesn’t kill him first.

Add to that the fact that BFF Theo’s love life and other BFF Hannah’s actual life are in Sophie’s hands, and suddenly being a teenager—even a godlike one—seems a bit like … well, hell. Whatever happened to dinner and a movie?

The YA romantic comedy/Greek mythology fireworks continue to fly in My Date From Hell. Love meets comedy with a whole lot of sass in book two of this teen fantasy romance series. Breaking up is easy; dating is deadly.

Aphrodite
pointed her gun at me again, kind of casually. “Your problem is you’re too hung
up on the past. You gotta move forward with yer life.”
I heard
Hannah give a smothered laugh.
“You got
this cutie pie in love with ya, and instead of enjoying his company, all you do
is whine.” With a quick flick, Aphrodite opened the cylinder to reload.
“He’s not
in love,” I said.
She peered
at Kai. “Whattya talkin’ about? Sure he is. Everyone knows Kyrillos
loves Persephone.”
“I’m Sophie,” I ground out.
She waved
the gun around. “Ya ya. That too.”
That too?
I took a deep breath, folded my fingers over my palms and looked slightly to the
left of her in case I accidentally started blasting. Didn’t want to go down in history
as the girl who killed the Goddess of Love.
“Nope. It’s
just desire,” I said with faked calm. “Kai is so resistant to the idea of being
in love with me that your arrows don’t work. Besides which, when he actually does
fall so hard for me that he doesn’t know which way is up, I want him to know he
chose that of his own free will. That he chose me.” I threw him a sweet smile.
“Chose you?”
Kai got this look of “have we had this conversation before?” on his face. My smile
got tight.
Aphrodite
scooped up a saclike pink purse laying on the ground. She rooted around in
it. “Desire is part of romantic love, silly,” she said to me.
She pulled
out a handful of bullets and dumped them in Festos’ hurriedly outstretched hands
before turning back to Kai. She gestured with the still-open chambered revolver
toward him. “Your body knows what’s what. Stop fighting it.”
Kai glowered
at her.
She laughed
it off, reloading. “And you,” Aphrodite said to me, as she plucked more bullets
from Festos’ hand to load into the chamber. “Yer just as bad with your own issues.”
She couldn’t
know about my insecurities around Persephone could she? Aphrodite narrowed her eyes
at me.
I gulped.
Aphrodite
shot me a look of disgust and popped the final bullets into the chambers. She gestured
at each of us in turn with one pink, sparkly manicured finger. “I’m gonna start
gettin’ real mad about how youse is all dealin’ with love.”
“There’s
a whole bunch of drags around here where love is concerned,” Festos agreed.
“Thanks
so much for inviting him along,” Theo said to me.
I grimaced
an apology at Theo, then shot back at Festos, “Seems there’s a whole bunch of dogs
here, too.” I looked between him and Kai.
“Oh don’t
forget Pierce,” Festos replied cheerfully. “He’s a total mimbo.” “He is not,” Hannah
defended. “He’s pure love.”
Aphrodite
threw her a fond smile. “I like you, girlie.” “Love in name, hormones in game,”
Theo countered. “Look at us all in agreement,” Festos replied.
“No, because
you’re talking about lust,” I protested.
“Lust is
pretty good too,” Aphrodite said, “but it ain’t nothin’ like the real thing.” She
clicked the cylinder into place and looked at me. “We got a deal? You’ll get Jack
to kill the campaign?”
“You’ll
undo the love thing?” I asked.
“Nope. You
could do with a little love in your life. Kyrillos is obviously brimming with love
for ya now,” she ignored Kai’s snort, “so you’re gonna enjoy it.”
“Meaning
what?” I asked.
“A date,”
Kai piped up. “I’d say I’m ready now.” He arched an eyebrow as if to say “ball’s
in your court.”
“I think
it’s a great idea,” I slid my arm around his waist and pressed myself up against
his side.
A look of
surprise flashed across his face. “Perfect.”
I could
outdate him any place, any time. I brightened. This was going to be fun. The touching
part wasn’t a downside either.
“The fate
of the world does dee-pend on you loving each other,” Aphrodite said. “So, good.
We’ll start with a date.”
“Still say
it’s a euphemism,” Festos burst out. “And Kai doesn’t date.”
Kai snaked
his arm around my waist before pressing his fingertips into my hip. “Never wanted
to before. Sophie’s the exception.”
“The euphemistic
exception?” Festos asked. “Shut up,” Kai and I fired at him in tandem.
Festos took
it in stride, waggling his eyebrows cheerfully at Theo who pretended to look disapproving
but totally wasn’t. Even Hannah didn’t bother to hide her smile.
“Only thing
is,” I told Aphrodite, “I have to be back at school by Sunday morning. I have a
meeting I can’t miss. So I’ll have to get this thing with Jack done quickly to have
time for the date.”
“Going together
to find Hermes is the date.” Aphrodite looked at me like I was an idiot.
“You two need as much together time as possible.”
No way.
I needed all my wits about me to handle Kai. Something that couldn’t happen if I
had to track down Hermes at the same time. I tried a new tactic. “A date involves
dinner and a movie. Something romantic. Finding Hermes hardly counts.”
She pinned
me in her gaze. “Had so miny of them, Miz Expert? All a date is, is two people spendin’
time to deepen their attraction.”
“Or kill
it,” Hannah piped up.
Aphrodite
scrunched up her nose. “Huh?”
“There are
far more first dates than second,” Hannah explained. “Which means that after spending
time, those people realized they were not a match.”
“What she
said,” I seconded.
Aphrodite
narrowed her eyes at Hannah. “I don’t get ya. You talk like that but you’re so brim
up with love.”
“I’m a confounding
enigma,” Hannah replied cheerfully.
Aphrodite
threw her hands up. “Enough’a this nonsense. You’ll go together to find Hermes.
And you’ll be date-like doin’ it.”
That sounded
like a threat.
“Almost
like you planned it that way,” I said to Kai.
His smile
grew wider as he gave my waist a squeeze. “Told you I get what I want. Feel
free to let that sink in.”

