“Wait,” she mumbled. “How does this work?”
“Scared?” My lips tipped upward.
“Do you really just disappear? Is that what we’re going to do?” She pushed a palm against me. “Jesus, why are you so big?”
She barely came up to my pecs, and now she was patting her hand along the hard ridges of my abs not having a clue that she was petting wrath. Delicate fingers traced over my shirt. Her small curious touch seeped through the fabric, tingling and heating every inch of skin she outlined. There I went again, being oddly overwhelmed by her. I pushed her hand away, distancing myself from the sensations she stirred. She was so small next to me. How could something so tiny affect me?
“Is that an eight pack?” Her nails dug into my abdomen as she started counting, not bothered that I had already pushed her fingers away once.
Fucking Hades! She was the little engine that never shut up.
R. Barry Andrews
R. Barry Andrews spent twenty-one years as the Executive Director of Police Training Institute, Inc., a non-profit advanced law enforcement training organization. In the tradition of great police novel writers, his police fiction novels are gritty, raw and real.
How do we make sense of current events in a world in which both sides feel unfairly treated, and the information we get is filtered through media that may or may not be unbiased?
How and why does an officer make a decision to use force? And how do we decide what is right and what is wrong?
We must begin by looking at both sides fairly - from an informed position.
R. Barry Andrews gives us that opportunity.
Connect with him at: http://www.rbarryandrews.com/
Fate of Imperium Boxed Set: Books 1-3
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From The Vampire King’s Mate
Eden gulped as the huge male was suddenly in front of her, one hand on each thigh, holding them apart, as he knelt between the V of her legs. He had moved so fast, he must have ported. Her heart pounded, and she used her magic to force the oxygen in her bloodstream to slow its speed.
“Do not do that,” Viktor snarled and tightened his grip on her thighs.
“Do what?” she whispered, adrenaline flooding her system. Her skin felt tight as her hormones surged.
“Whatever you are doing to your heart. It’s contracting, and you are denying it its natural response. You could harm yourself. I will not allow it to continue.”
“You think I am hurting myself?”
“Of course, you are. And I. Do. Not. Like. It,” he gritted through his teeth.
Despite his domineering attitude, his command was endearing. In his own way, he was trying to protect her. Her palm buzzed, then pushed itself to the side of his face.
Viktor held still, feeling the cool leather of her glove touch his cheek. He could feel the cicatrice’s pull as it beckoned to his own. He wanted to feel her skin slide along his, to join their hands as he emptied himself inside her.
Eden released the hold on the oxygen in her veins, allowing her heart to thump wildly while her blood flowed through it. Her breathing accelerated.
Viktor’s eyes moved to the artery on her neck and his fangs elongated as his cock became fully erect. He would need to feed soon. First, he would sample her flesh.
He mimicked her touch and ran his thumb along her bottom lip.
“Tell me, mala vestica, has anyone tasted these before?”
“No,” she panted, reveling in the feel of his skin upon her face.
“Good. I’d hate to have to kill anyone who had dared.”
He barely got the words out before his lips were on hers. She groaned when she felt his tongue enter and explore her mouth. Eden tentatively pressed her tongue to his, and a purring sound came from his throat.
She’d been wrong about his laugh. This was the most wonderful sound to ever reach her ears. Her undergarments flooded with her juices and she inched forward, pressing as hard as she could into his stomach.
Viktor’s hands moved to her backside, lifting her slightly off the chair and rubbing her up and down his abdominal muscles. The scent of her sweet honey filled the air and he couldn’t wait to lap it up.
Eden twisted and pulled at his hair as she wrapped her legs around his waist in a feeble attempt to get better purchase, to feel more pressure between her legs. She could sob from the want.
Viktor broke the kiss, needing to see the yearning in her eyes, wanting her to feel as uncontrolled as he felt.
Eden’s lips were swollen from his sensual assault. Her hooded eyes implored him for more. She squeezed her legs tight around him and his fingers dug into her flesh.
When she whined and stretched to kiss him again, his heart thudded heavily. Her fingers nimbly unbuttoned his jacket and slid it down his arms. He let it drop absently to the floor, in a hurry to get her body back in his hands.
Viktor slowed the kiss and his lips drifted across her cheek to her ear. “Do you have any idea what I’m going to do you?”
Alex Hancock came out of the coffee shop opposite the courthouse and froze in his tracks.
Someone had parked their dirty, mud-streaked Jeep Wrangler close to his pristine, black and red Triumph motorcycle.
