Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Wonder Giveaway Hop!


Celebrate the Wonder of the Season! Visit all of the blogs to see what they love most about the season and which books have made their Christmas wish lists! There's a giveaway at each stop so be sure to visit them all!

The Holiday season is magical here at Share My Destiny, so tell us what you think is special or magical about this time of year and enter to win a collection of eBooks all about Paranormal and Mystical Holidays! Don't forget to follow the hop for great prizes at every stop!




Kiss of Christmas Magic: 20 Paranormal Holiday Tales of Werewolves, Shifters, Vampires, Elves, Witches, Dragons, Fey, Ghosts, and More

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house,

not a creature was stirring...except for the hot werewolf in a Santa hat come to seduce you while you read...

Treat yourself to a winter wonderland of shapeshifters and vampires, elves and fairies, ghosts and other paranormal creatures!

Twenty brand-new novellas of Christmas magic from some of the stars of paranormal romance will brighten your holiday with candy cane kisses and hot toddy loving. Spend your long winter nights with otherworldly alpha males where true love always wins the day and the spirits of the season are naughty AND nice.

This is a limited edition bundle.



a Rafflecopter giveaway


Enter to win the Wonder Hop Grand Prize!


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Follow the Hop!

The Last Guardian Rises Tour, Excerpt & Giveaway!

The Last Guardian Rises
The Last Keepers’ Daughter Series
Book 2
Rebecca Trogner

Genre:  Paranormal, Romance, Mystery

Publisher:  Crescent Moon Press
Date of Publication: November 15, 2014

ISBN:  978-0-9908827-6-3
E-ISBN: 978-0-9908827-7-0

Number of pages:  295
Word Count: 90,000 approx

Book Description: 

Lily Ayres, Sanguis Ancilla to Krieger Barnes, has retreated into the shadows of the archives, hiding from the king and the intense emotions he arouses in her. How long can she deny him? Will she accept her role in the Other world and the abilities arising within her?

Krieger Barnes, Vampire King of North America, has shared his blood, his kingdom, and his heart with Lily. He summons her, needing her nearness, needing her to attend the council meeting with him.

Merlin, the king’s advisor, must fight the darkness that threatens to overtake him. Can he survive the dark magic?

Lucien Black, the wielder of the Dragon Sword, is once again charged with Lily’s protection. How will he explain his avoidance of her?

A being buried deep underground, inside a cage of iron and wrapped in chains, escapes. Is he the dark entity that the Others feel and fear?


Available at Amazon

Excerpt

He came back cradling what looked like a journal in his large hands. It was bound in leather with a faded black ribbon tied around the covers.

“Fell, I guess.”

Lily knew it couldn’t have fallen on its own. And why didn’t the lights come on when it moved? She took the offered book from Liam and rubbed her hand over the old leather. Someone had taken great care to keep it oiled and the leather supple as sin. For now, its contents were silent. Not all texts spoke with her – perhaps this one would later, or never would.

“Ready?” Liam opened the door and waited for her to follow.

Her mind said no, definitely not ready to see Krieger, but her heart beat faster, and she remembered his cool, calm voice, and how she loved the ambiguous color of his hypnotic bluegrey eyes. The night before Lily’s mother was discovered and she’d fatally stabbed Henry, Lily had argued with Krieger. From this vantage, Lily could see how trivial her protestations were. She’d felt he’d betrayed her, though he hadn’t, and because of her, Krieger had staunched the flow of blood through the bond they shared. Now, just a hint of warmth was flowing through her body, that feeling of being connected to him again, that tiny bit of delicious balm soothing her worries.
  

About the Author:

Rebecca Trogner lives in the Shenandoah Valley region of Virginia, and frequently crosses the Blue Ridge Mountains that were the inspiration for Krieger’s home. She dreamed of being a writer, but got sidetracked by the day-to-day adventures of life. With the encouragement of her family, she has finished her second novel and is currently writing the next book in The Last Keeper’s Daughter series. To find out more about the author visit www.rebeccatrogner.com.







