Have you ever set out to have a one night stand with a sexy stranger?
No? I’m the only one?
Just kidding, I would never.
But then I figured, why not? My entire life I’ve been good and it’s gotten me nowhere.
I’m owed a little fun, aren’t I? A reward for being good.
Sure, a new pair of shoes would be more appropriate, but Mr. Sexy Stranger is more appealing. And when he speaks—in that British accent—it’s a done deal. Every American woman has a hot British guy fantasy. Well, most do. I haven’t taken a poll or anything, but I’m pretty sure it’s a fact.
You know that saying about best-laid plans?
Good, because I don’t either, but I assume they go awry.
Like my one night stand…
The moment I laid eyes on Kyle Kingston I knew he was a mistake. A satisfying, toe curling, hair pulling, best night of my life mistake, but a mistake all the same. I didn’t yet know his name, or who he was, but I knew he was a bad idea.
I take comfort in that, because it means my instincts are still good. Too late, but it’s something.
Because, FYI, I’m pregnant
… and did I mention my baby daddy is both heir to a retail empire and impossible to get ahold of?
I do what any girl would. I break into his Grandfather’s retirement gala by telling the prissy gatekeeper Kyle’s my fiancé. It was a halfway decent plan at the time, trust me.
But it blows up in my face, disastrously so. You see, Kyle Kingston is all about representing the family values his family’s retail empire was founded on. At least in public. In private- well I’ll tell you about that later.
He proposes – a marriage of convenience.
Convenient for everyone but me, because while I’m falling in love with my convenient husband, he’s keeping a billion-dollar secret. From me.
Jana Aston likes cats, big coffee cups and books about billionaires who deflower virgins. She wrote her debut novel while fielding customer service calls about electrical bills, and she’s ever grateful for the fictional gynecologist in Wrong that readers embraced so much she was able to make working in her pajamas a reality. Jana’s novels have appeared on the NYT, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists, some multiple times. She likes multiples.
Kingdom of the Damned is a stand-alone prelude to the Kingdom Journals Series.
“…he that believeth not shall be DAMNED” – Mark 16:16
In 1557, witches burn her home and family. She escapes with the help of a family friend and they hide among humans. At seventeen, another atrocity ignites Anne’s passion for justice. Circumventing the globe, she seeks to unite the vampires and build peace. Powerful enemies amass against them, but her friends number many, including a surprising and mysterious hero. In a war for survival, love feels extravagant, and heroes don’t always prevail. Can she best her enemy and find happiness at last?
He wouldn’t understand. He didn’t live in a pretend world. In truth, he did. Most beings, pure humans, walked around thinking they were the only type of people that existed.” –Alena
As a creature forbidden by both vampire and witch cultures, Alena is forced hide her identity. Her mother moves them from city to city searching for answers. When Alena finds Hunter everything changes. She believes their bond may be the. But her mother finds Theron, an equally handsome and mysterious suitor. Will the truth of his intentions be uncovered before it is too late? Or will her Mother’s kingdom be reduced to embers?
“… the previous night’s vision, or whatever it was, ended with a name I heard clear as day, as if the people were in my room. Ivy, the girl and boy recited together.” – Camille Could her dreams be real? Is she the key to freeing witches from their curse? Of course not, right? Thinking that her only chance at a normal life lay in a new treatment, Camille joins Dr. Antos and a group of teens for a month long camping trip in Iceland. There she meets Jude, a fellow schizophrenic. Dr. Antos invites Camille and Jude to extend their work with him on the island of Sardinia. Camille is suspicious of Dr. Antos’s intentions but her dad goes missing, leaving her no choice but to travel to Italy. Is she walking into a lion’s den or has her illness invaded her reality?
Jude only knows one thing: he must rescue Camille. It doesn’t matter what must be done to save her from the evil coven, he will do it. But once she’s recovered, what will his role be? How does he fit into the trinity’s prophecy? Find out in this urban fantasy adventure novel that finds the Kingdom Journals characters traversing the globe in search of Camille, and the key to breaking an age-old curse.
They’d been imaginary childhood friends until Alena found him thirteen years later. After uniting the trinity, they formed a coven of witches, eight souls shouldered with the burden of breaking an age-old curse. Someone had to lead, and from the moment he became a full witch, Hunter knew it must be him. But his power, the magic coursing through his veins, hungered for a life of its own. Can he control his demons? Will Alena, Camille, and Hunter figure out how to break the spell binding their souls or will the darkness consume them?
