Cessy by Ambere Sabo @ambere_sabo @EJBookPromos


Title: Cessy
Series: A Silent Sons MC
Author: Ambere Sabo
Genre:  MC Romance
Release Date: August 17, 2017
Cessy

I was born the Princess of an MC I knew nothing about. Thrown into their world of crazy, when I had no other options. Despised by the club for things out of my control. It took me a long time to find my way in this life, but I became the Princess I was born to be. Now they have taken my Pops from me, and I will bring hell on earth to those who caused his death. 

The Silent Sons have promised to help me find those responsible. I was looking for answers, and I found Mr. Tall, Dark, and Broody. Will he be my saving grace in this life or will we both lose our lives when we find an enemy more twisted than we could imagine?

Ambere is a transplant from Arizona to Fort Worth Texas where she currently lives raising her three munchkins. She is an avid reader of all things Paranormal and Romance. Ambere enjoys music and tries to get to as many concerts as she can. Cessy is her debut novel, and she is currently working on the second book in The Silent Sons MC series. 

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The Secret by Christie Ridgway @christieridgway @InkSlingerPR #release #excerpt



Today we have the release blitz of The Secret by Christie Ridgway! Check it out and grab your copy today!

Title: The Secret
Author: Christie Ridgway
Genre: Contemporary Romance

About The Secret:

Being butler to a widower and single father is a dream job in more ways than one for Charlotte “Charlie” Emerson. She helps keep businessman Ethan Archer’s household running without a hitch and enjoys every minute she has with his six-year-old son, Wells. But as time passes, the situation feels alarmingly intimate and when her heart starts beating faster each time Ethan steps through the door, Charlie must exert rigid control over her feelings.
With her secret, falling in love would be all kinds of bad…
Ethan Archer values the woman who keeps his life in order and cares so much for his motherless boy. He and Charlie act in harmony with each other and it’s not hard to picture them as a little family…in fact, it’s so easy, one reckless night he proposes a marriage of convenience.
What will he do if Charlie says yes? And worse, what if she tells him no?

Get Your Copy Today:

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Exclusive Excerpt:

Ethan’s soft laugh brushed along Charlie’s spine, and he slid his hands down to her bottom, tilting her hips and giving her a better feel of him. All over, her skin heated.
He must have seen her reaction, because he let loose a low groan. “Baby. Your face.” Glancing away, he put a bit of distance between their bodies. “Tell me something to get my mind off what I want to do to you all night long.”
His obvious need jolted through her, followed by another wash of heat. God, she desired this man.
“Charlotte…” he said, low and tortured.
“Sorry, sorry,” she answered, trying to think. “Um…culaccino.”
“Wait a minute.” His eyes narrowed. “That sounds dirty.”
She laughed. “It’s the circle left on a table by a wet glass.”
He considered. “Okay, I feel slightly less combustible now.”
“Good,” she stepped away from him, “as long as you can relight that fire tomorrow night.” She gave him an especially lascivious once-over, very un-serious and un-butlerlike, lingering on his crotch.
He groaned again, then snatched her arm to drag her close once more. Instead of kissing her, though, he just stared into her eyes.
“Age-otori,” he murmured.
“Which means?” she asked, smiling.
“Wait, not that one. That one’s Japanese for looking worse after a haircut.”
She laughed. “Have you been on the internet again?”
“Yes,” he said. “I want to impress you.” Then he touched his lips to her forehead to again. “I meant to say forelsket. It’s Norwegian—and I’m likely butchering the pronunciation.”
“Is that a fish dish?” she guessed.
He shook his head. “Look it up later.”
Then he moved off toward Wells, who was coming awake after his short cat nap.
Charlie managed to make it until night, alone in her cozy bungalow, before doing a search on the word forelsket. She expected to find it was something funny. Or maybe something a little bit filthy.
That raw, sexual side of Ethan had come as an exciting surprise.
Her lips were curved in anticipation as the results scrolled onto her screen. When she read the definition, she fell onto her bed, her world rocked.
Forelsket described the giddy exhilaration one feels when beginning to fall in love.
Did Ethan mean…
Her head reeled and her stomach roiled too.
Surely he didn’t mean it. He’d told her he’d had his love of a lifetime—Michelle. That his marriage to Charlie would be a practical arrangement between two people with a fierce attraction to each other.
But either way, she was beginning to realize that her lie of omission could too easily become a wedge between them—one capable of destroying the exact thing she wanted to build.
Oh, God. Did this mean she was going to have to find a way to tell Ethan the truth?

 

About the Author:


Christie Ridgway is a California native and author of fifty contemporary romances. A six-time RITA finalist and USA Today bestselling author, she writes award-winning, emotional reads starring determined heroines and the men who can’t help but love them. Christie grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, went to college in Santa Barbara, and now is married to the sweetheart she met there.
She started off as a technical writer and moved on to computer programming before having two sons and pursuing the dream she’d held since childhood—writing romance novels. Her first book stars a hero who was a former professional surfer and since then she’s written about businessmen, TV stars, soldiers, journalists, vintners, race car drivers, and horror novelists. What her heroes have in common is their resistance to love and their hardest of falls when they finally do find their right woman.

