Hide & Seek Chapter One

Posted: February 16, 2018 in Uncategorized

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one

 

 

Aurora Maguire was looking for her last hope, so it made sense that the bar she’d been told to find him in was called Last Resort.

Even while riding in the back of a cab to get there, she kept her heavy coat pulled around her body and her hood over her head in a feeble attempt to protect herself. Last Resort was located in the center of the worst part of town making her fearful of what she might find when she got there.

The first four cabs she’d gotten into had refused to bring her to this district. The driver of the one she was in now had agreed to take her only after she gave him a hundred-dollar advance tip and she proved to him that she was armed. Pepper spray was feeble, but it was all she had to protect herself.

Her last hope. All she knew was his alias. One of them at least.

Venturing down this path was beyond dangerous, crazy most people would say. But she wasn’t crazy. Not crazy. Just determined… and desperate.

The cab stopped in the middle of an unlit block. Rain battered the window and the usually comforting sound of raindrops on the roof made her edgy.

Though she couldn’t see anyone or anything other than the narrow space between two dilapidated buildings leading to an alley even darker than the street, she knew that she was in the right place. The only man capable of helping her save Benjamin was right down there.

He could say no. He could tell her he wouldn’t help and if he did, she had nowhere left to turn.

The cab driver twisted to rest an arm over the chair beside him to look through the scratched screen between them. “Want me to take you back uptown, miss?”

“No,” she said quickly, but swallowed just as fast. “No, I… I’m fine. Thank you.”

Giving him the fare on the meter, Rora, as she was known to her friends, licked her lips and steeled herself. She’d known this wasn’t going to be easy, but she hadn’t fought this hard for this long, just to give up at the first bump.

Not that this was the first. It seemed that since she’d started this mission, all she’d hit were bumps. If anything, she hoped this fear was going to be one of the last. Best case scenario, she went down there, found this guy without any trouble, and he agreed to help. If he was as good as his legend told, she could be back out of there in minutes, on the street, clutching an address and embracing a glimmer of light at the end of this arduous tunnel.

“Word to the wise,” the cab driver said, sorrowful when their eyes met. “At the first sign of trouble, turn, run, and don’t look back. Even the cops don’t venture into these parts.”

Good to know. That knowledge didn’t ease her anxiety, it reinforced her determination. “I passed the first sign of trouble a long time ago, sir,” she said, and didn’t let herself take the time to appreciate his sympathetic smile.

Rora opened the cab door and got out. Taking a few steps forward, she waited for the cab to speed off, but it didn’t.

So, holding her hood over her face, she kept going, crossing the sidewalk to venture into the narrow alley. The further down she got, the greater the darkness became. It closed around her, consuming and polluting her with its intensity and hunger. But she didn’t stop.

Her skin began to vibrate and the vague sound of heavy rock music met her ears. There was something down here. Something she couldn’t see. The rain got harder. It was a wonder it managed to penetrate this enclosed alley at all, but she felt it on the back of her hands that clasped the edges of her hood.

When she heard the spin of tires, she paused to glance over her shoulder; the end of the alley was little more than a slit, giving a sparse view of the dark street beyond. The cab driver must have been making sure she wasn’t going to change her mind and flee. Either that or he’d seen something, or someone, approaching that made him nervous. Whatever the reason, he was gone.

But she was here now. This was it. There was no backing out.

Venturing forward again, Rora zeroed in on the grimy brick wall up ahead. In it were two doors, painted black, neither more appealing than the other. Having no idea which to choose, she wondered if it made a difference, one could be locked, or maybe they led to the same place.

Her eyes were darting back and forth between them, trying to make a decision, when the one on the left opened. The flare of music and the escape of smoke gave her the only clue she needed.

Hurrying on, Rora meant to catch the door before it closed. She did manage to catch it and was grateful that she had because the smooth surface didn’t appear to have any handle. What she hadn’t counted on facing were the two mammoth-sized bikers who came out, almost knocking her onto her ass.

The first, chewing some kind of stick, glared at her, but stepped aside, more confused by her presence than intrigued by it. The second seemed to be the same; he clucked at her and followed his buddy to the right, without saying anything to her, but mumbling something to his friend.

Few people knew this place existed; she never had.

Holding the door, she had no choice except to round it and go inside. The bass of the music hit her. It wasn’t too loud that she couldn’t hear the susurration of conversation—some pleasant, some questionable—but it was turned up so high that it knocked her heart from its rhythm.

There was so much to take in that her senses almost overloaded. It was dark, so dark that her eyes couldn’t adjust for a clear minute. When they did, she could that she was at the top of three stairs, with the room laid out beneath her.

Lewd graffiti graced the walls along with posters of naked women, heavy rigs, and choppers. The vague lighting came from random neon signs dotted on the walls around the room. One stated, “Girls! Girls! Girls!” But she didn’t see any girls.

It was man after man, at least sixty of them, packed into this space probably meant for less than half that number. But the fire code wouldn’t be the main concern of this establishment. She didn’t know if this kind of place had any concerns.

The Last Resort wasn’t on any map or in any phone book.

The room smelled of beer and weed. Smoke hung in the air, and just about every patron held something in their hand that shouldn’t be there. Guns, spliffs, chains, everyone was prepared for fun or violence, and she’d guess these guys would consider both a good time. The smoking ban had been in place for years in this state, but she supposed that wasn’t a consideration either. Like the cab driver said, cops didn’t venture near here, and God help anyone who tried to hand out a fine in here.

Fearful of drawing attention to herself, Rora knew she should move from her slightly elevated position. Though at only five foot five inches tall, she wasn’t towering above any of these guys, most of whom seemed to be six foot tall and then some, and all appeared to be over two hundred pounds.

With her heart pounding in her chest, she took a step forward, still scanning the room. The darkest corner, that’s where she’d been told to find her last hope. The bar was in one back corner, the restrooms in another. The third corner was probably the best lit in the place and the fourth, over her right shoulder… there was no light, but there was a booth… she was almost sure there was… something…

Squinting to see if there was a person seated there, she saw a brief flash of red light. It didn’t come from a person, it came from a… laptop. Yes, on the table was a laptop, as black as the night she’d left behind the door, that’s where the red light had come from.

Figuring he had to be there, she hurried down the stairs thanking her lucky stars. He was right there, twenty feet from the door, she didn’t have to go deep into the place to reach her last hope, she could—

A hulking form stepped in front of her making her gasp and come to an abrupt halt so she didn’t run right into him.

Tipping her head up slowly, Rora inhaled again when she registered his narrow eyes boring into her. This guy had to be seven feet tall. Twice the width of her, with room to spare, he was the epitome of what she imagined mean would look like if it morphed into a person. His massive, bare arms were adorned with chain link bracelets at the wrists and a length of actual chain hung around his shoulder, swinging over his tattooed bicep.