Tricia lives in Colorado with her family and four-legged friends. She writes young and new adult fiction including fantasy, paranormal, dystopian, and romance titles. If not out on the trail, you can find Tricia on your favorite social media!
Find Tricia and her books at www.triciacopeland.com or on your favorite social media.
Emma Lovett leaves her philandering husband and crosses the country to begin her teaching career at a high school in Pinewood, Colorado.There, she meets Leslie Parker, a fellow teacher given to quoting Shakespeare to fit all situations, and the two become fast friends.
Arriving at work early one morning, Emma discovers the body of the school custodian, a man who reminds her of her late father. When the police struggle to find the killer, the ladies decide to help solve the murder. Their efforts lead them to a myriad of suspects: the schizophrenic librarian, the crude football coach, the mysterious social studies teacher, and even Emma’s new love interest.
As Emma Lovett discovers the perils of teaching high school, she and Leslie learn more than they ever wanted to know about the reasons people kill.
You shall not know by what strange accident I chanced on this letter.
—The Merchant of Venice V.I.278–9
Prologue Wednesday, August 26
Please, please write me back. Oh, I’m so worried these letters aren’t finding their way to you. Our love deserves a chance to flourish. I know you think so too. You might want to give me one of your favorite quotes: “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened,” but you don’t really feel that way. I don’t believe we’re over, not yet.
Never forget how much I love you—let the colors remind you. Your Airborne Raquel Welch is thinking of you.
Melvin McManus ran his fingers over the letter again. The paper was worn until almost transparent, and the care with which he folded it and inserted it back into its envelope made it seem as though he held a priceless jewel. He picked up his silver flask and stared at it. His left hand started to raise the flask to his lips, but then he flung it against the wall of the narrow room. He stood.
Melvin closed the small hidden doorway and routed the pipe maze to get to the basement. He stumbled through the basement door and lurched up the stairs, his bulky form weaving as if he weren’t sure of finding the next step. Covering his mouth to muffle a hacking cough, Melvin stopped and listened. He really shouldn’t be there after midnight—his shift only went from three to ten. But sometimes the work took much longer than that, because he hoped the care he took with the building might help the students stop taking this important time in their lives for granted. Many of them did take it for granted, though, and might end up like Melvin, navigating the world without any education or any real options. Those students didn’t make any kind of connection between now and later.
He opened the door at the top of the stairs and continued through the gymnasium and into the hallway. The brown tile on the commons floor gleamed, and he thought of Adam and when he’d found the poor kid splayed out on the now-shiny floor. Melvin had been thrown out into the world so young, he’d never had to deal with schoolyard bullies as Adam had. Poor kid. Melvin ran a hand through his sparse gray hair, pondering.
As Melvin paced through the commons, steadying himself briefly against some lockers and again on a wall painted with a fierce-looking blue cat, he stopped to look at the sign above the main office: “Wildcats: Producing Proud and Productive Future Citizens.” He’d seen that sign many times, but tonight, it made him long to become, finally, the future citizen he wished to be. He didn’t know how much longer he could stand the waiting, even with his helpful hideout in the basement. He knew he was close, though—close to achieving his goal. Edward had said as much last week, and the closer Melvin got, the less he drank and the better he felt. He allowed the moment of anticipation to swell, forgot about the Wildcats sign, and almost ran back to the basement for the letters.
He sighed, an explosive whoosh that flattened his belly and whispered his nose hairs. Almost there, almost there. He looked at his hands, dirty and greasy from work but still strong. He thought of those hands in his younger years, how she’d kissed each of his fingertips as if they were precious. He remembered what those hands had felt like when they held her, and the dirt fell away like magic.
A muffled thump startled him out of his reverie. Crap. Melvin knew he was a little tipsy, not done with his work, and in the wrong part of the building to boot. He walked nonchalantly in the other direction, but he heard the thump again, followed by a tinkling noise like breaking glass. Damn. Maybe he should look. It could be a cat or other animal, and he’d hate to trap one in the school for the whole night.
He peeked through the windows of the main office and looked at the front desk, where the computer monitor flashed and he saw someone sitting. Melvin checked his watch: half past midnight. Oh, he hoped it wasn’t who he thought, but he had to check. After unlocking the doors, he curved around the front counter to approach the left desk and stiffened when he saw who it was.
“Oh, I can see you didn’t listen!” he exclaimed. “We have to make this stop. That’s it; I don’t care what happens. I’m gonna…”
Melvin heard a whoosh followed by a crack, and he felt his body fall as it slammed hard onto the shiny brown tiles.
