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Tsarina/ Royal Scoundrels Anthology
Even the Royals weren’t excluded from passion and madness…
Tsarnia: Ivan the Terrible had a secret. He let it rule.
“’Tis true, Your Grace—” She stopped, mouth agape at her slip.
Ivan reached forward and raised the back of his hand to her. “You may receive one strike or one penitence. I will offer you a choice…this once.”
Jekaterina inhaled and said, “The penitence, please.”
“Very well.” He lowered his hand. “You will finish this interview undressed to your waist. Humiliated while your flesh is displayed. Your silent prayers had better be that I am not ensnared by the sight of your wantonness.”
“Yes…” With trembling fingers, she undid the lacing.
Ivan poured himself more wine and held the bottle out for her.
She raised her glass, needing the wine’s encouragement.
When they had both drank, he said, “My question?”
Surprised by her own composure, Jakaterina looked Ivan in the eye. “’Tis true, undermining is commonplace and secretive. I think this more sinister in that it is veiled by the light. No one would assume dishonesty to be attached to an open comment.”
“But you do?”
“The thought that came to my mind was if your Rada wishes to rule on your behalf, why do you need the Boyers. Or in reverse. The Tsar does not need a middle person pretending to rule for him.”
Ivan reached for a wedge of cheese and nibbled. For a long time, he said nothing. Whether in deep thought over her words or deep fantasy over her nipples was a mystery. Jakaterina sat still and straight despite her vulnerableness.
Then he stood up and moved to his bell cord, giving it a forceful tug.
Shocked by his sudden movement, she sprung to her feet.
“Osip will find you a suitable room. Your personal belongings will be brought there shortly. You will speak of this conversation to no one. And, for the love of all things holy, cover your sinful self. He went to his desk.
Recognizing the dismissal, Jakaterina pulled her clothes up, curtsied deep and said, “Yes, Your Grace.” It was the appropriate response, as she was leaving his presence. She moved away quickly, in case he retaliated.
Ivan, however, was already absorbed in correspondence.
The Tsar waited— not on his knees but in a chair placed for his comfort— until his confessor arrived and seated himself behind the partition. He signed the cross. “Bless me, Father. For I have sinned.”
“What is your sin, my son?” The old priest sat back, eyes averted.
“A woman paraded her flesh before my eyes. I did not look away.”
“Have her beaten and kept away from your precious sight and the wandering eyes of weaker men. “
“Say three Hail Mary’s and do not look upon her again.”
“Yes, Father,” Ivan vowed. He would keep her locked away from the eyes of other men. And he would fill his precious sight with whatever he damned well pleased.
KAYOS: The Bad & The Worse
Lareina Elliot discovered her idea for making students loyal to the government is being implemented to further the war. It has become her life’s work to undermine that effort.
Agent Christian Deverell promised to protect Lareina, always. But, that was before he flipped sides, before their history got dirty, before he commissioned her adopted brother to assassinate her.
Cpl. Silas McKade never misses. He has a death warrant for Lareina—the woman who means everything to him—and a soul full of hatred for Christian—the man he wants to be. He’s either going to break Lareina’s heart or stop it altogether.
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Christian watched Alec skipping down the fire escape; rifle over his shoulder, two-liter drink under his arm. Cocky little punk. He didn’t know Alec personally, but he was certain his description was accurate. It grated him that it wasn’t the cocky little punk he was waiting for. It didn’t matter. This one was obviously extra special to Lareina. Reason enough to kill him. He slid his gun free. “Stop right there you little bastard.”
Christian could see the intelligence in those dark eyes. The little shit is debating it. “You move. You die.” Gut instinct prompted him to add, “And Lareina gets to watch.”
Now, Alec obeyed.
“Climb down off that last step and put your hands up. You blink in the wrong direction and I will personally hand her the pieces.”
Alec didn’t answer. He was thinking.
“Leave him alone, Eugene.”
Together Christian and Alec watched her approach. This was no place for a lady.
Only Lareina would stroll down a blind, back alley, toward a loaded weapon, wearing stilettos. Christian couldn’t remember a day when she didn’t look good. He’d never admit it, but he’d been agonizing over her since the hospital. He had been worried. Hell, he missed her. And there she was: green top—too low in the front, dark jeans—as tight as can be, dangly earrings, glossy lips, an arm full of bangles, and those damned sexy-ass stilettos.