Though it wasn’t just his bicep that had ink, it appeared to be all over him, down to the backs of his hands that rose when he folded his arms across that impressive chest. Color of some sort adorned his neck, creeping right up to the beard on his chin.

This was no accident, he hadn’t just happened to cross her path, he was blocking her way, and she had no idea how to deal with him. Rora couldn’t fight. She could run, but that meant giving up, and she had no intention of doing that. Not that running was any guarantee of escape, she’d passed a few tables already, if this hulk called out and told his buddies to stop her, she’d be trapped in an instant.

“You’re in the wrong place, tiny,” he said, his voice so deep it was almost inaudible.

Snatching her shoulder, he spun her around and began to haul her back toward the door. “No,” she said, but fighting was useless. Her resistance was insignificant and though she tried to turn back, and to pull away, he just kept on going. “Please, no! I need to—please!”

He hauled her up the stairs, grabbed the door and tossed her out. “Don’t be coming back, crazy kook!”

Oh, that was one button no one was allowed to push. “Hey!” she said, grabbing his wrist in both hands before he could go back inside. “Don’t call me crazy! I am not crazy!”

Bending, he scowled into her. “Any woman who walks through that door is crazy. We got a no-woman-allowed policy.”

“That’s sexist bullshit,” she called out, determined to hold on even when he tried to shake her off. “I am coming in there! I am going to keep on coming back until I do what I came to do!”

“And I’ll keep throwing you out,” he said. “Don’t matter if it’s once or a hundred times, I’m here every night, knock yourself out, keep me entertained. And we don’t bar women by choice; we do it for their safety.”

Again, he tried to turn and walk away. Rora bent her knees, pulling him back harder, using all her weight to make her point. “Please,” she said. “I just need to talk to someone. Let me talk to him, after that, I’ll leave, I won’t cause any trouble. I won’t come back. I promise.” Considering her, he was probably trying to figure out why she’d put herself at risk like this, but that should prove how serious she was. “Please, would I be here if I had any other choice? I’m desperate… please.”

“Who you looking for? I’ll go bring him out.”

“Yes,” she said. “Yes, that would be amazing. Thank you!”

“He didn’t knock you up, did he?” he asked, holding up two hands, each twice the size of her face. “ ‘Cause I ain’t getting my hands dirty in any bastard’s personal shit like that.”

“No,” she said, shaking her head. “No, nothing like that. I need to talk to Exile, that’s it. Just him.”

His slightly parted lips closed causing his teeth to clack together. His expression didn’t change and for half a beat, she wondered if maybe he didn’t know the guy she was looking for. That would be just her luck. But before she could recount what she’d been told about where to find Exile, the guy dropped the door, letting it close hard behind him.

His burst of laughter hit her hard. Rora was still stunned by its force when he slapped his belly, laughing so hard that she thought there might be moisture in the corners of his eyes. Well so much for him being mean. Displaying this kind of hilarity made him lose his edge.

“Did I say something funny?”

He breathed in, arching his back and tossing his chin toward the wet sky. “Oh, I was right, you are loopy-loo,” he said, sighing out a high-pitched sound of humor.

“Excuse me? I don’t appreciate you calling me names. All I want to do is talk to the guy, what’s so funny about that?”

“Yeah,” he said, trying to recover from his laughter. Once he’d managed to straighten his face, he took another breath. “There’s no one here by that name.”

He tried to turn away, but she grabbed his wrist again. “No one has a reaction like that to someone they’ve never heard of. You know him. It’s obvious that you do.”

“Tiny, you’re insane,” he said, tugging his hand away from her with enough force that she stumbled forward. “Exile doesn’t come out and talk to strays. He doesn’t talk to no one.”

“I’m not a stray… and I can pay.”

His brows rose. “You say that to any other guy in there and he’d bite your hand off. Ex doesn’t give a damn about money.”

“What does he give a damn about?”

He folded his arms, returning to his intimidating pose. “Best I can tell? Not a damn thing,” he said. “But he’s not a big talker.”

“But, I—”

“Look, lady, I don’t know what you think you read on some website or what your nutso friends told you, you don’t play with Exile. No one plays with him. And the guy’s got no sense of humor, about anything. What do you think you know about him?”

“He has skills,” she said and he bobbed his head in agreement. “Skills that I need him to use to help me.”

Instead of the pity the cab driver laid on her, this guy was incredulous, but not in a sympathetic way. He seemed to be getting more annoyed by the second. “You don’t have a fucking clue what you’re inviting into your life if you talk to him. You know they say his only goal in life is to break every law there is. Do you know why they call him Exile?” She shook her head. He came closer. “Because they say he has no nationality, no country. He doesn’t come from anywhere. He has no parents. No family. And he sure as hell has no friends. They say he was spawned by the devil, some say he isn’t even human.”

“A fairytale,” she said, recognizing exaggeration when she heard it.

“Maybe,” he said. “But I can tell you he’s wanted in every state, by every major agency across the world, and Interpol couldn’t track him. He’s impossible to hold. Evidence disappears. Information vanishes… People die… He doesn’t exist.”

“Yet he’s sitting in that bar right now,” she said, nodding past him.

He shrugged. “Maybe. We’ve been out here talking for a few minutes; he could be out of the country already.”

“I’m not law enforcement. I don’t care about what he’s done or where he’s wanted. All I want is help.”

“He won’t help you. He’s not for hire.”

“I heard he likes a challenge,” she said. “And that he has an interest in the Black Jewel.”

This time when he scowled at her, Rora read ignorance; he didn’t know what she was talking about. She didn’t expect him to, she hadn’t heard of the Black Jewel before she started this journey. Rora still didn’t even know what it was.

The door opened, hitting her associate in the back. Anger made him tense as he spun, but when a guy in jeans and a leather jacket came out of the bar, her new acquaintance relaxed.

“Strike, you out?” he asked.

“Sure am, Buddy,” Strike said, glancing at her. Buddy lifted a fist, Strike bumped it with his. “Little vanilla for you, isn’t she?”

“You want her?” Buddy asked.

Her mouth fell open.

“You paid for the privilege?” Strike asked.

Rora inhaled her shock, but they carried on discussing her like she was deaf.

“Not yet, but I might be able to make a deal. I know what she wants.”

Strike’s chest expanded. “They all want the same thing. The last fucking shred of our dignity.” He turned up the collar of his jacket, scanned her figure one more time and then went the same way the other guys had gone, down the perpendicular alley. But he wasn’t done. Without slowing or turning, Strike called out to them. “Let her in, Bud.”

She smiled, feeling triumphant, figuring that guy was the owner or manager or someone who had authority at Last Resort.

