MAX! MAX! MAD MAX!

Thanksgiving, Six Weeks Ago

Max

A deep, ominous chill settles into my bones as I walk down Decatur Avenue in the armpit of Brooklyn on this frigid night. I flip up the collar of my coat to form a barrier against the heavy wind that nearly blew my car off the Verrazano Bridge a little while ago. Sidestepping puddles of half-melted ice from the last snowstorm, I peer around at the darkness consuming the dilapidated buildings, trying to make out any shapes that are lurking in alleyways, ready to pummel, but there are none.

I guess criminals celebrate Thanksgiving, too.

Nico would kick my ass if he knew I was here. Alone, no less. 

It’s been a rough few months for him, dealing with his dad’s recovery from the hit that the Cappodamo family put on him and then taking over as boss. It hasn’t been easy, and he’s been damn stressed. But yet here I am, ready to pile on that stress and fuck shit up without his permission.

My phone vibrates against my leg. I glance left and right before pulling it out to read the text from Sloane.

Where are you? We just finished dinner, and I made your favorite for dessert. Is everything okay?

I tug down the rim of my worn Yankees baseball cap and shake off the useless guilt that’s been hovering over me ever since I made a sudden turn in the opposite direction…away from Sloane’s house and toward the New Jersey Turnpike. 

I should be with Sloane right now, sitting in the dining room at her dad’s house, eating her tiramisu…the best damn tiramisu on the planet and the one she always makes any time I come over. I’m so fucking deep in the friend zone that the only thing I can get out of her is dessert. Or Raisinets when I show up at her apartment with the bullshit excuse that I want to play Fortnite. Video games. That’s the only way in, so I’ve been reduced to fucking Player Two. 

Things between us fell apart the last time because my priorities were fucked up. Funny how shit comes full circle. I’ve been dicking around for the past couple of months, trying to figure out how to tell her that I want to give this thing between us another shot, but something always stopped me from saying the words.

That was gonna change tonight. I was gonna lay it out there for her, to see if there’s a future for us, to see if I can get the second chance I’ve been waiting for. And here I am in Brooklyn with my priorities all fucked up again. Maybe it’s a sign that she’s better off without me and my jacked priorities.

But that phone call…how the hell could I have ignored it? I know being here violates all sorts of rules, but I still came.

You always repay your debts.

Besides, I’d never let those bastards win their sick, sordid game either.

When they violated our territory and went after our business, they fucked themselves.

I’m just here to finish the job. It’s what I do. It’s what I’m good at.

Except this time, I don’t have backup. 

This is something I have to do by myself. I put Layla in this position, and now I need to get her the fuck out of it.

I mentally flip through attack strategies, squinting at the numbers on the buildings along the desolate road. There could be anywhere from one to five guys inside, based on what she whispered into the phone.

They’re baiting me. I know they’re not gonna do what they threatened to do. But Layla wasn’t taking that risk, and now I’m here to save the fucking day.

I stop short, my ears straining to hear what sounds like very determined footsteps approaching me from behind. My throat tightens, and I stuff my hands deep into my pockets, gripping the handle of my trusty switchblade.

I pick up the pace, knowing I’ll have milliseconds to pull out the blade, swivel around, and lance the fucker. The footsteps get louder and heavier, splashing through puddles. 

The dipshit isn’t even trying to be stealth anymore. 

I glance left and right, and still, the street is empty.

Save for two people.

At least.

The bar is up ahead on my left. If this prick is one of theirs, I don’t want to take him out here in the open, so I dodge left and dart between two buildings, crouched low so I can spring at the bastard when he comes for me.

My moves take him by surprise, and he sprints toward me, hood pulled over his face. I can only make out a profile, but I’ll slash first and ask questions later.

As always.

I grip the blade in my hand and release its gleaming metal tip. Ready to slice.

“Max!” A male voice whisper-shouts my name. “What the fuck?”

I furrow my brow. “Gabe?”

Gabe pulls off his hood. “Yeah, man. What the hell is wrong with you? I could have been a cop, for fuck’s sake!” He points at my blade. “You were just gonna fillet me without even finding out who it was?”

I retract the blade and stick it back into my pocket, letting out a deep sigh. “This is a shithole neighborhood, if you haven’t noticed. And if the cops came down here more often, it probably wouldn’t be as bad as it is. So, yeah, if someone is following me in this place, I’m slicing first, worrying about it never.” I lower my voice. “What the fuck are you doing here, anyway? Shouldn’t you be at your mother’s house right now, sleeping on the couch after stuffing your face with enough food to feed a third-world country?”

“Screw you.” Gabe grinned. “I already did all that. And now I’m all fueled up and ready to bust some fucking skulls. Where are they?”