Tellulah Darling

noun

1. YA romantic comedy author because her first kiss sucked and she’s compensating.

2. Alter ego of former screenwriter.

3. Sassy minx.

Geeks out over: cool tech.

Squees for: great storytelling.

Delights in: fabulous conversation.

Writes about: where love meets comedy. Awkwardness ensues.

Sassy girls. Swoony boys. What could go wrong?

 

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Waiting on Wednesday – November 27

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“Waiting on Wednesday” is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine , that spotlights book releases that we can’t wait for. This is the one I’m waiting for!

If I Stay meets the movie Ghost in this first book in a teen duology about a teenage-girl-turned-ghost who must cling to the echoes of her former life to save the people she left behind.

Ashes to Ashes is author Melissa Walker’s sweeping, romantic, and emotionally rich story about the things that torment and tempt us, even from the Great Beyond. This book is perfect for fans of Die for Me andImaginary Girls, and its breathtaking ending will leave readers anxiously awaiting the series conclusion, Dust to Dust.

When Callie’s life is cut short by a tragic accident, she expects to find nothingness, or maybe some version of heaven.

Instead, her spirit travels to the Prism, an ethereal plane populated by the ghosts she thought were fictional. Here she meets a striking and mysterious ghost named Thatcher, who is meant to guide her as she learns to haunt and bring peace to the loved ones she left behind.

However, Callie uncovers a dark secret about the spirit world: The angry souls who always populate ghost stories are real, dangerous, and willing to do whatever it takes to stay on Earth, threatening the existence of everyone she ever cared about.

As she fights to save them, Callie will learn that while it may no longer beat, her heart can still love-and break.