Buddy twisted and stepped back, hooking a finger into a hole at the top of the door she hadn’t seen. It was a good thing he was here to open it for her because she’d never have reached that notch herself. No wonder they had a no woman policy and every guy in there was so tall, the only way in was to reach that tiny groove, all the way up there.

This time because she knew what to expect, she didn’t let the place shock her. Rora also didn’t spend any time loitering on the stairs. Hurrying down them, she ignored the music and the smell and the patrons and went straight to the table in the corner.

The bubble of her optimism that had been infused with adrenaline and hope, burst in one devastating moment. There was no one at the table, it was empty. No one sat on either of the two seats fixed against the corner wall. There was no computer. No drink. No sign anyone had ever been there. Had she imagined the computer? The red light? The shadow seated in the corner?

A small rectangle, paler than the rest of the tabletop, drew her closer. What was that? Peering at it, she tilted her head and leaned down to inspect it. Except… Rora gasped when she recognized her own face on her driver’s license!

In a panic, she dug her hand into her pocket to tug out her wallet. She’d known better than to carry a purse tonight, thinking she’d hold onto her possessions if she kept them on her person. Apparently, even that hadn’t been a guarantee because when she opened her wallet, sure enough, there was an empty slot where her driver’s license usually fitted.

How had he done that?

Grabbing it off the table, she scrutinized it, but saw no notes or clues he may have wanted to pass to her. It was the same as it always had been with a nick in one corner and a glue smudge in the other.

It was her driver’s license.

How the hell did he get it? And why would he want it?

“That you?”

Slapping the card to her chest, Rora peeked up to see Buddy looming over her shoulder. “He stole from me.”

Buddy stuck out his bottom lip and nodded again. “I heard he does that.”

And if he took that, what else did he steal? Searching her wallet, nothing else appeared to be stolen. She had her phone in her other pocket and inside the case was…

Rora gasped. “Oh no.”

(C) Scarlett Finn 2018

 

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Branded Chapter One

Posted: February 20, 2017 in Blog post, Sneak peek
Tags: , , ,

branded-fbcover-v1

 

Sexy young woman with black hair in a white shirt undressing in front of a window

Warning: Contains explicit language and imagery. Suitable only for ages 18 and over.

ONE

 

After a long night of shaking her ass in Sizzle, Nya Yorke was ready to go home. Wiping down her workstation behind the bar, she was the most conscientious of the employees because she was the manager. Responsibility for cashing out and locking the takings in the safe was hers, meaning she had to keep her head on straight until the last second of her shift, even when exhaustion had other ideas.

The muted blue lighting of the vast nightclub space was perfect for shady dealings and intimate encounters. Drugs and loud music accompanied the partiers in this place where nothing was off-limits. No one batted an eye at the amorous, the lines of white powder cut on the booth tables, or the concealed weapons some customers carried.

The night was over. The strobes and the music were off. She and Jamie were the only two bar staff left. Three security men were doing a last sweep, and once the place was confirmed secure they’d lock up and get out of there.

“Anything else you need me to do?” Jamie asked, flopping her arms on the bar from the patrons’ side.

The cute blonde with the pixie cut drew plenty of attention with her bubbly personality. Most of the people who worked, or frequented, this establishment were jaded, cynical, and in need of oblivion. Jamie was none of those things. The youth smiled with ease, she laughed, and could turn anything into a positive. Men loved her because she exuded innocence that they wanted to corrupt. Nya had nothing against her colleague, there were times her optimism was grating, but she got her work done without complaining.

If they were in a better neighborhood, she’d have sent Jamie home by this time. Except at three thirty in the morning, no one was safe on the streets around here. After herding the customers out, the rest of the staff were sent home in couples and groups. No one was confident about leaving alone. Policy didn’t exist to protect them; there was no staff policy around here except to show up on time.

Jamie stayed draped over the bar, awaiting instructions. Nya had none. “No, I’m finished,” she said. “Tell the guys we’re done.”

Turning toward the main floor, Jamie began to walk away. Nya guessed she’d head for the break room that was accessible on the opposite wall by a door marked, “Employees Only.” Containing a few couches and a stained beanbag, none of the lockers were functional, but it gave the others a place to stash their things while they were on shift. Not Nya; she didn’t leave anything of hers in a place she couldn’t see at all times.

Nya ducked down to get her purse from the lowest shelf underneath the bar where she kept it in a secret corner. She didn’t have anything valuable in her long-strap, leather slouch bag, and there were no more than a few bucks in her wallet. Defending her privacy was the only thing she strove for every day, and her purse was sort of a symbol of that.

Instead of going to the breakroom, Jamie went toward the corridor that bottlenecked the entrance, either to shout what Nya had said to the bouncers or to make her way out. Before she got there, a shout and a scuffle reverberated down the hallway and echoed into the cavernous club.

Nya surged to her feet in time to see five masked men burst in. The first grabbed a screaming Jamie and pulled her to his chest, trapping her wrists in his hand between her breasts. Shuffling forward, to allow his cohorts to swarm in behind him, the assailant raised the mass of a silenced gun barrel to Jamie’s temple.

Her colleague’s screaming drowned out the specifics of the men’s shouted conversation. The one with ahold of Jamie was trying to give out instructions and wasn’t being heard, so he clamped a hand over Jamie’s mouth to stifle her panicked shrieks.

Being the only other one there, all spare guns were pointed at Nya, and she raised her hands on instinct. Her duties around here didn’t extend into giving up her life to tweakers. “In there, go!” the man holding Jamie ordered Nya into the breakroom.

With weapons waving at her, Nya kept her hands up and came out from behind the bar to do as directed. Sizzle wasn’t the type of place to die for; she worked there, but didn’t benefit from the takings beyond her wage. If these guys wanted a windfall, she’d open the safe, but they’d regret it. The club owner wouldn’t take kindly to being robbed by disorganized chancers like these guys.

They were wearing ski masks and carrying guns, but their movements were frantic, proving that they were ill-at-ease. She was swept into the circle of men and squeezed through the breakroom door, with two in front of her and three behind.

Before the door closed, one of the men grabbed her. Struggling to get loose, she was rushed to the furthest wall and thrown against it to be pinned by two men. The lump of her purse, shielded her from his hips when the one in front tried to grind closer. That action suggested a different ballgame and one she would fight against.

Giving up the company cash would be easy. Relinquishing her body to them? No. She’d rather die. Trying her hardest to lash out, Nya pushed and kicked, but these guys were bigger than she was and her might didn’t match their capabilities.

Being so petite, she’d learned fast that she didn’t physically trump many people, and although she’d taken self-defense classes, her strength was feeble. Her body just wasn’t built to carry muscle.