I nod in the direction of the dilapidated building. Layla didn’t have an exact address, but she sent pictures. I did the rest with the help of one of my younger guys, Sammy, who also happens to be a tech genius. Fucking kid. He could do so much more with his life than be a hacker for the mafia, but then again, nobody ever asks if you’re gonna join the party. 

It’s just expected that you show up.

And never leave. 

“I’m gonna kill Sammy,” I grumble, adjusting the gun in the waistband of my pants.

“If he didn’t call me, it’d be your funeral. I don’t know why you needed to storm this shit show by yourself.”

Gabe doesn’t get it. But it’s not like I can make him understand. I know what people say about me. I know what they think.

This time, I wanted to tell a different story, one where I’m the one who takes care of things, not just the one who carries out a fucking order.

I’m nobody’s goddamned errand boy, but that’s what they all see.

Because that’s the picture Nico paints. 

My best friend. And my boss. 

He claims he wants to help me rise through the ranks, to get me involved in the business end so people don’t just see me as a thug and start taking me seriously. But being his fucking peon isn’t gonna erase that image.

I may not be Mr. CEO, but I do know how these jerkoffs operate. Nico can barely hold a fucking gun, much less fire one. If I told him about this, he’d have gathered all the guys together, had a fucking brutally long meeting about the pros and cons of how and when we should attack, blah, blah, fucking blah. This isn’t the time to play around with our dicks. And now is the time for me to make my move and prove myself to those assholes who talk shit behind my back, betting on how long it’ll take before one of our enemies finally pops me.

Sorry, to disappoint you, dickheads. It ain’t happening.

Not tonight, anyway.

But still, a nagging voice needles me. 

Grandpa Vito wouldn’t be happy about this. 

I grit my teeth as Gabe cocks his gun. Vito was the head of the Salesi family and Nico’s grandfather. The big guy. The one who oversaw everything. He’d always been my champion, even after the divorce. That’s what we call the falling out between my dad and Nico’s. A lot of shit went down back then, but Vito always supported me, even when nobody else did. 

Now he’s gone. It’s been almost a year since he died of a heart attack, and sometimes I feel like nobody has my back anymore. I’m a liability. They don’t want to take the risk on me since I’m such a loose cannon. 

At least, that’s what I hear. 

The mental taunting continues.

Is that why Grandpa Vito got Nico to give you a job? Or was it because he didn’t trust you either and needed to get you a babysitter?

Shut the fuck up, voice!

I clench and unclench my fists, the memory of Layla’s whimpering making my chest tighten. “Are you ready yet, for Christ’s sake?”

Gabe tucks the gun back into his jeans and nods. “Yeah. Let’s do this.”

I put a hand on his chest before he takes another step closer to the door. “Wait. You didn’t need to come here tonight. But I want you to know I appreciate it. And I’ll make sure her father knows you showed up, too. Now keep your eyes open. I don’t need any more blood on my hands, got it?”

Gabe lets out a snort. “Fuck off, bitch. Worry about yourself.”

I roll my eyes and shove him aside, inching closer to the dingy metal door. With a throbbing pulse, I pull open the door; the stench of stale cigarette smoke tinged with scotch assaults my nostrils. I nod toward Gabe, and he covers the other side of the door. I creep inside. A few lights hang over beaten-up pool tables, marijuana smoke swirling through the air. A jukebox sits silent in a far corner. 

The silence is deafening.

And fucking excruciating, if I’m being honest.

A piercing scream shatters the eerie stillness, and I dart in the direction of the desperate pleas. 

It’s Layla. 

I pull out my gun and point to Gabe, directing him to cover me as I run toward a back room. I have no fucking clue what waits for me beyond that door, but my friend is in trouble. Serious fucking trouble. 

Her father, Antonio deVincenzo, was the only other person in the family who’d believed that I had more to offer the family than smashed up skulls. He was the only one who gave me a real shot at my own business, until that asshole Rocco Lucchese fucked us both, leaving me with nothing but this dead-end job under Nico’s watchful eye. 

I never forgot what Antonio did for me. 

And I owe him plenty, even in death. Lung cancer drained the life out of him last spring, but I’m still paying back the debt. 

Feels like I’ve been paying it back for a long time. 

But this is the last installment. I can’t keep putting my ass on the line. I need to think about my future, meaning I’d like to havea future. 

Gabe does a quick check and waves me toward the door a minute later. “All clear,” he mouths. 

I don’t like this one bit. 

This place looks like a fucking bloodbath waiting to happen. Something is wrong…very wrong. Why isn’t this place crawling with thugs? Where the fuck is everyone?

Napping because they ate too much fucking turkey?

