Sunday, July 30, 2017

#GiveAway ~ The Caretaker By Dahlia Donovan ~ @DahliaDonovan

 The Caretaker
Series: The Sin Bin, Book 2

About the Book: 
Nurse Freddie Whittle devotes every fibre of his being to his work with cancer patients. Their pain weighs heavily on his shoulders. Between losing clients, the expectations of his fathers, and bigot neighbours, he’s slowly reaching his breaking point.

Taine Afoa retires from a storied career as an international rugby star. He’s moved away from London for a change of pace, never expecting to meet a man who’s far too young for him. No matter how hard he tries, it’s impossible to get Freddie out of his mind.

Will Taine's resistance dissolve in time for him to give love the chance to flourish?
Genre: Gay Romance
Release Date: July 8, 2017
Publisher: Hot Tree Publishing
Cover Designer: Claire Smith
 Add to TBR

 On sale for $2.99 
All other links:


They’d ask too many questions, assume too many things about him dashing out in the early hours to help a group of former rugby players. He could lie. They’d see through it, though; they always did.


Freddie paused at his full name—no one other than his angry dads called him anything other than Freddie. He paused by the front door to see Taine had caught up to him. “Yes?”

“Thank you, Frederick, for coming out to help us poor sods out.”

He had to clear his throat to respond. The man’s deep voice saying his name caused his stomach to flip and his lower region to rise in interest. He smiled through it. “I’m always happy to help.”

They stood awkwardly. Neither knew what to say. A loud thud was their only warning before a stumbling Scottie slammed into the back of Taine, which sent him into Freddie like a row of dominos tumbling to the floor.

Freddie groaned under the mass of muscle. He cringed inwardly when it dawned on him that Taine would now be able to feel his earlier piqued interest. “Could you get off me?”

“Want me to help you get off?” Taine’s murmured comment sent a shiver down his spine. “I wouldn’t mind.”

“No, I want you to help me get up before my ribs decide to cave in completely,” Freddie replied tartly, if a bit unsteadily. “What do they feed you rugby types?”

“He’s calling you fat, Tens,” Scottie teased from somewhere above them. Freddie couldn’t see him through the bulk of the man crushing him to the floor. “Up you two get, or I’ll start making assumptions that’ll have me blushing.”

The weight of Taine lifted off him, and a hand reached down to yank him up to his feet. Freddie frowned at Scottie, who hadn’t quite removed his fingers yet. The tall, muscled, blond man had an edge to him that was worrying.

“Scottie.” Taine shoved his friend down the hall away from them. “Go see Caddock.”

“Aye aye, Tens.”

“He’s—something.” Freddie chose to stick with his fathers’ advice to not be rude when it wasn’t necessary. He glanced up to find Taine’s intense gaze focused on him. “I should get going. My dads will wonder what happened.”

“Your dads?”

“My family is a modern one.” Freddie had no intention of explaining his family to a man he’d only recently gotten to know. “Was there anything else?”

Taine cocked his head to the side as if assessing Freddie. He slowly smiled—a wide, dangerous sort of grin, rather akin to a predator who had just caught his prey. “Can I have your number?”


Not the question I thought was coming.

“Why?” Freddie shook his head at himself. Do I care why an incredibly attractive man wants my number? He internally shrugged before holding his hand out. No, no I don’t care why. “Give your phone over—I’ll add it for you.”

The bemused expression on Taine’s face made the tingling in his spine at the brush of their fingers worth it. Freddie quickly entered his mobile number under the name Nurse Bunny. He imagined the man would have to go to great lengths to explain it to anyone who saw it.

“Enjoy your weekend with the lads.” Freddie started towards the door, tossing the phone over his shoulder. “Don’t get too drunk. I’m not making another emergency visit to cure hangovers.”
The Sin Bin, Book 1
On sale for half price!

The Wanderer

About the Author: 

Dahlia Donovan wrote her first romance series after a crazy dream about shifters and damsels in distress. She prefers irreverent humour and unconventional characters. An autistic and occasional hermit, her life wouldn’t be complete without her husband and her massive collection of books and video games.