A More Perfect Union Tour, Excerpt & Giveaway!

Emily’s Vow
A More Perfect Union
Book 1
Betty Bolté

Genre:  Historical Romance

Publisher: ePublishing Works!
Date of Publication: October 4, 2014

Ebook: 978-1-61417-654-1
Paperback: 978-1-61417-655-8
ASIN: B00O7601NY

Number of pages: 247

Cover Artist: ePublishing Works!

Book Description:

Emily Sullivan’s greatest fear is dying in childbirth, as did her twin sister and their mother. Then she’s thrown in a loyalist prison for her privateering father’s raids on the British, and her accuser--a former beau--promises to recant if she will marry him.

Frank Thomson always loved Emily despite her refusal to return his affections. A patriot spy posing as a loyalist officer, when Frank learns of Emily’s plight, he challenges her accuser to a duel.

Freed from prison, Emily ponders returning the affections of her rescuer--the only man she's ever loved and who married her twin to save the Sullivan family's reputation. But Frank cannot afford to be discovered. For the sake of young America, he must deliver his secrets.

Available at    Amazon    BN    Kobo   iBooks  Google Books



Excerpt

Emily hurried down the sandy road beside her friend, noting the waning sunshine draping shadows across the street. The slap of the waves at the distant convergence of the Cooper and Ashley Rivers beat a syncopated rhythm against the array of ship hulls, large and small, in the protected harbor. Many of the masts bobbing against the darkening sky sported the hated British flag. The losing army had resorted to sanctioned looting of the beautiful homes—those still standing after two years of British occupation as well as fires and bombardments—as booty for the officers and soldiers before they withdrew. She hoped they would leave soon, but nobody knew exactly when the British ships planned to depart. They'd already sent the bells to London along with other pilfered items. In fact, the British officers sought retaliation for the threat posed by the patriots, who had hidden their true allegiance, against the loyalists living in the city. The officers encouraged harassment of the American citizens, which translated into her father, a leading merchant in town, fearing for her safety more than ever. Until the British actually evacuated, uncertainty and fear blanketed the town.
Dragging in a deep breath, unease settled over Emily's frayed nerves at the thought of Frank's return. "I cannot believe Father insists I marry him after all that man has done. Surely Americans have matured enough they wouldn't force a woman to marry. It's 1782, after all. I'm not a child. Why doesn't he understand?"
A seagull glided past, its laughing call bringing a smile to her face. Her enjoyment didn't last long, though. The occupation of the town created fear and disquiet throughout the citizenry. Add in the horror of her sister Elizabeth's fiancé Jedediah dying, leaving her pregnant and in need of a husband. Then Jedediah's brother Frank, the man Emily had secretly cared for, married her sister to keep the child from being a bastard. Emily survived the misery of watching Frank marry Elizabeth only to suffer much more when Elizabeth died in childbirth with Frank away at war. Emily had come to terms with the prospect of raising her nephew, but being forced into marriage with Frank, too? How could life turn and twist with such disregard for her future goals and plans?
Frank's imminent arrival now distressed her as much as the three hundred British ships crowding the harbor. The rumor about town suggested the ships stood poised to carry away the defeated enemy troops along with any loyalists wanting to flee the town. Many slaves would likely take the chance on freedom offered by the British, despite the American protests. The constant motion of the water for once failed to soothe her troubled thoughts.
"Have you told your father how you feel?" Samantha matched Emily's stride easily despite her slight limp and the basket she carried.
Sharing her feelings with her father had once enjoyed an easy place in Emily's heart. Now his demands for her to cloister within the theoretic safety of the town house, joined with his desire that she marry to secure her future, made confiding in him difficult. His concern stemmed from her advancing age with few appropriate prospects for marriage due to America's fight for its independence from an overbearing mother country, which seemed to be winding down. She longed for those carefree days, years before, filled with friendly banter and heartfelt discussions with her father.
Emily wrinkled her nose. "I haven't spoken with him, not that I think he'll care. He's more concerned with my supposed need for a protector while he's away." What a pickle. Did he have to choose Frank to serve as both bodyguard and suitor?
The thought created ripples of fear along her spine. Marrying a man, any man, meant losing her individuality, a fate she dreaded. The vows included obeying and honoring him, which translated into having his children. She shivered, recalling her twin sister on her deathbed mere days after delivering her son. Emily held her hand as Elizabeth's life departed, her fingers falling limp within Emily's clutching grasp. Just like their mother before her.
So many young women across the country feared pregnancy and being brought to bed for that very reason. Elizabeth, like many of those women, had written out her will when she discovered she carried a child. At least the document detailed her wishes for her son. And her surrogate husband, Frank Thomson. Elizabeth was to wed Jedediah, the betrothal announced and celebrated, before Elizabeth revealed she was with child. The banns had been read twice when his militia duty arose and he'd left to fight. If Jedediah hadn't been killed, Frank would not have felt obligated to do his duty as Jedediah's brother to wed Elizabeth and give the unborn child a father and thus avoid bastardy.
Emily used to think of him as her Frank, until he told her his decision to wed Elizabeth. Her heart had hurt for months as she struggled to understand and accept the reality that she could never have him. But once Elizabeth died in similar circumstances as their mother, Emily's fear of dying as a result of childbirth eclipsed any naive desire to marry.
No, better to pursue her dreams of opening her ladies' accessories shop. She squared her shoulders, ready to face the astonishment of the ladies in town as well as plan a strategy for the battle when her father voiced his objections.