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Waiting on Wednesday – November 20

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“Waiting on Wednesday” is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine , that spotlights book releases that we can’t wait for. This is the one I’m waiting for!

He lives in solitude beneath the city, an exile from society, which will destroy him if he is ever seen.

She dwells in seclusion, a fugitive from enemies who will do her harm if she is ever found.

But the bond between them runs deeper than the tragedies that have scarred their lives. Something more than chance—and nothing less than destiny—has brought them together in a world whose hour of reckoning is fast approaching.

In Innocence, #1 New York Times bestselling author Dean Koontz blends mystery, suspense, and acute insight into the human soul in a masterfully told tale that will resonate with readers forever.

ACCLAIM FOR DEAN KOONTZ

“A rarity among bestselling writers, Koontz continues to pursue new ways of telling stories, never content with repeating himself.”—Chicago Sun-Times

“Tumbling, hallucinogenic prose. ‘Serious’ writers . . . might do well to examine his technique.”—The New York Times Book Review
 
“[Koontz] has always had near-Dickensian powers of description, and an ability to yank us from one page to the next that few novelists can match.”—Los Angeles Times
 
“Koontz is a superb plotter and wordsmith. He chronicles the hopes and fears of our time in broad strokes and fine detail, using popular fiction to explore the human condition.”—USA Today
 
“Characters and the search for meaning, exquisitely crafted, are the soul of [Koontz’s] work. . . . One of the master storytellers of this or any age.”—The Tampa Tribune
 
“A literary juggler.”—The Times (London)

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Review: The Drayton Chronicles by Tony Bertauski

Title: The Drayton Chronicles
Author: Tony Bertauski
Published: March 10, 2013

Blurb from Goodreads:

The evolution of a vampire.

The Drayton Chronicles is a collection of novellas.

DRAYTON, THE TAKER
Blake Barnes commits suicide by freezing on Mt. Hood. As his life fades, he assumes Death has come to him in the form of a young man. In his last moments, he asks Death to find his family, to tell them he’s sorry. Drayton honors this last request as he absorbs Blake Barnes’ waning essence. He travels to the Lowcountry of South Carolina to find his family. But saying sorry is not always as easy as the words imply. Drayton seeks to unravel the mess Blake Barnes has left behind and the predator he’s unleashed on his family.

BEARING THE CROSS
Drayton finds Andrew Drummond dying on the roadside. He absorbs the last of his life, but not before Andrew demands vengeance. In those last moments, Drayton understands what Andrew desires. He sees all of his hardships, the crosses he has been forced bear. Drayton will find the source of his suffering. He will show his transgressor Andrew’s pain. He will show him the depth and taste of true suffering.

SWIFT IS THE CURRENT
Drayton spares the life of elderly Ms. Ruth Current. She was supposed to die, but her life is unresolved. Drayton intends to put to rest the blight she and her grandchildren have set loose upon the world.

YELLOW
Father Gordon suffers a life-ending heart attack during mass, but not before he looks into Drayton’s eyes. In them, he sees his own sins and asks for forgiveness. Drayton grants him the opportunity for redemption. But asking for forgiveness is the first step in a very difficult journey.

NUMBERS
Dr. James Gallagher has a good life until a new patient hands him a card scrawled with the number 5. His new patient tells him that he will die of a stroke in five days. Dr. Gallagher doesn’t take him seriously since this new patient claims to be thousands of years old. He considers committing him to a psychiatric ward until he begins to have visions. 

He sees how Drayton has become what he is today.

Review:

This was a awesome collection of stories. I enjoyed every single one of them. I for one don’t think Drayton is a vampire. He might be the origin story, but no vampire.
Drayton is a centuries old man? Kid? Person? Thing? That’s not clear, because he himself does not know what he really is. He’s so old he just remembers snippets of his life in the beginning. The rest he just pieces together.  And although Drayton (or his story) makes you wonder what he is and he’s totally honest with his “bad” beginnings, he’s totally likeable. Did he evolve? Or did he just get tired of it all? Get to know him, believe me, it’s worth it.  And even though it’s a collection of stories, it does not take away from the whole.

