Book Blitz & Excerpt: Sarah’s Secret + Giveaway

Sarahs Secret Banner

Sarah’s Secret, by Katherine E. Hunt

Book 3 in the Mended Hearts series

Word Count: 12,166
Book Length: SHORT STORY
Pages: 55

Genres:

BONDAGE AND BDSM
COMEDY AND HUMOUR
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
MÉNAGE AND MULTIPLE PARTNERS

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Book Description

Sarah has a secret. She’s on the run from some very nasty men. Can she find love—and herself—before her past catches up with her?

Sarah has recently bought a home in Winchester Drive. As is customary for the widows on the street, she has been invited to join The Winchester Widows Sex Club. Beautiful and seductive, she is a popular new addition.

But Sarah has a secret. Her name’s actually Beth, she’s in hiding—with some not-very-nice people on her tail—and she’s not even a widow.

Her estranged husband Marco is an undercover FBI agent, and when he turns up on her doorstep, that can only mean one thing…danger.

Beth is tired of running. She longs to make friends and find love again, which she does when she makes Paul’s acquaintance and finds herself smitten with him. Bonding over romantic TV shows and jigsaw puzzles, they fall deeply for each other.

But the hitman is still out there, and Paul, a law student of a nervous disposition, is not exactly ready for a life on the run.

Beth has to work out what she really wants from the men in her life, move on from her past and allow herself to finally be true to who she is.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence. It is best read in order as part of the Mended Hearts series.

Excerpt

At the scent of his skin, I released the hilt of the knife that was under my pillow.

He’d snuck into my bedroom first thing in the morning, stripped off and gotten under the sheets with me. The man had a death wish.

Marco was a passionate man. Our marriage—short though it had been—had been a never-ending festival of love. When he hadn’t been in bed with me, he’d been by my side, never far away. In retrospect, he’d feared the worst. My background and his were such that eventually, something was going to have to give.

Thus I knew his scent, intimately. It triggered a sensation of tranquility, something I didn’t experience very often while alone in my bed. Just for a second, we were home again, before it had all happened—the calm before the storm.

“Beth.”

“Marco.”

His breath hitched as he snuggled in closer to me. “I don’t have much time.”

Can’t we pretend, just for five minutes, that we are simply husband and wife? A little hot and heavy lovemaking before popping to the shops then spending the afternoon in front of the TV or gardening—or anything that doesn’t involve murderous gangs and guns? That everything was as it had been before I’d come here. “It’s seven a.m. No bad guys are going to drag us screaming from my home during the peak morning rush hour, with school buses and people leaving for work.”

“I have twenty minutes tops.”

Pushing my butt up against his rock-hard dick, I shimmied a little. “Twenty minutes should be enough.” The tiny moan that emanated from his lips was all I needed to know that he agreed.

Despite his brutish appearance, Marco was a sensual lover—Italian. There was nothing like that fiery Latin blood to get me hot, even at this time in the morning.

“Your body haunts my dreams. The thought of holding you once again is the only thing that keeps me going in this stupid life.” He explored every inch of my skin with his warm hands, entering and caressing me with his fingers. It took little action on his part to get me wet for him. Just his presence in my bed was enough to make me need him inside me.

He brushed the back of my neck with his lips, his rough, unshaven skin sending a frisson down my spine.

Parting my legs, he entered me, filling me entirely and reminding me of why I’d married this man. I arched against his body with my head tilted back onto his shoulder. He moved his hand to my chest, holding me tenderly as he fucked me from behind—every stroke, every movement more exciting than the last.

“Il mio amore.” The accent was more Long Island than Lake Garda, but he knew what those words did to me.

“More,” I whispered.

He circled my hardened clit with his fingers, clasping my body to his as the rhythm of his thrusts increased. “Mia cara, ti desidero,” he growled.

I gasped as the orgasm rocked me, and Marco still held me to him. Can he feel every beat of my heart, every flicker of my body?

His thrusts were ferocious, animalistic, and he pounded into me as he came, obviously releasing a need that he’d had for so long.

While I had moved on from our marriage, Marco had never let go of the idea that one day we would be together again. He respected the vows that I had long since chosen to ignore. There was only one woman in his life, and he intended to keep it that way.

But I had had enough.

“I’m not going with you.”

“What?” He pulled out of me then rolled onto his back.

“I have a life here, just like everywhere else. You take me somewhere, leave me to pick up the pieces, make new friends, then just when I get comfortable, you swoop back in and make me leave again.”

“They will kill you.”

“They were your problem, not mine.”

He rolled me around to face him. “Beth, we both know that they will find you. I can’t let that happen.”

Marco. Sweet Marco. A teddy bear wrapped in the body of a heavyweight boxer—big, tough and strong, filled with cotton candy.

“I can handle myself. You know that. In fact, I was doing pretty well before you came along. Why are you here? What have you heard?”

“Enough to know that you’re in danger.” He scratched his ear. The man had a tell. He could convince the entire criminal underworld that he was part of their gang, but I knew when he was lying at twenty paces.

“You’re working for them again.” He fidgeted, looking away. “Fucking hell, Marco, why? After everything that happened.”

“They sent someone here to kill you, Beth. I don’t know who. Someone here is not who they seem.”

I’d met an awful lot of people recently. None of them had struck me as the contract-killer type. Then again, when I’d met Marco, he’d turned out to not be everything he’d purported to be, either. I would have noticed a cold-hearted killer, though. Won’t I?