Connect with Christie:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

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Viewing Room by Heidi McLaughlin & L.P. Dover @HeidiJoVT @LPDover


Title: Viewing Room: A Society X Novel
Authors: Heidi McLaughlin & L.P. Dover
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Cover Designer: Letitia Hasser at Romantic Book Affairs
Published: September 6, 2016 
~ STANDALONE NOVEL ~
Viewing Room Rules: 
The rules of Society X are simple . . . break them and you’re out. 
Rule #1 – No names 
It doesn’t matter if you want to know, it’s forbidden. 
Rule #2 – No exchanging numbers 
It doesn’t matter if you want to call, it’s forbidden. 
Rule #3 – Everything is to remain strictly anonymous. 
It doesn’t matter if you want to tell, it’s forbidden. 
Whatever your desire. 
Whatever your fantasy. 
The Viewing Room will make it happen. 
For Kennedy Vaughn, it’s an escape. 
For Hunter Miles, entering the Viewing Room means he’s been selected. 
What you witness in the viewing room will have you asking for more . . .


“This story is seamless, entertaining, and sexy as sin. A definite one-click!” ~ USA Today Bestselling author, Adriana Locke 

“How many different ways can you say hot? Because that’s what this book is. Such a fresh concept. I can’t wait to see what the club has to offer next!” ~ Mandi Beck, author of the bestselling Caged Love and Wrecked Series

“My time in the Viewing Room is booked! This is a sexy must read that’ll have you begging for more!” ~ Bawaka’s Book Fair

Heidi is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author.
Originally from the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in picturesque Vermont, with her husband and two daughters. Also renting space in their home is an over-hyper Beagle/Jack Russell, Buttercup and a Highland West/Mini Schnauzer, JiLL and her brother, Racicot.
When she’s isn’t writing one of the many stories planned for release, you’ll find her sitting court-side during either daughter’s basketball games.
Heidi’s first novel, Forever My Girl, will be in theaters on October 27, 2017, starring Alex Roe and Jessica Rothe.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author L. P. Dover is a southern belle living in North Carolina with her husband and two beautiful girls. Before she began her literary journey she worked in periodontics, enjoying the wonderment of dental surgeries.

She loves to write, but she also loves to play tennis, go on mountain hikes and white water rafting, and has a passion for singing. Her two youngest fans expect a concert each and every night before bedtime, usually Christmas carols.
Dover has written countless novels, including her Forever Fae series, the Second Chances series, the Gloves Off series, the Armed & Dangerous series, the Royal Shifters series, and her standalone novel Love, Lies, and Deception. Her favorite genre to read and write is romantic suspense, but if she got to choose a setting in which to live, it would be with her faeries in the Land of the Fae.

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Shamus by Ashley Lyn @AuthorAshleyLyn @EJBookPromos


Title:  Shamus
Series: Welcome to Spartan #3
Author: Ashley Lyn
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Release Date: July 26, 2017



Shamus
For the last, however many fucked up years, my life has consisted of grief, guilt, and sadness so profound, there were times I seriously considered throwing in the towel. I’m weeks away from bringing my kids home, and now I have hope, happiness, and an insatiable lust for the luscious Savannah. Being around Savannah is a test in control, which shatters like antique crystal the moment I get my hands on her. I got plans for my sexy vixen, plans to get my ring on her finger.

Savannah
I fell in love with Shamus the second he opened his mouth and that sexy Irish accent rolled out. Just as I’m making plans to move to Spartan, I step knee deep into a pile of crap that turns into a shitstorm of epic proportions. It’s not even about Shamus and me anymore, it’s about surviving.

It’s that time again to fall ass over tea kettle in love with Spartan Town, USA! So, snap on your spandex and bend over for a spanking.

Ashley Lyn lives in Colorado with her amazing hubby that she met on match.com. She has two beautiful daughters, a crazy Boxer named Bailey, a Fat Cat named Mojo, and a sweet as apple pie calico cat named Katy.

 

She is a passionate reader who loves to read any and all genres. A good book, a cozy blanket and piping hot cup of coffee is her idea of a good time.
She loves to write quirky, funny, sexy, and eccentric characters who have zero problems flying their crazy flags.

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Complications on Ice by SR Grey @AuthorSRGrey @EJBookPromos


Title: Complications on Ice
Series: A Boys of Winter Novel
Author: S.R. Grey
Genre: Sports Romance / RomCom
Release Date: September 18, 2017
Cover Photography: CJC Photography 
Cover Model: Alex Neff 
Cover Designer: Najla Qamber Designs

Fun-loving professional hockey player Benjamin “Benny” Perry is all about scoring, both on and off the ice. With his good looks and easygoing personality, women flock to him, which is great. It keeps things the way this Las Vegas Wolves forward likes—uncomplicated.

Too bad that’s all about to change.

When Benny decides to get back at his coach by pursuing his daughter, Eliza, who’s just returned to town under mysterious circumstances, complications abound. What begins as a simple conquest becomes anything but when Benny starts to really fall for Eliza.

But something is up.

Though Eliza seems to be as into him as he is to her, Benny senses she’s hiding something.

Or maybe she’s hiding someone. 

Benny would never guess Eliza is hiding a baby—her baby. But it doesn’t end there. The father of her child just happens to be a hockey player too. And he’s Benny’s biggest nemesis.

Now he’s joining the team. Talk about complicated!

Complications on Ice is the 3rd standalone novel in the bestselling Boys of Winter hockey romance series.

“Hilarious and perfectly ‘played’ sports romance that I devoured in one sitting! I can’t wait to read more.” – #1 NYT Bestselling author Rachel Van Dyken


“The usual Grey crisp writing, lovable heroes that you kinda want to slap, and a heroine that doesn’t back down,” Resistance on Ice is another fun standalone novel in the bestselling Boys of Winter hockey romance series.” – Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author Ilsa Madden-Mills

S.R. Grey is an Amazon Top 100 and a #1 Barnes & Noble Bestselling author. She is the author of the brand new Boys of Winter hockey romance series, the popular Judge Me Not books, the Promises series, the Inevitability duology, A Harbour Falls Mystery trilogy, and the Laid Bare series of novellas. Ms. Grey’s works have appeared on multiple Amazon Bestseller lists, including Top 100 several times. She is also a #1 Bestselling Author on Barnes & Noble and a Top 100 Bestselling Author on iTunes. 