Rating:
4 star

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Waiting on Wednesday – November 13

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“Waiting on Wednesday” is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine , that spotlights book releases that we can’t wait for. This is the one I’m waiting for!

Past and present collide in Preston and Child’s most thrilling novel ever . . .

WHITE FIRE

Special Agent Pendergast arrives at an exclusive Colorado ski resort to rescue his protégée, Corrie Swanson, from serious trouble with the law. His sudden appearance coincides with the first attack of a murderous arsonist who—with brutal precision—begins burning down multimillion-dollar mansions with the families locked inside. After springing Corrie from jail, Pendergast learns she made a discovery while examining the bones of several miners who were killed 150 years earlier by a rogue grizzly bear. Her finding is so astonishing that it, even more than the arsonist, threatens the resort’s very existence.

Drawn deeper into the investigation, Pendergast uncovers a mysterious connection between the dead miners and a fabled, long-lost Sherlock Holmes story—one that might just offer the key to the modern day killings as well.

Now, with the ski resort snowed in and under savage attack—and Corrie’s life suddenly in grave danger—Pendergast must solve the enigma of the past before the town of the present goes up in flames.

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Review: Templand by Jill Elaine Hughes

Title: Templand (TEMPLAND Series)
Author: Jill Elaine Hughes
Published: December 24, 2012

Blurb from Goodreads:

The heroine, Melanie Evers, is a plucky young working-class woman from Akron, Ohio struggling to support herself in Chicago in the post-9-11 economy. TEMPLAND follows Melanie’s journey through the temporary employment world from a college student on “just a summer job” to a 28-year-old woman with a lot of intelligence (and a heap of student loan debt to match) through multiple layoffs and a series of ever-more-wacky temp assignments, as she struggles not only to survive, but also to find romance and always remain true to the honest, working-class values instilled in her by her beloved grandfather. 

In her long, solitary journey through Templand, Melanie encounters adventure and romance on her search for that always-elusive Permanent Job—which she finally gets, along with her man. TEMPLAND is a highly entertaining, wickedly funny social satire, contemporary romance, and mystery novel all rolled into one.

Review:

Melanie is witty and honest. I really liked this story and the main character. She was honest about how she got there and what she did. And it was not one of those stories that glorifies the American dream. Yes, I know, the successtories are out there, but it was refreshing to read about someone who struggles and who did not get where she was by stupid choices. By all means Melanie was a hard working, highly educated person. She was someone who adhered to the notion that to get a good job you need to study and work hard, not give up and be true to your morals and beliefs.
Her story also tells about how someone can give up those morals and beliefs, just because everything keeps dragging you down. I am glad Melanie didn’t, but it was more thanks to her beau. Nice story. Even though it was about the bad and the ugly, it is not depressing.

Rating:
3 star

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Review: Beautiful Broken Rules (Broken #1) by Kimberly Lauren

Title: Beautiful Broken Rules
Author: Kimberly Lauren
Published: May 14, 2013

Blurb from Goodreads:

What happens when you create rules to keep others out?

One thing Emerson Moore has come to terms with is that she is the school slut. She knows her way around a frat house and how to get what she wants. She doesn’t make any excuses for her actions and she doesn’t pretend to be anything different. She is who she is and with that she knows how to have a good time. She’s made rules to keep relationships at bay and avoid the demons of her past.

When her best friend, Cole has his two friends from back home move in with him she begins to think she has met her match with Jaxon Riley. Jax is the perfect mixture of tattooed muscle and a sweet-talking mouth. With “hand” written notes, a voice that exudes sex and knowing just how to get under her skin, Jaxon learns how to break all the rules. But will he just end up breaking her heart anyway?

New Adult/Adult Contemporary Romance – recommended for ages 18 and up.