“This is just another ploy.” I got up from the bed and turned away from him. I didn’t need to look to know that he was checking out my body, probably memorizing every dimple and curve. “We made a choice, Marco. You said you would honor my decision to stop running. You were the one who wanted to give us up. You were the one who left.”

“Beth, I can’t live without you. I thought I could move on, but it’s impossible.”

“Then stay.”

“You know that I can’t do that. It kills me, but I have to bring these guys down.”

“You can’t live without me, but you can’t stay. If it’s so difficult for you to make up your mind, Marco, then you know where the door is.” I left the room. My heart broke a little bit more every time he did this. I’d conceded too many times, agreed to let go of another life and another name—sometimes even a chance at love.

This time it was different. This time I was finally settling in somewhere, making friends. I wasn’t giving up any of this because of another of Marco’s stupid whims.

Fight for me, Marco. Show me I mean more to you than the life you lead, the job you have to do. I went into the bathroom, shut the door and clicked the lock—then I waited for him. Kick the door down. Show me how much you love me. Tell me you’re staying.

I held my hand up to the door, lowered my forehead onto the cold white wood and waited for signs of life. It juddered as he slumped against the other side. Sinking to the floor, I sat in silence…waiting.

I unclicked the lock. There, now it’s even easier for you to come charging in on your white horse. Nothing.

He wasn’t even going to say goodbye. We’d said it a million times before, but this time was definitive. After a while, I could no longer hear him on the other side.

His heart would always beat for me, but for now, it would beat elsewhere.

I lifted my hand instinctively to my mouth as I started to cry, as if to silence myself. I traced my lips. Not even a kiss. My husband had come to me for the very last time, and he hadn’t even kissed me goodbye.

I lifted a loose tile and removed a large box. Marco might be gone, but I had another fight to contend with. The battle was over, but the war was not won, not by a long shot.

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About the Author

Katherine E Hunt

Katherine E Hunt ran off with a Frenchman twenty years ago. She now lives on a French mountain with three children and two dogs. When she isn’t writing contemporary romance she can be found huddled up in front of a roaring fire, with a glass of Chardonnay in one hand and a book in the other.

You can find out more about Katherine on her website.

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Book Blitz & Excerpt: The Gilded Mirror + Giveaway

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The Gilded Mirror, by L.M. Somerton

Word Count: 60,041
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 234

Genres:

ACTION AND ADVENTURE
BONDAGE AND BDSM
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
GAY
GLBTQI
MYSTERY

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Book Description

Life would be simpler if X marked the spot.

When Landry Carran buys an antique mirror from a pop-up flea market, he doesn’t expect it to set him on a treasure hunt originating in the Second World War. He can’t resist tracking down the clues even knowing that every step brings him closer to danger.

Landry’s partner and Dom, Detective Gage Roskam, has his own problems handling a money laundering case that twists and turns as much as Landry’s treasure trail.

As a decades-old mystery collides with modern-day crime, Landry and Roskam must juggle work, friendships and their relationship to solve both puzzles. It’ll be a miracle if nothing gets broken along the way.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of physical assault, gunshots and expressions of homophobia. There are references to non-nurturing parenting, addiction and attempted abduction.

Excerpt

“Moving apartments involves way too much physical exertion.” Landry Carran launched two garbage bags full of bed linen into the spare bedroom before continuing to the kitchen to survey the chaos. “I’m exhausted and I have bruises in unmentionable places. Why aren’t cardboard boxes spherical? Corners are evil.”

“You’re moving one floor down in the same building.” Gage Roskam, Landry’s boyfriend, poked his head around the door. “And you have half of Seattle PD’s finest helping out, so quit whining or I’ll spank you in full view of all of them.”

“That’d scare the uniform pants off ’em. Something I wouldn’t mind seeing one little bit.” Landry contemplated the idea of a bunch of semi-naked cops with delight.

“Not so much. I’ve heard at least three different people say you need a spanking today. None of them seemed bothered about when or where it happened.”

“I’m offended!”

“You’re a brat.”

“I just want boxes marked ‘kitchen’ to go in the kitchen. Do they not teach reading at the police academy?”

“Not so’s you’d notice.”

“I never knew I had so much stuff,” Landry muttered. “It’s like living in one of those anxiety dreams where you know you have to finish something but it’s never-ending.” He shuddered.

“Are you one of those hoarder types? I think full disclosure should have occurred before I agreed to move in with you, if that’s the case.” Gage shoved another box of kitchenware onto the already crowded counter.

“You’ve been living with me for almost six months. You invaded my closet, kept your toothbrush in my bathroom and installed a gun safe in the bedroom. You discovered my rubber ducky fetish, stole an entire box of peanut butter cups and left your huge-ass boots where I’d trip over them. Just because you kept paying rent on your place does not mean we weren’t living together.”

Gage shrugged. “Your rubber fetish is a lot broader than ducks.” His blue eyes twinkled.

“That’s where you’re going with this?” Landry pouted. “Stop grinning.”

“Come here.” Gage crooked his finger.

“Nope.” Landry folded his arms. “Not gonna.”

Gage blinked. “Right now, Landry.”

“Or what?”

“Hmm, let me think. There’s that new latex hood with the built-in penis gag—that has possibilities. Chastity for the next week—always fun—or removal of coffee privileges.”