Doubtful…

I inch closer to the door, shooting out a hand and shoving it open to find Layla squirming under some beefy dipshit who didn’t have the foresight to lock the front door. He has one hand under her skirt and one hand slapped over her mouth. He turns around, his eyes red and bloodshot, face dripping with sweat. He drags himself to his feet, a shit-eating grin on his pock-marked face. His belt is undone, jeans hanging around his ass. Layla scrambles into a corner. Her face is streaked with black eye makeup, her teeth chattering so violently, she can’t even speak. Her eyes are filled with terror, her body shaking uncontrollably.

I swallow hard, breathing deep to control my heartbeat. My hand is steady, trained on the bastard who’d just dry humped his last victim. He should be thanking his lucky stars that his dick is still inside of his pants. 

Otherwise, I’d have shot off the head in his pants before blowing off the one on his shoulders.

Pop! Pop! Pop!

Blood and bits of brain and bone splatter all over the wall before his body crashes to the floor with a loud thump. A shriek that can shatter glass follows, and I sideswipe Layla’s attacker, holding out a hand to pull her up.

But she continues to cower in the corner.

“Layla, babe. It’s okay. You’re safe now. Let me help you up.”

Still, she just shakes her head, stuttering something I can’t make out, shivering and huddling closer to the wall.

“Layla,” I say again, louder this time. “I need you to come with me. Is there anyone else—?”

Crack!

A single gunshot explodes from behind me.

“Gabe!” I shout, jumping to my feet and twisting around…

Two seconds too late.

A thick hand grasps my neck, dragging me to my feet. Layla’s weeping turns into full-fledge screeches as my back is slammed against the wall, the fucking bloody, brainy wall of horrors.

Mikey Bonnaro. Sonofabitch. He’d been one of Frank Cappodamo’s soldiers, but his ‘career’ came to a screeching halt last New Year’s Eve when Frank had kidnapped my sister Shaye. That was a fucking brutal night. It didn’t end well for any of Cappodamo’s men, including Frank himself. Before that bloodbath, Mikey had been positioned as a captain, and Frank was about to give him the drug distribution business for all of his territories. But shit went sideways for Cappodamo’s whole crew once we stormed the deserted warehouse where they’d taken Shaye. Some of Frank’s crew, including Mikey, were able to get away. But Mikey’s brother Gianni wasn’t so lucky. I slashed his tires and dropped about fifty grams of heroin into the passenger seat of his car before we busted out of the parking lot. He’s been behind bars since that night, and it looks like Mikey is still pissed off that his promotion never went through. 

“Shut up, bitch!” Mikey shouts at Layla before he turns back to me with an evil grimace. “Happy fucking Thanksgiving, Oriani. It’s not very polite to crash someone’s party. Didn’t that cunt mother of yours teach you any manners?”

“Is this your plan, Mikey? You think kidnapping her is gonna win you points with those dipshits you work with?” I wheeze, trying to pry his fingers away from my throat. “You think it’ll give you power over them? You think they’ll follow you now because you got one of ours?”

“Loyalty doesn’t come cheap. They know what I can get them.” He shrugs. “It’s all about what you can deliver, right, Maximo? What have you delivered? Oh, right. Nothing. That’s why you’re Nico’s bitch now. He needs to keep tabs on the weak link, right?” He lets go, and my body crashes to the floor like a lead pipe. 

Speaking of lead pipes, I’d love to have one in my hand right about now.

My hand flies to my neck, and I choke, trying to swallow as much air as my lungs can handle.

Mikey crouches down next to me and ruffles my hair. “Did you think I was gonna kill you, Max? Were you scared?”

My eyes dart behind him to where Gabe lies in a pool of blood right outside the back room. 

More blood on my hands. 

So much blood.

There doesn’t ever seem to be a shortage of it, that’s for shit sure. Gabe was a good guy. He showed up, and because of me, now he’s fucking dead.

On Thanks-fucking-giving.

Mikey follows my gaze and shrugs. “Collateral damage. You know how it is. I didn’t want to kill anyone. I only wanted to give you a message.” He waves over at Gabe, barely acknowledging his limp and lifeless body sprawled on the floor. “That’s your fault for being too big of a pussy to show up alone.” He taps my temple with the barrel of his gun. “You’re getting soft doing all this businessy shit, aren’t you? You’d have come in here shooting the place up back in the day. You would never have dropped your gun before popping off a round or two.” He points his piece to where mine hit the floor minutes earlier and then points it to Layla. “But maybe this will make you remember…keep you focused. For next time. Because lucky for you, there will be one.”

Crack!