Amy’s Choice
A More Perfect Union
Book 2
Betty Bolté

Genre: Historical Romance

Publisher: ePublishing Works!

Date of Publication: October 5, 2014

Ebook: 978-1-61417-659-6
Paperback: 978-1-61417-660-2
ASIN: B00O7984P8

Number of pages: 231

Book Description:

Without a goodbye, Amy Abernathy's childhood sweetheart, Benjamin Hanson, leaves to fight in the American War for Independence.

Amy chooses to pick up the pieces of her heart and leave Charles Town to help her sister who is with child.

Benjamin knows he hurt Amy, but he plans to make it up to her after his mission is completed. Then he learns that Amy has been captured by renegade soldiers. Now Benjamin faces his own choice: free the sassy yet obstinate woman he's never stopped loving or protect Charles Town from vengeful British occupation.

Available at   Amazon    BN    Kobo   iBooks  Google Books



Excerpt

"Benjamin, what brings you out here so early this morning?" Walter slathered yellow butter on yet another slice of bread.
Amy kept her eyes on her plate, but her movements slowed, indicating she listened intently.
"Colonel Scarsdale made an important announcement last week, one that increases the chance of violent retaliation and looting by the British troops as they prepare to evacuate the city." Benjamin kept his eyes on Walter but watched Amy's actions at the side of his vision.
"Is the war finally over then?" Walter laid down his knife, eyes intent on Benjamin.
"It appears to be, all but the acts of signing the peace treaty and evacuating His Majesty's troops."
"When might that happen?" Emily fisted her napkin and gazed at him with hopeful eyes.
"As soon as conditions allow them to leave the harbor. But between now and then they will scavenge for any items of value they can lay their hands upon." He willed Amy to look at him, and finally she rewarded him by lifting her eyes to meet his. The force of her gaze sent a shock racing through him, stirring a reaction below his belt. Shifting to be more comfortable, he held her stare for a moment.
"But how does that impact us out here?" Amy regarded him, one hand poised above her plate, a bite of ham waiting. "Surely the Britons will not harm us so far from town. They'll be busy preparing to evacuate."
"Clearly you do not fathom the reality of the matter." When Amy merely stared at him, realization dawned as to the extent of the situation before him. He nearly let out a loud breath in annoyance. He checked the reflex. He needed to address the fact that Amy wasn't the only one in danger. Ideas popped into his head and he dismissed several before nodding. A simple solution. "I have come to take the girls back to town where I can keep them safe."
A startled silence followed his pronouncement.
"We are safe here." Samantha strode into the room and made straight for the sideboard.
Benjamin rose to greet her, and she waved him back into his seat. As he resettled himself, he noted Walter had not moved from where he sat crunching on a slice of apple.
"Yes, more so than we'd be in town at any rate." Emily looked from one person to another. "So many soldiers still roam the streets, after all."
"Besides, we cannot move Evelyn." Amy held knife and fork poised to slice through the ham. "I won't leave her here alone. She needs help until the baby arrives, and for a span after."
"She has me." Walter laid his hands flat on the table at either side of his plate. "I can take care of her."
Why did Walter brace himself as he spoke about his wife? Benjamin recognized the defensive nature, an insecurity, exemplified in Walter's behavior.
Amy darted a glance at Walter, then returned her gaze to Benjamin. "That's my fear."
Her mouth formed a stubborn pout as her eyes reflected her concern. What had occurred here to provoke such a statement? Amy glanced at Walter with unease plain in her expression, her distrust of the man evident. Despite himself, Benjamin tensed at the idea of Amy living under the same roof as Walter.