Landry decided the three steps into Gage’s arms were his best option. He rested his cheek on Gage’s chest. “So mean.”

“And you love it.”

“Not admitting to anything that might prejudice my defense. Ooh, you’re so warm and you smell good.”

“How can that be when I’ve been carting boxes and furniture all day?”

“Don’t know, don’t care, but it’s true and that T-shirt shows off your muscles so well. Very distracting. You reduce my productivity.” Landry stroked a firm bicep.

“Oh no. You are not prepping the ground for blaming me when you can’t find your favorite mug this evening, or if some random object goes missing. Your productivity would increase if you spent less time drinking coffee and more time hauling shit. Less gossiping with Sancha needs to go on that list, too.”

“I don’t know what you mean.” Landry made his eyes big and wide and projected innocent vibes.

“My box of toys is in our bedroom. I have several paddles you haven’t met yet. Tonight, you’ll pick one then count while I apply it to your ass.” Landry gulped and his cock jerked. Gage snuck his hand down the front of Landry’s pants to give his shaft a squeeze. “Someone wants that spanking real bad.”

“Not me.”

“This says different.” Gage played a little more. “You’re leaking.”

“Unhand me, you brute.”

“Have you been watching old British films again?”

“Maybe.” Landry shoved his groin into Gage’s palm.

“Madre de dios, put that boy down!” Sancha Hernandez, Gage’s partner, shouted from the hallway. “Or at least wait until I have a better view. There’s unpacking to do, and I was promised beer and pizza for helping out. I’ve seen no evidence of either and as I am a detective, I’d know.”

Landry whimpered as Gage gave him a final squeeze before removing his hand from Landry’s pants. “Later, brat.” Gage grabbed his cell from the counter. “I’ll order the pies before we have a mutiny on our hands. You sort the drinks. I’m not unpacking anything else tonight. The bed’s made. I have a toothbrush. I’m set.”

“I can’t believe you’re leaving me all alone for three whole days,” Sancha moaned, joining them. “Who’s gonna buy my coffee and fill in my paperwork?” Landry sniggered. “I can’t believe the captain signed off on your vacation time. Do you have blackmail material on him I don’t know about?”

“Pretty sure you’ll survive by enlisting some other naïve sucker,” Gage muttered before putting in his pizza order.

“Junior detectives are meant to make themselves useful. I’m giving them valuable life experiences and don’t forget my garlic prawns,” Sancha prompted him.

“And that right there is why I’m glad I don’t have to share a car with you tomorrow,” Gage said. “There aren’t enough air fresheners in the world.”

Sancha shrugged. “Lightweight. How are you doing, Landry, sweetie? I hope you haven’t been carrying anything too heavy. Moving is hard work, and you need to stay hydrated. Why don’t you grab a soda then come sit with me?”

“That sounds so cool. I am a little achy.” Landry directed his pout at Sancha.

“I’ll be on the couch.” She smiled at Landry, scowled at Gage then left the kitchen.

“Why doesn’t she care if I’ve been overdoing it?” Gage complained. “I’m the one she spends every day with.”

“Duh. Because you have muscles on your muscles whereas I’m a delicate flower.”

“Who shifts furniture around all day in an antique store.”

“Details. This much cuteness needs to be protected.” Landry swept a hand down his body.

“Yes, I’m still here. Sorry. Someone delusional was interrupting me.” Gage finished ordering food while Landry got himself a soda. He turned from the fridge to find Gage looming over him. “You give me a crick in the neck when you do that.” Landry tilted his head back. “I need a stool or a box or something.”

“I think my partner loves you more than me.” Gage twisted his fingers through Landry’s hair.

“I’m a lovable person. Of course I’m Sancha’s favorite. She loves me best because I am way cuter and far more adorable than you. You have this whole broody, menacing thing going on.” Landry grinned. “Which is a huge turn on for me, gotta say.”

“I know.”

“You do, huh?”

“I do.”

“I should go talk to Sancha…”

“You should stay right here while I remind you who you belong to.”

Landry drew breath to speak but his words were cut off as Gage captured his lips in a demanding kiss. Every submissive gene in Landry’s body responded to Gage’s dominance. He moaned into the kiss, knees wobbling. Every tug Gage gave his hair sent a miniature bolt of lightning to Landry’s cock. When they finally parted, he took a step back, dazed.

“I…that was…wow.”

“Now you may go and talk to Sancha.”

“Oh I may, may I?” Landry hesitated, wondering if he might get kissed into silence if he talked back. “You don’t get to tell me who I can and can’t talk to.” Gage gave him one of his patented ‘don’t mess with me’ looks. “Okay, sometimes you do. Not all the time, ‘cause I’m a grown-up and I make decisions for myself. Like when we have cookies, and I have to choose between chocolate chip and ginger. I can do that.”

“No you can’t. You always take both.”

“Bad example.” Landry scuffed the toe of his sneaker on the floor.

“I know you’re all grown up, sweetheart, and you’re quite capable of making decisions. Mr. Lao wouldn’t trust you with Treasure Trove if you weren’t. But you’re mine and that gives me a say in your life. Sometimes you need a nudge in the right direction is all.”

“And that’s your job?”

“Along with watching out for you, tying you up, fucking you into the mattress, protecting you from predatory British art thieves…”

“You had to go there.”