Jamie was screaming again. The gut-wrenching sound of terror was unsettling, but at least it told Nya that the woman was alive. Shaking her hair away from her face, she stopped fighting to look beyond the men pressing her to the wall. Their tight hands bruised her limbs and their body weight restricted her breathing, but she tried to ignore the implication of their intrusive conduct.

Checking on Jamie was meant to reassure her, to give her a distraction that would help to focus her own mind. Instead what she saw was Jamie being thrust onto the couch and felt up by two of the other men. The last man was at her ankles, pulling them apart, rubbing his way up her legs and giving his friend access to wrench up Jamie’s skirt.

“Hey! Leave her alone!” Nya exclaimed, forgetting for a second that she had her own problems.

A quick reminder was unwelcome; she tried to push away from the wall, but was quickly shoved against it again. The impact knocked the wind from her lungs and her shoulders were grabbed to pull her forward and slam her back once more.

Any lingering illusion that this was a simple robbery was erased when the assailant spoke with purpose. “You’ll get yours once you tell me where he is,” one of the grotesque molesters snarled in her face.

Hands on her breasts had to belong to the second man, because the first still grasped her shoulders. But she closed her mind to the assault, switching into a survival mode she’d used before.

“Who?” Nya asked. “Who are you talking about?”

Jamie kept screaming. Nya’s wavering view allowed her to see her co-worker being wrestled onto the floor after she’d kicked out at the man on top of her. Pleased to see the youngster fighting back, Nya smiled, maybe that girl wasn’t so innocent after all.

Payback came quickly when another of the men knelt over Jamie to punch her face and chest while another grasped his groin and swore in pain. Good for Jamie, she’d hurt the bastard; from his watering eyes and red face, Nya would say she’d got him good. The third wasn’t amused and wasn’t put off either, he scrambled up the floor between Jamie’s legs and began to thrust his arm in a stabbing motion at the apex of Jamie’s thighs. His fingers at least would be inside her and his manic movements would be agonizing for the kid.

The screaming stopped and the puncher climbed off Jamie to stand up and wipe sweat from his upper lip. When he noticed the blood on his knuckles, he bent down and ripped Jamie’s top from her body, exposing her to use her apparel to wipe the blood from his hands and face.

Concern iced Nya’s organs, Jamie’s head flopped one way and then the other. God, Nya hoped there was still life in the woman. The groin-clutcher snatched his friend from between Jamie’s thighs and tossed him aside, leaving him to clamber onto his feet. He kicked Jamie between her open legs and yanked open his jeans, pulling his dick out before dropping to the floor to lie over the unconscious Jamie.

Each of his violent thrusts into the junior pushed bile from Nya’s stomach. Ominous red bubbles popped from Jamie’s mouth in a foam. They could be breaths, Nya hoped they were because there were no other signs of life. Jamie wasn’t conscious or moving, she couldn’t be, not after the assault of blows to the head rained upon her by the other.

The other two men jeered as the third raped the lifeless woman on the floor, and Nya had to come to terms with the knowledge that she was next.

“Like the show?” the man holding her asked, slapping her back to her own predicament. Propping an elbow on the wall over her shoulder, he seemed to want to watch what was going on with Jamie, which had to be what caused the delay in his interrogation. But he couldn’t suspend it all night, so got into her face again. “Tell us where he is!”

“Who!” Nya screamed, tormented by the torture of her friend and the prospect of her own fate. “Who do you want!”

“Taggert!” he demanded, spittle and halitosis cascaded over her face until she wretched. “You know! You know where he is! Tell me!”

The one answer she couldn’t give. Wouldn’t give. Jamie was enduring a second man on top of her, and when she began to whimper, got a kick to the head and went quiet again.

“I don’t,” Nya said, knowing she was going to anger these men more. “I don’t know where he is!”

Two more masked men burst in, drawing the concerned attention of everyone except the man on top of Jamie who was pumping hard and fast, grunting with each forward invasion. “He’s not here,” one of the new men said without blinking an eye at the ongoing rape.

The man with a hold of her was in charge because the two new entrants were awaiting instruction from him. His distraction gave Nya a chance to assess Jamie’s chances. While being fucked by one man, the second waited his turn. The other, who’d been the first to take his turn on top, spat in Jamie’s mouth then knelt over her to force his dick between her lips.

Jamie wasn’t moving, her face was a bloody mess, her eyes swollen, but when he pushed in hard, Jamie’s body expanded and lifted in a gag reflex. She was still alive, for now, though after enduring this at the hands of these letches, she may wish that she wasn’t.

The one standing, waiting for a chance to have his fun, unbuckled his belt in anticipation, like he was excited about the prospect of his turn to assault the defenseless woman who was only a fraction more responsive than a corpse.

Nya’s chin was grabbed and her assaulter forced her to look at him. “Look at me, you’ll get your fun time, soon as you tell me where he is.”

Anticipation wasn’t what made her watch, and if the point of this exercise was to scare her with the show then it was working. But it wasn’t just fear burning inside her, it was anger too. “When he finds you, he’ll kill you,” Nya snarled. “Do you have any idea who you’re dealing with?”

“We know it and we want him. He doesn’t scare us.”

Either this guy was ignorant or had an army larger than the one present. If he wanted to take on Taggert, he’d need one. “He should scare you,” Nya said. “He’ll torture you and your men for weeks. He’s going to make you suffer before he kills you. No one crosses Taggert.”

“A lot of spunk for such a little thing,” he said, pulling his gun from his waistband to step back and press the cool circle of the barrel tip to the center of her forehead, rendering her immobile.

Closing her eyes, she waited for the shot. Fear receded to an odd peace that was shattered when a fresh pair of hands, probably belonging to his partner, grabbed her shirt to pull it open. Flattening her hands on the wall on either side of her, she could do nothing but let him fondle as much as he liked. The weight of the gun was heating as it dug deeper into her, pinning her head between it and the wall.

Opening her eyes, Nya burned her fury into the eyes of the man with the gun whose perverse smile sickened her further. Two men closed in behind him and after feeling her up, one crouched to pull up her skirt.

These were the two men who’d just come in, and she guessed the other three were still with Jamie; because she couldn’t shift her skull an inch, the barrel was bruising her forehead. “Pretty girl like you could show my boys a good time; would that persuade you?” the gun-bearer asked.

Narrowing her gaze in defiance of the invading hands roaming her body, Nya didn’t want to show them how their violation curdled her blood because it would only goad them on.

“Tell us what we want to know and we’ll leave you alone.”

She didn’t believe him, but she wouldn’t answer his question even if she did. The door opened, though Nya couldn’t see through the mass of men, so she didn’t know what was happening. Holding her breath, she waited to find out what would happen next.

“You fuck everything up, Jonno.”

The hands left her body when the men whipped around. The gun at her head fell away too as the man holding it twisted to look toward the door on the opposite side of the room.