"I know how to defend myself, so I'll stay." Samantha placed her napkin in her lap. "More to the point, Evelyn will deliver any day now, and she'll need me."
Walter looked like he wanted to say something but held his thoughts in check. His brow lowered as he dipped his bread into his coffee. Walter did not act as refined in character as his appearance first suggested. More pieces to the puzzle fell into place, but still some holes remained before Benjamin formed an opinion of him.
"You'll need help with running this place." Emily laid her napkin on the table, her eyes steady on Samantha. "I'm accomplished at that, so I will stay to assist."
Seeing where this was leading, Benjamin made an effort to change the conversation's course. "In the event, Miss Amy stays with me." He spoke with less conviction than earlier as his resolve wilted under the arguments put forth by the women surrounding him. "I can't stay away from town long, not only because Captain Sullivan expects me to ensure the museum collection is not touched, but also because Amy's father requested I bring my fiancée back posthaste."
A feminine gasp drew his eyes to Amy's startled expression. Damnation. Too late, he realized his error as, in rhythm with three blinks, her stubborn expression shifted to surprise, then anger.
"Pardon me?" Her eyebrows arched over wide eyes. "You are engaged? To whom, pray tell?"
The set of her jaw dared him to say what he must in order to tell the truth of the matter. An attack of cotton mouth forced him to try to swallow as he searched for the proper response. How crass could he be, blurting out his bald intent? His carefully prepared speech blown apart by his own foolish words. Again, words had tripped him up and left him floundering. Yet, his mother would be proud of him for sticking to the facts, even if they created an awkward moment. He heaved a sigh. Nothing for it but the bare truth. "I spoke with your parents a few days ago, and they agreed..."
"Stop." Amy, face red, held up a hand as though warding off a blow. "Pray, don't tell me my parents actually negotiated with you for my hand?"





About the Author:

Betty Bolté writes both historical and contemporary stories featuring strong, loving women and brave, compassionate men. No matter whether the stories are set in the past or the present, she loves to include a touch of the paranormal. In addition to her romantic fiction, she’s the author of several nonfiction books and earned a Master’s in English in 2008. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Historical Novel Society, the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and the Authors Guild. Get to know her at www.bettybolte.com.

Website: www.bettybolte.com




Twitter: @BettyBolte





Thursday, December 25, 2014



From Noelle Blakely and all of the fabulous contributors of the Share My Destiny Book Blog

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Otherworld Realms Tour, Excerpts & Giveaway!

Practical Uses for Princes with Pointed Ears
Otherworld Realms
Book 1
Isabelle Saint-Michael

Genre: Paranormal Romance/ Fantasy Romance

Publisher: Otherworld Romance, LLC

Date of Publication: November 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-9908665-0-3
Paperback  978-0-9908665-1-0
ASIN:

Number of pages: 380
Word Count: 95,000

Cover Artist: CL Smith

Book Description:

Lillian Chambers was just an ordinary high school teacher, until she fell through a Fairy Circle. When she came to on the other side, she was surprised to find herself in the company of an Elven prince she thought only existed in her dreams. Now she’s slaying monsters and rescuing Prince Tallyn, instead of playing the part of the damsel in distress.