 Game On Submissions

Saturday, July 29, 2017

#GiveAway #Interview ~ Summer of Seduction Anthology ~ @AMHalford @CandiFox @izzySzyn

Summer of Seduction
An Anthology
By Candi Fox, Louisa Bacio, Bobbi Romans, Monica Corwin, Audra Hart, Shakir Rashaan, AM Halford, 
Sheri Velarde, Izzy Szyn

These fabulous authors are offering wonderful giveaways. There are Amazon Gift Cert's, ebooks, and a print book of Summer of Seduction up for Grabs. Please use the RaffleCopter below to enter. You may increase your chances of wining by visiting the other tour stops. You may find those locations here

Interview with A.M. Halford:

Crystal: Today I have the pleasure of hosting A.M. Halford. Welcome A.M. Halford! I'm so excited you are here today. Would you share a little bit about yourself with us today?
A.M. Halford: Well, my pen name is A.M. Halford and I write MM erotic romance with sprinklings of supernatural, sci-fi, and contemporary genres. I live in Southern Oregon, and I take a lot of inspiration from the natural beauty of the area I live in.

Crystal: What are you currently working on?
A.M. Halford: Currently I'm working on the fourth book in my Galaxia Pirates series, Hustle of the Gunman. I've also got several other projects dancing around in the background.

Crystal:  Where did you come up with the idea for either your current release or your current WIP?
A.M. Halford: The idea for my current release, the story in Summer of Seduction: Summer Fever in a Tent, was taken from a hike up to Baby Foot Lake, which is the setting for the story. It's a beautiful location.
Hustle of the Gunman was inspired a conversation I had with some friends while stargazing.

Crystal: Do you have a favorite snack that you like to munch on while writing? If so would you mind sharing what it is with us?
A.M. Halford: I love popcorn! I'm certain it has gotten to the point of being considered an addiction. I pop mine using a pan, oil, and kernels on the stove top. Top it off with my favorite popcorn seasoning and presto! Perfect writing snack.

Crystal: Do you have a favorite scene you would like to share with us?
A.M. Halford: I have written many scenes that I am found of. From Summer Fever in a Tent, I think my favorite scene is the morning after:

Glancing at his watch Paul sighed. It wasn’t even seven in the morning yet. He guessed he could let Danny sleep a little longer. Carding his fingers through the other’s hair one more time, he kissed him softly and then left the tent. Tasha and Ray were both already up and upon seeing his friend Paul froze.

Ray’s eyes, so similar in color but different in intensity to Danny’s, pinned Paul where he stood. “Sleep well?” there was a definite note of accusation in his voice as Ray glared at him.

“Yes,” Paul nodded. He wanted to make a joke about having to sleep on the ground and roots and rocks in his back, but decided against it. Ray didn’t look like he was in a joking mood.

“And my brother?” the tone of Ray’s voice and straightening of his shoulders made Paul pause in his movement to sit down. “How’s he doing?”

“Sleeping still,” Paul answered, choosing his words carefully. Fear was starting to creep up on him with each tense question that came from Ray. Tasha wasn’t saying anything either. If anything, she was pointedly ignoring them both.

Ray didn’t say anything else for a while, instead he broke up some sticks and tossed them onto the small fire Tasha was using to cook breakfast. Just as Paul had finally sat down and was reaching for the coffee pot Ray cleared his throat. Looking to his best friend Paul tensed again. There it was, the look he’d always feared to see. Betrayal.

Crystal: When you are not busy writing wonderful stories to keep us lucky readers entertained, what do you like to do? Do you have a hobby?
A.M. Halford: I have several hobbies. They include hiking, drawing, movie watching, and playing with my dogs. I have two that are often involved in my outdoor activities.

Crystal: Do you have a favorite background noise you like to having going while you write (TV, Music, kids playing)?
A.M. Halford: I love listening to music. I like to find an album or playlist that matches the feel of the scenes I'm writing and play those. Sometimes I'll watch TV while writing. Like right now I've been watching a lot of sci-fi shows while writing Hustle of the Gunman.

Crystal: Thanks for visiting. It has been a pleasure having you visit today. Can you think of anything else you would like to share with us today?

A.M. Halford: Why yes, I'd like to say thank you for having me today, and please if you'd like further information about me, or my books, check out my website

About the Book: 
"Avoid the burn, but savor the heat of the season! Kick back in the shade with your copy of Nine Hot Authors – Nine Sexy Tales of Summer Sizzle!