Just inside was a dark-haired, scruffy-faced thug. Whoever he was, he didn’t wear a mask like the others, his hands hung loose at his sides, carrying no weapons, no care in the world. The three men on Jamie hadn’t been disturbed by anything until this; in her peripheral vision she saw no movement, and the noise of their jeering and grunting had ceased.

“Fuck off, Archer, we got this.”

The gun was pushed into her ribs until the pressure became an uncomfortable pain and she winced.

“That her?” the new guy, who she now knew was called Archer, asked.

Glancing past the gunman, she watched Archer swagger up to them. One slow step followed another, like he was a guy sauntering over to a bar for a drink and not one who’d just walked in on a despicable crime taking place. He kept on coming until he was hanging over Jonno, the one holding the gun.

Archer was much taller than the man who threatened her with his weapon; she’d guess he stood at six-four. His broad shoulders weren’t bulky, but there was a strength in them, a tension that made her insides recoil.

Tapered brown eyes met hers for half a second, then dropped to her exposed breasts. “Copping a feel more important than getting the job done, Jonno?”

Lunging past Jonno, Archer grabbed her forearm and hauled her forward, through the other men. The pain of his grip didn’t decrease when he pulled her along, but he didn’t get far. Jonno grabbed her other arm to halt her and the other men closed in.

“You’re not taking her,” Jonno snapped. “Not until we know.”

Jonno and his buddies had manhandled her, hanging threats of violence and rape over her head to scare her and they’d worked, though she did her best to conceal her terror. Without physical strength, she’d learned to project confidence. Being fearless, and facing adversity head on was the only way she got through life.

But the guy trying to steal her from the crime scene was better than her at remaining aloof, he didn’t bat an eye at Jonno’s fierce attitude. “Has she told you yet?” Archer asked.

The two men were growling at each other, sneering and annoyed, but they didn’t make any direct threats of physical confrontation, suggesting this was the proverbial circling of the prey. Being right in the middle, if one chose to attack, she’d be caught in the crossfire.

Some of Jonno’s bluster deflated. “We were getting there.”

“Sure you were,” Archer said. While she fixated on Jonno to judge his reaction to Archer’s nonchalance, her nipple was flicked through her bra by Archer’s rigid fingertip. Gasping at the unexpected action, she tugged her body back, but neither man let her go. “You had your chance, Jonno, now it’s my turn.”

He pulled again, Jonno pulled back. Archer’s chin moved forward and his eyes went up like he was pissed off that this guy was testing his patience. “She stays with us,” Jonno asserted.

Archer strode in close to Jonno, keeping her between them as the meat in the distressing sandwich. “You left those fucking bodies lying in the street,” Archer snarled. “Tick, tock, little man, how long you got ‘til the cops show up?” As if on cue, sirens sounded and all of the men in the room tensed. All except Archer. Nya’s back was to Jamie and her assailants, but she heard them scramble. “This bitch is our one link, our one lead, who’ll get what we need? You or me?”

That was enough of a prompt. For some reason, Archer’s question clinched Jonno’s decision. The men shared another brief glare, then Jonno released her and stepped back with his hands up. The others backed off too and the sirens got louder.

Without waiting, Archer hauled her toward the door and she pulled back, trying to delay him as long as she could in hopes that the cops would arrive before he could get her out of here. But he wasn’t slowed down.

Picking her up with one swoop of his arm, he tossed her over his shoulder and clamped a hand on her ass. The other pinned her legs to his torso to prevent her from kicking.

Resorting to using her core, she tried to buck away and punched at his back. But he didn’t slow down, didn’t flinch, he just kept shrugging her back up with the powerful shoulders she’d done well not to underestimate.

His athletic body had strength from the tips of his hair to the depth of his bones. He carried her out of Sizzle’s front entrance, over the bodies of the security guards that were dead in the street just as he’d described.

“Stop! Please! Help!” she called out at the top of her lungs.

“Hush,” Archer said and paused.

Just when she thought he might put her down and give her the chance to run, she heard a click then she was tossed onto her ass. The hard landing made her bounce and she hit the back of her head on something cold and solid. Blinking through a daze, she clocked that she was in the trunk of a car, just as he covered her mouth with a length of tough duct tape.

Hooking his hands on the edge of the trunk, he leaned down, the sirens were blaring now, but she saw no lights. “Don’t be naughty, Squirm. Obey and we’ll get along great.”

Chucking her chin with the swipe of a knuckle, he winked, stepped back, and slammed the lid on her.

 

 

© Scarlett Finn 2017

 

 

Branded
Amazon US: BUY ON AMAZON.COM
Amazon UK: BUY ON AMAZON.CO.UK
Amazon AU: BUY ON AMAZON.COM.AU

Raven

Posted: August 6, 2016 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

Raven FB

Raven

He’s mysterious and alluring,
Dominant and powerful.
He keeps her grounded,
And lets her fly.

After a date ends in disaster, Zara Bandini is drawn into a conspiracy of dark lies and hidden motives. Bidding farewell to blissful ignorance, she must betray those who trust her to prevent evil from murdering innocent civilians.

Raven guides her, shields her, and seduces her…
Now Zara has to protect her heart while saving the world.

Warning: Contains explicit language and imagery. Suitable only for ages 18 and over.

 

First Raven

Raven Teaser2POSS

 

She boosted herself up using the bed as a support and encouraged him on by opening her mouth on his jaw to rasp her teeth on his stubble. She wasn’t afraid of him. She wanted to provoke him. To unleash the truth of his darkness that he tried so hard to hide. But before her tongue could meet his skin, he grabbed her face and urged her away.

He scowled, aiming his hostility toward her mouth. “You’re my plaything now. My house means my rules.”

Shoving her jacket and her shirt down her arms, he twisted her elbows to yank the apparel off and cast it aside. Unsatisfied with what he’d revealed, he ripped the fabric strip connecting her bra cups to expose her breasts.

He bent his knees to collect up her half-naked body and closed his mouth on one breast while perching her on the frame of his bed. Hooking her feet on the plank that supported the mattress, she opened her legs around him to arch herself into his imploring mouth. He sucked and licked one breast, and took the other in his palm to fondle it. Then, sucking his mouth free of her bosom for long enough to lick his fingertips, he swirled and circled her nipples between them, alternating his fingers and his mouth, until the cramp in her belly made her hiss.

Massaging her nipples with the pads of his thumbs, he kissed the corner of her mouth. “Oh, she’s pretty,” he said with perverse pleasure. “Knows just what that hot body can get her.”

Her constricted lungs barely allowed words to seep from the threshold of her mouth. “There’s only one thing I want,” she ground the words out through her gritted teeth.

Zara combed her fingers into his hair as he moved south to kiss her chest again. When he snagged her nipple in his teeth, she coiled her digits tight against his scalp.