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“I want you to go.”
My eyes fly open. “You what?”
He shakes off my hand without even turning around. “Go back to your daddy, go back to school, go back to your little bubble of a life. Just go.”
“But we just… I thought you were…”
“I’m not. I can’t ever be. Just… leave.” He flips over, his eyes so dark they almost look black. With a glare that can freeze ice, he pushes past me, goes into the bathroom, and slams the door.
Short, sharp gasps make my chest quiver. I dress as quickly as I can, consumed by the overwhelming need to get the hell away from him, from this house, and from the fantasies I’d clung to for years that had just shattered around me like a pane of glass.

https://amzn.to/2BGImLs

SCREWING THE MOB, a forbidden brother’s best friend romance, is LIVE! Start your binge read today!

The Mob Lust Series Is Going Into Kindle Unlimited!

I’ve decided to move all of my books over to Kindle Unlimited, starting with The Mob Lust Series. Screwing the Mob will be available on Kindle Unlimited on September 13, and Ruling the Mob will be released into Kindle Unlimited on September 20.

I am really excited about the prospect of reaching a brand-new new reader audience, and if you are a die-hard Kristen Luciani fan who absolutely must read all of my books, have no fear! I put together a set of instructions for anyone using iOS or Android devices!

Just click Get The Kindle App from my website menu and you will be able to follow the instructions to download and register the app, as well as buy books!

Counting down the days,

Kristen xo

 

Hot & Sinful Nights Spotlight: Breath Of Life By Shyla Colt

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from…Breath of Life by Shyla Colt, one of 22 HOT Romances in Hot & Sinful Nights. Preorder yours for 99¢

We round the corner, and I spot my black SUV. “That’s me up ahead.” I parked beneath a street light.
The rectangle sputters and dies, plunging the street into shadows as the sun gives up its control and night emerges. I’m suddenly glad he insisted on walking me back to my car. The scuff off shoes on concrete make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

“Did you hear that?” I whisper. I glance at Ollie who steps in front of me.

“Yeah, I did.” He turns to face the alley a few feet away from where we stand.

Three men emerge from the alleyway dressed from head-to-toe in all black with hoods that partially obscure their faces. With my height, I’m peering up and have a ringside view. I pray to God they don’t realize that. I grip the handle of my case. The street is deserted, and my car offers no shelter, despite its proximity. They’d catch us before we could clamber inside and drive off.

I grip the pepper spray on my keychain. Doesn’t fucking help when there’s a group.

“Hey, man. We don’t want any trouble,” Ollie says.

“Give us your wallets, and we won’t have any,” the large, bulky figure in the middle growls.

“All right, man, just take it easy,” Ollie says, holding up his hands. He reaches into his back pocket and slowly pulls out a wallet.

“And hers, too.”

I fumble with the messenger bag looped across my body and dig out my black wallet. Ollie takes it from me and hands it to the thief with his fingertips.

“Keep your asses here until we’re gone, and no one will be hurt. Try to play hero, and we’ll take ourselves a prize.” His lecherous gaze turns my stomach.
Over my dead body. I’ll take a bullet to the head before I go anywhere with them.

“You won’t have any problems for us.” Ollie steps back until my front brushes his back. He reaches his hand around and grabs my hip.

Leaning into him, I clutch his plaid shirt like a lifeline as I rub the tip of my nose over the soft material, filling my nostrils with his crisp, clean scent. Right now this cologne is my favorite smell in the world.

The thugs begin to blend back into the blackness one by one. The ring leader keeps the barrel of the gun aimed at Ollie as he retreats into the alley. He stops. My knees shake and nearly give as I suck air into my desperate lungs. When did I hold my breath?

“I changed my mind. I think we’ll take a little something for the road.”

My blood pressure sky rockets as my vision blackens around the edges and my heart tries to burst from my chest. Adrenaline begins pumping through my veins. My muscles tense. Fight or flight slams into me like a two-ton wild beast.

“We don’t have anything else to give,” Ollie says coolly.

“But you do,” he replies, fixing me with a lewd gaze as he licks his chapped lips.

I scan the area, seeking out a place to run. I’d never make it into my car and get inside before they caught up to me. I clutch my pepper spray and lift it, ready to fight.

“Like I said, we have nothing else.” Ollie stands to his full height, and I brace myself.

“Take her,” the man sneers.

Ollie surges forward, wrestling for the gun, and I let the pepper spray fly. Time blurs as my brain is overloaded with fear, cries of pain, and movement. I fight against the hands grabbing at me, keeping my eyes sealed shut as I spray blindly and pray I don’t hit Ollie who I try to keep in front of me. My throat is on fire. I cough as the spray penetrates my nostrils by force. A loud pop stills all movement as if someone screamed, “Red,” in a game of red light, yellow light. The meaty sound of a bullet ripping through flesh that follows pries my eyelids open. Water obscures my vision, and it’s like looking through frosted glass.

Feet pound over the pavement. They’re leaving. I swipe at my eyes, desperate to restore more of my vision. My stomach roils as I recognize Ollie’s prone figure. A dark stain blossoms on his plaid shirt. I kneel beside him.