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Unfinished Business by Carina Adams EJBookPromos @CarinaAwrites


Title: Unfinished Business
Series: Bastards of Boston Novel 
Author: Carina Adams
Genre: MC Romance
Release Date: July 26, 2017

“Passionate, gritty, and emotionally gripping! Carina Adams returns to her writing roots and delivers one hell a phenomenal story!” – Read and Share Book Review

“I’m not sure what I was expecting going in to this books. But it surely wasn’t this beautiful masterpiece!” – Linda from Goodreads

“I was completely and utterly blown away by this book.” – Melissa from Goodreads

The Bastards of Boston live in a world most don’t understand. They follow their own rules, only accountable to each other, the innocents they protect, and the people they couldn’t save.


As president of the Bastards MC, Robert Doyle is the man behind it all. It’s his responsibility to keep his club safe, to be the smartest man in the room, and be ten steps ahead of everyone. He’d give everything he had, and sell his soul to the devil, to protect the ones he loves. 

Until Rocker comes face-to-face with the pain he thought he’d buried. Old wounds are ripped open. Revenge consumes him. Once again he’s the teenager desperate to avenge his daughter’s murder and nothing else matters.

He calls me his angel, but the halo I wear caught fire a long time ago. There is no line I won’t cross, no law I won’t break. I’ll do whatever it takes to save him. If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, I’ll happily burn.

When past and present collide, we’re in for one hell of a bumpy ride.

 

An avid reader who loves epic and unconventional romance, Carina has an unhealthy obsession with Jason Statham, loves the sounds of Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson, is the crazy friend your mom warned you about, and believes one day she will go through the stones to meet Jamie Fraser. 


Carina has been writing and creating characters for as long as she can remember, allowing her to fall in love with the next man of her dreams with every new story.

None of which are anything like boring Prince Charming.

Thankfully, fate stepped in and granted her the ultimate wish – a life full of men. Carina lives in a picturesque New England town with her husband, the man who ruined the thought of all others, and two amazing sons who always keep her on her toes.


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A Grim Awakening Series by Michelle Gross @AuthorMichelleG #grimawakeningtour @StarAnge13


Join us in celebrating the RELEASE of Michelle Gross’s final chapter of A Grim Awakening Series with Falling for Fear.
This is the 4th and final installment of this Paranormal series.
#grimawakeningtour

How long does it take to change a person’s life from happy to terrifying?
How long was I normal before that part of me was taken away?
How long would I live in fear after that?

After being attacked by something she can’t explain as a child, Melanie Rose is left with the ability to see ghosts and it haunts her everyday life.
It only gets worse the night before her eighteenth birthday. Things that shouldn’t be real, start appearing before her.
The evil that attacked her as a child is back to finally take her life.
Then he appears, a stranger wearing a black leather jacket.
All the unanswered questions she’s had, start to unfold around her.
She soon realizes it’s only the beginning.
Melanie must control her fear before Fear claims her.

Recommended for 18+ due to sexual content in the series and situations that might offend some.

Amazon US – http://amzn.to/1SndhgL
Amazon UK – http://goo.gl/lALS7e
Amazon CA – https://goo.gl/OzCsN0
Melanie met the monster she feared most and survived—but at a cost.

A life was lost. And one became two.

Now that Killian was no longer Grim Reaper, he was back to being an incubus demon. And if waiting for demons to attack weren’t enough on a girl, being around him while his pheromones were slipping—planting dirty thoughts inside her head—was enough to make anyone question their sanity.

But her dirty mind and trying to stay alive weren’t the only thing she had to worry about. The Vessel had awakened inside her. She needed to figure out what it was and why there was suddenly a voice inside her head. 

Soon, Melanie was questioning everything, wondering… all the while spiraling down a path toward Grim and Killian, discovering her own feelings. 

Then came the question: What if they were wrong about the Vessel?


18+ for sexual content and situations that might offend some.

Amazon US – http://amzn.to/2bLYMqo
Amazon UK – https://goo.gl/ofhPOa
Amazon CA – https://goo.gl/SnUJU6

Fate was a magical thing, but it could also be a horrid reality if knocked off kilter.

Melanie’s life was changed the moment Fear marked her as a child…

Now as Marcus’s death approaches, Melanie’s fight to save her life and very soul may finally reach its end, but a demon that knows Death is coming for him won’t sit back and wait, he’ll do whatever it takes.

Nothing’s for certain…. Melanie and Killian’s future together, Ryan’s fate harboring a demon inside of him controlled by Fear, or Melanie’s life.

But death is. And Fate knows exactly what it wants to happen.

18+ for sexual content and situations that might offend some.

Amazon US – http://amzn.to/2uKEDtg
Amazon UK – https://goo.gl/FF2oxC
Amazon CA – https://goo.gl/kuTpCA




WARNING 18+ this book takes a much darker tone than the first three books. This warning is here for a reason. This is FEAR’s book so you should already know what you’re getting yourself into. ENJOY!
This isn’t a sweet romance…
This one’s about villains and their selfish ways… and how far one will go to get what they want.
It’s painful and ugly and wicked.
But maybe the bad ones can be loved after all.
I was his right-hand ghost. Now he’s what I dread.
Fear.
I was his killer. Now he’s the guilt I carry.
Ryan.
Two completely different beings now stuck in one shared body that’s known as a merge.
My ex-boss, the human boy I killed, and me, the ghost girl who stained her soul to get an adult body.
What could go right?
Nothing.
What could go wrong?
Everything.
Bad girls like me don’t get happily ever afters… things are going to get ugly so why is he making me want something beautiful?