Tallyn had been the protector of his kingdom for over one hundred years. He knows that the world is filled with danger around every corner, but these days he’s finding himself babysitting the annoyingly fearless Lady Lillian.

When their worlds collide sparks fly, humorous situations ensue and the only thing for sure is that neither will ever be the same. Practical Uses for Princes with Pointed Ears takes readers on an adventure into a modern fairytale where we explore what it really means to fall for Prince Not-so-Charming.

Available at Amazon

Excerpt

Practical Uses for Princes with Pointed Ears

My dreams were more vivid than usual. It was like I was standing there with my favorite imaginary hunk. He and several others were packing up horses. There was a great deal of laughter and teasing among the men. They poked at each other until finally he had to step in and tell them to calm down. Even as he reprimanded them his smile shone brightly. I had never seen him smile with such a youthful presence.
Moments later another man appeared, just as handsome as my dream guy. “Tallyn!” he called, and my heart skipped a beat as I watched the man of my dreams turn to wave.
“Tallyn,” I could feel myself whispering. He turned and looked in my direction, as if he had heard me. His face fell a little when he couldn’t see me standing there.
“What’s wrong?” the taller man asked him.
I watched as Tallyn shrugged. “I was just thinking about how I was going to have to see your face every morning for the next few days and it quashed all the fun out of our camping trip.”
The taller man laughed, only to turn when someone called, "Maerryn!" which I guessed was his name.
I could feel the cool breeze on my skin, causing the hair on my arms to stand up. I watched with interest as the men finished packing up and began to ride away. I followed them through the forest I had seen a hundred times in my dreams. After a few hours they crossed the river in a shallow area then headed up a steep cliff, guiding their horses one at a time along the narrow ledge.
By midday the group reached the top of the cliff and stopped for lunch. The food smelled amazing cooked over the open fire. I felt my stomach rumble. When it did, Tallyn placed a hand on his stomach and looked around with confusion.
He was beautiful to look at, even with uncertainty creasing his brow. His green eyes deepened in color and his breath stilled. It was like he was looking right at me but couldn’t see me. With a shake of his head, he rejoined the conversation around him.
They packed up and left, heading across a path at the top of the cliff that led into another forest. The group seemed more hesitant when they entered the new area. They rode close together for hours, and when darkness finally threatened, they found flat ground and made camp. The horses were tied up, dinner was caught and prepared, and then the wine came out.
Boys will be boys, I thought to myself as they laughed, sang and passed around the bottles.
Behind me I heard the crack of twigs underfoot. Suddenly, I sensed someone else was there. I turned, looking in the direction of the sound, and I saw shadows moving through the woods towards the encampment. Panic filled me and I tried to scream, but I was just a watcher without a voice.


Holiday Spirit for Hire
Otherworld Realms
Book Two
Isabelle Saint-Michael

Genre: Holiday/ Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Otherworld Romance, LLC

Date of Publication: November 14th, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-9908665-2-7
Paperback 978-0-9908665-3-4

Number of pages:164
 Word Count:41,000

Cover Artist: CL Smith

Book Description:

When life handed half-werewolf Grace MacGregor a pink slip four weeks before Christmas, she was determined to get back to work as soon as possible. She just didn’t expect it to be the very next day – or at the North Pole.  She now has four weeks to make other people’s holiday wishes come true, but will she be able to grant her own while she is at it?

Justin Kringle is the nephew of Santa Claus and his job is to keep operations of the Pole on point. When Grace is dropped bed and all into his work shop, he can’t decide if it’s love or hate at first sight. First impression: she’s a total mess. Can he keep her on track and remember to not mix business and pleasure?

