AWAKENED: THE ORACLE CHRONICLES BOOK ONE BY MONI BOYCE

AWAKENED: THE ORACLE CHRONICLES BOOK ONE BY MONI BOYCE

Secret lineage, a ruthless vampire, and forbidden love.

Willow Stevens dreams of stardom are eclipsed by the real nightmares of a sinister man haunting her dreams. Unbeknownst to her, Eli Walker, her hot but snobbish co-worker, may know the reason nightmares plague her, but their history shows he is more prone to reject her, than help her. 

Then Willow passes out at work only to wake in Eli’s apartment. There she has her chance to learn more about her heritage. But, knowing why the vampire king stalks her doesn’t make the nightmares disappear. If anything, they become more real as she now faces off against a slew of creatures she’d always believed were myth. 

That Eli is one of those creatures is just her luck. Secret witch guild or not, his natural ways are casting spells her heart can’t escape. As a Protector his only focus should be her safety. Anything else is forbidden. He plans to stay in task, but some women break a man, or tempt him to break the rules. 

Can Eli keep Willow alive and safe from the vampires long enough for her to grow her own powers or will both cast aside rules for a reckless passion that will only lead to danger?

AWAKENED is the first installment in The Oracle Chronicles series. This interracial, paranormal romance is a great mix of magic, adventure.

**This book is part of a series and ends in a cliffhanger**

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EXCERPT

Sleep was pulling and tugging at every part of her physically and mentally. The long yawn that left her mouth made her shake her head. The minute she hit the mattress she was asleep in seconds.

Where am I?

When the thought entered her mind she knew she was dreaming, but wherever she was, she’d never been there before. She looked down at her body and saw she was still wearing the bathrobe. A chill crept up her spine because this felt eerily real. In any other dream she wore a random outfit. The hallway was massive, like she was in a palace. Her bare feet made no sound as she tiptoed down the corridor, frightened she would encounter someone. This place had an ominous feeling. She shouldn’t be here.

“Wake up. Wake up. Wake up.” The whispered words did nothing, because she remained in the dream or whatever it was.

A large doorway loomed at the end of the hall. The door was slightly ajar. Against her better judgment she crept towards it. 

What am I doing? Why am I going to investigate? I should head in the other direction.

Despite the screaming thoughts in her brain she proceeded to the door, frantically looking around for anyone or anything that might lurk in the shadows. The sliver of an opening was enough for her to press her eye to and attempt to look around without being caught. It was a bedroom. There were floor to ceiling windows on the far side of the room. There must have been a balcony or terrace situated outside because the flimsy, gauzy curtains billowed out from the windows, caught by a breeze. In the dimness she could barely make out a sleeping form in the cavernous bed. The room seemed devoid of anything else, save a large armoire.

Something made her crack the door open and walk inside.

What are you doing you crazy person? Go back. Get out of here.

Still she moved closer, her curiosity carrying her closer and closer. Seconds later, she stood on the stairs that led up to the bed. Her hand and arm shook as she reached out to touch the shoulder of the sleeping form that had their back to her. 

“Who’s there?” 

His sinister voice froze her in place. The hairs all over her body stood on end. This was Killian’s bedroom. He rolled over and sat up. The covers slipped down revealing his naked chest. His green eyes scanned the darkened chamber. She was sure his vampire sight allowed him to see just fine despite the lack of light. The crazy thing was, he seemed to look right through her like she wasn’t even there. She waved her hand in front of his face.

“You can’t see me?”

His eyes continued to search the room. While she was definitely dumbstruck that she was invisible to him, her mind chose that moment to have a stupid thought. 

If he’s a vampire why isn’t he sleeping in a coffin or underground?

She wanted to kick herself.

Really? Right now is not the time for this.

“I can smell the witch on you, Willow.” His nostrils flared. 

Her body went rigid with terror. 

He knows I’m here.

The derision in his statement made her wonder if he knew she was staying at the Walker Coven. After the attack he already knew she traveled with witches.

“I will find you.” He sounded so sure she swallowed to keep from choking and clutched her throat feeling like he was strangling her.

Wake up!

Her eyes flew open, and she took in a deep, much needed breath before she sat up and looked around the beige and white, eighteenth century bedroom she occupied at the coven and sighed.

ALSO AVAILABLE

ENLIGHTENED (BOOK TWO)

COMING SOON – SEPTEMBER 24

EMPOWERED (BOOK THREE)

ABOUT MONI BOYCE

Moni Boyce is a writer, filmmaker, poet and author of contemporary and paranormal romance novels. She spent the last fifteen years working in the film industry and now creates characters of her own and brings them to life on the page. Moni has ghostwritten romance novellas and novels for over a year now and decided to put some of her own creations out in the world. She considers herself a bookworm, film buff, foodie, music lover and an avid world traveler having visited 32 countries and counting. She lives a bit of a nomadic life, but considers Los Angeles home. Which is the subject of her first travel book: Greater Than A Tourist – Los Angeles, California: 50 Travel Tips From A Local.