Armed with an air of supreme poise, Lareina came forth. “Get in the car, honey.” She ruffled Alec’s hair but didn’t stop until she stood directly in front of Christian. His gun was less than three inches from her heart.
Alec hadn’t moved. She hadn’t expected him to, but it was worth a try. No matter. Now, that she was there, he was safe enough.
“What are you doing here, Lareina?” Christian lowered his weapon.
“Getting my child. What’s it look like?” She had the nerve to grin. “How did you find us?”
He arched an eyebrow at her and cast a speculative glance at Alec, exaggerating the act long enough to make sure she noted it before he let the topic go. “What did you want with Jeri?”
“Jeri’s a bastard.”
“No shit, Sherlock. Tell me something I don’t know.”
“It was news to me. That M-F’er has been stealing my files. He sold me out. It seemed prudent to find out some particulars.”
“It wasn’t to the government because you’re a criminal?”
She pursed her lips at him.
Not the government. Then who? Something started to click, but Christian couldn’t finger it. “You know I’m taking you in, right?”
“You can’t. Not today anyway.”
“Why not today?” He could hear them coming.
So could she. “Because my son can’t drive.”
“Yes, I can.” If they wanted to pretend this was normal, Alec was cool with it. Lareina glanced at him, affectionately. “Not legally.”
He gave an indignant huff. “Because that matters.”
“Lareina.” Christian didn’t have time for this shit.
“Christian. I’m getting my child out of here.” There was no mistaking the resolution in her tone. “If you want to shoot me, you’ll have to do it in the back.”
He leveled her a mean look.
“Mr. Deverell, sir.” An officer came into view. Two others followed him escorting Jericho Parks.
“That’s her!” Jericho pointed. “That’s her! She did it. She’s responsible. I want to press full charges! She was behind it all!”
His outburst made up Christian’s mind. He raised his weapon and unloaded three caps. Like dominoes, the DoP’s went down one after the other. Jericho screamed. He fell to his knees and covered his head. Christian studied Lareina. “Three days.”
He watched her eyes dart to the left in that telltale manner.
“I need at least a week.” Urgency caused her voice to rise.
“You’re only getting three days.” He was in no mood to bend. Three soldiers lay dead. He had compromised enough.
“Fine. I’ve got to go.”
One hand extended, gun still pointed toward Jericho, in the event he attempted to run, with his other, Christian grabbed Lareina’s arm, pulling her to him. He put every ounce of his frustration into his kiss. It was either that or break her neck. And he was strongly contemplating the latter.
Lareina allowed it. She wanted, craved his touch as much as he craved hers. Theirs was a dance with the devil; irresistible and impossible. The tangles had become knots and he only gave her three days. It wasn’t enough. She could hardly wait.
The kiss ended, but the intensity remained. He sighed, letting the heat recede.
She whispered, “I have a pretty long to-do list, Christian. Unfortunately, you’re not on it.”
He licked the corner of her mouth, matching her tone. “I am the list.”
She pressed her cheek against his lips. “Well, you’re not getting done tonight.”
“Don’t fool yourself, Lareina,” he said. “I am going to have you.”
The absolute authority rippling through the huskiness in his voice made her nerves tingle with anticipation. It was a future fact. The next time, they wouldn’t be in the middle of a shootout. There would be no high emotions or weak moments to blame it on. It would be intentional. It would be permanent.
Summoning strength he didn’t like to utilize, Christian pulled back an inch, tugging on her bottom lip a moment longer. “Don’t stop.” His eyes were serious.
“Be careful.” Her eyes were worried.
With nothing more to say, she turned, moving away as fast as her stilettos would allow. Alec fell into step beside her. They were to the car, backing out and pulling into traffic when they heard a noise. It sounded like a gunshot.
Be sure to grab Your free download! The tiger & the Snake a KAYOS prequel.
Fortitude/ Virtue a Crazy Ink Anthology
Being good and kicking ass are not mutually exclusive.
I am Fortitude. That strength of character that won’t quit in spite of the circumstance. My circumstance? I have to save a self-centered doctor from Meridian, an energy-draining demon, set on destroying her. A demon whose purpose is to break me. A demon I can’t resist.
“You are a terrible person.” I stood in the door frame between Zina’s living room and kitchen.
Together, we watched Zina sweep up her clown.
“You’re wrong.” Meridian showed no surprise at my sudden appearance. “I’m not a person.”