Gage smirked. “Go keep Sancha company. I’ll go wait for the pizza guy and let the others know food is on the way. I think pretty much everything that needs to be, has been moved.”

“Bring them all in here, yeah? There’s a cooler full of beer behind the couch—unless Sancha has already found it, in which case it may be half-full by now.” Landry ambled through to the sitting room, which had a similar layout to the one in his old apartment except for an extra nook for a dining table. He threw himself onto the couch where Sancha was glugging down a bottle of Dubbel Entendre, which Landry had sourced from Sound Brewery in Poulsbo.

“You found the cooler then.” Landry leaned into Sancha’s side.

“I can scent beer from a mile away, you poor innocent lamb. Of course I found it and damn, this beer is good. Just what I needed. Love the name of this stuff too.”

“I couldn’t resist it, it’s such a cool name.” He cracked open his soda. “Thanks for helping out today, I really appreciate it. I know you don’t get much free time, and you must have had better things to do than helping me and Gage move.”

“How many times have you guys helped us out? Besides, it was this or taking the kids to soccer practice. My loving husband saw fit to remind me that I tend to get over-excited around the coach who I happen to think would have a much more lucrative career as an underwear model. Honestly, he’s wasted on a bunch of kids.”

“Leering in front of children is not a good plan.” Landry slurped his drink.

“Sad but true. However, we’re not here to talk about my perversions.”

“We’re not here to talk about mine, either,” Landry cautioned. “Because that would take way too long.”

Sancha gave an unladylike snort. “Ain’t that the truth? Also, Gage might object. So, tell me what Mr. Lao is up to and why you get to move into his apartment. Gage is hopeless at filling me in. I need to get the details from you. Mr. Lao isn’t ill or anything, is he? I kinda like the old guy.”

“He’s fine. More than fine. He’s moving in with his girlfriend.”

“He’s… Run that by me again.”

“He has a girlfriend called Maisie. He met her at his seniors bowling club—that’s bowling on grass by the way, not bowling on an alley, and now they’re moving in together in some gated community in the ’burbs, complete with health club, tennis courts and on-site restaurant. He’s stepping back from the store, to spend more time with her—semi-retirement, I suppose you could call it. I get to be the store manager and one of the perks is to move into Mr. Lao’s old apartment, which as you can see has more square footage than mine. The kitchen is bigger and there’s a spare bedroom, which is great because I can hide all Gage’s junk in there.”

“Congratulations! Manager, huh? Does that mean you get a humongous raise?”

“I wish. I agreed to a percentage of the profits on everything I sell on top of my puny salary, plus this place which, despite the lingering scent of incense, is quite a perk. Mr. Lao will still be doing most of the buying while I get to park my butt in the store. He loves traveling around finding great deals and bartering with his pals in the trade. Oh, I also get to look for an assistant. A new me.”

“And Gage is moving in with you. That’s so sweet.”

“I dare you to use the word sweet in front of him. It’s practical. He saves a bundle on rent, and I get to jump his bones any time I want. We were as good as living together already, anyway.”

“More like he gets to keep a closer eye on you.”

“Exactly,” Gage said, joining them. “Because someone has a habit of getting into strife when I’m not watching him.” He dropped a pile of pizza boxes on the coffee table and the room was soon swarming with all the people who’d been helping out with the move. The noise level and banter grew as the pizza mountain shrank and the beers from the cooler were drunk. Landry laughed at all the jokes Gage’s colleagues made about him, noticing that they were a lot more cautious about teasing Sancha. When he mentioned it, she laughed.

“They wouldn’t dare. The last time one of them tried to play a trick on me at the precinct, I accidentally stapled his hand.”

Landry looked to Gage for confirmation. He nodded. “She did. Not sure it was accidental, though.”

“No comment!” Sancha proclaimed.

“Your aim is spot on, and you know it!”

“And on that note, I think it’s time that me and this crowd of reprobates cleared out of here and left you two lovebirds alone.”

Landry fought back a yawn. “You don’t have to go yet.”

“It’s been a long, hard day and you’re going to be really busy with setting up this place until the store reopens on Monday. Take the peace and quiet while you can and besides, Gage is needy. You have to keep stroking his…ego.” She snorted with laughter before levering herself off the couch. She gave Gage a kiss on the nose then began ushering everyone out of the apartment.

“Give me a minute,” Gage said. “I need to make sure they’ve really gone.”

Landry giggled. He curled into the corner of the couch and nibbled on a leftover slice of pizza. A wave of fatigue washed over him. He’d been so excited about the move, he’d been up since dawn and hadn’t slept much the previous night. Snuggling in bed with Gage sounded like a fine way to end the day, even if the bed was still surrounded by boxes.

By the time Gage returned, Landry was half-asleep.

“You have drool coming out of your mouth.” Gage’s graveled tones pulled Landry from his doze. He rubbed at his mouth with the back of his hand. “So this is how it’s going to be. One day living together, and you’re already letting yourself go.”

“If I had the energy, I’d swat you for that remark,” Landry muttered, yawning.

“You look like you’re about to go into hibernation.”

“That’s not a bad idea. Did you know there’s a Twitter account that follows a bunch of bears in Alaska and people get to vote on which of them is the fattest before they hibernate. These guys are chonks, let me tell you. They get to eat whatever the hell they like, pile on the weight then snooze away the cold months and when they wake up, they’re all skinny. Mind you, I’m not that fond of salmon. I don’t think bears eat pizza.”