“O-Ollie?” My voice and my hands shake as I reach for my cell phone. His skin is pale, and an ominous hiss like a slow leaking bike tire hits my ear.

He grimaces. “I’m here. It’s hard to breathe.”

Red flags wave as I punch in 911 and place a hand on his shoulder.

“911, what’s your emergency?”

“Yes, I-I need help. W-we were just robbed, and my friend was sh-shot in the chest.”

“Where are you?”

“I-I’m here on King street.”

“Are the people still around?”

“No.”

“Do you know what they looked like?”

The question threw me. “I … Tall, unkempt, dark hair. Late twenties to mid-thirties. I don’t know. It was dark, and they were all in black. Please send someone. I hear an odd sound like a deflating balloon or a tire. He’s pale.”

“Help is on their way. What’s your name?”

“Me? I-I’m Quinn Fleming.”

“And the gentleman’s?”

“Ollie … what’s your real name.”

He gives a bark of laughter that ends with a wet cough. “Finally got your name. Oliver Hemingway.”

I repeat his name to the operator. Her steady voice is a lifeline keeping me from panicking.

About Shyla Colt…

authoe centralShyla Colt is the sassy international bestseller of the popular series Kings of Chaos and Dueling Devils M.C. This genre-hoppers stories feature three of her favorite things: strong females, pop culture, and alternate routes to happy ever after. Listening to her Romani soul, she pens from the heart, allowing the dynamic characters, eccentric interests, and travels as a former flight attendant to take her down untraveled roads.

Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, this mid-west girl is proud of her roots. She used her hometown and the surrounding areas as a backdrop for a number of books. So, if you’re a Buckeye, keep an eye out for familiar places.

As a full-time writer, stay at home mother, and wife, there’s never a dull moment in her household.
She weaves her tales in spare moments and the evenings with a cup of coffee or tea at her side and the characters in her head for company.

You can interact with Shyla Colt online via her website www.shylacolt.net
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorshyla.colt and Twitter: @shylacolt
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shylacolt/

Hot & Sinful Nights Spotlight: Damaged By Jeanne St. James

Today, I’m going to give you all a sneak peek into one of the sinfully sexy books you’re going to get in the Hot & Sinful Nights boxed set! Available for preorder NOW!

Damaged

By Jeanne St. James

Genre: Erotic Romance with Suspense Elements

Available in the Hot & Sinful Boxed Set!

Preorder NOW for only 99¢

Blurb

Two scarred souls: one physically, one mentally. Both on the mend, hiding from their

pasts…

Mace Walker can’t wait to get home.

Being buried deep undercover for the past two years, on the most complex case of his

career, has torn him down physically and mentally. Now the FBI agent has come home

to recover after having his leg badly injured from a gunshot wound. Arriving home late

one night, his relief is short-lived as he’s faced with a stranger pointing a gun to his

head, acting like he is the one who doesn’t belong there!

Colby Parks, a biochemist at the local university, had come to town a year earlier to

escape an abusive relationship. She vows never to put herself in that situation again.

Then the perfect opportunity comes along: house-sitting for Mace’s sister while making

the house she purchased habitable. But she couldn’t anticipate this big snag: the one

wearing the tight Levis and worn leather jacket, looking like he had just escaped prison.

Being forced to share a house creates sparks between them in more ways than one.

However, things take a turn when their pasts catch up to them, threatening to pull them

apart forever.

Excerpt

As Mace Walker slid the key into the lock, an immediate sense of relief washed over

him. He hadn’t been home in…Hell, forever. Even though he owned the house and

considered it his home, he felt like a stranger when he opened the front door. He

chucked his keys on the table by the door with a sigh. He’d been home for a whole thirty

seconds and restlessness already ate at him.

The house was quiet, and he wondered where his sister was. Probably sleeping,

dummy, since it was—he glanced at his watch—freaking one in the morning. Most

normal folk slept at this hour. But then, he wasn’t normal. He couldn’t be to do his job.

But, he couldn’t do his job right now, anyway. He’d been forced home to heal.

Against his wishes.

Fucking bullshit.

The foyer was dark, but he didn’t need to hit the light. He still knew the house well

enough. He made his way to the stairs where he dumped his duffle bags on the floor

and ran a hand through his too-long hair.

Those two small duffels held little evidence of his life for the past couple years—just

some toiletries and a few basic items of clothing.

He turned toward the kitchen, and the foyer lit up, blinding him for a second. He

blinked against the harsh light, and a young voice rang out from the top of the steps.

“Hold it right there! Put your arms up and back away from the stairs.”

What the fuck?

Mace had expected to see his sister bounding down the stairway of his two-story

colonial, excited after not seeing him for the past two years. Actually, more like one

year, eleven months, and fifteen days. Not that he’d counted.

