About the Author:
Heather Young-Nichols is a USA Today Bestselling author of contemporary and paranormal romances. A native of the great and often very cold state of Michigan, she is better known at home and to her friends as the Snarker-in-Chief. A job she excels at beyond anything she could have imagined. She loves many things, but especially cold coffee, hot books, and baseball. But not necessarily in that order. Please connect with her on any of the following platforms.
Submitting to Two Doms
If possible, Devin would slam the sliding back door shut as he followed his soon-to-be ex-friend and partner outside. He was so annoyed with Greg for answering Jordan McAllister’s call he didn’t even spare an appreciative glance toward the two young women enjoying the bubbling hot tub. The nip in the air, a hint fall was sneaking up on them fast, did nothing to cool down his hot temper.
“I’ll have to discuss it with…”
“No,” he interrupted Greg, refusing to hear what favor their ex-government boss wanted from them.
Greg glared at him but his annoyance didn’t come through his smooth reply. “Yeah, you heard right, but if I agree, he can just ignore her. I need to think about it. I’ll call you back in the morning.” He ended the call, leaned against the rail and crossed his arms. Looking toward the hot tub, he stated with polite firmness, “Give us a few minutes, please.”
“Sure, Master Greg.” Mindy, a regular at the club, and her friend, an attractive redhead Devin didn’t know, both stood and stepped out of the heated water.
Devin snatched two towels off the bench and tossed them over to them, the water sluicing down their naked bodies distracting him for a moment. He might be pissed, but he wasn’t brain dead. He waited until the door closed behind their towel-wrapped forms before rounding on Greg again, who still lounged against the rail, giving him that look, the calm under the surface but annoyed mien Devin knew only too well.
“We retired early for a reason,” he reminded Greg, moving to stand next to him, facing the night-shrouded trees several feet from the deck as he leaned his forearms on the post. “We swore we were done, and agreed to start over without looking back, without regrets.”
“And yet the regrets are still there.” Greg sighed and ran one hand through his wavy reddish/brown hair. “You recall the foster kid Jordan and Theresa took in, the young girl they talked about?”
“No.” But of course, he did. He remembered way too much of his years as an agent. Jordan had once shown him a school picture of the cute blonde whose large blue eyes dominated a small face.
“Stubborn ass. Anyway, she’s in need of a safe place to hang for a while after an attack at a job site. They’re asking us to take her in until they know what’s going on, if she was the target or just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Devin shook his head. “No. They can find someone else.”
“It’ll only be for a few weeks,” Greg persisted. “And we’re about as far off the grid from Philadelphia as you can get.”
Pushing off the rail, he leveled an angry glare toward his best friend. “No, and God damn it, you know why.” He turned and took two steps toward the doors, intending that to be the end of it since he refused to go down that road again.
Greg’s next words halted him with his hand on the knob. “I’m thinking of saying yes.”
Devin looked back and replied coolly, “You do that, but leave me out of it.”
Rites of Spring
Okay, if Cameron ignored his personality, Jason was everything Cameron usually went for. He was tall, he was strong (or at least looked strong), and the black leather jacket did things to Cameron that he’d never been able to explain.
He didn’t like the attitude. He didn’t like the contempt that he’d seen in Jason. Jason had clearly assumed that he and Reid could just walk up to him and say, “Boo! We’re ghost hunters, here to rescue you!” and Cameron would roll over and obey. Jason had a lot to learn about people if he thought they worked like that. Cameron had never been very good at taking orders, and the idea that someone was just going to come up to him and say “Do what I say because I said so” filled him with an irrational anger.
He wanted to wipe the arrogance off that smug, self-satisfied face.
Jason might be hot, but he was arrogant. He was also volatile, which Cameron did not need in his life. He’d had plenty of that already. What he needed now was stability, and he could afford to wait until he found it. He didn’t mind going without, even if it had been almost a year since he and Dustin had broken up.
He shook his head and laughed at himself. Putting the cart before the horse, don’t you think? Jason was hot, arrogant, volatile, whatever. Jason was also a con man trying to get into Cameron’s house for unknown reasons, not some guy messaging him on the dating app Grindr. Jason wasn’t attracted to Cameron. Jason wasn’t even pretending to be attracted to Cameron. Jason was probably straight.
Reid came off as the more stable of the pair, but the way that he spoke in measured tones made Cameron uneasy. He sounded like the guidance counselors and “advocates” that kept showing up in school and throughout the system; the ones they used to try to break you down and get you to tell them things you didn’t want to. Reid was probably the least trustworthy of the pair.
