Today we’re participating in a free halloweek blog hop! Four authors wrote a round robin story and you get to read it for free. Bonus, there’s a cool giveaway at the end. Here’s the list of participants.
By Lauren Dane
Rain and wind lashed against the windshield in wave after wave. The wipers squeaked their way back and forth, back and forth in a relatively futile attempt to keep Everly’s line of sight clear. The last of the maple leaves occasionally splatted in bright orange and red blobs before the wipers smeared them away.
Fall had arrived with all its wet, stormy glory. And as such things have a way of happening, it had been sunny in the afternoon only to have opened up in a stormy deluge right as everyone’s work day was beginning to end.
All she wanted to do was get home, into some warm socks, flannel pjs and a mug of tea to chase away the chill.
Maybe her super cute, new next door neighbor would be in his kitchen cooking without a shirt again.
Best neighbor ever.
Turning up the radio, she sang along and kept her attention on the road.
As she came around the long, lazy bend leading to the highway, the flash of blue lights had her reaching out to turn off the music as she slowed down to a full stop at the police car blocking the entrance.
The statie had his hat on and his collar up to keep out the wet and chill as he leaned down to speak to her.
“Evening, ma’am. If you’re headed east, you need to circle back to 14.”
“What if I’m going west?” she asked.
“Ah, not as quick then. You’re going to need to take Old River Road to get anywhere.”
“Oh no.” Old River Road was the pokey, scenic back way, wending and twisting through the woods. Rather than the much faster four-lane route home, Old River Road with its two dinky lanes would suck up at least another half an hour. And it’d be a lot darker. “What happened?”
“High winds knocked some power lines down. Wires on the roadway. Both directions are closed until crews can clean it up. They’re saying at least a few thousand will be out of power tonight. Get home safely and stay in for the rest of the night if you can.”
No waiting for that to clear, she supposed.
Everly thanked him, then backed neatly into a three-point turn and headed into the already darkening stand of trees marking the beginning of state forest land and her turnoff.
As she left the highway behind, the forest seemed to engulf her, sealing her off from the world she’d just been part of.
It had always felt that way. Her grandmother used to pile all the grandkids into her ancient station wagon, taking the river road, stopping along the way at least a dozen times to pick flowers or take photographs.
That night, though, Everly just wanted to get home. She’d had to skip lunch because she’d been stuck in an interminable meeting, and the candy bar she’d shoved in her face as she’d rushed between her desk and her car had sunk like a stone in her gut.
For several minutes there was other traffic. A pokey, ancient truck that had headed to the south and a few other sedans that had peeled off as they passed near several other small foothill communities.
Every few minutes the darkening forest would brighten with lightning strikes, leaving Everly’s vision feeling like she’d just spent a few hours at a family birthday party where her mom had the flash on and took a million pictures.
Her satellite radio cut in and out as she made her way home, but at the deepest, darkest heart of the woods, her check-engine light began to flash.
She tried her phone, but like the radio, at this spot with two different mountains rising to either side, the signal was junk.
If she could just ride it out another few miles, she’d be close enough to walk down to the service station if she had to.
Or at least get to a signal for her phone.
What were the odds that the car quit and rolled off to the shoulder at least three miles from the service station and two or so before she got a cell phone signal?
If you were Everly Marie Sizemore, the odds were really high apparently.
“Are you kidding me?” she muttered, repeatedly rapping the steering wheel with her forehead. “Is this because I had uncharitable thoughts about Rayeanne Bronson? Come on. I bet you do too! She’s awful.”
There was no sound but the cartoonish clicking of the emergency lights on her bright red Mini Cooper and the rush of the rain overhead. She sat a while, hoping someone else would drive past.
To no avail.
Accepting that the dream of her warm, cozy night in was long gone, Everly became resigned to her fate, struggled into her raincoat, gathered her bag and took a deep breath.
Time to pull up those big girl panties and deal with her reality.
Only to hit her head on the car door when a knock sounded on the passenger side, startling her into a near heart attack.
“Jeez!” Hand over her heart, she peered through the windshield, hoping for “nice” instead of “keeps you in the basement to make a suit from your skin.”
What she saw—who she saw—set her heart pounding for a whole different reason.
Hot, shirtless neighbor guy stood there with a gorgeous smile and a flashlight.
He opened the door and jumped in. “Hi!” He flashed her some more of that smile, sending her hormones into a tizzy. She was pretty sure she had a lust-induced hot flash.
“Hi,” she managed, hoping it wasn’t totally creepy that she looked at him like she wanted to take a bite.
“Saw your little red coupe and I figured, hey, I know someone with a car like this. Better be sure they’re okay, whoever it is. And it was you.”
Everly couldn’t help smiling back at him. He was…well gigantic. And sitting in the front seat of a very small car only made him seem bigger.
Her heart thudded in her chest, but the startled panic from the surprise knock on her window wasn’t the reason this time.
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COMING BACK by Lauren Lane (December 8, 2015; Forever Trade Paperback)
The men of Twisted Steel are great with their hands. And they’re not afraid to get dirty.
Mick Roberts, the newest partner at Twisted Steel’s custom hotrod and motorcycle shop, looks like a man with everything. But secretly he still craves the connection he lost when his best friend Adam and the love of his life Jessilynn walked out. Then, he wasn’t ready for the pleasure they promised. Now, things have changed.