But instead, he stared up into the deadly eye of a Glock. And from his viewpoint, it

looked like a model 27, a .40 caliber—a compact, but still a decent sized gun in a very

small, very uneasy hand. Instantly, the hairs on the back of his neck rose.

Damn.

He’d dealt with crime bosses and their flunkies—from drug to porno rings—and had

managed to survive. Now he was going to be killed by some measly punk he surprised

while burglarizing his house when he happened to come home? The cruel irony made

him want to laugh. Instead, he did as instructed. With caution, he raised his hands

above his head before stepping back toward the middle of the foyer. He avoided

standing directly under the light, trying to get a better view of the top of the steps. But he

didn’t have much success; the upstairs hallway and the upper section of the stairway

were hidden in shadows.

If he played his cards right, this little situation would be under his control in no time

at all. He just had to keep the kid calm and make the skinny punk believe he was the

one in command. The Glock didn’t have a conventional safety. All the kid had to do was

pull the trigger and pull it again and again until all the rounds in the clip emptied into

Mace’s body. And from what he could see in the limited light, the kid’s fingers twitched

from nervousness.

Not a good sign.

Where had a young punk gotten an expensive handgun like that? It certainly hadn’t

been in the house. And if it had been, it would have been locked up in the gun safe.

If only he could see the boy’s face. He needed to see the eyes. Without seeing

those, Mace couldn’t even begin to predict what the kid would do.

“Don’t you dare move, or I’ll blow your face off!” The kid’s voice raised an octave,

making him sound more and more like…a female.

Mace tensed when the person started down the steps. At first, he could see bare

toes, a slim calf, then another. His gaze flicked to the gun before returning to the

shapely naked thighs which couldn’t belong to a kid. No fucking way. Especially not a

boy. Those smooth legs definitely belonged to a woman, and he couldn’t wait to see the

rest of her.

So far, the view almost made it worth being held at gunpoint. Almost.

Hot & Sinful Nights Boxed Set Buy Links

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About the Author

JEANNE ST. JAMES is a best-selling erotic romance author who loves an Alpha male

(or two). She was only thirteen when she started writing since it gave her an escape

from teenage angst! Her first paid published piece was an erotic story in Playgirl

magazine. Her first erotic romance novel, Banged Up, was published in 2009. She is

happily owned by farting French bulldogs. She writes M/F, M/M, and M/M/F ménages.

Want to read a sample of her work? Download a sampler book here:

BookHip.com/MTQQKK

To keep up with her busy release schedule check her website at

www.jeannestjames.com or sign up for her newsletter:

http://www.jeannestjames.com/newslettersignup

Author Links

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Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

Never put all of your eggs into one basket.

We’ve all heard this at least a million times, right? Diversify your interests. Always give yourself options. Variety is the spice of life.

My issue? Too many freaking baskets.

I always bite off more than I can chew – figuratively and literally, like the shrimp taco I had to stuff into my mouth last night before the fillings busted out and ruined my new shirt. I never want to miss an opportunity, so I sacrifice time spent on other endeavors. For example, I’d probably be able to finish a book much faster if I wasn’t writing three others at the same time.

In a nutshell? I lack focus, which in turn, gives me stress. And there is no shortage of stress in my life, so I decided it was time for me to calm the hell down. Easier said than done.

I tried meditation. I’d just heard on the radio how Hugh Jackman and his wife attributed their successful marriage to meditation, so I figured it was worth a try. Except I got too stressed out trying to block out all of my thoughts. I didn’t want to focus on my breathing. I had a book to finish, and a cover to design, and a website to design, and a blog post to write, and…well, you get the idea. No bueno.

Even my daily workouts were stressing me out. I don’t leave the house, everything gets done right here at home. But sometimes, it’s hard for me to close my laptop and start lifting, especially if I’m in the middle of a scene or designing a user interface for a new app. And that happens quite often. So much for the elusive endorphins.

Until a week ago, I thought I was doomed. But then I made a choice that has finally given me some peace. Kickboxing. I know, I know. How can beating the ever-living crap out of a heavy bag bring you peace? Simply because you are so spent at the end of an hour-long class, you can’t possibly have the energy to be stressed. You unleash everything on the bag – stress, angst, anger, frustration – you use it all against your inanimate opponent and once you are finished. you walk out of the building lighter, happier, looser and – wait for it – FOCUSED.

Healthy body, healthy and CLEAR mind.

Novel FINISHED. =)

I Had A Dream…

Last night, I had a dream about one of my characters, Paul Emerson. He was upset about something and wouldn’t tell me what it was. I can see the setting so clearly, which is odd because I never remember my dreams. I was in his house – the one I’d created for him – and he was being really standoffish. Kind of a jackass. He ended up leaving at one point and then returning with some other guy. It could have been his best friend, AJ Morgan, but I wasn’t paying very close attention. LOL.