CONNECT WITH MONI BOYCE

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REDESIGNING HAPPINESS BY NITA BROOKS

REDESIGNING HAPPINESS BY NITA BROOKS

Real life is a work in progress… #DesignYourLife

It wasn’t easy for Yvonne Cable to get over a heartbreaking relationship and revamp her life. But now the once-broke single mom is Atlanta’s most sought-after interior designer—and one-half of the media’s hottest power couple. She and her celebrity fiancé, Nathan, are a perfect, practical match, on—and off—camera. And with their new home improvement reality show the object of a fierce network bidding war, there’s no limit to how far they can go . . . 

But Yvonne is stunned when mogul Richard Barrington III unexpectedly makes an offer for their program. He’s the man she thought left her for a more successful woman. And he’s the father of her son—though he didn’t know it until now. Richard wants to get to know their boy, and Yvonne agrees, though she’s wary. Yet little by little, she’s finding it hard to resist the responsible, caring man Richard has become. But when a scandalous leak puts everything Yvonne’s worked for at risk, she’ll have to look beyond surfaces to come to terms with who she is—and discover what she truly wants.

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ABOUT NITA BROOKS

A reading addict, self-professed connoisseur of home improvement shows, and a collector of teapots, Nita Brooks resides in South Carolina with her family. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter at @AuthorNitaB.

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Cover Reveal: AWAKENED: THE ORACLE CHRONICLES BOOK ONE

Secret lineage, a ruthless vampire, and forbidden love.

Willow Stevens dreams of stardom are eclipsed by the real nightmares of a sinister man haunting her dreams. Unbeknownst to her, Eli Walker, her hot but snobbish co-worker, may know the reason nightmares plague her, but their history shows he is more prone to reject her, than help her. 

Then Willow passes out at work only to wake in Eli’s apartment. There she has her chance to learn more about her heritage. But, knowing why the vampire king stalks her doesn’t make the nightmares disappear. If anything, they become more real as she now faces off against a slew of creatures she’d always believed were myth. 

That Eli is one of those creatures is just her luck. Secret witch guild or not, his natural ways are casting spells her heart can’t escape. As a Protector his only focus should be her safety. Anything else is forbidden. He plans to stay in task, but some women break a man, or tempt him to break the rules. 

Can Eli keep Willow alive and safe from the vampires long enough for her to grow her own powers or will both cast aside rules for a reckless passion that will only lead to danger?

Fans of A Discovery of Witches will love the mix of magic, adventure and paranormal romance in the first book of the series THE ORACLE CHRONICLES from Moni Boyce.

EXCERPT

            A couple minutes later, she followed him. Whatever he’d prepared smelled delicious. He moved around the kitchen unsure. She raised her eyebrows while she watched him. He caught the gesture and looked embarrassed. “Most of the time, I cheat and use magic so I can do something else. I haven’t manually cooked in a while.”

            She looked at him wide-eyed, with her mouth gaped open. Even though he’d told her earlier, they were witches she still was having a hard time believing it. “You cook with magic, like they do in Harry Potter? That’s so cool. I know you told everyone not to use it, but just show me a little something. I won’t tell.” Awe and child-like wonder permeated her voice. “Cross my heart.” She made the sign of the cross over her heart.

            “You heard everything didn’t you?” His eyebrow quirked upwards, daring her to lie.

She gave him a sheepish smile and looked away before she continued talking about magic, in the hopes he’d forget her listening to their conversation. “I would be the ultimate multi-tasker if I was a witch. Say ‘Abracadabra’ and make the food magically appear on the plate or something.” Willow was giddy with excitement.

            Eli chuckled. “I’m not a wizard. I don’t say ‘Abracadabra.’” He shook his head.

            His explanation confused her. “What does that mean? I thought wizard was a name for a male witch.”

            He sighed and put down the pot he was holding. That comment appeared to get his undivided attention. “You watch too much television. First, regardless of gender, we’re known as witches, those of us that practice white magic. Warlocks are witches that practice black magic. Wizards are charlatans, posers. They don’t know magic, but are exceptional at trickery so they can give someone who doesn’t know any better the illusion they do.”

            She digested the information he’d just given her.

            “That’s why everyone went silent earlier when Matty referenced black magic, because none of you practice it?”

            He nodded and picked up the pot of noodles. “Yes. Now may I finish making dinner?”

            “So you’re not going to cook with magic?” She was expecting him to do tricks and wow her. Disappointment marred her brow, when he didn’t whip out a magic wand or say a spell. 

            “You just said so yourself, that you overheard me tell everyone magic is off limits.”

            Her shoulders slumped in discontent and she pouted. “You can’t do even a tiny little spell?”

            “Nope.”

            She rolled her eyes. “Great. A witch who can’t do any spells or magic.”

            Eli looked offended. “I didn’t say I can’t do magic. I’m just unable to do any at this time.”

            “Uh, huh.” 

            He bristled at her disinterest and she had to hold back a sly grin. “Wizard.” She mumbled under her breath, knowing it would get a rise out of him.

            “I’m not a wizard! I can do magic!” 