“How about we leave it at, you’re terrible.”
He nodded his head. “That didn’t take you long at all. I expected you to be busy for half the night.”
“On the contrary. Excited. I’m happy to see you.”
I arched an eyebrow.
“Trust me.” He stood up and came towards me.
I arched both eyebrows.
“Okay. Don’t trust me. But it is true. You look beautiful. How are you?”
“Pissed. And, not at all sorry to see you leave.”
“You’d miss me. You know it.” He was close enough to touch me. “I’d miss you.” He leaned in. “A real kiss, this time?”
He already used his sneak attack, he couldn’t surprise me anymore. It was safe enough, relatively speaking, to offer my cheek.
“Have dinner with me?”
“Didn’t you just remind me, you’re not human? Neither am I.”
“We can pretend.”
“I already told you, eww. Besides, you have to leave now. Do you want me to help you leave?”
I glanced at our shared subject. “Walking through an open door is not the same as having an invitation.”
“The open door is the invitation.”
As if on cue, Zina’s doorbell rung.
“I wonder who that could be?” Meridian faked his curiosity. “Greed? Lust? Maybe pride?”
It was Dr. Curt Legwitz baring flowers.
“All three.” He feigned wonder.
Love thy enemy. Thoroughly.
“Oh, Lord. He’s back.”
Lareina and Christian had the love of a lifetime, a lifetime ago. Now, they’re frienemies with not enough benefits for either of them.
Christian wants to get past their problem, but Lareina is not having it, or him. Until a desperate call and a fateful day changes him; changes her; changes everything. Love has forced them to play a dangerous game called KAYOS.
This prequel to KAYOS: The Bad & The Worse is the need-to-know origin of Lareina and Christian’s impossible relationship and includes the how and why the members of KAYOS are who they’ve become.
This one is Free!
Lareina hated Christian. She hated loving him. She hated being her best, happiest self with him. She hated how he made her laugh…and cry. Damn the man. Why did he ever make her cry?
An amazing dinner. A perfect moonlight stroll. His touch was electric and his kisses held every promise she ever wanted. But…
He was working. The evening was a carefully crafted delusion meant to fool an observer into believing they were in love. She wasn’t his woman. She was bait. It didn’t matter what he made her feel. Tonight, she was bait.
Other than to indicate the men following them, and when a team member happened to be near, Christian said very little about his game or her part in it. Being herself was all he required from her. She toyed and flirted and let him see the depth of her feelings. Promising him tomorrow would be an altogether different day.
“How will we know if this is working?” She asked on the way back to the hotel. She curled up under his shoulder as he drove.
“We won’t. You’ll have to spend the night with me to be sure they believe I’m fully distracted.”
“In your wildest wet dreams.” She used the opportunity to rub his crotch. “And, you are fully distracted.”
“Do it again. I dare you.”
“Nope. But only because you want me to.”
“Absolutely.” Over their quiet laughter, she said, “You have me for one more hour, Christian. Once we’re done here, you are going to stay away from me for the rest of the weekend. Understand?”
“You know better. One, I’ve put you out there, I have to protect you.”
“I can protect myself.”
“I have to protect you. Two, avoiding me would blow my cover. And three, you don’t want me away from you any more than I do.”
“You’ve got one hour. Make it special.” She squeezed his leg and slid out of his reach.
The tiger & The Snake is the romantic prequel to KAYOS: The Bad & The Worse
Death is my mission. Deserving or not, my onus is to bring it. No one can stop me from wreaking havoc. Not my brothers, not the pirate’s curse I carry, not the sea witch’s bargain, not even the sirens… Perhaps, the sirens…the one siren. But all I can offer the beautiful seductress, all I can bring her, is death. It’s who I am.
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I didn’t know where the others were, but Tristian, Rauel and I were taken to a pen. It wasn’t large or particularly comfortable but a small cave with bars that appeared to have been salvaged from some-long forgotten ship. I imagined lots of things from long-forgotten ships were hoarded in these caves.
Tristian and Rauel belonged to my vanguard. Deadly fighters and trustworthy men. That was, if you considered men who plunder to be trustworthy. I knew enough about them to anticipate what was coming. Tristian was claustrophobic. He hesitated at the cave’s entrance and turned on the siren.
I drew my sword and turned on him. “We all must die sooner or later. Your choice.”
Rauel went into the cave without a backward glance. He had called me unpredictable on more than one occasion.