When I woke up, I actually remembered the dream. And in my sleep-cluttered mind, I tried to figure out why he’d appeared in my dream. And then I remembered…

But first, let me tell you a bit about this man. He has a very specific role as an arrogant prick in the first book of my series, Unlikely Venture. However, he’d also thrown his Rolex in the ring for a shot to win over Jessica, our heroine. But I’ll let you find out the rest of the story on your own.

Here’s the thing about Paul. He was the very first character I’d ever “created.” When I was plotting Unlikely Venture, I was planning it around Paul. But I ultimately decided he needed something bigger, so he had only a small role in the first book. It was enough to turn most readers into haters, and that panicked the hell out of me because I knew this guy, knew why he was the way he was, and why they needed to give him another chance, why he so desperately deserved redemption.

He’s always been my favorite. Not by a little, either. He’s so alpha, brilliant, an entrepreneur (and you know I’m passionate about entrepreneurship!), and the arrogant prick thing is right on target. His book, Venture Forward, was the hardest one I’ve ever written because I knew I needed to bring him to his knees and kick him while he was down to make his transformation that much more impactful.

Now, that was the long-winded way of telling you about my epiphany – why he was so angry. Earlier that day, I’d confided to The Stiletto Click, my Facebook reader group, that Jeff Torres (current swoony alpha of Hard Time) was nearing that top spot.

Bottom line? I think this dream was a manifestation of guilt. LOL! These guys have some hold on me, huh?

Romance Charity Anthology – One-Click For St. Jude’s!

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Excerpt from Sex, Lies, and Wedding Bells by yours truly. =)
 
“Morning, beautiful.”
 
A low, gravelly voice approaching my ear sends chills shimmying down my spine. Even in my current state, I welcome the idea of having Jeff’s taut body sprawled on top of me again, feeling his magical fingers exploring every orifice, experiencing his hot, hungry tongue tasting me from head to toe—
 
“That alarm of yours has been going off for about ten minutes.”
 
I let out a groan and flip over. “I can’t move.”
 
“I think I can come up with a few ways to solve that problem.” He smooths back my hair.
 
A smile lifts my lips. His deep blue eyes twinkle, making me forget everything for a blissful, fleeting minute. And then it all comes rushing back, like an all-consuming wave, ready to pummel me into the shore. My throat tightens, and the nausea is back with a vengeance. “No time.”
 
“Yeah, you’re right.” The twinkle fades, the perfect white smile now forlorn.
 
“Your tux is in the closet.” I rise, clutching the sheet to my bare chest. “The shoes are in the bag by the door.”
 
“Ariana…”
 
“I have to get ready now. Hair and makeup are on the way. You know what’ll happen if I don’t get back to the suite.” Bile rises in my throat as I throw my legs over the side of the bed.
 
“Don’t go. This isn’t over, Ari.”
 
I slip into my tight, black cocktail dress from the night before and grab my Louboutins. “Yes, it is. See you at the altar.” My lips brush against his forehead for a brief second. I squeeze my eyes shut, but it doesn’t keep the tears from forming. I grab my clutch and bolt from the room without a backward glance. Because I know if I look back, I won’t be able to drag myself away. It’s what I need to do, what I did a very long time ago, and what I should have done last night. But fate…she’s a bitch with a sick sense of humor.
 
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Why Authors Should Adopt The Mindset of An Entrepreneur

I’d recently guest posted on The Authorteers and wanted to share with you all here as well. =)

I don’t accept criticism well. Oh sure, I say I can handle less-than-stellar feedback. But then when it comes, I sit with my eyes open wide, nodding my head as the critiques pelt me like icy cold drops during a monsoon-like rainstorm, a tight smile stretching my lips so they won’t quiver… yep, I crumble like a house of sand. Worst poker player ever. You always know what I’m thinking… always.

I think this is attributable to a few different factors. First and foremost, I’m an approval seeker. I crave accolades, and positive reinforcement totally charges me. Second, I have an insane amount of passion for my endeavors, whether it be handbag design, writing, blogging, or my career in general. I work hard and when I really believe wholeheartedly in the quality of my efforts, I want them to be recognized. It’s not enough for me to be satisfied with the end result. And when people I care about are less than starry-eyed over something I’ve done, well, it’s a tough pill for me to swallow.

Such was the case this weekend. My husband and greatest supporter, read a book I’d recently finished. He is not a romance reader, but he loved my other books to the extent he could, as someone who much prefers reading Michael Creighton. I felt certain he’d love this one too and truth be told, I was excited for him to read it because I think it’s my best one yet.

But there were no kudos for this story. Instead, I got a boatload of Post-Its and an overall assessment of “it’s… okay.”