Alex’s knuckles whitened on his cup of black coffee.
When it rains, it fucking pours!
He stormed across the street, stopped in front of the offending vehicle, and glared at it as if it had committed a crime. A car slowly pulled up behind him.
“Wow,” someone murmured. “You look pissed.”
Alex turned. A pretty brunette was watching him with an amused expression from behind the wheel of a red, convertible Mini.
“You would be too if some asshole just blocked you in!” he snapped.
Izzy Batista’s green eyes sparkled impishly as she observed the grimy, four-wheel drive. “Yup, that guy must be one giant dick.”
She parked her car and joined him outside the courthouse.
“I gotta give it to you, Hancock. You sure scrub up nice.” Izzy placed her hands on her hips and scrutinized him with a critical eye.
Alex sighed irritably and downed his drink. He winced when a burst of acid rose in his throat.
“Easy on the coffee, stud,” Izzy murmured. “We don’t want you getting an ulcer on your big day.”
A fresh bout of nerves twisted Alex’s gut at Izzy’s words.
“I can’t believe I’m doing this,” he mumbled to himself. “Me, Alex Hancock, getting married.”
Izzy patted his arm. “No backsies.” A trace of steel underscored her friendly tone. “Remember, you got a lot riding on this.”
He crushed the coffee cup and tossed it in a nearby trash can.
It had been a month since the life Alex had carefully built in San Diego had come crashing down around him, after his business partner of two years embezzled from their law firm and ran off to Mexico. Mired in debt and with his new condo on the verge of being repossessed, Alex had desperately been trying to raise the necessary capital to salvage his career and company when Izzy Batista had called him out of the blue ten days ago. The sister of Wyatt Batista, one of Alex’s lifelong friends from his hometown of Twilight Falls, Izzy had discovered the predicament he was in through her older brother.
“I may have a solution to your problems,” Izzy said. “Word of warning though, it’s pretty unorthodox.”
Alex stilled where he sat on his couch, his cell phone in hand. “What do you mean?”
“One of my clients is in trouble,” Izzy said. “They have to get married by the end of the month or they’ll lose their estate and half of their considerable fortune.”
Alex frowned. “I don’t understand.”
Izzy sighed. “I’m saying this client needs a mail-order groom. And pronto. They’re willing to pay half a million dollars to the right candidate.”
Alex’s mouth went dry. “Half a million dollars?” His heart pounded against his ribs as he glanced at the boxes filling the apartment. He’d barely started unpacking when Ryan had pulled the rug out from under him and disappeared with half the company’s funds.
“Yup, half a million dollars,” Izzy repeated. “The contract’s for six months. Marry the client, live with them, and then walk into the sunset with the money and no strings attached.”
Alex swallowed, shocked that he was even entertaining the crazy idea Izzy had just proposed.
“Where does your client live?” he mumbled.
Alex grimaced at Izzy’s answer. He raked a hand through his hair and stared at the dazzling lights of San Diego Bay through the glass doors overlooking his terrace, a storm of memories and bittersweet emotions crashing over him.
“I know you don’t like coming back here, Alex,” Izzy said quietly. “Not since the accident. But this could solve all your problems. And my client’s too.”
Alex chewed the inside of his cheek. “What’s wrong with your client?”
“What makes you think there’s anything wrong with my client?” Izzy said in a voice that Alex immediately distrusted.
“Because someone with that much money shouldn’t be struggling to find herself a fiancé, even a fake one. So what is it? Is she unattractive? Does she have a horrible personality?” He pulled a face. “Does she eat puppies for breakfast?”
“None of the above,” Izzy replied in a cheerful tone. “The client is gorgeous. They’re just a bit…eccentric, is all.”
Alex mulled Izzy’s words over. Eccentric he could deal with.
“Are they expecting sex?”
A soft chuckle travelled down the line.
“No, it isn’t that kind of arrangement. Besides, I know you’re more into dicks than vaginas.”
“Yeah, well, my dick hasn’t seen much action lately,” Alex muttered.
“And here I thought you moved to San Diego for all the gay guys,” Izzy said drily. “You know, since you’d pretty much fucked all the hot ones here in Twilight Falls.”
Alex scowled. “I only fucked one hot guy in that town.”
Izzy laughed. Alex found his lips curving in a faint smile at her bubbly voice. Truth be told, he missed Izzy and Wyatt. He missed all the friends he’d left behind when he decided to move to San Diego, after the accident that had changed all of their lives.
A comfortable silence settled between them.
“So, what will it be, Alex?” Izzy finally said.