Gage gaped. “I worry about you.”

“I know you do. Makes me all gooey inside thinking about it.”

“Sometimes I wonder how you survived before you met me.”

“I managed just fine.” Landry squeaked as Gage scooped him into his arms.

“That’s not what your brothers tell me.”

“You are way too close to those Viking wannabes and you shouldn’t believe a word they say about what I did or didn’t get up to as a child. They lie.”

“They have photographic evidence.”

“Image editing software is a thing, you know. It’s all fake, whatever they say.” Landry pouted as Gage hauled him into the bedroom. Gage dropped him, and he landed on the bed in a sprawl.

“Get your clothes off, brat.” Gage’s feral expression sent shivers down Landry’s spine. He scrambled out of his clothes with indecent haste, full of renewed energy. “Sure you’re not too tired for this?” Gage removed his T-shirt far too slowly for Landry.

“Don’t tease me, Gage! And no, I’m not too tired. Raring to go.” Landry licked his lips at the sight of Gage’s chest. “Your bare skin has magical energy powers.”

“Hands and knees.” In his rush to get into the position Gage wanted, Landry got too close to the edge of the bed. Gage caught him as he toppled off the side. “Don’t want you bruising your backside before I get to it.” He manhandled Landry back onto the bed.

“My hero.” Landry batted his lashes. He got onto his hands and knees, wiggling his ass in blatant provocation. His cock, hard and aching, bounced. He was hot, feverish with anticipation and when the smack of leather against skin sounded in his ears, he jumped.

“Just testing it against my palm.”

Landry twisted, trying to get a look at what ‘it’ was. The paddle Gage held was rectangular with a tapered end, the handle a snug fit in Gage’s hand. “Oh…”

“I was going to let you choose but decided you were too tired to think straight. This is double-layered leather, hand stitched and reinforced with a metal plate.”

“I don’t need the technical specification, Gage.”

“Sir.”

“Feeling especially Dommy are you…Sir?” With a happy sigh, Landry rested his head on his folded arms, widened his legs and wiggled his butt a bit more.

“I should gag you.” The paddle connected with Landry’s backside with a thwack. He moaned. “But then I wouldn’t get to hear the noises you make.” Gage delivered a further four blows before dropping the paddle on the bed. Landry forced himself to take slow, even breaths while heat, edged with pain, blossomed across his skin. He was desperate to come and on the edge of begging Gage to fuck him. When Gage stroked Landry’s sore skin, he whimpered.

“So pink and pretty. You want me in you, don’t you? You want me to stuff you full.” Landry couldn’t summon enough coherence to respond, and when Gage pushed a cool, lubed finger into his ass, Landry sobbed. “So needy. Sucking me in.”

Landry worked Gage’s finger with his inner muscles, muttering nonsense words under his breath. Gage added a second finger, then a third in quick succession, stretching Landry’s channel enough that it burned. “Pl…pl…platypus!” Landry refused to beg. Gage enjoyed it far too much.

“Is that a new safe word?” Gage withdrew his fingers.

“No!” Landry wailed. “Put them back!”

Gage flicked Landry’s balls. “What’s the plural of platypus?”

“I. Don’t. Care.”

“I should get my phone and check or perhaps we could find the box with the dictionary in.”

Landry sobbed. “I hate you.”

“No you don’t.” When the blunt head of Gage’s cock made contact with his pucker, Landry sucked in his breath. “Relax.” Gage moved at a leisurely pace.

“I’ve seen pregnant hippos move faster than you.” Landry yelped as Gage reached around his body to pinch a nipple.

“That spanking wasn’t punishment enough, was it?” Gage pushed home, then stilled. “I need to think of better disincentives.”

“That’s a hellishly big word considering what you’re supposed to be doing,” Landry muttered, trying in vain to push back onto Gage’s cock.

“Quiet, brat, or tomorrow you’ll be unpacking with a vibrating plug stuck up your rear.” Gage took hold of Landry’s hips and pounded his ass with unbridled enthusiasm. All Landry could do was brace himself and take it, and that suited him just fine. Now Gage was doing exactly what Landry wanted him to, Landry could relax and enjoy the rush of pleasure, the surge of orgasm, as it flooded through him. When Gage came, he dug his fingers into Landry’s hips, yanking him back so that he was as deeply impaled as it was possible to be. He could have come untouched, but it was Gage’s firm grip on his cock that tipped him over the edge. Landry cried out, spilling into Gage’s hand in a series of uncoordinated jerks before collapsing face down on the bed. For a while, Gage let his weight rest along the length of Landry’s body. Landry loved being held down, loved being rendered helpless by a bigger, stronger man. Gage knew it and took full advantage, sinking his teeth into Landry’s shoulder.

“Wanna mark me, huh?” Gage didn’t bother confirming or denying. He sucked at Landry’s skin. “What do you call a hickey surrounded by teeth marks?” Landry wondered.

“I call it mine.”

Landry gave a happy sigh. “No one will see it under my shirt.”

“I’ll know it’s there and that’s all that matters. Tomorrow, your ass will ache, your shoulder will ache and every twinge will make you think of me.”

“I have other things in my head apart from you, you know.”

“In that case…” Gage rolled to one side then flipped Landry onto his back. He hooked Landry’s legs over his arms, bending him back. “I’d better fuck you again because those other things need to take second place to me.”