Review:

Wow. That’s all I can say. I don’t really care for stories about sluts, but somehow Emerson got to me. So I can totally get how she got under Jaxon’s skin. Emerson had a hard life and she made hard decisions. I think it was partly because nobody forced her to talk about it. And then she acted like everything was fine. And of course you would not know that a little girl will decide later on in life to be slutty, so yeah, you think you are giving her space but you are just giving it time to fester and get ugly. And ugly it got. Jaxon was a wonderful guy and I am glad that he was the one who got her to open up. But damn. My heart nearly broke and I cried a few hot tears when she got all … let’s not give away any spoilers. But the story is awesome and I wish there were more men out there who took care of their women.
Now there is another book out there and it’s about Jaxon’s equally hot stuff brother Jace, but I read the blurb (Damn you Goodreads!) and I am not so sure if I will like it, because ugh, Audrey. But if the author can write it just like this one, it will be equally awesome! So I can’t wait for it to publish. Hurry up author! Thanks

Rating:
4 star

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Cover Reveal: Severed Colours by Dawna Raver

 

The epic continues…

Quinn Sinclair trusted Arik Morgaine until he betrayed her. Scared and alone, she finds herself delivered into the hands of the evil Morgana le Fay. When Quinn discovers Morgana’s plans are beyond demented and seriously depraved—making life with the Changeling seem like a day at the beach—she wonders if death is a better option?

Arik Morgaine vowed he’d save Quinn no matter the price. When his well thought out plans go terribly awry, a desperate and heartbroken Arik is forced to beg the cruel Triarchia for help. Unwilling to go on without his Älskling, he answers a question that irrevocably alter their lives.

Can Arik and Quinn find a way back to each other, or will the price of saving her rip them apart forever?

 

What are your thoughts about the cover? Share in the comments. 🙂
 
 
 

 

 

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Review: Summer of Frost (Forever Fae #3) by L.P. Dover

Title: Summer of Frost (Forever Fae series book #3) 
Author: L.P. Dover
Published: June 21, 2013

Blurb from Goodreads:

The Land of the Fae is strong with all four courts banded as one, but uncertainty still remains as they all work together to end the dark sorcerer’s evil reign. Sorcha—the one and only Winter Court princess—has a secret, a secret that she has enjoyed keeping for the past six months. When a much awaited announcement brings her to the Spring Court, and face to face with the man in her dreams, will she be strong enough to keep up the façade of her icy exterior, or will she melt into his arms like she does in her dreams?

After formally meeting Sorcha at the Winter Ball, Drake—Summer Court prince and army leader—knew there was a fiery passion underneath her winter skin, a passion he wanted desperately to ignite with his own. However, with her frigid responses toward him he’s decided to keep his distance, except how can he when his dreams feel real? Seeing her again only ignites his interest, and this time he’s not going to let his arrogance or her frosty heart stand in his way.

Through unexpected tragedy, Sorcha discovers the one thing the dark sorcerer has spent his whole existence trying to protect, but what makes it more difficult is that only one of the Four is strong enough to retrieve it. The tides have now changed. With Drake’s help, will Sorcha find what she’s searching for? Or will the dark sorcerer beat them to it, shattering all hope of finding out the one thing that could save the Land of the Fae … how to destroy him?

Review:

After I read Forever Fae and Betrayals of Spring, I just had to read Summer of Frost! Lucky for me I won this one from the author herself, so how happy was I that I could breeze through to this one! I liked that the book took some information provided in the first book and it just connected. This book was a little shorter than the other two, but it was also very nice. This time we not only had to deal with some powerhungry scorserer, but some psycho ex. I almost could not imagine which one was worse! Because that guy was crahaazy! Now I don’t know what I can say without giving away too much, because the story was so short, but it was also very nice. Both main characters were equally smart and fierce and the Fae magic that provided the other courts and such made them equal in their powers too.
My only regret is that I started to read these books without having the last book in this series so dear dear dear author, please hurry your sweet and adorable ass with writing, so we can read? Please and thank you!