“Sugar’s Salvation” by Candi Fox 
☆。☆。☆ 。☆。☆
“Dry Heat” by Louisa Bacio
☆。☆。☆ 。☆。☆
“A Summer Tryst” by Bobbi Romans
☆。☆。☆ 。☆。☆
Windows and Doors By Monica Corwin
☆。☆。☆ 。☆。☆
“Primal Heat” by Audra Hart
☆。☆。☆ 。☆。☆
“GFE Interrupted” by Shakir Rashaan
☆。☆。☆ 。☆。☆
“Summer Fever in a Tent” by A.M. Halford
☆。☆。☆ 。☆。☆
“Mikhail's American Adventure” by Sheri Velarde
☆。☆。☆ 。☆。☆
“Kassie’s Seduction” by Izzy Szyn

Featuring an exotic array of genres to tempt even the pickiest of palates! Come, join the erotic adventure of “A Summer of Seduction"
Amazon Buy Link

About the Authors: 

Candi Fox:

Candi Fox, co-host of the wildly popular radio show Candi and Company with over 900 thousand listeners began her venture in the paranormal at the tender age of two, when she witnessed her first apparition. From that moment on the paranormal seemed to follow her. No matter where she moved, the house she lived in the house next door, or the house down the street always seemed to be haunted. 

She often wondered if she drew the spirits to her. Little did she know that she was indeed a magnet of sorts. It wasn't until she was in her late twenties that she found people who could not only explain her gifts, but would also help her hone them. Armed with this new knowledge she began to openly explore hauntings and other paranormal phenomena. 

Growing up in Indiana lent her the opportunity to explore many famous haunted places including the Hannah House, which was once part of the Underground Railroad. A little over two years ago she moved to Tulsa, OK and has began to explore the haunted landscape in a new state. 

Candi lives with her husband, and furry children in Tulsa. She is passionate about the occult, saving and rehabilitating horses, horseback riding, magic, all things mystical and has her Reiki Mastery. 

She uses her own paranormal experiences as well as her own life traumas to write from a grounded and realistic perspective about subjects that are hard to talk about and even harder to feel for yourself.

Social Links: 
Facebook | Amazon |Website | Facebook | Blog |
Twitter | Instagram

Louisa Bacio:

A Southern California native, Louisa Bacio can’t imagine living far away from the ocean. The multi-published author of erotic romance enjoys writing within all realms – from short stories to full-length novels.
Bacio shares her household with a supportive husband, two daughters growing “too fast,” and a multitude pet craziness: Two dogs, five fish tanks, an aviary, hamsters, rabbits, guinea pigs and geckos. In her other life, she teaches college classes in English, journalism and popular culture.

Social Links: 
Website  | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter 

Bobbi Romans:

She's a Mom, BamMaw, Aunt and loves to write, cook, and be both crafty and thrifty. Oddities include, marring people and moons ago, being on a talk show. *wink*

Bobbi writes a little bit of everything to find her available books, check out her Amazon page. To read reviews of her stories, check out her Goodreads page.

To find Bobbi herself she's on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Goodreads, and had her blog located at, Bobbi Roman's Yakpad!

She loves to hear from readers so feel free to drop her a line.

Monica Corwin:

Monica Corwin is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author. She is an outspoken writer attempting to make romance accessible to everyone, no matter their preferences. As a Northern Ohioian, Monica enjoys snow drifts, three seasons of weather, and a dislike of Michigan football. Monica owns more books about King Arthur than should be strictly necessary. Also typewriters...lots and lots of typewriters.

You can find her on Facebook at:, on Twitter at:, on the web at: Monica Corwin is also on Instagram:

If you want up to date information on releases be sure to follow her here on Amazon or you can join her newsletter:

Audra Hart:

Audra Hart is a southern gal with plenty of life experience, which has lent itself to a colorful and somewhat naughty imagination. An avid reader from a very young age who enjoys a wide array of genres, Audra truly loves to read and write sexy paranormal romance novels and strives to write romantic tales which are so exciting, so hot and so moving that her readers can gleefully escape their daily concerns while immersed in her fictional universe. As a lifelong fan of the Happily Ever After, Audra strives to give her readers true moments of joy within the pages of her books. The heroines in these stories are always strong and sensual survivors who find themselves bonded to powerful and sexy alpha-male heroes.