Alex hesitated. “The end of the month is only ten days away.”
“Your math is spot on. I knew there was a reason why you became a lawyer.”
Alex ignored her sarcastic words. “Give me a few days to think about it.”
It had taken him three days to make his decision. Six days later, he’d put his stuff in storage, returned his apartment keys to his realtor, and climbed on the beautifully restored, classic motorcycle he’d owned since he was seventeen for the one-hundred-and-fifty-mile ride to the San Bernardino Mountains and the quaint, historic town of Twilight Falls.
Nestled in a valley of towering pine forests and home to the picturesque waterfall and rapids from which it took its name, Twilight Falls started life as a nineteenth-century trading post and mining settlement, during the California Gold Rush. After a slump following the two World Wars, the place saw a strong revival in the second half of the twentieth century, as a result of a sustained campaign by the city council to turn it into a tourist town. The rise in outdoor sports activities meant it now stayed busy pretty much all year around, with the briefest of lulls at Thanksgiving and the New Year.
Alex had reached Twilight Falls late last night. Having refused Izzy and Wyatt’s offer to put him up at their place, he’d booked himself into a motel outside town; the spring tourist season was just getting started and there’d still been rooms available at short notice. Not that he would have wanted to stay in town. Even though it had been twelve years since he’d left the place, he was bound to bump into someone he knew and he wasn’t in the mood for small talk.
“Are you ready?” Izzie said presently, excitement raising the pitch of her voice.
“Not really,” Alex murmured.
Izzy grinned. “Yeah, well, if you’d stayed at our place, we could have gotten you wasted and you’d be doing this drunk right now.”
“I really don’t think the county clerk would be impressed if the groom turned up with a hangover,” Alex said sternly. “Besides, I’m entering a legal agreement with this woman. The least I can do is show up sober.”
He looked up at the two-story, cream stucco and red-brick building before them and squared his shoulders.
Whoever this broad is, I only have to live with her for six months. How bad can it be?
An odd expression danced across Izzy’s face.
“What is it?” Alex said.
“Nothing.” Izzy flashed him a bright smile, hooked her arm through his elbow, and guided him up the short flight of steps and into the building.
They checked in at reception and headed in the direction of the court rooms. Surprise darted through Alex when Izzy walked past the austere wooden doors and continued down the hall.
“Where are we going?” he said, puzzled.
“To the chapel,” Izzy replied breezily.
He arched an eyebrow.
“The client insisted,” she explained with a mysterious smile.
The first tendrils of unease started coiling through Alex. Izzy was acting strange. And he wasn’t sure he liked the hint of devilment in the depths of her eyes.
The chapel doors appeared up ahead. Alex’s pulse speeded up when they opened them and stepped inside a large, airy chamber. The chapel was a relatively new addition to the courthouse and had been designed along the traditional lines of a church, with an altar, a chancel, and a nave split by a central aisle. But it wasn’t the charming ecclesiastical interior or the delightful pastel colors around them that caused Alex to draw a sharp breath and rock to a stop on the checkered marble flooring.
He stared beyond the bright posies and white lace decorating the wooden pews to the two figures rising to their feet from the front right row.
“Jesus, Izzy!” Alex hissed, shock reverberating through him. “I can’t marry her! She’s older than my grandmother!”
The elderly dame in the pink brocade dress and pale floral hat arched an eyebrow.
“You were right,” she told Izzy. “That one has a smart mouth on him.” The woman’s eyes fairly twinkled with glee as she studied Alex’s stunned expression. “I’m not the one you’re marrying, sonny.”
Alex’s heart stuttered. His gaze switched to the tall, dark-haired man in the smart, navy-blue suit and the ivory, rose boutonnière next to the woman. A thunderous expression clouded the stranger’s handsome, stubbled features.
Shit. You’re kidding me.
“What the hell is going on, Izzy?” the man growled.
Academy of Littles Collection
“Tell me, when was the last time you felt the innocence of being a child: carefree and without worry?” he asked gently.
Sighing and allowing her shoulders to collapse in a slump, she answered. “I do not remember ever being carefree and without worry, Mr. Hartley. I do not have the luxury in life to do so.”
“Do you not wish sometimes that you could be like a child? Have no worries, no concerns of misfortune, and no hard decisions to make. Have you ever wished to have someone take care of you, fully take care of your every need? Have you ever wanted to be tucked in at night, kissed on the forehead and told to have sweet dreams, and you would, because someone who loves you very much has already chased the bad dreams away?”
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