Rating:
3 star

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Book Blast: Shadow of Sin by Parker Kincade

Shadow of Sin by Parker Kincade

Book #2 in The Martin Family companion series

Release date: November 6th, 2013

A man determined to protect her…

Caleb Martin is no stranger to hazardous situations. He’s seen enough bloodshed to last two lifetimes. When an innocent evening takes a dangerous turn, Caleb takes matters into his own hands. If she wants his help, it’s his rules, his way. Period.

A woman who won’t be controlled…

When it comes to relationships, Samantha keeps things casual, unassuming. Safe. Caleb Martin is far from safe. His ‘my way or the highway’ attitude pushes all the wrong buttons, and she’d sworn no man would have that kind of power over her again.

A hunger that won’t be denied…

Protecting Samantha from the man that stalks her shouldn’t test his patience—or his control—but her smart mouth and hot Irish temper stoke the fuel of his desire. She is pure sin—a distraction he doesn’t need, a temptation he can’t resist.

Despite their animosity, Caleb has starred in her fantasies for years. His ruthless sensuality proves to be more potent than she ever imagined. As Caleb masters her body, Samantha must keep a tight grip her heart.

   He turned to her. Heat pooled in her stomach as his gaze traveled slowly, deliberately, from her face. He seemed to take in every inch of her before stopping to linger over her bare legs. “I don’t sleep much. I’m sorry if I disturbed you.”
   “You didn’t.” The devil in her insisted she cross her legs, exposing more of her thigh to his view. She enjoyed his eyes on her, as if he saw the woman she was instead of the pain in his ass he’d claimed her to be. She was tempting fate, knowing that any second he’d remember who she was and that look in his eye would change.
   For now, she’d use any means to distract him from his pain. Her pain would come later, when she was alone again.
   “Do you want to talk about it?”
   “Talk about what?”
   “Why you’re still up.”
   He chucked a thumb at the windows. “Daytime.”
   She clamped her mouth shut before she said something she’d regret. And he thought she was stubborn. She pulled in a slow, steady breath. “True, but barely. On a normal day, I wouldn’t be up yet.”
   “Exactly. Go. Rest.” He closed his eyes as if to shut her out.
   She could feel his irritation, but, this time, it wasn’t directed at her. It gave her hope as she pressed on.
   “Are you hungry? I could make us some breakfast. If you don’t mind me searching through your fridge, I’m sure I could find something edible.” In fact, she’d been surprised at the amount of food she’d seen. She’d half expected him to only have beer and water and maybe a stray bottle of ketchup. Like Alec’s fridge.
   “For the love of christ, what do you want? I don’t want to eat. I don’t want to talk.” He sighed, apparently resigned to her company a few minutes more. “What do you want, Samantha?”
   Right now? To slap the shit out of you.
   Hurt invaded her chest as she stared back at him. Gone was the pain she’d seen earlier, as well as the male interest. What remained was the Caleb she knew. Cold, hard, angry.
   She shoved the hurt away and bit back the sharp retort he deserved. She softened her features, allowing herself to appear vulnerable. It wasn’t much of a stretch. “Can I stay with you?”
* * *
   Caleb jerked, surprised by her request. “That’s not a good idea.”
   Even as he said the words, his cock came to life. It seemed the lower half of his body thought it was a very good idea. And seeing her in nothing but his T-shirt wasn’t helping. Jesus, he hoped she had panties on under there. A bigger, harder, part of him hoped that she didn’t.
   Samantha shifted, exposing more of her delectable thighs. “It’s not like I’m asking you to get a root canal. You can wipe that horrified look off your face.”
   Caleb checked his expression, doing his best to appear calm, bored even. She’d surprised the hell out of him, coming in his room like she had.
   He was angry. Angry with himself and the past that wouldn’t free him. Angry at her for being here, for looking as if she belonged here. This was his space, damn it. How was he supposed to relax with her prancing around half naked, knowing she’d pleasured herself and called his name?