“You talk a good game, Sir, but there’s no way you’re hard again yet.”

“I don’t recall saying what I was going to fuck you with, and by the way, you doubting my powers of recuperation focuses my mind even more on how best to punish you.”

“I should be quiet now.”

“No, by all means carry on. That hole you’re standing in can still get deeper.” Gage groped beneath the covers and extracted a sizable dildo.

“You are a virile, masterful Dominant, Sir. I can think up some more positive adjectives, but I need a minute. You’re distracting me with that…thing.”

Gage grinned. “Nice try. You need more lube?”

“No? Wait, if I say yes does that buy me some time?”

“What do you think?” Gage touched the tip of the toy to Landry’s hole then pushed.

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About the Author

L.M. Somerton

Lucinda lives in a small village in the English countryside, surrounded by rolling hills, cows and sheep. She started writing to fill time between jobs and is now firmly and unashamedly addicted.

She loves the English weather, especially the rain, and adores a thunderstorm. She loves good food, warm company and a crackling fire. She’s fascinated by the psychology of relationships, especially between men, and her stories contain some subtle (and some not so subtle) leanings towards BDSM.

You can follow Lucinda on Facebook, Twitter and her Website.

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Book Blitz & Excerpt: Under Control + Giveaway

Under Control Banner

Under Control, By Zoe Normandie

General Release Date: 17th Aug 2021

Word Count: 70,063
Book Length: SUPER NOVEL
Pages: 287

Genres:

ACTION AND ADVENTURE
BONDAGE AND BDSM
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
MEN IN UNIFORM

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Book Description

Danica has no choice but to trust her ex-Navy-SEAL bodyguard, so she can’t let her defenses down or fall in love—no matter what.

All I’ve ever done is run. I’ve had no choice. It’s just run or die. My family is ruthless.

But then everything changed. He showed up. Protecting me, challenging me, teaching me… I don’t know what to think about this former Navy SEAL. I’ve never had a bodyguard before.

I’ve never been with a man before, either.

He represents a lot of firsts for me.

The only problem is that the harder I fall, the faster he pulls away. There’s something in his past he won’t tell me. Something dark.

He says he’ll never fall in love again.

But, for me, it’s too late. I’ve never felt these intense feelings before, and I’m terrified. What I feel for him seems dangerous. I may have no choice but to run again—if it’s not too late—because I’ve realized that my heart is firmly under his control.

Reader advisory: This book contains violence, abduction, attempt at a forced marriage and references to murder.

Excerpt

“Moose, hold up. I haven’t cleared the area,” Delta called out to the man jumping out of the passenger side of the armored black SUV.

Former Navy SEAL and decorated war hero Carrick Byrne tilted his head back, giving Delta the usual ‘don’t even start’ expression.

“Relax, big rig. This is just a little ‘find and retrieve’ contract,” Carrick said in a skeptical voice tinted with the slightest Irish accent as he leaned back into the idling SUV. “I don’t think we need to worry about one little girl.”

Delta narrowed his brown eyes, and a lock of his slicked-back dark-blond fell onto his unimpressed face. “She’s been on the run for years. Don’t underestimate her.”

Carrick looked around with obvious sarcasm at the fact that they were literally about to walk through a park on their way to finish the job. Glancing back, Carrick raised his eyebrow to his friend, recognizing the face of someone who wanted to punch him.

“Come on. How much trouble could one chick cause?”

“Your client seems to think she can cause a lot of trouble,” Delta reminded him. “And our intelligence suggests the same. She’s slippery, Carrick—and I don’t think your client is very forgiving.”

“Don’t overdramatize this,” Carrick warned. “This is a nothing contract.”

The two strong, opinionated men exchanged looks before Delta backed off, seemingly knowing that at the end of the day, Carrick was the CEO of Sea-to-Sky Security.

“Have it your way,” Delta said, leaning back. “You’re the boss.”

Moving away from the SUV, Carrick slung his old black hockey skates over his shoulder, heading toward the rink. He flipped up the collar of his black work coat, even further concealing his identity. He had a target to follow. Years of urban reconnaissance and black ops had given him more than enough tactical training to handle the job.

Popping a black baseball hat on and smoothing back his black hair that was peppered with gray, the dark Irish-American moved stealthily.

Delta took off behind him with gusto, but Carrick didn’t care. He just needed to get the job done and over with, then move on to the next one. It should be in and out—quick and easy. Those were the types of cases Carrick needed to build his client base and his reputation as the premiere private security firm in LA.

And, damn it, he was going to do the best job he could—because after losing everything that mattered to him, this new business venture was all he had left.

Carrick focused on the scene before him. The crowd had thinned. It was growing quiet. As he came up to the skating rink, a young couple passed him on the other side of the pathway leading out of the park. They seemed happy—in love. His only instinct was to scowl, and he pulled down the brim of his hat farther as he stooped to put on his skates.

The target was on the ice. It was time to get closer.

Then retrieve.

Out on the rink, it was nearing closing time, and everyone was clearing out. He was the only one heading in. Good. He needed the space. It was much easier to keep eyes on the target.

At least, that was what he told himself. He wouldn’t admit it, but at that moment—Valentine’s Day night—he wanted nothing else than to have a reason to be alone—alone and away from everything to do with his life, away from the memories. Is this my second Valentine’s Day alone? He shuddered, pushing the thought aside. That wasn’t something he was prepared to feel.