Amazon US – http://amzn.to/2hdI1YJ
Amazon UK – https://goo.gl/xVfWvL
Amazon CA – https://goo.gl/qwr56q

Michelle Gross lives in a small town in Kentucky surrounded by mountains and opossums that sit on her porch at night trying to blend in with the cats.

Reading, writing, and binge watching TV shows are some of her favorite things to do.

K-dramas, apocalypses, supernatural, gore, zombies, alpha males and protective heroes with a whole lot of steam are her jams.

Her greatest accomplishment is her twin girls who light up her world and keep her on her toes.

Social Media Links

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/michellegrossauthor/
Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15037639.Michelle_Gross
Twitter – @AuthorMichelleG
Instagram – michellegrossmg

TRASHY FOREPLAY by Gemma James @gemmajames80 @ReadLoveLust


Title: Trashy Foreplay

Author: Gemma James

Publication Date: August 3, 2017

Genre: Erotic Romance

 

Never flirt with temptation.
Never lust after what I can’t have.
And never, under any circumstances, screw a married man again.

By the time this story is told, I’ll have failed at all three…

With my heart and reputation in ruins, I can’t afford to make another mistake. Boarding a flight to Seattle is supposed to give me a clean slate, but from the moment Cash Montgomery slides into the seat next to mine, I’m captivated by his steel eyes that see too much. I ache for this stranger in a way I’ve never ached for anyone.

But I didn’t know he was married, and I sure as hell didn’t see the curveball fate had in store. My clean slate in Seattle isn’t so clean after all because my new boss is the man forbidden to me.

And the only man I want.

The only man I’ll do anything for, even if it means breaking the promise I made to myself when I fled my old life in shame.

I wasn’t supposed to fall for a married man, but I did.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Though the subject matter deals with cheating, there are no innocent parties here. Book 1 in the Trashy Affair series.

 

Pick up your copy today!

Amazon | IBooks |Barnes & Noble | KOBO

 

 

I go perfectly still as his arm snakes around me from behind. A warm palm flattens against my stomach, and the tips of his fingers inch beneath the waistband of my jeans. Everything south of that tempting hand flares to life, setting off a deep ache I know only he can fix.

Pulling me against his body, he leans down and whispers into my ear. “Watching him touch you is killing me.”

“Knowing you’re married is killing me.”

He curses under his breath. A hint of his woodsy cologne, along with the sweet aroma of bourbon fills my nostrils.

“Have you been drinking?”

“Maybe a little.” He whirls me around until we’re face-to-face, and my heart flutters in my throat as he tightens his arms around me. “Come upstairs with me.”

His proximity riots through me, the heat of his body sizzling all the way to my fucking toes. We fall into a lazy sway, dancing but not quite, and for a crazy second, I consider following him to the VIP area in the loft. As far as I can tell it’s empty unless a stray couple is hiding in the shadows in the very back. I doubt it though. The club is vibrating with restless energy as everyone crowds the first floor in anticipation of the concert.

“Look at me, Jules.”

His words jolt me to awareness, and I realize I’m staring at his chest. I curl my hands into fists at my sides, too tempted to run my palms down that broad expanse hiding underneath cotton. I bet it’s the softest material on the planet, but I won’t find out because I’m not going there.

Nope.

Not. Gonna. Do. It.

Because I have zero control right now, and we’re standing in the middle of a busy club with God-knows-who watching. And if I dotouch him…I might not stop.

“Jules,” he murmurs. “Bring those gorgeous eyes up here.”

I lift my chin and dive headfirst into the fire of his gaze. His eyes are a smoldering, liquid steel. “Cash…please…”

“Please what?”

“Don’t make me want to give in. You’re married.” My voice cracks on that ugly word.

“My marriage is a sham.”

“Your marriage is your business.” I grip his arms, intending to push him away. But somewhere along the way, my brain gets its wires crossed, and I end up curling my fingers around his biceps. God, he’s built—solid man through and through.

“I disagree,” he says, dipping his head until our mouths linger a hairsbreadth from each other. “Everything about me is very much your business.”

“W-why?”

“Because I can’t feel this way about you without it being your business.”

Gemma James is a USA Today and Amazon bestselling author of a blend of genres, from new adult suspense to dark erotic romance. She loves to explore the darker side of human nature in her fiction, and she’s morbidly curious about anything dark and edgy, from deviant sex to serial killers. Readers have described her stories as being “not for the faint of heart.”

She warns you to heed their words! Her playground isn’t full of rainbows and kittens, though she likes both. She lives in Oregon with her husband and their four children–three rambunctious UFC/wrestling-loving boys and one girl who steals everyone’s attention.

Connect with Gemma

Facebook | Twitter | Website | Amazon | Goodreads | Newsletter

 

Up To Bat Series: The Diamond Series Book 1 by Maggie Jane Schuler @MJ_Schuler @EJBookpromos


Title: Up To Bat
Series: The Diamond Series Book 1
Author: Maggie Jane Schuler
Genre: NA Romance 
Release Date: July 25, 2017
Photographer: RplusMphoto
Cover Models: Davy Muscle and Kayla Barnes
Cover Design: Mr. @ Maggie Jane Schuler

 

Amazon Review – “I absolutely loved all the suspense and intrigue on the story line”


Amazon Review – “Hit a home run with this book!”


Amazon Review – “A five star homerun!”

 

Samantha Sawyer, a busy college junior, is thrown a curveball when she’s asked to mentor Adriana, a shy freshman with secrets and mysteries. 