If you enjoy paranormal romance loaded with tons of action, in and out of the bedroom, as well as a fresh twist on mythology and folklore, then Audra Hart is the author for you. If you enjoy well developed characters, intricate plots and surprising twists... check out these stories! All of Audra's novels are written to be enjoyed by adults only. 

You can always find Audra on FB at:
Shakir Rashaan:

Shakir Rashaan is the Bestselling author of In Service to the  Senator, the Nubian Underworld series and the Kink, P.I. Series. His other projects include upcoming releases Unthinkable, The Devil's All-American, and SAMOIS: Book four/ Chronicles of the Nubian Underworld. Other Projects are in development for later publication under P.K. Rashaan. If you want to read more, visit

A.M. Halford:

A.M. Halford lives in Southern Oregon and enjoys spending as much time outside as she possibly can. Her partner and her often find themselves hiking with their two dogs when the weather permits it. Fishing, camping, and photography are also activities she greatly enjoy. If the weather doesn’t permit going outside she likes to curl up with a sketch book and draw whatever comes to mind.

A.M. Halford got into writing as an outlet for personal therapy and has since expanded that into a hobby and profession that she enjoys. She often writes down anything that comes to mind, combing through the ideas and expanding on plots that sound the most interesting. She likes to write believable relations between people overcoming unfair hardships set before them. She always loves a happy ending and no matter the hell her characters go through they’ll always get their forever person.

Social Links: 
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Goodreads |
Bookstrand | Amazon

Sheri Velarde:

Sheri Velarde lives in New Mexico with her husband and their two dogs
Being an avid reader since an early age, she has wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember. She has been writing all her life, but only recently started to actually try to pursue her dream of writing for a living. She specializes in all things paranormal and that go bump in the night. Her heart truly lies in exploring unknown worlds or adding the supernatural to our world. If it goes bump in the night or has magical connotations, Sheri writes about it. She writes everything from sweet romances to horror stories sure to scare you.

She is constantly putting out new material with various publishers, so it is best to keep up with her on her website

In her spare time Sheri is an artist, jewelry designer, independent comic writer/artist and freelance non-fiction writer. Hiking in the mountains, going to live concerts, art openings, museums, watching movies, playing games, and hosting intimate dinner parties.

Social Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

Izzy Szyn:

New York Times Bestselling Author Izzy Szyn was born in May of 2014 when a friend dared her to write. Born and raised in Detroit, Mi. Izzy now lives in Oklahoma City with her furchild Misty, the friendliest Chihuahua/Terrier you will ever meet. Currently works in a call center, where she writes in between phone calls. 

Izzy loves to keep in touch with her readers. Email her at

Social Links:

#GiveAway ~ LEAVE THE NIGHT ON By Laura Trentham ~ @LauraTrentham

By Laura Trentham

Love, betrayal, and sweet revenge—life in Cottonbloom is about to get a whole lot hotter . . .

Sutton Mize is known for lavishing attention on the customers who flock to her boutique on the wealthy side of her Mississippi town. So when she finds a lace thong in her fiancé’s classic cherry-red Camaro, she knows just who she sold it to: her own best friend. In an instant, Sutton’s whole world goes up in flames. . .

Wyatt Abbott has harbored a crush on Sutton since he was a young kid from the other side of the tracks. He witnessed Sutton’s shocking discovery in the Camaro at his family-owned garage—and it made him angry. What kind of man could take lovely, gorgeous Sutton for granted? But then Sutton comes up with an idea: Why not give her betrothed a taste of his own medicine and pretend that she’s got a lover of her own? Wyatt is more than happy to play the hot-and-heavy boyfriend. But what begins as a fictional affair soon develops into something more real, and more passionate, than either Sutton or Wyatt could have imagined. Could it be that true love has been waiting under the hood all along?

Buy Links:
Author Bio:
An award-winning author, Laura Trentham was born and raised in a small town in Tennessee. Although, she loved English and reading in high school, she was convinced an English degree equated to starvation. She chose the next most logical major—Chemical Engineering—and worked in a hard hat and steel toed boots for several years.