Rich, powerful, and insatiable, Adam Gulati is used to getting what he wants. And there’s nothing he wants more than Mick and Jessi. He hasn’t seen either in over a year, but the second he sets eyes on them again his memories-and his desires-can’t be denied.
After trying to live without them, Jessi Franklin realized no one else can satisfy her like Adam and Mick. The three of them need one another-in more ways than one. It’s time to stop pretending and submit to the hunger they all share. But once they go down this road, there’s no turning back. As deeply devoted as they are, no one knows what great bliss their forbidden fantasy will find-or the price they may pay . . .
About the author:
The story goes like this: While on pregnancy bed rest, Lauren Dane had plenty of down time, so her husband took her comments about “giving that writing thing a serious go” to heart and brought home a secondhand laptop. She wrote her first book on it. Today Lauren is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 60 novels and novellas across several genres.
DRAGON STORM by Katie MacAlister (November 24, 2015; Forever Mass Market)
TURN ON THE CHARM
According to some (including himself), Constantine is one of the greatest heroes of dragonkin who ever lived. Too bad he’s now lonelier than ever and his biggest adventure involves a blow-up sheep-until he has an opportunity to save his kind once again. All Constantine has to do is break into a demon’s dungeon, steal an ancient artifact, and reverse a deadly curse. The plan certainly does not involve rescuing a woman . . .
TURN UP THE HEAT
Bee isn’t sure whether to be infuriated or relieved when Constantine pops up in her prison. The broody, brawny shifter lights her fire in a way no one ever has before, yet how far can she really trust him? Their chemistry may be off the charts, but when push comes to shove, Constantine will have to make a crucial choice: to save the dragons or the woman he’s grown to love with fierce intensity.
About the author:
For as long as she can remember Katie MacAlister has loved reading, and grew up with her nose buried in a book. It wasn’t until many years later that she thought about writing her own books, but once she had a taste of the fun to be had building worlds, tormenting characters, and falling madly in love with all her heroes, she was hooked.
With more than fifty books under her belt, Katie’s novels have been translated into numerous languages, been recorded as audiobooks, received several awards, and are regulars on the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists. A self-proclaimed gamer girl, she lives in the Pacific Northwest with her dogs, and frequently can be found hanging around online.
DARK EMBRACE by Angie Sandro (July 14, 2015; Forever Yours E-Book)
Reader favorite Angie Sandro returns to the South with a bewitching paranormal New Adult romance perfect for fans of Jennifer Armentrout’s Wicked and Cora Carmack’sInspire . . .
Rescued from the brink of death by her cousin Mala, Dena Acker returns to the land of the living with a terrifying gift. Still connected to the darkness that almost claimed her, she can tell when someone’s about to die–but there’s nothing she can do to save them. Desperate to rid herself of this cursed ability, Dena has only one chance at peace . . . and two very different men willing to rescue her.
For centuries, Ashmael has seen more souls than he can count but he’s never been drawn to anyone the way he is to fragile, beautiful Dena. She fills the dark void of his days with light, and he would sacrifice anything – even his immortality – to cross over to her world and ease her suffering. But he can’t afford to be discovered by police detective Michael Anders, who is investigating the deaths that surround Dena. While Michael fights his growing attraction to her, the evidence still points to Dena as the killer. Both men have the ability to save Dena from her horrible fate, but which one can she trust with her darkest secrets?
About the author:
Angie Sandro was born at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. Within six weeks, she began the first of eleven relocations throughout the United States, Spain, and Guam before the age of eighteen. Friends were left behind. The only constants in her life were her family and the books she shipped wherever she went. Traveling the world inspired her imagination and allowed her to create her own imaginary friends. Visits to her father’s family in Louisiana inspired this story. Angie now lives in Northern California with her husband, two children, and an overweight Labrador.
TOTAL SURRENDER by Rebecca Zanetti (March 31, 2015; Forever Mass Market)
A fight he must win . . .
Piper Oliver knows she can’t trust him. They warned her that the tall, dark, and sexy black-ops soldier Jory Dean would try to win her over with his steel-gray eyes and deadly charm, but she won’t be conned by this man they call a traitor. All she has to do is figure out the science necessary to save his life, and she’s done. Something isn’t adding up, though, and she won’t rest until she uncovers the truth-even if it’s buried in his deep, dangerous kiss.
A passion she can’t resist . . .
Jory will do anything to reunite with and save his brothers-even kidnap the gorgeous woman who’s working to deactivate the deadly chip in their spines. But the forces determined to destroy his family won’t let them go so easily. Keeping Piper alive is more than he bargained for-and so is his burning desire for her. But with every second bringing him closer to certain death, can he afford to lose himself in her hot and willing embrace?
About the author:
New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Zanetti has worked as an art curator, Senate aide, lawyer, college professor, and a hearing examiner – only to culminate it all in stories about Alpha males and the women who claim them. She is a member of RWA, has won awards for her works throughout the industry, and has a journalism degree with a poly sci emphasis from Pepperdine University as well as a Juris Doctorate from the University of Idaho.
Growing up amid the glorious backdrops and winter wonderlands of the Pacific Northwest has given Rebecca fantastic scenery and adventures to weave into her stories. She resides in the wild north with her husband, children, and extended family who inspire her every day-or at the very least give her plenty of characters to write about.