   He wasn’t stupid. He suspected it was his fault she was awake, and now she was here—checking on him as if he was a child who needed coddling. He didn’t need coddling. His body demanded the satisfaction that would only come from pounding his aching flesh deep into her soft, wet pussy.
   As tempting as that idea may be, he was still trying to wrap his head around how he felt about her.
   “You’re tired. You don’t know what you’re asking.” And he couldn’t think straight. He was low on sleep and even lower on patience. He shoved his hands into his hair and blew out a breath. “You can’t be in here. Go back to bed.” Before he forgot all the reasons he shouldn’t fuck her silly.
   “Why did I think… God, I’m such an —” She closed her mouth, her lips drawn into a thin, tight line. Her cheeks flushed as she advanced on him. “I’m sick of you judging me. Telling me what I should and shouldn’t do. If you hadn’t noticed, my night sucked. Hell, the last year has sucked. So, you can shove your overinflated male ego up your own ass. I’m not asking you to have sex with me for chrissake.” She stumbled back and planted her butt on the edge of the bed. “Just for once, Caleb, can’t you set aside your feelings? Forget your stupid sense of responsibility where I’m concerned and just be here for me like a normal person?”
   What the fuck? 
   “My stupid sense of what?”
   The laugh that escaped her lips made him uneasy.
   “You heard me, horseman.” She eased back to her feet and sauntered toward him. “You think I don’t know how you feel about me? Let me see … troublemaker, instigator, bad influence.” She ticked off the words on her fingers. “Oh, and my personal favorite … menace. Really, Caleb. Menace? That’s a little strong don’t you think?” She fisted her hands on her hips, her eyes glittering with unshed tears. “I know you don’t like me. If it weren’t for Amanda and Alec, I wouldn’t be here and we both know it.” Her chest rose and fell in rapid succession as she glared at him. “And I’m sick of being your charity case.”
   Caleb fought the urge to look away. She hadn’t lied about the words he’d uttered to describe her over the years, but to have them slung back at him just pissed him off.
   “You want to know what I’m sick of, Samantha? I’m sick of you pushing my buttons. I’m sick of your stubborn-assed attitude when it comes to your own safety and I’m fucking sick and tired of you calling me horseman!” His shout rattled the windows, but he didn’t care. He was on a roll now, like a fucking train wreck, unable to stop.
   Crossing his arms over his chest, he glared down at her. “If you and Amanda hadn’t decided the woods were the best place to partake in a little underage drinking, the boys and I wouldn’t have had to saddle up to go find your drunk asses before some wild animal made you a snack. Did you ever think of that, Samantha? During your little adventure with my baby sister, did you stop to consider the consequences? Do you ever?”
Samantha made a noise of disgust and stormed from the room. “This is what I get for trying to be nice,” she yelled.
   Caleb went after her, following her into the spare room. “Nice? Nice?” The floodgates were open, his anger and frustration leaving any sense of self-preservation in the dust. “You think calling us the horsemen of the apocalypse is nice? Is that fun for you? Because all it does is remind me of being scared out of my ever-loving mind that something was going to … that Amanda …” No, he wasn’t going back there.
   Not. Going. There.
   “And as for my stupid sense of responsibility, I protect what’s mine, damn it!”
Samantha’s sharp intake of breath drifted through his angry haze and punched him in the gut. She sank back to the bed and wiped the tear that escaped the corner of her eye.
   It was like ice water to his soul.
   This woman tested his restraint. No other woman, save his sister, had ever pushed him so hard. It was infuriating and intoxicating at the same time. She left him off balance, out of control—two things that spelled disaster where he was concerned.
   Caleb ran his hands through his hair, settling his palms on the back of his neck.
   “Samantha.”
   His heart skipped a beat as emotion played out on her face. Sadness, regret, and finally … resolve.