“Baldassare, I can’t go in there,” Tristian said.
“You can, and you will.” I nudged him with my sword tip.
It was low, almost inaudible. I felt it before I heard it, snaking its way around my heart. My sword arm went limp. Tristian didn’t notice. He, too, was captured by the siren’s magic. Rauel came forward, enchanted, called by this temptress. The bitch. I didn’t understand what she was doing, but I didn’t want her to stop.
All too soon, she did stop. I was sure we looked as stupid as we felt.
“Get in the pen.” Her words were cold, but her eyes were black magic. My member stiffened, not for the first time since I’d seen her.
“There are seven deadly sins,” she said. “I can sing and make you guilty of all of them.” She locked the cage behind us.
“Wait,” Rauel called before she moved away. He didn’t have anything to say. He just didn’t want her to leave.
“Who built this?” He touched the bars.
While he talked, I committed her to memory. I wanted a detailed image when I pampered my erection.
“You are not the first men to make landfall.” She spoke as if he was impertinent for asking.
Tristian knelt, pressing his face against the bars, taking deep breaths. “There are other men here?”
“Not any longer.” She thought a minute, then said to me, “Perhaps, you’ll be next.”
“Then I best get busy.” I nodded my head once in the direction of my crotch.
Her exquisite bottom lip dropped open. It quivered like she had something naughty to say. She came very close to me, reached out to touch me…only she didn’t. Damn. I wanted her to touch me. Her fingers were a wisp away from cupping my groin. Oh, please…
“I can sing all seven sins.” This time, she did not look back.
Everything changed with one jump.
Shattered, Leaf fled to the last place she wanted to be— Onyx Narpole’s world…Onyx Narpole’s arms.
Leaf Harper was Onyx’s enemy; he made sure of it. Onyx could forget everybody and everything, but he could not forget why.
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While yachting off the Florida Keys, Leaf came toward Onyx waving a bottle of sunblock.
“What do you want me to do with that?”
“Eat it. What do you think I want you to do? My back.” She presented him with said back.
While she couldn’t see him, he admired her blue one-piece suit. “You don’t have enough back to do. But, I’ll fix it.” He flicked his finger and her suit became a low cut, Mint-green, two-piece. “Hand me the lotion.”
Leaf gave him the bottle.
He poured a liberal amount into his palm. When he looked up, she was wearing a fire-engine-red, string bikini. “Is that enough back for you?” She scooted onto the bench, directly between his outstretched legs and smiled over her shoulder.
Onyx caught his breath and said, “Careful, Harper. If you push me another round, you’ll be in a thong.”
She moved her hair out of his way. “So will you.”
He looked down to see that she turned his trunks into a pair of mint-green Speedos.
Onyx paid her back by taking his time applying the sunblock. He turned the application into a massage. It was a good excuse to touch her. He wanted to touch her. Narpoles did whatever they wanted.
Leaf knew what he was doing. She punished him by allowing it. Yeah. That will teach him.
Onyx was done rubbing in sunblock long before he was done touching her. Having no other excuse, he decided, he didn’t need any. He pulled Leaf back against him and was instantly invigorated by her warmth, her scent.
Leaf stiffened. He had a six-pack and v-lines.
“Cassenia is a half million miles that way,” he pointed. “We’re all by ourselves in the middle of the ocean. There isn’t even a seagull around to see. Who is going to know, Leaf?” One hand encircled her waist, while the other fingered the bouncy strands of her hair.
Leaf relaxed. She thought about the chest she was lounging against. It felt like it was chiseled from granite. “Nobody. Because this isn’t real.”
She rubbed the muscles in his arm and practically purred. Just because it isn’t real, doesn’t mean it isn’t fun.
Holden’s desire knew no limits. Holden’s family respected no boundaries. Not to worry, Cherry can fix that. Cherry can fix anything…except herself.
Being in love with Holden, one of the notorious Latche twins, has freed Cherry from her ghosts. Now, she wants to help everyone -with or without their consent. Her unyielding opinions influence every relationship on the Latche family farm. While her involvement may not always be welcome, at least her intentions are pure.
And that’s a problem.
Purity doesn’t work for Holden. Abstinence is not a part of his womanizing agenda. Besides, Cherry has two secrets too many as far as he is concerned. The lack of information about her family and her intimate exchanges with Eric– the other notorious Latche twin.