Unfortunately, these secrets lead Sam into a dangerous game she’s not sure she can win. Her salvation comes packaged in the tall, sexy, and self-assured Blake Angel. Can he save her, or is he really the devil in disguise?

Maggie Jane Schuler is a wife, mother of three almost-grown children, and teacher by day. While she has always loved to read, the thought of writing her own prose did not strike until she was in the middle of writing her Master’s Thesis. From that point on she was hooked.She Resides in Southern California. Besides the family and books, she loves baseball. Since the Dodgers, Angels, and Padres are all within a short distance, and the Giants and Athletics a nice weekend jaunt away, she’s got plenty of games to take in during the season. Additionally, she enjoys cooking, movies, the beach, and the local mountains. She’s most content being with her family engaged in whatever activity they have planned.

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When We Swing by Kyla Ross @kypub2007 @EJBookPromos


Title: When We Swing
Author: Kyla Ross
Genre: Erotic Thriller
Release Date: August 15, 2017 

 

Friends have a way of breaking a person out of their comfort zone . . .

 

Mark has always felt like an outsider. Growing up, being bullied and teased, he doubted his life would ever get better. Then he meets his new college roommate, Blain Prazzel. 

Blain is the opposite of Mark, popular and oozing a sex appeal women can’t resist. Mark would kill to live in Blain’s world and gets his chance when Blain invites him and their roommate, John Motley, to a party.

After college, they go into business together and quickly become an overnight success. But when they each find their mates; their friendship is put to the test. 

Will these women interfere with their bond or will they find a new adventure awaits each of them? Where darkness and light sing their own forbidden melody of taboo? Where words, when spoken, have the power to change their lives forever?

 

Chapter 1- Mark
The after-work sun crept between the mountain peaks coating the road in a golden glaze. Aching for a stretch, Mark shifted his shoulders. The hour-and-a-half drive sure needed to end soon.

Casey leaned forward, dabbing her lips in fire-red lipstick with the help of the sun visor’s mirror. With steady hands and a still face, she was like an artist sculpting a masterpiece on an airplane experiencing life-threatening turbulence. Mark didn’t even have to look at her to know. He’d spent most of the last ten years staring.

Mark, or Mr. Introvert as they called him in college, preferred staying in the background. Growing up, he seldom had friends, but his parents were never around much to notice. Mrs. Lane was a pediatric nurse and Mr. Lane was a traveling photographer. With no siblings, very few acquaintances, and more bullies than he could count, Mark was a loner and preferred it that way. But when he hung out with Blain Prazzel and John Motley, his perception of sociality twisted.

It was Fall 2004, Mark faltered over his suitcases through the door of the dorm room. Oak framed twin beds lined three walls. Next to each was a personal walk-in closet. Oak desks stood in the center, propped against each other, back to back with two on either side. Wooden seats were pushed up against each desk and a bulky TV sat atop one of the desks.

Mark’s brow drooped at the whooshing of running water booming behind a closed door to the right. He sighed. The bed propped against the window had a leather duffel bag stretched across it and an open laptop propped on a plump pillow. Royal blue sports sandals sat beneath the footboard.

Mark inched over to the bed diagonal of the taken one and dumped his backpack, laptop case, and a suitcase. Pressing his palm against the mattress, he frowned. Even a mattress pad wouldn’t grant him a good night’s sleep. Cutting his eyes away, a ball of frustration clogged his throat. Sharing his space, an uncomfortable one at that, demolished the worth of the full ride provided by his scholarship.

The bathroom door slung open and out came a tall, olive toned, gray-eyed preppy dude. His collared polo and khaki shorts reminded Mark of the things he’d brought along.

Great, and this asshole may take my clothes. He’d been sure he was done with bullies as he strolled across the stage, kissing grade school and its sour memories goodbye.

“Hi, I’m Blain.” Blain’s husky tone shook as he patted his hands dry on the front of his shorts and extended one to Mark.

Mark dropped a brow and stared.

“Shy, huh?” Blain chuckled and flopped down on his bed, running his fingers through his thick, dark hair. “So, where you from?”

“Here,” Mark replied.

“Me too!” Blain said. His baritone timbre and flashy smile took Mark back to the jocks and pretty boys: the ones he wished he could be. But he was too shy to give it a go and always found himself doing their homework or eating their fists when they were in a bad mood. God. And I have to share a room with this guy?

With the faintest smile, Mark said, “Cool.”

“Hey.” Blain dug his elbows into his knees as he moved up to the edge of his bed. “There’s a party going on tonight at one of the frat houses. I heard there was gonna be some nice ass there. Coming with?”

Mark sat tongue-tied for a few seconds. Was this guy inviting him to a party? To hang out with fraternity guys? And girls? Pretty college girls? Mark shook his head.

“Oh, come on. Why not?”

“Because I have to study.” It was bogus rolling off his tongue. Mark was more than prepared for classes that didn’t start for another day or so. Some courses he could pass with his eyes closed.

“What’s your major?”

“Accounting.”

Slapping his chest, Blain spread a toothy grin and said, “Me too! Wow. I didn’t take you for the nerdy type. A baseball player, but not a nerd.”

Mark smirked. “Yeah? Me either.” A baseball player? Though he’d hiked and jogged religiously, no one had ever taken Mark for a baseball player.

“Yeah, well, my dad owns an accounting firm, so I don’t have a choice but to prepare to take over when he retires. He’s been preaching about networking and building a team. Ya’ know, bull shit.”

Mark raised a brow and cocked his head at the guy. “Really?”

“Yeah, man. If you want or if you’re still around this summer, I can get you in there for an internship.”

Mark’s eyes went wide. “Um, sure.”

“But only if you come to this party with me.”