She writes sexy, small town contemporaries and smoking hot Regency historicals. The first two books of her Falcon Football series were named Top Picks by RT Book Reviews magazine. Then He Kissed Me, a Cottonbloom novel, was named as one of Amazon’s best romances of 2016. When not lost in a cozy Southern town or Regency England, she's shuttling kids to soccer, helping with homework, and avoiding the Mt. Everest-sized pile of laundry that is almost as big as the to-be-read pile of books on her nightstand.

Social Links:

Chapter Two
Sutton stared at the lace concoction. From La Perla’s fall collection. Fine Italian lace. Ridiculously expensive for something so small. A special order with the addition of a small embroidered heart to sit at the owner’s hipbone. Oh yes, she was acquainted with the underwear but not intimately acquainted. She’d ordered them through Abigail’s Boutique, but not for herself. She was too practical.
Wyatt Abbott shook them even closer to her face, obviously expecting her to take them. The thought of touching the lace made her shrink against the driver’s door, and she fumbled for the handle, finally finding it and yanking. The door opened and her momentum sent her to the shop floor on her butt.
Her skirt bunched around her thighs, probably high enough for Wyatt Abbott to see her simple cotton pink panties from Victoria’s Secret. The fact they weren’t white was the wildest she got. She’d even waited for them to go on sale. With a bruised ego and bottom, she scrambled up.
Wyatt hadn’t moved. His mouth was parted, still in a slight smile, the panties dangling from his fingers. Instead of the roil of emotions gaining steam inside of her, she concentrated on his hands. They were rough-looking and callused. The nails were short but lined with grease. And they were big. They built things. Fixed things. Put things back together.
A darkness came over his face, clouding his earlier good-humor and giving him an edge of danger she hadn’t sensed through his teasing. Instead of getting out of the car from the door, he stood up on the passenger seat, stepped to the driver’s seat, and hopped next to her, the black lace of her betrayal dangling in his hand.
“What’s the problem?” he asked.
A jackhammering noise from the other bay filled the space so she didn’t have to. The crazy thing was that she had sensed something wrong. Something had been wrong pretty much since she and Andrew had gotten engaged.
She’d tried to put it down to nerves or how busy they both were with work. But the truth was she’d been dragging her feet with the wedding preparations. Between the two of them pulling away, the distance had grown until only an echo of what had drawn them together remained.
The hum of a motor and the flash of sunlight on metal drew her attention to the open bay door. Her best friend, Bree Randall, stepped out of her BMW coupe dressed in heels, grey slacks, and a sleeveless silk shell, the pink contrasting beautifully with her dark brown hair and ivory complexion. She was a lawyer for Cottonbloom, Mississippi’s city government and had been Sutton’s best friend since first grade.
No way could Sutton smile and pretend everything was fine. She grabbed the front of Wyatt’s coveralls and looked up at him. The boy she remembered had been too cool and a borderline jerk, teasing her incessantly, almost to the point of tears. The man was still too cool, yet something new lurked behind his ease. She hoped it was akin to kindness.
Bree drew closer. Stuck between a devil she knew and one she didn’t, Sutton took a chance. Her voice was hoarse and begging and she didn’t care. “Get me out of here. Please.”
Without taking his eyes off her, he called out, “Yo, Jackson. Could you put the lady from the Beemer in the waiting room? Tell her Miss Mize isn’t feeling well and stepped out back for some fresh air.”
If his brother answered, she didn’t hear him. Wyatt put a strong, stabilizing arm around her shoulders and guided her around various pieces of equipment and mechanical parts to a door tucked away at the back of the shop floor. She stepped outside, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath. The freshness of the air counteracted the bile rising in her throat.
Her knees wobbled as the stark reality of the situation and the fallout took shape in her mind. She glanced at the man by her side. What was Wyatt Abbott thinking right now? Probably that she was borderline psychotic.
A huge red barn sat behind the shop, and they passed from sun back into shadows. A body-sized punching bag twirled from a high beam as they passed by. That explained why the arm at her back was so solid. Her heels tapped on the wide-planked floor. The smell of weathered wood was overlaid by something sweeter. Honeysuckle, maybe.
No hay was stored in the Abbott’s barn. Two tarp-covered cars, the bottom curves of their tires the only part visible, formed a path to the back where a scratched up leather couch and mini-fridge sat.