Available at Amazon



Excerpt

Holiday Spirit for Hire

I settled into bed with my favorite boyfriend, my laptop. Before long I had updated my resume, applied for a half dozen jobs, checked flights home, and Facebooked with all of my friends to see if anyone had any leads. I was about to shut down when the pop from my email caught my attention.
     I closed the other tabs and stared at my inbox. It was from the OAC. The Otherworld Alignment Council was a group of magical beings, things that go bump in the night, and people that made sure that there were universal laws and regulations used across all the realms.  They made sure there was a common language, rules about magic, and laws that kept peace between the different races.  Why they were emailing me I didn’t know.

To: Grace MacGregor
From: OAC
Subject:  The North Pole Needs You

Dear Ms. MacGregor,

It has been brought to the attention of the OAC that you are no longer employed during this busy time of the year.  Every Holiday season we rely on the help we get from the Otherworld community to make the season bright.  Your talents could be used now through the end of the year helping deliver joyful winter holidays across all the realms.

Please see the attached application. Applicants will be considered for a paid position.  Please send a resume, two letters of recommendation and magical aptitude test scores to the email listed below.  If chosen we will need you to report immediately for work.

Thank you and Happy Holidays,
Otherworld Alignment Council

     I looked at the email again and shrugged.  “Why not?”  I asked myself.  I attached my resume, two recommendation letters and a quick note explaining my father was a Scottish Werewolf Clansman and that I was half human.  I figured my lack of magical abilities would keep me out of the fray.  My father told me to always answer the OAC right when they contacted you because they made the IRS look patient.
     With a giggle to myself I closed the windows on my laptop and shut it down.  Snuggling deep into my pillows I closed my eyes, giggling about what use I could possibly be to the Great Holiday Front up North.  Strangely enough I fell asleep with thoughts of sugar plums dancing in my head

      I awoke the next morning to the sounds of clinking, clicking and power tools.  I opened my eyes involuntarily when a particularly loud noise sounded right over my head.  It was then I noticed my bedroom was swarming with Gnomes and they seemed too busy to care I was sleeping.
     “Excuse me!” I yelled.  “Why are you in my bedroom?”
     A few of them stopped, exchanged looks with shrugs, and returned to work.  I wasn’t answered until a man with a heavy red braid down his back appeared.
     “You are in their workshop, and it’s about time you got up.”  I climbed out of bed angrily, prepared to demand that they leave.  “Nice pajamas,” he said with a grin as he looked me over.  “If you follow me we will get you assigned duties, uniforms and the rest of your paperwork filled out.”
     I looked around what should have been my room.  I was on a toy factory floor.  Only it looked like FAO Schwarz met Ikea.  Bright colors with industrial-grade shelves mixed with the old world charm of hand-carved wooden trim.  All around me Gnomes were hustling to complete toys.  I looked in the direction the redheaded man had gone and chased after him, abandoning my bed to the factory. 



About the Author:

Isabelle Saint-Michael is a cupcake enthusiast, shoe addict, and globetrotter. She is known for her sense of adventure and geeky hobbies. She is frequently seen haunting coffee shops and pubs into the wee hours of the morning. No matter where she goes, shenanigans and mirth are never far behind.

The blog that started it all- www.Elvenlife.com


Twitter @IsabelleStMike or https://twitter.com/IsabelleStMike



Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Capturing You Tour, Excerpt & Giveaway!

Capturing You
Maple Grove
Book 1
Katana Collins

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Date of Publication: 12/16/14

ISBN:
ASIN:

Word Count: 72,000

Cover Artist: Fiona Jayde

Book Description:

After discovering she's infertile, Lydia Ryder has all but convinced herself that she doesn't need children or a family to be happy. All she needs is her camera, her passport, and a damn good manicure. And maybe, maybe a sexy male travel companion. But when her job as a magazine photographer lands her in the small town of Maple Grove, NH, a precocious ten year old and her single father barge into Lydia's life, turning what she thinks she wants onto its head. In this town full of happily ever afters, Lydia finds herself wishing for things she had sworn off long ago...