Shit. Mark frowned. He hated being cornered or manipulated. But if this kook was telling the truth, he’d benefit. And if Blain was lying, Mark knew where to find him. Huffing and clearing his throat, he said, “Fine.”

After several hours of unpacking and listening to Blain chatter on about the different races and smells of women he’d had or wanted, Mark was relieved when it was time to head out. But another guy, this one tanned with a brawny chest and tall with sky blue eyes, barged in with a sack across his back while they were checking for wallets and phones. Though his luggage reminded Mark of someone homeless, his baseball cap, jeans and t- shirt were fresh and crispy.

“Hey man, I’m Blain.” Blain extended a hand.

The tall guy groped it with his open palm and nodded. Gravelly, he said, “John.”

“Me and Mark, over here, are going to a party. Wanna come? Supposed to be more than enough to look at.”

“I’ll come, sure. As long as there are drinks.” His deep voice cracked a little. “What time you guys leaving?”

“Whenever you’re ready.” Blain flopped down on his bed and Mark did the same.

After tossing his sack on the bare mattress across from Mark’s, John peered in the body mirror, turned his face cheek to cheek, then said, “Alright, let’s go.”

Bits and pieces of that night still made Mark blush. Flashes of bong smoke, bare tits, and the stench of alcoholic vomit stuck with him. Bulbous street lights flashed from either side of the stony pathway. Evergreen canopies and morning dew clung to the air. The bitterness of vodka and pale ale swirled around Mark’s tongue. Stomping on, with the help of his new-found buddies, Mark was overwhelmed with joy, a rolling gut, and slurred words.

“We got you,” Blain grunted, hoisting one of Mark’s arms up as it tried sliding off his shoulder.

“No. Ugh. I love you guys. I never―” Snatching his arms from Blain and John’s shoulders, Mark bent at the waist and fell to his knees. Heaving, liquid spewed up his throat, dousing the ground and coating the backs of his hands.

“Are you sure you’re a drinker, dude?” John asked through breaks of his explosive laughter.

“Come on, we gotcha,” Blain said, grasping Mark’s shoulder. John did the same. They dragged Mark to his bed, caring enough to flip his sandals off, and pull a sheet over his limp body.

Though he’d sworn off alcohol and parties after that night, Mark continually found himself a part of Blain’s escapades. He and John dragged Mark to parties and clubs on and off campus. One party just so happened to be a rush they’d tricked him into, leading to the trio’s pledging. They’d study names, mottos, and missions. They were bruised and battered with holey, wooden paddles, tossed around like rag dolls, and caught open-handed slaps and thumping fists to the chest. Aches, bruises and sleepless nights were the norm for a few months. Mark had never cried so much in his life. But Blain and John pulled him through, forcing him into the clutches of the big brothers night after night, with them at his side. Of the ten guys they started with, only four, the trio and Kyle, made it through. But things only got wilder from there.

Especially when they went up to the cabin.

Blain had always had the keys, leading Mark, and everyone else on campus, to believe he had owned it before he officially inherited it. There were many parties and hazing events that took place in that private piece of wilderness. Back then, it offered the typical fraternity guys a chance to live the social dream. They’d party all day, winning praise from their peers and, in some cases, professors.

As they’d gotten older, cabin visits adopted a twist in agenda. It was more about just going fishing and spending time with your closest friends and, in Blain’s case especially, kids. Still, Mark didn’t mind driving up. There was something about the wilderness that relaxed his muscles and banished day to day migraines. He loved the sound of the birds playing around in the tree canopies as his boots crushed the gravel and greenery on his lone hiking ventures. Taking in the view of the surrounding mountain ranges and sucking in the breeze that lingered along Lake Tahoe was refreshing. But mostly, he loved the solidarity.

After Mr. Prazzel’s fatal heart attack, the certified public accounting firm and cabin was left to Blain. This came as no surprise. Mark, Blain, and John interned there every summer during college, as promised. After the massive restructuring, Blain became managing partner, John became partner, and Mark was financial comptroller.

Mark couldn’t be happier with the arrangement. He was comfortable with silently laughing in the background, egging the guys on and tolerating their antics. He was much better at calming John’s explosive temper or covering for Blain when whoever he was dating became curious about his infidelity. They made Mark into the man he was, and he owed them everything, with loyalty being at the top of the list.

“I’m so excited we’re doing this,” Casey said, continuing with her eyeliner.

Mark cringed as he glared at the alpine curvature that played with the horizon, protecting them from the sun. His heart thumped at his chest as the night he’d met her played over in his mind, burning his heart for the fiftieth time.

That night, the frat house was crawling with wannabes and drunken girls. Alternative rock blasted, vibrating the walls, threatening to bring the colonial down on its foundation. Mark turned a beer can up, barreling through it and crushing it on the pale wall. Straightening his back and puffing his chest out, he smiled. The dim living room was crowded. They’d moved the furniture so there was nothing but the waist high stereo and the creaky oak floor. And praise from peers. Lots and lots of praise.

“Ah! Mark, Mark, Mark! We made it!” Blain screamed over the jeers of Kyle and John. His bald head glimmered in the dim lights.

John cuffed Mark’s peach-fuzzed crown, reminding him of what they’d lost for social acceptance. “Mark, we fucking did it!” Teary eyed, he cuffed Mark’s neck and shook him. “We fucking did it!”

“God damn right!” Kyle agreed. Though he had shed about fifty pounds over the last two months, his cheeks still jiggled as much as his gut. His tinted head shone from the laser lights that bounced off table-dancing girls. Mark smirked. Screaming old heads cheered the girls on as they hoped to get lucky while they were back in town. It must’ve taken a lot to convince their wives to let them come back to town to beat the shit out of their new little brothers.