“Sorry it’s so dusty in here. We like to keep the doors open if the weather’s nice because of the views and cross breeze.” He took a blue towel from his back pocket and wiped off a section of the couch, leaving yellow streaks of pollen. Getting a little dirty was way down on her list of worries and she plopped down, wrapping her arms around her stomach and leaning over so her forehead nearly touched her knees.
“You want a Coke or tea or something?”
She raised her head enough to see his big hand holding out a bottle. He shifted back and forth in his black work boots, the hem of his coveralls ombrèd black to grey with grease.
“It’s a little early for whiskey, but I’ve got that too if you’d rather.” He sounded so worried and unsure, she straightened, took the Coke and pressed the cool plastic against her cheeks and neck.
“You must think I’ve gone batty.” She rarely drank alcohol and never whiskey, but for a moment she considered it as a viable option, even though it was still technically breakfast. It was five o’clock somewhere, right?
“I think something really bad happened,” he said. “I’m not sure what, but I suspect it has something to do with the restaurant receipts and the underwear.”
“Oh God. The receipts.” Her mind hadn’t even circled back around to those, but everything notched into place like a puzzle whose missing piece turned up stuck on the bottom of a shoe covered with chewed up old gum and bug guts.
His late nights working. Breaking dates at the last minute. His distraction. How long had it been since they’d shared the same bed? Two months? Three? She’d put it down to the natural progression of a committed relationship and the busyness of their lives, assuming things would be better once they were living under the same roof.
“I’m a moron.” Tears crawled up her throat and choked off her feeble attempt of a laugh.
She closed her eyes wishing she could teleport herself back under the covers. The cushion sagged next to her, and she tipped towards him, her shoulder bumping his biceps. A moment passed before his arm came around her shoulders, and they sank back into the couch together.
She turned her face into the space between his neck and shoulder and took a deep breath, desperately trying to get a handle on her out-of-control emotions. Pain was to be expected, but the flashes of fierce fury took her by surprise.
Easygoing and nice and cheerful were bandied about when people passed compliments her way. At least, she’d always taken them as compliments. Now she wasn’t so sure. Maybe all those things were code words for weak and gullible.
Another breath. She concentrated on Wyatt’s warmth and scent. So different from the expensive cologne Andrew wore. Wyatt smelled like pine trees and the garage. His dark, almost black hair, tickled her nose. A tear slipped out and she wiped it away with the heel of her hand.
“You want me to go get your friend?” His chest vibrated against her, deep and rich.
Friend? She didn’t want to examine the other half of the betrayal. Worse than Andrew cheating on her was who he’d been getting down and dirty with. Her best friend. No. A friend wouldn’t sleep with her fiancé behind her back while helping her plan the wedding with an enthusiasm that oftentimes exceed her own.
Sutton ransacked her brain for moments she could point to and say Aha! but none came to mind. Bree had been supportive and helpful over the last few months. Lies. How many lies had Sutton accepted as gospel truth? A few more tears escaped along with a ragged breath.
Wyatt made a humming sound that was distinctly uncomfortable, and he pulled away. “Let me—”
She grabbed his coveralls. “No. Don’t you get it? That was her thong.”
He shifted to face her. “Is identifying underwear in a single glance your superpower?”
Despite her life crashing down, a shard of humor sliced through the shock, and her lips twitched. “Expensive underwear. The heart on the panties matches her tattoo. A special order.”
“You fiancé and your best friend?”
Put like that, she felt even dumber. “My life has turned into a cliché.”
“It’s a cliché because of how often it happens. Nothing for you to be ashamed of. It’s them that should feel like chickenshit.”
“You don’t understand how people like to talk.”
“I understand, alright. I just don’t care what people say.” The defiant edge in his voice spoke of his own pain and sorrows, but right now she only had room for her own. He was quiet for a moment. “You want me to get rid of her?”
Sutton sank back and took a swig of Coke, the burn bringing a different, more welcome, sort of tear to her eyes. “I need to talk to her. Confront her.”
“Yeah, but not hurt and crying. You need to prepare. Get mad then get even.”