When Cameron Tripp's wife passed away from heart disease, he thought he'd never find love again. He certainly never would have expected a woman like Lydia Ryder to waltz into his life and awaken his dormant heart and libido. But despite his better judgment, Cam finds himself drawn to the vivacious and argumentative outsider. He quickly learns that, like him, she knows all about misplaced trust, heartbreak, and how quickly a family can fall apart if you let it.

As impassioned arguments morph into frenzied kisses, the two wonder if one weekend can ever be enough. Despite lacking a maternal side, can Lydia connect with his ten year old daughter? And when Cameron finally learns the true nature of Lydia's article, the trust he worked so hard to build crumbles once again. With such doubts filling their minds, is there any hope that Lydia and Cameron will be able to start a new life together?



Excerpt
Chapter Eleven
            It didn't take long before Cam was lying on the floor, face up, a half-empty bottle of wine clutched in a hand. His ceiling fan was so dirty. He'd have to make a mental note to dust up there next time. If he'd even remember in this inebriated state. Do drunk people use words like inebriated? Apparently this one did.   
            He looked to his left, swiveling his head without lifting it off the floor. Callie was lying face down on his couch. One leg dangled off the edge and knuckles that grasped her bottle of vino scraped the floor. Her cheek was squished making her loose lips pucker. Sensing his stare, she opened her eyes; they were red and bloodshot. “You're so drunk,” she slurred.
            “You're an enabebler,” Cam attempted to speak. Clearly it wasn't going well. He could tell in his own head it was wrong and his sister broke out in a fit of giggles.
            “This is fun,” she said, “Why didn't we ever do this before?”
            “Because you weren't twenty-one before,” he grunted and bringing the bottle to his lips, took another swig. The sweetness wasn't so much of an issue after your sixth glass. And after almost a whole bottle? You didn't even taste it anymore.
            Callie sat up on an arm, propping her body in some sort of yoga-like pose that made Cam's back hurt just looking at it. Shit, he was getting old. “Listen, mister. I've been twenty-one for...” she counted on a few fingers, her eyes rolling into the back of her head as though the extra thinking hurt, “many months now. There's no excuse!” Her elbow gave out and she fell back down onto the couch with an oomph.
            “Yeah, well, I've got reponsibilities,” he said. “Responsilibilities,” he tried again. “Re-spons-ib-ilities.” There. He got it, finally.
            Callie broke out into another fit of girlie giggles and rolled off the couch onto her back next to Cam. He couldn't help but laugh too. And damn it felt good to laugh. It was creaky; unused. But nice, nonetheless. “So seriously,” Callie's eyes were only half open, “who's the city chick?”
            Cam groaned. Lydia. Everything came back to Lydia lately. “I need to be drunker if we're going to talk about this,” he lifted the bottle again, the halogen lamp reflecting off the tinted glass. It was noticeably lighter than before.
            “C'mon,” she propped herself up on an elbow. “Tell me about her.”
            He sighed. “She's...beautiful. Like a sunset on...uh, a summer's eve.”
            Callie burst out laughing again. “Okay, I think you've had enough,” she reached across him and took the bottle from his hands. “You just compared a woman to a feminine cleansing product.”
            He closed his eyes, picturing her face. That sleek chestnut hair; grey eyes with little specks of gold like his granite countertops; high cheekbones and large, plump lips. When he opened his eyes, Callie was looming over him smiling. “You're thinking about her, aren't you?”
            He groaned. “She has a boyfriend. It's a moot point.”
            “Did she say it was a moot point?”
            “She doesn't have to. She has a boyfriend and she lied about it.”
            Callie arched an eyebrow. “Which only proves that she's into you, too.”
            Cam thought of the kiss; of her breasts pressed against his body, that silk shirt tickling his skin. “Doesn't matter,” he mumbled. “Boyfriend. In New York. She's leaving.”
            “You should sleep with her anyway,” Callie collapsed back onto the floor beside him and he couldn't help but laugh at the statement.
            “Okay,” he said, “Now you're the one with the drunken drunk talk.”
            “I'm serious! Sleep with her.”