Mark shook himself loose of the huddle. He shuddered. The fresh welts from the beating were raw on his rump. But pride and elation made the bruises a minor hindrance. Feeling the cool beer trickle through him, he said, “I gotta hit the head.”

“Hurry back, dude,” John slurred. “We gotta do more shots and Lilian brought us a cake.”

Mark nodded and squeezed through the crowd and a freshman tripped over his shoe. “Shit, dude! I’m so sorry!” the guy said, his eyes wide and tone shaken.

Mark smiled, clasped the guy’s shoulder and yelled, “Blain, John, Kyle, this asshole scoffed my shoe! What should I do?”

The brothers at once replied, “Upside down kegger!” Girls screamed and laughed as John and Blain pushed through the crowd, took the freshman by his legs and arms, and carried him over to the corner. Mark laughed and headed for the only bathroom, but he was stopped by a line that swallowed the staircase.

Scoffing, he pushed through a group of stumbling girls, making his way to the whining screen door. Outside, he burrowed through smokers. Some were preaching about a government conspiracy and how college was a rip-off. Others were whistling and yelling at a group of girls coming up the walkway. The old Mark would’ve waited for them to the clear the stairs before proceeding. But his knees were starting to shake and his stomach felt tight. So, he pushed forward.

Most of the girls cleared his way, but one grazed his side with her shoulder.

“Oh!” She chuckled while catching her footing, “I’m sorry.”

“God, Casey! Come on. We’re already late,” a blonde whined, before slamming the screen shut.

“You’re fine,” Mark said. He stared, trapped in her sapphire gaze. For a second, he thought he’d pissed himself as his belly loosen and knees seized. His cheeks burned.

“Wait, this is your party, right? Congratulations.” She smiled, flicking her shoulder-length, dark curls, and batting long eyelashes that just barely shielded her glimmering baby blues.

He’d never been so stuck on someone’s beauty and sultry voice. He didn’t want this to pass. He couldn’t let her pass. Of the many girls Blain and John tried setting Mark up with to lose his virginity, this was it. She was it. He wanted to suck her plump lips and kiss the mole on her left cheek. How would Blain handle this? he thought.

“I’m Mark,” he said, wanting to kick himself for having a tremoring throat. He’d just endured the ass whipping of a lifetime. His dark, egg-yolk-stained, sweaty, long sleeved shirt, holey jeans, and raw rump were proof of a job well done. The celebration that went on behind him solidified it, too. But he couldn’t bring himself to be smooth enough to get a girl. Have you learned nothing? He yelled to himself.

Before he could turn around and run off, she said, “I’m Casey. Well, some of the people here call me Marilyn but I resent that.” She giggled. “I’ve seen you around. You’re a tutor, right? And on the dean’s list? You’re pretty smart.” It tickled him inside, making him ache the way he did when Blain made he and John watch lesbian porn. Casey was the first girl to compliment his brains, not his newfound status or his friendship with the guys.

“Thanks.” He cursed himself for lacking the cleverness to woo her back.

“Are you leaving?” she asked.

“Uh, no. I’m going for a walk. This is a little overwhelming,” he said, trying his best to smile through a lie.

“Can I come?”

He winced at her. What? With me? No way this is real, he thought. “Isn’t your friend―”

“She’ll be OK. Honestly, I didn’t want to stay here long. She wanted me to come with her so she wouldn’t feel like a Blain groupie. Whoever that is.” She rolled her eyes.

Mark snickered. Blain had probably fucked half the freshman class by now. “He’s my buddy and brother. This is our party.” She smiled and shrugged. Which was strange. Mark hadn’t met a girl on, or off, campus who resisted Blain’s charm. So, he went on. “Sure, you can come with me,” he said. But his bladder was ready to burst, along with other things. Quickly, he decided to use his perks of belonging to a house now by pushing through to the front of the line to pee. “Do you want me to grab you a drink and meet here in about five minutes?”

“Sure. I’ll go tell Shelly that I’m leaving.”

“OK.” He smiled as his heart thudded.

All the noise around him fell on empty ears. He was deafened by her glow, her sweet perfume, and her smiling eyes. And she wanted to walk with him. She wanted to talk to him. And soon after, he found out she wanted to be with him. And he wanted nothing more than to have her.

Day in and day out, they’d spent every night together. Between classes, they discussed number theory and conspiracies, law, and sports. Casey was an intelligent, outgoing soul, and as charismatic as Blain. Well, she had to be. Being a pre-law then law school graduate granted such an attitude. But most of all, she allowed Mark to be himself. Not the sarcastic frat boy who tortured freshman, but the dorky, shy kid that grew up as a loner.

“Mark?” Casey asked, returning the makeup back to her purse and him back to their current reality.

Though her eyes burned the side of his face, Mark didn’t answer. Instead, he concentrated on the asphalt that disappeared underneath the SUV. Oak trees along the foot of the range provided a persistent evergreen stain in his left peripheral.

Casey’s stare, voice, and presence were too much for him–still. His chest got tight and his heart sank to the pit of his stomach. Every day for the last couple months, he’d wake on the couch alone with tears in his eyes, rage in heart, and that evening replaying in his mind.

That evening, he’d found her sobbing in their dim bedroom. After comforting her (sort of), she revealed the thing that weighed on her shoulders.

“I slept with Sean,” she blubbered. Time froze and Mark’s heart skipped a few beats as his body went numb. He couldn’t speak or cry. Not even faint. He only stared as she begged for forgiveness through glassy red eyes.