His advice made her sit up straighter. She’d been raised to smooth feathers, not ruffle them. Her mother had taught her how a smile and pleasant word could diffuse most situations. The lessons had contributed to her business success but hadn’t done her personal life any favors. Another whip of red-hot fury flayed her heart.
“She’s my ride back over the river.” Her voice sounded even and strong, her anger a mast to cling to amid the wreckage.
“I can be your ride.”
“But you have work to do.”
The look he cast her was full of disbelief. “You’re not going through with the restoration, are you?”
The Camaro, the red harbinger of her ruin, had already slipped her mind. She didn’t even like the stupid car. Her daddy and Tarwater senior had hatched this surprise over a round of golf with Ford Abbott after she’d confessed she couldn’t think of anything to give Andrew as an engagement present. Only when her daddy had anted up half the money had she agreed. Their “go big or go home” mentality had seemed a ridiculous waste to her.
Dear Lord, her family. What would her daddy say? As a long-standing judge, he was sort of a colleague of Andrew’s. She closed her eyes and rocked forward and back on the edge of the couch.
“What if I’m overreacting?” If only this was a bad dream. Yet, did she really want that? An undercurrent that felt vaguely like relief trickled through the anger and humiliation and doubts.
“About which part, your fiancé cheating or who he was cheating with?” Wyatt stuck a hand into his pocket, came out with the thong and tossed it on her lap.
She leapt up and brushed it off as if she were Miss Muffet and it was a venomous, hairy, black spider. She kicked at it with the toe of her shoe. The red heart mocked her from the black lace. Yet the little girl who’d shared her pimento cheese sandwich with Bree every day during kindergarten wanted to be wrong.
She sank back down to the edge of the couch, feeling like she was shoring up the situation with Scotch tape. “There could be a reasonable explanation. Like she and Andrew went to lunch and for some reason she had them in her purse and they fell out. Maybe I’ve jumped to the wrong conclusion.”
“Maybe.” He shrugged. She appreciated the fact he wasn’t calling her on her BS excuses even though his face was the definition of skeptical.
“You sure you don’t mind giving me a ride?” she asked.
“I’ll get rid of your friend and take you home. That should buy you some time to figure things out. Confront her on your terms.”
Her initial impressions of Wyatt Abbott were from the viewpoint of a preteen girl. Back then, she’d been self-conscious of her skinny arms and legs and flyaway hair, and whenever she’d come to the garage with her daddy, Wyatt had made it his mission to tease her mercilessly.
What was he now? On the surface, she’d label him a good old boy. Fun, flirty, simple. Except, his gray eyes were anything but. Not flat like shale, but ready to spark a fire like a flint. Raw emotions provided a sharp awareness. Her memories of him urged her to be cautious with her trust, yet his jaw was set and his shoulders were rolled forward as if ready and willing to go into battle.
“Why?” she finally whispered.
“Why what?”
“Why are you being so nice to me? You hated me as a kid.”
“Hated you?” He stuffed his hands into his pockets and tipped his head enough to shutter his intensity of his eyes. “I never hated you, in fact . . .” He shook his head.
“In fact what?”
“Not important. Simply put, unlike your fiancé and your friend, I’m not an asshole. If you don’t need me—”
“No, I do need you.” She stood but misjudged how close he was. They weren’t touching, but she could feel his heat and appreciate his strength. “I just . . .”
Wyatt Abbott was handsome, but even more potent than his looks was an intangible confidence and ease with himself. The man probably talked a different woman out of her panties every weekend. Would he cash in on her humiliation for a good story to tell brothers and drinking buddies? Did it even matter? Whether it was him or someone else, rumors would rush through the town like their river after a storm
Insecurities pinged between her head and heart, the message clear. Protect yourself. But surely, she could at least trust him to get her home. “I would really appreciate a lift home.”
He chaffed her arms like a coach might comfort a little kid after a loss. “It’ll be okay. You wait here while I handle your friend, okay?”
She nodded, and he strode back toward the garage. Highlighted in a shaft of sunlight, he hesitated at the metal door they’d ducked through and glanced behind him. A zing of warning—or premonition?—skittered down her spine.
Her life had been spun into chaos, yet in that moment, she felt connected to Wyatt in a way that terrified her. Then he disappeared, and she waited to discover out if her trust had once again been misplaced.

Copyright © 2017 by Laura Trentham and reprinted by permission of St. Martin's Paperbacks.

a Rafflecopter giveaway