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Holden poured the wine and served them. They finished the crab in companionable silence. It was too good to talk through.
“I can’t believe I slept so long.” Cherry bit into her duck and moaned with pleasure.
“You were up very early this morning. It was bound to catch up with you.”
“I guess. What did you do today? Besides all of this.” She waved her fork over her plate then stabbed a pepper.
“I took a nap myself, on your sofa. I went home for a while. I went to the store, came back and started dinner.”
Inwardly, it amused Cherry. They sounded so normal.
“Everybody said hello and Pattycakes was wondering if you would consider going with her to the gym again.”
His easy comments made her wistful. She missed the Latches. “This is so good.” Cherry savored the potatoes. She hadn’t forgotten what a good cook he was, but the proof was overwhelming.
“Thank you. I haven’t done it in a while. It was fun.” He studied her across the table, his gaze softly intense.
“So what have you been doing with yourself since…you know?” It had been pleasant. She hadn’t planned to go there.
“Since you’ve been gone? I haven’t done anything. I couldn’t function without you.”
“Holden, let’s not do this. Your dinner is wonderful, but it doesn’t change anything.”
“What?” he scoffed. “Do you think I’m trying to seduce you or something?”
“Aren’t you?” It stung a little that he didn’t seem interested, but she wasn’t going to dwell on that.
“What would that earn me?” His gaze was thick with knowledge. “I cooked because I was hungry and I thought you would be too. There’s no secret meaning behind it.” He picked up a portabella with his fingers and offered the tasty morsel to her with a wink.
She accepted his offering before she realized what she was doing. She squeezed her eyes shut against her unguarded behavior. The man was lethal.
“You might as well relax. This is going to be a bumpy ride but, we’re already on it. There’s no point in making things any harder than they need to be for either of us. Let’s just get through it.”
“You seem… I don’t know, relaxed.”
“I am. At least a little more relaxed. We’ve already survived seeing each other for the first time. Those first moments. I confess, I hadn’t meant to fall asleep. I was terrified when I woke up, but you hadn’t disappeared. I made myself go home. You were still here when I got back. It was a relief.”
“I live here.”
“With your track record, that didn’t give me any confidence.” He refilled their wine glasses. “Being able to breathe for an entire day has been great.”
“Why do you keep saying that?”
“Because that’s what it felt like, not seeing you. Like I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t. Not when I didn’t know if you were okay.”
“Y-you can’t say things like that to me.” Before he could ask why, the phone rang. “I’m sorry. I have to get this,” she said when she heard the ring tone. “My friend’s worried. I should have called her.” She reached for her cordless. “I know. You were worried. Sorry, Jeanie. I should have called.”
“Pppfffhhh. I know you’re all right. I didn’t call for you. Where is that yummy hunk of man of yours?”
“Holden. He’s still there, isn’t he? Tell me you did not send him away. If you did, please tell me you sent him to my house.”
“How did you~”
“Chica, please. I’ve talked to him three times already. I was going to have him for dinner, but he’s an awful lot to eat.”
Cherry closed her mouth, held out the phone and said, “it’s for you. Although I’ve no idea why you would be getting calls from my so-called friends.”
Holden gave her a shameless grin as he accepted the device. “Jeanie.”
Cherry’s nostrils flared. “Of course.” She remembered when he was on the phone with her, he always sounded like he was in between licks of something he thought was delicious.
“I’m putting you on speaker, Jeanie.” He pushed the button. “We don’t want to give Cherry the wrong idea.”
“Pppfffhhh. Cherry knows me well enough to already have the wrong idea. Did you use the candles?”
“No. I told you, I’m not going for romance.” He shot Cherry a smoldering glance. “Not tonight, anyway.”
“What a waste. Mister, you were made for romance.”
“What are you calling me for?” He didn’t sound at all disturbed.
“‘Cause you’re yummy. And because I couldn’t remember what you said to do with the potatoes.”
“Mash them like you normally do but instead of milk, add about a cup of ranch dressing.”
“Gotcha. And the pumpkin cheese-cake?”
“Drizzle the caramel. If you put on too much, it will overwhelm it. You want to be the sweetest thing in front of him.”
“Ohh baby. Can I keep you?”
“My dinner is getting cold.”
“Set it on your lap. That will heat it right up. That would heat me right up.”
“Have fun tonight, Jeanie.”
“I will. Especially later tonight. You are going to star in my dreams as a pirate.”