Kelley Bowles Gusich writes young adult novels under the pen name Kelley Kay Bowles and cozy mysteries under Kelley Kaye. Her debut novel, cozy mystery Death by Diploma, was released by Red Adept Publishing on February 2016, and is first in her Chalkboard Outlines® series. Book 2, Poison by Punctuation, was released April 2018 and is available now.
Kelley’s new young adult novel, Down in the Belly of the Whale, was released May 5th, 2018 and is now available. Look for it in Kindle, paper, hardcover, and audio book–with Kelley, the author, as narrator! (She used to teach drama and direct plays. She’s a ham.)
Kelley taught high school English and drama for twenty years in Colorado and California, but a 1994 diagnosis of multiple sclerosis has (circuitously and finally) brought her to the life of writer and mother, both occupations she adores and dreamed about way back when she was making up stories revolving around her Barbie and Ken dolls.
Kelley has two wonderful and funny sons and an amazing husband who cooks for her. She lives in Southern California.
You can learn more about Kelley and contact her through her website and blog at www.kelleykaybowles.com. She wants to hear from you, so don’t be shy about emailing her at kelkay1202(at)yahoo.com, and follow her on social media @KelKay1202. #HarpersPower
Kelley remains ever grateful to her readers for sharing their reviews, comments, and insights!
Caveat Emptor (story one): Mark buys a house for half the market value. He’s thrilled with the deal, but he has no idea he’s about to discover the full cost. As they say, “Let the buyer beware.”
The Meaning of Life (story two): Eric obsesses over discovering the meaning of life. Given how thick-headed and self-absorbed he is, it will take someone else to spell it out for him in big, bold letters.
In the Sand Beneath the Dawn (story three): Carly has just about given up on life, but she’ll learn Fate isn’t finished with her, and is shuffling the cards to deal her new hand.
See You in My Dreams (story four): Arthur teeters between two places at once. Reality has split his existence into two parallel realities, and he doesn’t even know it. Unfortunately, life will only offer one solution to his problem.
Planet 94 (story five): Senja and Petre make the scientific discovery of a lifetime—a planet teeming with life. Among the ruins of a lost civilization, a new discovery will make them rethink everything they know about their own history.
The Gift that Keeps on Giving (story six): Samantha works hard and makes just enough money to get by with little to spare. When her company has a big celebration and she needs to buy a gift for her boss, she’ll get a taste of buyer’s remorse when she ignores her instincts and buys a gift from a strange little shop that hadn’t been there only yesterday.
The alarm clock blared. Sunlight filtering through the window shades cast a sickly grey hue about the room. Three open moving boxes sat on the floor near the closet, their contents sorted into piles waiting to be moved to their appropriate places. Mark had moved in just four days ago.
The divorce had been bitter. His ex-wife got the house, the kids, and half of everything else. He got to pay the mortgage, alimony, and child support. He never would have been able to afford this place if it hadn’t been for the circumstances. Three previous owners, all young men, had died in this very bedroom. All had died in their sleep of unknown causes within days of moving in. Mark had laughed at the idea that the house was to blame. The first time he walked in, it had felt so welcoming, drawing him in. When he made a ridiculously low offer for the place, he’d been shocked when the bank accepted it without counter. Now, he lay motionless on the bed, beads of sweat glistening on his ashen face. Mark was dead. Number four. He wasn’t laughing any longer.
Jim Proctor has been an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy since high school, bitten by the Sci-Fi bug while reading Frank Herbert’s Dune. He has worked as an engineer and laboratory scientist for almost forty years, and uses his expertise to create believable frameworks for his science fiction stories. He is married with four kids, all adults now, who remind him he was born before dirt was invented. He enjoys sitting down with his laptop and his new writing partner, Bailey, a two-year-old yellow Labrador.
Firefighter Jackson Donovan doesn’t look back—as a rule. So when his past comes roaring back to life in the form of not-so-damsel-in-distress Becks Benning, the last thing he wants to do is relive old times. No matter how tempting she makes it seem…
Now thanks to his two interfering brothers, Becks is living with him while she looks for a new place and tries to pick up the pieces of her tattoo business that went up in flames. Which means a grown up, smokin’ hot Becks is in his house, digging up old wounds. And despite his better judgement, the more time he spends with this smart, artistic, incredible woman the more he wants her in his bed—and his future.