Young crying woman in depression drink drinking alcohol

Heartbreaking is the only word I can use.

So by now you’re probably wondering – why is she telling me all this?

Trust me, there is a point.

I took a chance with my manuscript. Publishing a story with a predictable plot isn’t going to send people flying to Amazon and elicit gasps as the scenes unfold on their e-readers. I chose to push the envelope and navigate outside the norm. Maybe it will be to my detriment but I wanted to give my readers something a little different. I took a risk that may turn people off or make them die-hard fans because I believe in myself and my work.

Criticism is tough to swallow but it’s not always a bad thing if it drives you harder and helps you perfect your end product. Don’t give in to self-doubt. Stay true to yourself. Embrace any feedback that will help you achieve your goals.

My advice? Think like an entrepreneur! Establishing an author platform is similar to launching a new business, so why not adopt the mentality that will help you sharpen your focus and build your brand?

Start Up Business Launch Success Office Desk Concept

Passion Is A MUST! – Trying to gain traction with any new endeavor can be extremely disheartening at times so the more you believe in your offering and your ability to sell it to the masses, the more effective your end product (and outlook) will become.

Listen To The Naysayers! – Don’t delude yourself into thinking your offering is the end-all, be-all.  You need a thick skin if you’re going to succeed as an entrepreneur. People will slam your ideas. Get used to it. Graciously accept criticism and feedback then figure out how to respond to objections. Figure out what your key differentiating points are and highlight those to everyone and anyone.

Never Be Complacent! – You’ll have to work harder than you’ve ever worked before to create momentum and then work even harder to KEEP it. I heard a really cool quote this weekend that totally applies. I was at a writing conference and a number of bestselling authors were presenting on sales strategies. They all said market yourself like you’re nobody EVEN IF you’re somebody. This applies to ALL business endeavors.

Be Restless! – Let your creativity flow! Don’t be complacent and accept the status-quo. Dig deep and figure out to disrupt. Take risks! It’s okay to incorporate new ideas into your offering. Make it as compelling as possible and if at first you don’t succeed…. well, you know the rest.

Happy Cover Reveal Day! Unspeakable by Kristen Hope Mazzola

Title: Unspeakable (Unacceptables MC Romance)
Author: Kristen Hope Mazzola
Cover Model: Lance Jones
Release Date: March 12, 2016
Find on Goodreads
It’s finally my time.
Everyone has their damn breaking point, why did the president of my MC’s daughter have to be mine? She was everything I wanted, and nothing I could have.  Being a prospect was hard enough. Living with my father that I had only known for a few years wasn’t making life any easier. And there I was, ready to jeopardize it all for love. I went to Vilas to figure out where I came from, little did I know that I wasn’t just going to be passing through. This life was pumping through my veins, I just didn’t know it until I walked into the Unacceptable’s bar for the first time.
Raine Hellock was my kryptonite and come hell or high water, I was going to figure out how to make her mine.
I banged on the front door.
Thank fucking god for liquid courage.
The whiskey was making me warm. The panic of loosing Raine was making me frantic. The fact that I knew she was making a huge mistake was making me irrational.
“Ryder? For fucks sake…” Crickett threw the front door open, rubbing her sleepy eyes. “It’s three in the morning.”
“Is Raine home?”
Crickett shook her head. “She went out with Kiera. They said they were going to be late.”
I pulled in deep breath. “Well, it’s fucking late. Is Abel up?”
I heard his thudding steps quicken after I said his name, trotting down the stairs. “What in gods-name?” He was already pulling his boots on, no questions asked.
“We need to get to her before something happens.”
“What’s going on, Ryder? Where is Raine?”
I grabbed Crickett’s hand. “Don’t worry. We’ll bring her home safely.”
Abel pulled his jacket on and followed me out the door. “Lead the way.”
That was it. We were on a mission. 
Unacceptable – Released June 25, 2016

It’s finally my time.

Time to escape from my mother, her crazy antics and questionable morals. I’m getting the heck out of Dodge, leaving the trailer park, to make something of myself. Everything was fine until I walked into The Unacceptables’ bar and met Abel Hellock. With his gorgeous muscles, tattoos, motorcycle and perfect smile, my knees quaked. My life was about to be sucked back into the seedy underbelly I fought so desperately to climb out of.

Everything was fine until I met my step-brother for the first time.

**18+ for sexual situations, language, and adult themes**

You want to know more about me? Well, let’s see…

I am just an average twenty-something following my dreams.  I have a full time “day job” and by night I am an author.  I guess you could say that writing is like my super power (I always wanted one of those).  I am the lover of wine, sushi, football and the ocean; that is when I am not wrapped up in the literary world.

A portion of all my profits are donated to The Marcie Mazzola Foundation.

 

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