Pulling the taut peak in his mouth with him as he retreated, he only released it when it would come no further. “You think you’ll find it here?” he asked.

Sliding her hands through his tresses, to his jaw and up to his face, she compelled his head up, away from its task, so that she could look him in the eye. “I already have,” she said and wrapped her legs around him.

As her ankles locked, he reached around to grab them and wrench them apart. Using his hold on her limbs, he yanked her forward, forcing her to stand. One of his strong hands drove itself beneath her waistband and sent her skirt fluttering to the floor, before he stepped back to get a better view. Left in only her panties and stockings, she was fired up by being on show for him, and from the reaction in his jeans, she’d say he liked what he saw.

“She’s naughty,” he muttered as though to himself. “Do you like dressing dirty?” With one arm, he lunged forward to capture her. He yanked her body onto his so tight that she struggled to breathe. But she loved the way he held her, how his strength could overpower her. Despite what he was capable of, he could never use that strength or his lethal skills against her. Having immunity from him was a thrill in itself. “You dress to drive men wild?”

“I dress for me,” she said, trying to push away from his embrace simply because she knew she couldn’t.

Using his mass, he crushed her against the end of the bed. She was lost in the intensity of his eyes, but yelped when he snatched her panties and ripped them away from her fizzing skin before he let his other arm enclose around her.

When he bowed nearer, she tipped her head back to avoid his kiss, because riling him enlivened her. But he opened his mouth and sucked the neck she’d exposed for him.

The bite of power in that kiss made her yelp. “Oh, God…”

 

 

FREE ON KU!
BUY NOW!
Amazon US

Amazon UK

 

Find chapter one on Scarlett’s website at: www.scarlettfinn.com

 

Writer of the Explicit Series, Scarlett Finn has published over a dozen romance novels.

Finding her solace in books, reading and writing have been her eternal companions through all the highs and lows of life.

Be it romantic suspense or contemporary romance, she loves to explore the mystery of love and is guided by the complex heroes and strong heroines who lead the way.

Writing what she loves to read, her raunchy novels jump into action from page one and keep the reader on their toes all the way to the end.

It’s an adventure and you’re invited along for the ride!

 

 

LINKS

 

Website: http://www.scarlettfinn.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/finnscarlett

FB: www.facebook.com/scarlett.finn.9

Blog: scarlettfinn.wordpress.com

GR Author: https://www.goodreads.com/ScarlettFinn

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Scarlett-Finn/e/B00J9S1QJ8/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/scarlett-finn

 

RavenTeaser3POSS

FREE ON KU!
BUY NOW!
Amazon US
Amazon UK

COME AND JOIN THE KINDRED MANOR!

PromotionalServices

Howdy!
After the rousing success of my last blog post. I decided to supplement it with some specific promotional services available to indie authors. There are a lot of choices out there and we never know which ones are worth pursuing and which should be ignored.
But the first step is having the right information. So below are a series of links to various promotional services for you to look into, research, and make your own decisions. I personally have not used all of these services, so please do your research, no guarantees for sales and/or reviews can be given.

Melissa Tapp – Free Blog Tours
Monark Design Services
Sweet n Sassy FacebookSweet n Sassy Website
Book Heathens Website
Anything But Vanilla Book BlogAnything But Vanilla Promotional Services
Book Rhythm
Pure Texuality PR
Ashley Wheels Promotions
Honest Book Reviews
The Literary Whisp FacebookThe Literary Whisp Website
Like A Boss Book Promotions
Raven PA FacebookRaven PA Website

We didn’t get quite as many responses to this request as we did for the last one. But these are some of the choices available all in one place. I wish you all success!

Good luck on your adventures,

xSx

Love of darkness and light…

i+love+indie+authors

As an extension of my post yesterday I have decided to compile a list of services that are available to indie authors. Sometimes it can be really difficult, especially when you’re starting out, to know what you’re looking for. Even after you decide to do something it can still be tough to find those out there who can facilitate your project.
So I asked on Facebook for those who provided author services to share links so that I could make a list. Some of these service providers I have used some I have not. It’s up to you to use this list as a starting point. It’s a resource for your research. Some of the services offered will be free and others you will have to pay for, but you will have to create a contract with the provider before you commit to services.
So, check out the websites, do some reading and some chatting, then make decisions and move forward. Good luck!

 

Book Blogs – Reviews & Promotion
Book blogs can open up your work to a world of readers. Some provide book reviews only. Others provide cover reveal events, blog tours, release blitzes and much more!
Don’t be afraid to ask questions so that you know exactly what to expect from the blog.
NOTE: Sales and/or reviews are NEVER guaranteed, so be wary of those who commit to figures.

BitN Book Promoters
BB’s Book Reviews
EDGy Reviews FacebookEDGy Reviews Website
Honest Book Reviews
Madelynn Hill
United Indie Book Blog
the SBB Girls Facebookthe SBB Girls Website
Summer’s Book Blog FacebookSummer’s Book Blog Website
SBB Promotions
Ultimate Fan Blog FacebookUltimate Fan Blog Website
JJ Book Bangers FacebookJJ Book Bangers Website
Melissa Tapp – Free Blog Tours
Anything But Vanilla Book Blog
Smutty Book Friends FacebookSmutty Book Friends Website
Books According To Abby
Dympna’s Book Blog
Book Heathens FacebookBook Heathens Website
Trust Me 2 Forget

PR
PR companies provide a range of services and each should be researched to find the best one for you. Talk to your PR agent in depth to ensure you are comfortable with them before committing.

Indie Sage
Pure Texuality PR
The Hype PR

Editors
You’ve all heard that every book needs an editor and boy is that true. Again, talk to your editor to be sure they understand your vision. Many editors offer beta reading services too. But there is a range of readers out there who can be reached through GoodReads or Facebook who will beta read for you for no fee!

Alchemy And Words Facebook Alchemy And Words Website
Mickey Reed Editing
Editing For You
Edits by V
Starfire Press FacebookStarfire Press Website
Kims Editing Services

Book Covers/Graphics
Check out previous works from book cover artists and get chatting to them. They can help you hone your ideas and produce something that you’ve envisioned, or they can work from scratch and surprise you with their talent!

Mirishka’s Artwork FacebookMirishka’s Artwork Website
Rio Book Cover Art
Bee Graphica
Novel Needs – also provide PA and editing services

Formatting
Formatting is essential. It will be noticed even before a reader picks up on a typo. All authors should present a professional product and to do that you need to get your formatting exactly right.

Formatting Done Wright
Shanoff Formats

 

This is not a full-comprehensive list. There are thousands of websites and service providers out there for authors. Please email me with any questions you have or if you would like to leave your own recommendations I can add those to the list too. Hopefully, this will guide those who are starting out on their indie journey or be useful to veteran authors looking for a new infusion of blood into their work.
Enjoy!