            “She has a boyfriend.”
            “All the more reason to do it. Neither of you will get attached.”
            “You want me to use her to get my feet wet again?”
            “If your feet get wet, I think you're doing it wrong.”
            He groaned. “Oh, gross. You're my baby sister...what do you know about sex?”
            She snorted a laugh. “You sure you want me answering that?”
            “Oh, god,” he covered his face with both hands. “No. You're twelve. You're
twelve and you collect My Little Ponies.”
            Grabbing a pillow, she hit him playfully across the face. “Just think about it, bro. We all just want you to be happy.”
            Happy. The word rolled around in his mind like a marble on a slick surface. It was too soon to be happy. Too raw. He liked the wound—liked keeping it fresh and open. It was his only connection left to Hannah.
            Cam pushed off the ground, room spinning as he got to his feet. With a groan, he grabbed a plastic bag, gathering the empty bottles.
            “What are you doing?” Callie mumbled.
            Cam rubbed his eyes with a knuckle. “I can't have Maddie or mom coming home tomorrow to find these. I'll take them out to the recycling tonight.”
            Callie gurgled something that half sounded like words before she rolled over, smashing her face into a pillow.
            The recycling was locked in a wood shed on the edge of the property to protect their garbage from bears. Cam shivered, his unlaced boots crunching in the snow as he staggered to the shed. He had to pause a moment, leaning on the banister to make the snow below him stop spinning.
            At the water's edge was a vision. A beautiful woman bundled in a coat staring out into the night. Cam blinked. Was he just seeing things? Surely he couldn't trust his eyes when he was this drunk.
            But then, the woman turned and he was struck by Lydia's stunning svelte body, backlit by moonlight. She took his breath away and they both stood frigidly staring at each other.
            Tossing the recycling into the shed, he huffed toward the frozen lake and Lydia stood there, unmoving. His insides wrenched and he didn't bother thinking.
            “Cam,” she said as he approached. Only he didn't let her get anything else out. He grasped her tiny waist with both hands and tugged her into him, sloping his mouth down over hers in a kiss that stirred fire even on the coldest night.
            She moaned into his mouth and their tongues explored each other in wild, feverish movements.
            He scooped his hand into her hair, tugging the strands and pulling her head back to expose her neck. His erection nestled onto her hip and she ground against him. “God, you are beautiful,” he whispered against her. “And smart. And talented.” Then, dragging his lips up her neck, he scraped his teeth along the tender flesh there. Her muscles quivered against his mouth and he grinned, loving that he could affect her this way.
            He kissed her jaw up to her chin, pausing just in front of her full, curvy pout. “What are you doing to me?” He rasped.
            Lydia's eyes danced, fluttering open to meet his gaze. She licked her lips and swallowed. “You've been drinking.”
            “Only a little,” he lied. Cam tried to blink his alcohol fogged brain back into commission, but all he could see was Lydia. All he wanted was Lydia. He didn't care about the wine. Or the auction. Or the fact that she had some boyfriend waiting for her in New York. He just wanted to live in the moment and for once do what his heart desired. “I've wanted to do this since the moment I saw you,” he groaned and pressed his lips to hers once more.
           

About the Author:

Katana Collins Katana Collins splits her time evenly between photographing boudoir portraits and writing steam-your-glasses romances. Between navigating life as a small business owner, a first-time homeowner, and a newlywed, Kat is in a constant state of "OHMYGODINEEDCOFFEENOW."

She is the author of the Soul Stripper trilogy, Wicked Exposure, and the graphic novel, Cafe Racer, co-written with Sean Murphy.

She and her comic book artist husband commute back and forth as they please between Brooklyn, NY and Portland, ME with their ever-growing family of rescue animals (up to two dogs and a cat and still counting!). She can usually be found hunched over her laptop in a cafe, guzzling gallons of coffee, and wearing fabulous (albeit sometimes impractical) shoes.

Visit her on the web at www.katanacollins.com , on Twitter @katanacollins, or find her on Facebook www.facebook.com/KatanaCollins