He didn’t have to. The girl was in sight.

Hockey skates on, Carrick moved hard down the bumpy outdoor ice—as hard as the restrictive leather strap of his shoulder holster would allow. Wearing a pistol was like wearing boxers. He did it every day, no matter what. It had come to feel like a second skin.

Keeping his eyes on the ice, not on her, his blood pumped to his engorged muscles and a sated grin crossed his lips. There were very few things in life that served to alleviate his stress—hockey being one. The other was a similar cardio-exhausting exercise that elevated his endorphins, pumped his blood and left him satisfied and spent.

Pushing forward, he observed her—the lone woman skating in the opposite direction, once again nearing his position. Her long brown hair had escaped her pink toque, and her warm breath visibly illustrated her panting chest, even from afar. Carrick had to admit that her form was more than pleasing to look at. Athletic and swift—he didn’t doubt she could give him a run for his money in a race, but he kept his gaze down. He made sure to give her enough space so that he wouldn’t scare her away.

Danica Petrova.

As she was skating past him, he stole one glance of her face, locking eyes. He had to see her face in person. All he’d seen was a picture.

He wasn’t disappointed.

Her red cheeks flashed at him and her eyes sparkled. So youthful and full of life. What he’d seen in a blink of an eye held the promise of an eternity of pleasure as he took in her beautiful face.

But then, in an instant, just as her body floated by him, her skate hit a groove in the ice, an unmistakable sound—and common. Turning immediately, he thrust forward and reached out, catching the young woman as she fell. He quickly heaved her back onto her skates, rescuing her from a hard fall. As he held her, she fluttered her dark lashes at him, enchanting and stunning him.

“You okay?” he asked, looking her over, hoping she hadn’t been hurt.

“I’m okay.” A sweet, feminine voice escaped her full lips.

Holding her close, he realized that her eyes hadn’t been sparkling. They were wet.

Has she been crying?

“I just caught an edge,” she explained, like she’d been caught doing something wrong. “Thank you.”

As she made to push away from his arms, he realized that he had been still holding her all this time. I never let her go.

She frowned as she probably realized the same thing. He released his grip on her thick sweater, letting her float back a foot into her own space. Silence filled the rink. Their gazes did not break, and she continued to blink at him, likely assessing him, given the look in her eyes.

There was something distrustful about the way she was evaluating him. Her body language screamed that she was scared and threatened that she was about to run. Before thinking, he threw out his hand, just knowing she was just about to pop smoke and disappear—and knowing he couldn’t allow that. His client had warned him that she was a runner—and that she could slip out of any situation.

His client had also warned him of the importance of not letting her go.

“Carrick,” he introduced himself, keeping her there.

She took his hand, though hers remained limp, and she retracted it right way. Clearly, she didn’t know what to make of him—but her manners shone through.

“Dani.”

Cute. She seemed very sweet, and not at all like the client had described. That was the first thing that brought on his suspicion that something might be wrong and not as he’d been led to believe.

“Nice to meet you,” he replied with a little more meaning than he’d expected.

She responded slow and shy, her voice cracking, “I really do appreciate you saving me from the fall.”

“Forget it.” He shrugged as instinct urged him to back off a little.

But the caveman inside him couldn’t take his eyes off her. Lithe and pert, she almost glowed under the soft lights. There was something different about this target. She continued averting her gaze, looking down at the hard ice and shaking her pretty heart-shaped face.

Something was brewing in his mind that he was unwilling to accept, and his strategy shifted. This was not how he’d planned the operation to go, but he had to adjust on the fly—right?

Carrick checked his watch and turned in the direction she was going. “Heading this way? Last five minutes.”

He motioned, nearly regretting it as he did. Really, he knew better. They didn’t have time for leisurely skating.

“I was.” Her words poured out nervously, responding to his invitation. “But…”

“You aren’t anymore?”

“I mean, I am.” She toyed with her gray sweater buttons as she looked away, seemingly just as conflicted as him. She was a smart little coyote, and he wondered if she was ready to bolt.

She is definitely ready to bolt.

“Well, let’s go then.” He took the lead, pushing off the ice and gliding away from her.

If there was one thing Carrick was good at, it was controlling a situation. After a pause, there was the distinct sound of skates on the ice behind him, and she caught up to glide alongside him. He’d been sure she would follow—had just known it.

A sense of intrigue tugged at his senses as a cold burst of wind blew her long brunette locks across her shoulder.

So he decided to lay it on thick.

“Looks like you’ve got tough luck tonight,” he said.

“It certainly wouldn’t have been the worst thing to happen to me on Valentine’s Day.” The rebellious words seemed to slip from her mouth, and she glanced up with an embarrassed expression.

“That sounds like a good story,” he replied.

Her wide gaze betrayed discomfort. The effect? He was able to observe her eye color more closely. They were a lighter brown, but mixed. With green? Like camouflage. He’d never seen a color like that before.

He continued looking around. “We must be two sad cases—out here alone on Valentine’s night.”

She brought her gloved hands together, rubbing them and offering him a shy smile. “Or, we must both just love skating.”

He couldn’t help but smirk, his chest flexing, “Guilty. I’m a hockey guy.”