Good luck on your adventures,
xSx

Love of darkness and light…

support-indie-ebooks

 

Despite what the title suggests it is almost impossible for indie authors to conjure an army of fans. Sure, it starts with writing a good book, but it doesn’t end there. The adage that the work is “never done” has never been more true than it is for an indie anything, not just authors.
I’ve been playing with an idea that I can’t quite form into a plan about how to bring readers and authors together. Often the most used ways of communication lack cohesion and an initial contact doesn’t always lead to a lasting relationship. The truth is there are too many other options out there.
Recently I’ve spoken to a number of newbie indie authors who are looking for advice and guidance. It’s surprising just how much knowledge one gains in such a short period of time. In this game you have to learn quick or you’ll find yourself alone and swimming against the current.
It doesn’t help that there are so many people offering author services who are inexperienced or lack the professionalism required to do good work for an author. You can throw all the money in the world at your book, but if you don’t throw it at the right person you’re just going to find yourself poorer and no better off.
We need to come together, to build a platform where new authors can be helped along by more experienced authors and readers need to be a part of that process. If a reader knew just how much time and effort went into not only writing a book but trying to get people to notice it, then I think we would begin to see a movement of readers towards a more committed behaviour.
And newly published writers who work with practised writers would immediately have access to the gathering of readers that followed the latter.
Maybe I’m dreaming of a utopia that will never exist. But I refuse to believe that the knowledge built by one should not be utilised by those who come after.

Good luck on your adventures,

xSx

Love of darkness and light…

images
The title above is sort of intended to be ironic, so please don’t assume that this is a pep talk for the masses. If there was some secret formula for encouraging motivation that worked every time then whoever figured it out would be a billionaire.
Self-help is a massive industry and many people who contribute to it don’t necessarily have professional credentials in the area that they address. Does that matter? Not always. There are people who have a genuine desire to help people and often experience is more valuable that book learning, as it were.
I’ve known people who were big advocates for self-help and I’ve been recommended several products in this area by people who have found it a really helpful tool.
The difficulty I have is that often by the time I’m in a place where these products might need to be called upon, I’m often so far gone that the cynic in me rules all of my thought processes.
I am neither complete pessimist or optimist. I try my best to remain in the latter mindset as often as possible, but sometimes I do slip into the former and for a person like myself that can be a very taxing experience.
Once my thoughts slide into the negative they can often remain there for days becoming increasingly obsessive until I’m ready to jack the whole lot in. I mean why the hell do we bother? What is the point in all of this? Why not take the easy route that seems to work so well for so many?
Those inbetween the two states are often seen as realists and this is always where I identify myself. Working hard is necessary because no one gets anything for nothing; there is always a price. Coasting along is easy, but on that route nothing truly incredible will ever happen and you will remain unremarkable.
So what is the point in all of this? The point is just this, whoever we are, at whatever given time it may be, you have to accept one thing: you are who you are and you control your own destiny. Often things don’t work out the way that we expect them to and if anyone can find an avenue of help to make their life easier then they should grasp that chance. But self-help, no matter how expensive it is, needs one valuable component. The most important central component has to be in place, and receptive, before it has any hope of succeeding: you.
If you have family and friends around you cheering then that’s great, congratulations. But none of them can achieve your dream for you. The work must be yours and you have to want it, breathe it, visualise it. See your goal, keep moving forward, and begin to consider your next goal.
Giving up is always an option, but it leaves you with a what if…? Winning and losing, failing and succeeding, it’s all a state of mind propelled by you. With every breath you take you are succeeding in living, but is that enough? Do you want to survive and nothing more, or do you want to strive for greatness?
Neither choice is right or wrong but it is just that, a choice and only you can make it for yourself.

Good luck on your adventures,

xSx

Falling Angels by Jen Winters

Falling Angels by Jen Winters

Hey guys!
Today we have something very special going on. We have the privilege to reveal the cover for Jen Winters next novel, Falling Angels.
If you haven’t read the first in the series, Kissing Demons, you can do so by clicking here or click on the image of the new cover above. It has an Amazon.com rating of 4.2 stars! The reviews are definitely worth checking out!
The wonderful and talented Julie Nicholls is Jen’s cover artist and she can be contacted through Facebook or you can email her to request that she works her magic for you too.
So on to the good stuff 🙂 the book, Falling Angels, will be released on the 17th of June, so mark that day in your calendar! And here’s what you have to look forward to:

What’s worse than losing your job? How about losing your life, your home, and everything familiar? I just wanted to work. What did I get in return? A long fucking fall with a sudden stop.
Stranded on earth with little hope for survival and an eternity of banishment ahead of me, I did the only thing I knew—I worked the jobs I could. Until I realized I’d been replaced. Then I got mad.
Eleven thousand years of fighting for my destiny had me broken, bitter, and ready to just give up. And then my best friend blew up Fort Worth and screwed the entire universe in the process. Now I have to save his ass from everyone including the Guardians.
I hate Guardians—those intrusive vixens replaced me, took over my job, and left me utterly useless. But this one, Lavinia, she’s almost as old as I am and she is starting to get under my skin. I can’t concentrate when she’s around—everything about her mystifies me and why the hell do I remember her from before? She shouldn’t even exist! And certainly not in my memory.

Want to know a little more about Jen? Here’s her bio:

Jen Winters fell in love with paranormal romance after her daughter was born and she needed a way to escape reality for a few minutes a day. She loved it so much she decided to take her own pen to it. The world of the Guardians was developed through deeply irreligious conversations with her father who likes to misinterpret scripture as often as humanly possible and a good dose of did-I-just-read-that-! when looking into ancient near eastern mythology and scripture.

Clearly she’s a gal who knows her stuff! More can be found on Jen’s blog and she’s on Facebook too.

This is one not to be missed guys. I own her other works and you’ll want to check those out too. Jen is a great girl with a big heart and she’s going to be an author to watch. So everyone mark June 17 in your diary and pick up Falling Angels as soon as humanly possible!