Fangs and Frenemies: A Blue Moon Bay Cozy Mystery
I pressed the button to unlock Trixie, but nothing happened. Desperately I tried again, over and over. Couldn’t even hear her voice. “Crud! The remote battery must be dead.”
Max jogged back over, looking curious. “Maybe you could just fly to him, or something?”
I rolled my eyes at her. “Witches don’t fly, that’s a myth.”
“Not even with a broomstick?”
“Also a myth.”
“Can you stop time?”
“I’m a kitchen witch, not freakin’ Dr. Who.”
“That is a real thing,” I admitted grudgingly. “I’m just . . . not very good at those kinds of spells yet.” Or Mary Poppins clean up spells. Or reading auras.
“Right then.” Max closed her eyes and screwed up her face into a grimace.
“Wow, sorry that my witch skills aren’t up to your high standards,” I muttered, miffed.
Max’s eyes opened in surprise. “Hazel, I’m not judging you.”
“That’s not your judgy face?”
“No, it’s my shifting face. I’m getting ready to shift into a bobcat so I can sprint back home and get my car for you.”
I stared at her. “Wait, what?”
“Yeah, I thought I’d leave it at home today, it was nice and sunny . . . ”
“Not that. You didn’t by any chance just say you were turning into a bobcat?”
“Guess I did.” Max shrugged and made a lackadaisical “oops” face. “Welp, that was me coming out. You can process the whole ‘shifter’ thing while I get us some wheels.”
I didn’t so much see Max shift as I saw her clothes fall to the floor in a soft heap. A graceful, brown-spotted wildcat with black-tufted ears bounded past me. Picking up her still-warm shirt, I caught a whiff of the pleasant, woodsy essential oil blend she liked to mix up and use as perfume. Made sense. A bobcat liked the smell of the woods.
There wasn’t really much to process. Except what an idiot I’d been not to have guessed it all ten years ago.
This explained so much.
In the corner of the tiny room was a desk, not unlike the one her mother used. Dulcie couldn’t imagine anyone doing much work or reading in that windowless room, with its one lamp and overhead light being the only sources of illumination. Despite this, there were papers neatly stacked on the desk and a quick search of the drawers produced newspaper clippings of her school accomplishments, files containing pictures of her throughout the years, and some letters still in envelopes.
Grabbing all the papers she could carry to the bed, she sat carefully so as not to disturb the bedclothes too much. She gently spread the papers in front of her and began to uncover the truth. Her parents were, in fact, not her parents after all. Her real father was one of the mysterious Nashville relatives that they never visited or discussed.
She recognized the man’s name, though, as he had recently been on the news. He was under investigation for racketeering and money laundering. She then also discovered the existence of her two older brothers: one apparently also a criminal, and the other a college student.
She spent all afternoon there, reading and re-reading the documents she found. Sometime before she expected her “parents” to be home, she gathered up all the papers to return them. She wasn’t sure how or when she wanted to confront them with this information, so she wanted to cover her tracks well.
Before she placed the documents back in the desk, she thought the drawer looked very strange to her. She ran her fingers along the sides and bottom of the drawer and discovered a section which was not completely lined up with the rest.
She gently pressed down on one corner, and the whole foundation of the drawer rose up as if on a spring. A false bottom! Carefully removing the dislodged piece of wood she could see another file folder underneath. Easing the folder from its hiding spot she wondered what could possibly warrant so much secrecy in light of all the rest she had discovered that day.
Her hands shook as she thumbed through the faded newspaper clippings inside. The woman in the photos looked just like her. The hair was styled differently and she was obviously an adult, but the resemblance was remarkable. The same red hair, the same arch of the eyebrows and bend of the nose. The article reported on the death of the woman in a car accident which was under investigation.
The next article gave an update on the investigation, stating police suspected foul play caused the accident that killed her. The third article explained the police had determined it was definitely not an accident at all, and that it was now being examined as a murder scene. There were no other clippings to explain anything else.
Her eyes focused on the date on the top of the clipping and she shook her head in disbelief. The woman had died just a few months after Dulcie was born. Underneath the clippings were a few full-color pictures of the woman. The woman looked alive, joyful, and content. The last picture was of the woman’s warm and smiling face as she looked lovingly at the tiny, sleeping, red-headed baby girl in her arms. She flipped the picture over to find someone had written “Ellie and Dulcie” on the back.
Dulcie sank to the floor with the realization she was the baby in the picture and the woman had been her mother.
And her mother had been murdered.
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