What the hell am I doing? He wiped the smile off his face, feeling like an idiot. However, it seemed her guard was lowering—and in return her shy tiny smile grew a bit.

“I can’t believe you…caught me.”

“Come on. I couldn’t let you take a nosedive.” He shrugged, pumping harder down the ice.

She kept up, showcasing just how good she was on blades.

She cocked her head and offered the slightest grin, tepid and testing. “You have quick reflexes.”

He shrugged again. “Yeah, when I need to.”

Built from years of Special Forces tactical training.

She shook her head again in apparent disbelief, then looked away. It was almost like she didn’t believe someone would save her.

The bumpy ice on the rink was overdue for maintenance, which tended to be the case at the end of the skating day. There weren’t many rinks in California—and fewer outdoor ones. Her skate caught an edge again, which she was too distracted to see. As she yelped and almost fell, he lunged instinctively, grabbing her against his body one more time.

“Christ.” He exhaled.

Holding her in his arms again, he gazed down on her young, golden face. She bit her lip as she glanced up at him. He was aware of his great height and wide frame, which could be intimidating for some, especially when he was on skates.

“Want to keep going?” he asked, offering his arm. “Or should we head off?”

Danica grinned up to him, making him wait far too long before she answered, her glittery, innocent gaze flickering left and right. Never before had he wanted someone to take his arm so badly. As much as he hated to admit it, he had her exactly where he wanted her. He was forcing her to make a choice. It was going to play into the job nicely.

“One more round.” She grinned her little smile, but her cooperation was tentative at best.

She slipped her hand in the crook of his elbow, only to then avert her gaze from his. The flush in her cheeks grew, and he guessed it was more than just the cool night wind coming in off the Pacific Ocean.

Comfortable silence found them briefly as they pushed along the ice side by side. She never let go of his arm, and for the first time, it felt like they were skating together. Something stirred inside him that hadn’t been there before.

“How long have you been skating?” he asked, propelling the conversation forward.

“Oh, for as long as I can remember,” Danica began, revealing more and more. “I grew up on skates and dreamed of becoming a figure skater.”

Again, the admission was followed by caution that flashed across her eyes. She didn’t want to share much, but she was. She recoiled slightly, as if realizing her mistake, and tried to create space between them until he decided he wouldn’t let her. He didn’t want her to withdraw.

Changing the tempo, he pushed her out a little from him, allowing her hand to slide down his forearm and slip to his just as he twirled her around on the ice. It was so smooth, so natural—like they’d been skating together for years. He didn’t miss the wide smile that crossed her lips.

“It never hurts to dream,” Carrick said as he pulled her back into him, running his gaze over her form for the hundredth time, his curiosity at maximum.

What does Danica want? What does she do? Questions sprang to the front of his mind. Why did my client lie to me?

“I have no shortage of dreams.” Her sweet smile betrayed a longing, and it was clear she noticed the way he was looking at her.

“What do you do for work?” He pressed on as he ushered them farther down the ice.

“I’m a nurse.”

“At the hospital?” His gaze caught the city worker beginning the process of closing the rink.

“No, at a family clinic,” she replied.

“What else?” he probed. “Tell me more.”

She let out a low laugh, as if in disbelief he would even say that. “I think it’s time to go.”

Then she let her hand slip out of his arm, gliding one perfect white skate in front of the other on her way to leave the rink. As he followed, he couldn’t keep his eyes off her, watching her closely as she moved. It was like he’d never met a woman before, never seen one. If he were a wiser man, he’d notice that his chest didn’t feel as tight as usual for the first time in too long.

If he were a wiser man, he’d notice that he’d grown very distracted.

“What about you?” She cut into his thoughts as she held on to the wall of the rink, stepping one foot through the gate. “Are you…?”

If it weren’t for the sound of a man shouting as he sprinted toward them, Carrick would have caught what she said after that. The shouting was unmistakable, and for a second he felt like he could kill Delta for the interruption.

Danica snapped her eyes open like a doe caught in the headlights, clearly frightened by the six-foot-five man running up to the gate. Delta grabbed onto the side of the rink with his meaty SEAL-build as he spoke to Carrick in low tones.

“Moose, there’s a situation. We have to go.”

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About the Author

Zoe Normandie

I’m a mom with three sweet young daughters. I have three jobs – mom, author, and analyst. Years ago, I grew up in a military family, went to a military university, worked alongside the military as an intel analyst, and my husband is (surprise!) a veteran. I’ve tried to write for anyone who wants to feel what it’s like to be with someone from that world – with all the good and the bad.

My heroes are grounded in reality, and are inspired by guys I know in the special forces. Guys who’ve been in combat, tasted war, and fought for what they believed in. They are really heroes, but raw and rough and broken in their own ways.

My heroines similarly come from the best parts of the women I know, and the challenges we all face. The relationships that they fall into have familiar characteristics for many, myself included. These heroines represent all of us, with our good and our bad laid bare.

In my stories, I illustrate, romanticize, and celebrate the harsh realities of duty, service, and sacrifice.

You can find Zoe on Facebook and Twitter.

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Zoe Normandie Under Control Giveaway

ZOE NORMANDIE IS GIVING AWAY THIS FABULOUS PRIZE TO ONE LUCKY WINNER. ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A LOVELY GIFT PACKAGE AND GET A FIRST FOR ROMANCE GIFT CARD! Notice: This competition ends on 31st August 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.