Becks always had it bad for Jackson. Unfortunately for her, not much has changed—he’s still honorable, hard-working, sexy as sin—and closed off. But there’s more than one way to get to a man’s heart and if Jackson doesn’t want to recall old memories, she’ll just have to help him make new ones. Because now that she’s found Jackson again, she’s not letting him go.
They’d gotten separated from the rest of the group when the downpour started, but that happened sometimes. Jackson hoped the rest of them were okay in the tents. For tonight, it was just him, Rafe and Kal.
They’d been lucky to find this abandoned piece of junk house, so they could have a roof over their heads during the storm. Jackson was on lookout tonight, because you never knew who might be prowling for space, or the cops might come and bust them and the last thing they needed was to be dragged back into some shitty foster home worse than the last one.
Foster homes were a crapshoot. Sometimes you got lucky and they were decent. More often than not you got people who were in it for the money, or the system was so overburdened with kids you ended up shuffled from one home to another and you couldn’t even remember anyone’s names. They sure as hell didn’t remember yours. And then sometimes you got the mean ones. At fourteen, Jackson could handle himself. Rafe was getting there at thirteen, but Kal was only twelve. As the oldest, Jackson was responsible for looking out for the younger ones. His brothers. Not by blood, but they were still his brothers.
No, they were better off on their own where they had each other’s backs and no one could ever hurt them again.
Tonight they gotten lucky and had a place to sleep out of the rain. They’d scored a whole pizza some jerkoff had left uneaten on his back porch while the dude was inside having an argument with his girlfriend, so they had full bellies. Rafe and Kal were asleep on the floor in another room while Jackson stood watch. He gazed out the living room window of the old beach house, watching lightning arc across the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was a bad one tonight and the rain was coming down hard.
He walked away from the water view and made his way to the front of the house. He scanned the street out front to make sure it was still clear. Because of the rain, no one was wandering around, which made him feel more secure.
Not that you could ever feel completely safe. Not when you lived like they did.
He pushed off the wall to wander around. Lots of windows in this place. He’d bet it was killer when the sun was out. But tonight the rain made it cold, so they’d shut all the windows earlier. His boots creaked on the worn wood floor. As he moved from room to room he could imagine a family with a couple of kids and maybe a dog running this joint. They’d probably have nice furniture, some cushy-looking couch where they’d all cuddle together and read at night.
He could still remember what it was like to have a family, though that had been a long time ago and there was no point living in the past. He wasn’t gonna get that life back.
Anyway, this was a decent beach house, and maybe someday it would get fixed up. Or maybe torn down. But tonight, it was their shelter and they didn’t have one of those very often.
Having made a circuit of the place, he returned to the living room and sat down in the corner. He leaned back against the wall and settled in.
Jackson woke up coughing, something burning his lungs so badly he couldn’t breathe. He tried to open his eyes, but when he did they burned.
He fought to suck in air, found his voice so he could call out for Rafe and Kal. They didn’t answer. His stomach tightened as he saw flames lick up the wall across the room.
Oh, shit. Fire. He didn’t want to die. He didn’t want his brothers to be dead. Tears pricked his eyes as he tried to see through the thick, black smoke. He pushed himself onto his hands and knees, trying to remember where the door was, what room the boys were sleeping in. Had they been right next to him, or had he moved into another room? His brain was fuzzy and he couldn’t remember.
He coughed, the smoke entering his lungs with every breath he took. He pulled his raggedy T-shirt over his mouth, trying to stifle the smoke. He had to get to Rafe and Kal. He was the oldest. It was his job to save them.
He called out to them, rasping out a cough with every few words. But he kept at it. They had to hear him. If he could hear them, he could get to them. Then they’d figure a way out. Because no way were they dying in this piece-of-shit building today.
Finally, he heard voices. The sound was faint, but he wasn’t imagining it. He’d definitely heard it. It was them. It had to be them. Which meant they were alive. He crawled toward the sound, his own voice hoarse as he yelled out in response.
“I’m here! Hang on.” The smoke grew thicker and he could feel himself slipping away, but sheer determination kept him conscious. He was their brother. They’d been through so much together, had survived so much together. This fire wasn’t going to get them.
When he saw the light and the tall shadow looming over him, he thought maybe it was too late. He was dead and this was some dark angel come to take him away. But then strong arms scooped him up.
“It’s okay, buddy,” the dark angel said. “I’ve got you. You’re safe now.”
Jackson shook his head and gripped the angel’s arm, barely able to stay conscious. “My . . . my brothers.”
“They’re safe, too. They’re outside. Come on. Let’s get you out of here.”
Jackson sighed in relief and let himself fall into the darkness.