Mark knew Sean from the corporate Christmas parties Casey had been dragging him to for years. They’d talk about professional football before Mark excused himself and disappeared at the open bar. Sean wasn’t a half-bad looking guy either. Taut, tan, with dark hair and eyes. Opposite of Mark’s pale, lanky figure, short, platinum-blond hair, and blue eyes.

Sean. What a fucking douche bag.

Though Casey claimed it happened once, Mark couldn’t shake that nagging feeling that she was lying. She worked with Sean. He was her paralegal for God’s sake.

Since her confession, Casey had been more attentive than ever. The way her eyes shimmered with hope and optimism made Mark grimace. He wasn’t sure if it was her attempt at getting sex from him or if she genuinely felt sorry for what she’d done.

But it didn’t matter. He’d been too repulsed to touch or even look her in the eye. There was no telling what they’d say about him–or worse, her.

“Mark, if you don’t want to do this, we don’t have to.” Her voice became stern.

Instead of replying, he read the jade sign off to the right: Carnelian Bay, California. Their destination.

“Mark?” When he didn’t respond, she slapped her thighs. Huffing, she said, “I thought we agreed we would at least pretend to be in a good place with our marriage while we try this.”

Casey was frowning. He didn’t have to look at her to know.

“Well, what do you want me to say?” He began, cracking a half, cynical smile. “The way I see it, if we are in a good place, we wouldn’t have to come up here for such a disgusting, ugh, thing.” 

“People who are in healthy relationships do this. We agreed we were going to at least try it.” She smiled, now rubbing the back of Mark’s neck.

Once again, those lasers peered through his flesh down into his soul, but he bit his tongue, gulping down an insult that would’ve sent her over the edge.

“Look, Mark,” she went on, “I thought we were trying to get past that by doing new things. We both agreed that swinging may help our sex life. I mean you rarely―” She stopped. Casey hated complaints. She only liked solutions; a motto that she preached daily to Mark who, himself, was a realist. “You know what? No. This’ll be fun and you’ll enjoy yourself. Besides, you brought it up to me so. . .”

She was right. One night, a few weeks ago, she’d invited him out to dinner. After four bottles of red, he’d brought it up to her as a joke he shared with Blain and John. Then the swing, spearheaded by Blain, was being planned.

I’m making a two-hour drive into the mountains with you. Obviously, we’re doing this.

“Mark, let’s just stick to our plan–do this for the month and go from there. OK?” She ran her fingertips over his shoulder and down his polo sleeve.

The tautness of her glare made Mark want to flinch. How could something so sexy nauseate him? Finally, he flashed Casey a smile, a weak attempt at being reassuring.

Casey was so sure their perverted misadventures would tame the heap of garbage known as their marriage. He chuckled inside, anticipating it all blowing up in her face.

To keep the peace at home, Mark often pretended to be kind when he couldn’t avoid her or when they weren’t fighting. He did have his moments of doubt, when a piece of him wanted to leave the couch and cuddle in bed. But a bigger piece wanted to be a million miles away from her. He resented his bleeding heart as much as the sleepless nights.

But his buddies were so sure this would work, so sure that this would save him from despair and anger. That things would go back to the way they were, only better. So, he stretched his half-smile full and said, “I know.”

Casey planted her lips on Mark’s cheek, stealing a kiss. The warmth from her aura sent chills up his spine.

Mark slowed to turn left onto a single lane road as they continued up the mountainside. They passed several vacation homes in a variety of styles before approaching a hidden driveway off to the right side of the road.

He pulled into the narrow asphalt driveway that was paved with bull pine, buckwheat, and large shrubs for a mile on either side. Blain’s father was keen on privacy, so it didn’t surprise Mark that he bought a massive piece of mountainside land only for a mile of it to be woodlands and a tar driveway.

There were beds of pink and purple Musk flowers and purple columbine along the last few feet of the driveway, breaking the dreary brown and green foliage that made up the scenery from the road. The end of the asphalt wrapped around the cabin and merged back into itself, leading back to the road. It was a nightmare getting out whenever there were parties going on. But it birthed a love of 4X4 off-road antics for the guys.

The two-story Bavarian chalet sat ahead, nuzzled up against a wall of oak trees that broke around the back, offering a serene view of the crystal blue lake and the mountain range that towered over it in the distance. Thick chunks of gray stone made up the outer walls and each window was hidden under honey wood awnings that matched the door and porch. It looked like it belonged in an eighteenth-century English town.

The pine and oak trees that led the way up the driveway riddled most of the land, making it nearly impossible for the sun’s rays to make their way in to destroy the shade. Only nearly. Shimmering sunlight danced on the brown shingles and wherever it could sneak through. Small animals scurried about, veering in and out of the flower beds, darting back into the dimness of the woods.

At the front of the house, on the dirt yard, sat a black jeep.

“Oh, it looks like Roxie and uh…” Casey snapped her fingers, as if trying desperately to remember who Mark’s best friend was. “Blain,” she blurted, “…are already here.”

Mark flicked his eyes. He hated when she acted petty over Blain. She always complained about how his arrogance made her want to slap the spit out of his mouth. But Mark thought Blain’s pompous attitude was entertaining. Mark tried to get her to see that too. But he gave up when he decided he didn’t care about what she thought about anything anymore.

They climbed the wooden steps and the arched Victorian door flung open. Roxie appeared, wielding a bottle of white wine and a big smile.
Kyla Ross is a horror, thriller, and dark fiction writer from Detroit, Michigan. She posts suspense and horror flash fiction on her blog at kyrobooks.com and is the author of a gruesome, suspenseful short story series titled A Trinity of Wicked Tales and an erotic thriller novel titled When We Swing—An Erotic Thriller. Kyla’s extreme horror novel, Hotel Holly, will be released fall 2017.

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