Good luck on your adventures,

xSx

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hurts
I don’t often reveal much of my personal life. Please don’t be offended by this, I was raised to believe that showing any of your vulnerable underbelly was a weakness should be avoided at all costs. My family taught me that I had nothing of value to say and that none of my emotions were valid.
Perhaps this is why I ensconced myself in books. In their worlds I got to see what it was to have a parent who asked a child about their day or hugged them, something that I didn’t get at home. Fiction was a safe place where anything could happen because it was pure fantasy.
As embarrassing as this is to admit, it’s only really been in the last few years that I’ve realised some people out there do reveal themselves to others. Sadly, I have been conditioned for three decades and so my learned behaviours are fully engrained; opening myself to anyone in person won’t be happening any time soon.
Please don’t feel sorry for me, or laugh, at how pathetic my upbringing was. My father left when I was a child and I lived in a cold environment with my mother where feelings, or discussions of them, were bothersome. You do what needs to be done and that’s it. You get up in the morning, go to work, eat and sleep – that’s about it. There is nothing more to life. At least that’s what I spent my childhood believing.
All of my pitiful ramblings above are the prelude to how I feel this evening, which is why I am chattering. Sometimes I do feel alone. Being estranged from my parents was nothing in my youth when I had a million friends (rather superficial acquaintances) and a frantic social life. But I don’t have that mask disguising the truth anymore.
As luck would have it – or not – when I did find a man to settle down with it turned out that man was an abusive alcoholic who thought only of himself and not of me or our child. Eventually I freed myself from him and now I have a lot to be proud of in my life. My son is smart and beautiful and keeps me going every day. I built a business that I run from home so that I can be there for my son when I need to be and never miss a school show – even if it means working until the early hours when he is asleep.
Writing has been in my life since I was a child, as I said before it offered me an escape and let me explore the emotions I felt but was not allowed to express. But it was my grandmother’s death that prompted me to publish. The woman was a tower of strength, the most incredible person that I have ever known, and one who would give her last to those in need. I’ll admit that she was from a different generation and wasn’t exactly the tactile, warm and fuzzy type, but she cared for my sister and me in a way that no one else ever did and she never made us feel like a burden.
Through the years I have loved and lost in relationships of the romantic and platonic variety. I’ve stood up in courts to defend what is right, even when it broke my heart. What family I did have left I lost when I defended my niece and nephew against the only sister I have, in order to prevent them being subjected to her abuse.
I’ve proved to myself that I have integrity and I have proved that I can, and will, work hard and do what it takes to care for the children whom I love so much. I imagine sometimes that my grandmother watches over them, as she watched over us, and that I have to do for her what she no longer can, because she is not on this earth with us anymore.
But it’s hard, oh god, it’s hard. Tonight I’m feeling blue, as you may have guessed. Having struggled all of my life with depression and anxiety issues I recognise that this will pass, sometimes life slaps you down just to remind you of the strength it takes to stand back up.
Why do I bother? No one in my real life knows that I publish. I was taught to never expose my emotions or inner thoughts, and there isn’t a place more personal or revealing than the words I put onto paper. No one would understand. If they read and saw just what went on within me I’d never be able to look them in the eye again. I’d be embarrassed and ashamed, not because of the explicit content of my novels, but because then they would know that I feel.
But when no one in your real life knows that you publish and you have no one to share your frustrations and triumphs with online either the whole experience becomes so isolating. There’s no one there to say, “Wow, look what you did…” Only writers know how many hours (see months and years) it takes to hone your craft enough to publish. Only writers know how invested we become in our characters and their worlds, and how much of yourself you pour into them.
Spending all of that time writing is one thing. But to publish is a whole other ballgame. You have to learn how to make covers, write your own blurbs, and fill out acknowledgements. Believe it or not, those are the fun parts. Learning the ins and outs of formatting was fun (not) and each platform has its own rules, so getting the hang of KDP means nothing when you head over to Smashwords.
KDP, there’s a laugh. You think you know what that’s about? No one does. And they keep moving the goal posts. Should you give Amazon exclusivity and enter KDP Select? What the hell is KDP Select? Right, ok, so I can’t publish elsewhere and they let me choose promotions from either free days or Kindle Countdown Deals… wait, what? What the hell is Kindle Countdown and do I want it? Ok, pick your dates and how many increments, and fill out all the—pop-up box, “Your book must have been…” and there’s a list, the same price for thirty days, and then you can’t change the price for two weeks after it’s done and… forget it, let’s go with the free days.
I could write a novel on my experience of self-publishing alone. I can’t even count the number of hours I’ve spent reading blogs and Googling terms I’ve never heard of before in my life.
Learning how to publish is a steep curve, but the promotion racket is worse! Then you have to build a website, make teasers and banners, and adverts. You have to run all your own social media, even when you know no one, and have no clue what you’re doing. You sign up for everything that’s going, and never use half of it again, but you sign up anyway.
After all those hours writing the book, formatting and publishing the book, then promoting (making a nuisance of yourself everywhere) the book – all the while wearing your cheery, plastic smile – you look up and realise… it all means absolutely nothing and has gotten you nowhere.
The truth is, the world is too big. It doesn’t matter if you write the best novel in the universe, if you can’t get it out there then no one will ever see it. For the girl who was taught that every time she opened her mouth and uttered a word she was an irritation, it’s very difficult. I am proud that I’ve worked hard and learned so much. I am a grown woman. So why do I still feel that I should apologise for existing?
“This too in time shall pass…”
“Ours is not to wonder why…”
The clichés mount up until you find yourself sitting in the dark at four in the morning wondering why on earth you bother. No one can take writing away from me, but why do I work so hard to do the best I can? I can’t answer that.
I’m a strong person, but I’m not a social person, I’m an observer. I was sent here to watch the world, not to participate in it. I love to watch and to wonder. The trouble is, I’ve spent so many years learning to be invisible that now I’m in a situation where I want to be seen, I don’t have the first clue how to do it.
Anyway, sorry for taking up your time. I’m sure that most won’t get this far in my blether and I’m sure that I’ll be embarrassed tomorrow for writing this. But getting it out there, freeing these words, somehow makes me feel less alone. So thank you, it might be feeble and pathetic, but gratitude is all that I have left.

Good luck on your adventures,

xSx

stars

Desperate for aid, Doctor Lyssa Cutler takes a tip from a police officer who can’t officially help her, but knows someone who can – off the record. With an unidentified stalker on her tail, her patients and her practice are in jeopardy so she’s ready to take a risk. Colt Warner knows that this woman will be difficult, but she is so intriguing that he can’t bring himself to turn down her case. But when her specialty in sexual dysfunction brings her into the lives of him and his brothers, Colt wouldn’t have it any other way. Their professional connection quickly becomes personal and Colt finds himself needing Lyssa as much as she needs him.

Desperate for aid, Doctor Lyssa Cutler takes a tip from a police officer who can’t officially help her, but knows someone who can – off the record. With an unidentified stalker on her tail, her patients and her practice are in jeopardy so she’s ready to take a risk.
Colt Warner knows that this woman will be difficult, but she is so intriguing that he can’t bring himself to turn down her case. But when her specialty in sexual dysfunction brings her into the lives of him and his brothers, Colt wouldn’t have it any other way.
Their professional connection quickly becomes personal and Colt finds himself needing Lyssa as much as she needs him.

Wow! What’s this? Another new release?
This book, Take A Risk, is available today! Click here to purchase your copy now!

TAR 2

Good luck on your adventures,

xSx

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