   “Get out.” Her voice was soft. “God, what was I thinking? Just get out.”
   He stood there, unable to move as he struggled to comprehend the vulnerability pouring out of her. His gaze traveled over the delicate features of her face, the line of her shoulders. The rise of her breasts, her slim waist, and long legs. Her feet were bare. Her toenails were painted a rich red that spoke of fire. Passion.
   She shifted on the bed and winced, making him feel like a total ass. Again. Her night had sucked. With her tough-as-nails attitude, Caleb hadn’t considered she might actually need comforting.
    He took a deep breath. “I’ll stay.”
   Her eyes, blue and blazing, snapped up. “Of course you will. Because why in the hell would you listen to me?”
   “You asked me to stay.”
   “I asked you to leave.”
   “As you so diligently pointed out earlier, I don’t listen.” And he still had things to say.
   She rubbed her temples, as if their argument had given her a headache. “Fine. Whatever.”
   “Samantha. Look at me.” When she didn’t move, he crouched in front of her. He tilted her chin until she looked at him. “I don’t dislike you. I need you to know that.”
   She offered him a sad smile. “The gesture is appreciated, Caleb. Thank you.” She pulled her face away.
Refusing to let her retreat, he tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear and cupped her face. Soft, warm skin greeted his palm. He brushed his thumb across her cheek, amazed by its smoothness. “It’s the truth. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean —”
   She put a finger to his lips and he barely resisted the urge to open his mouth and taste her.
   “Yes, you did. And it’s okay. We may not get along, but at least you’ve never lied to me. Please don’t start now. I’m a big girl, Caleb. I can take it. And I owe you an apology. I’m sorry for not considering your feelings where Amanda is concerned.”
    Her touch rocked him. Revamped his desire to have her wet and screaming his name. “I’m sorry for all that.” He offered her what he hoped was a reassuring smile. “I’m so used to you calling me horseman now, I’m afraid I’d never answer to anything else from your lips.” Those sweet, succulent lips. “What is it about you that makes me so crazy?” he murmured.
   She chuckled. “I’m too tired to fight anymore, Caleb. The best course of action would be to find the evidence I need to bury Matteo. Then we can move on.”
   The mention of her stalker snapped his brain back to attention. He had a job to do. Eliminate the threat and protect Samantha.
   Best he remember that.
   Distractions led to mistakes. He couldn’t afford any more mistakes.
   He forced his voice level, undemanding. “It’d be a lot easier if you’d let us help. Let me help. Trust me to take care of this for you.”
   Asking for her trust was a long shot. In truth, he probably didn’t deserve it. But, he had to try. Needed to try. He would protect her.
   “Trust you?” She seemed to consider his words. After a moment, she surprised him by nodding. “I can’t promise miracles, but I’ll do my best to follow your lead … until this is over.”
Caleb resisted the insane urge to pump his fist in the air. “So, we have a deal then?”
She caressed her fingers over his jaw. He leaned into her gentle touch, feeling it all the way to his bones.
   “Oh, now you’re willing to make deals?” She looked him dead in the eye. “All right then, but once Matteo is caught and the threat against me is gone? You’ll go on with your life and I’ll go on with mine, and hopefully, we can stay out of each other’s way. That’s the deal.”
   She dropped her hand to her lap.
   “After this, Caleb, we’re done.”

Parker Kincade is an award-winning erotic romance author of The Martin Family Series. Her first novel, One Night Stand, won the category of Best Erotic Romance in the Celtic Hearts Romance Writers Golden Claddagh contest and was named finalist in the Romance Writers of America/Passionate Ink Stroke of Midnight contest.

Parker lives in the southern United States with her husband, children and beloved boxer sidekick. She loves reading, playing golf, spending time with her family and friends, ice cream from the ice cream truck, taking her dog to the park and watching old musicals.

 

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