            If she lit a match and threw it at him, he would have gone up in flames he was fuming so hard. 

“Whatever.” Maybe she’d just…

ABOUT MONI BOYCE

Moni Boyce is a writer, filmmaker, poet and author of contemporary and paranormal romance novels. She spent the last fifteen years working in the film industry and now creates characters of her own and brings them to life on the page. Moni has ghostwritten romance novellas and novels for over a year now and decided to put some of her own creations out in the world. She considers herself a bookworm, film buff, foodie, music lover and an avid world traveler having visited 32 countries and counting. She lives a bit of a nomadic life, but considers Los Angeles home. Which is the subject of her first travel book: Greater Than A Tourist – Los Angeles, California: 50 Travel Tips From A Local.

CONNECT WITH MONI BOYCE

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New Release: Avoiding Matthew by Caroline Bell Foster

AVOIDING MATTHEW BY CAROLINE BELL FOSTER

A kiss. A promise. A mistake. 

Lacy Dawson would rather spend her days experimenting with brownie recipes and trying on wedding dresses, than go on yet another secret mission to save her country. She needed a way out and found it.

Deaf, Special Operative Matthew Edwards, stumbled across Lacy where she wasn’t supposed to be, while on an enforced vacation.

They’d never been able to stifle their sexual attraction and indulged every time their paths crossed. However, Matthew knew Lacy was working a dangerous mission outside of the bureau. But what? She was too soft and needed protecting from herself. 

Lacy’s secrets take her from America to Russia, to England, all the while with Matthew hot on her heels. 

How could she avoid Matthew? Did she want to?

AVAILABLE ON:

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EXCERPT

Lacy pressed the gas and the car surged forward. A powerful engine under the guise of a rusty exterior. With one hand she managed to button up three buttons on her shirt, before seeing Matthew in the middle of the road, pointing a gun at her.

 No doubt it would be her gun, she thought, pursing her lips.

 Frowning deeply and knowing he would move, she kept going. Flooring the gas pedal.

 She did up another button.

 His hair was shorter than the last time she had seen him, she thought, noticing the burnished red being picked up by her headlights. She went full beam.

 He didn’t squint as she thought he would.

 She watched as he spread his legs wider, aiming the gun at her head and she narrowed her eyes driving faster. He would move. 

 Please move.

 Move!

 Move damn it!

 He didn’t.

 Lacy gasped, skidded out of control for a split second before pulling up the handbrake, gripping the steering wheel and spinning the car in the opposite direction.

 Matthew was lying motionless on his side in the middle of the road.

 “You idiot!” Lacy yelled frantically, coming to a stop and storming out of the car.

 Matthew had hit the hood hard, bumped up the windscreen to slide off the side. He’d frightened the life out of her. She watched as he lifted his head, shook it once then twice, before rolling over and hauling himself up.

 She catalogued his slow movements. He’d be sore in the morning, but otherwise, he was okay she thought charitably. Stupid man.

 “Matthew?!” Lacy yelled from a safe distance. If Matthew caught her now he would want answers. She wasn’t giving him, or anyone else answers, and that included their mutual employer.

 “You hit me!” Matthew charged.

 “You shouldn’t have been in the middle of the road!” Lacy shot back.

 “You’re fucking crazy,” he wiped his nose with his arm, “do you know that? You could have killed me!”

 “Running you over is not the way I plan to kill you.” She answered, noticing his small but gaining steps. She edged to the door.

 “Oh yeah,” he smirked, he couldn’t see much of her, what with the headlights trained his way, but he could see enough. She’d buttoned her shirt up wrong and hadn’t got to the top buttons yet. He could see the golden slope of her breasts. Breasts he had held in his hands not half an hour ago. “And how do you plan to kill me?” he asked conversationally.She didn’t answer but was looking down at her phone in her hand before throwing it into the car. 

 “I’ll tell you another time,” she advised on a laugh. “Duty calls.” She told him, getting into her small car.

 Matthew jogged towards her vehicle, but she was already driving off. Matthew watched her go with a smirk and the biggest hard-on he’d had in half an hour.

 When she was at a reasonable distance, she stopped.

 Matthew waited with his arms crossed over his chest.

 “Have a hot shower babe!” she yelled at him on a laugh, before driving off.

 Matthew laughed and laughed even harder as he picked her gun from the asphalt. She’d be back for it, he knew.

 Until next time sweetheart, he thought with a smirk.

CAROLINE BELL FOSTER IS GIVING AWAY A $25 AMAZON GIFT CARD

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ABOUT CAROLINE BELL FOSTER

Caroline Bell Foster is an internationally bestselling, multi-award-winning British author of diverse romantic fiction. She is named as one of the most influential people in culture & entertainment in the East Midlands and also listed in the Top 100 Most Influential Creatives.

Caroline spent her formative years in the Caribbean, where her thirst for exploring other cultures began. Ever the adventurer, she bought her first pair of high heels in Toronto and traded her pink sunglasses for a bus ride in the Rift Valley, Kenya at 18.

With themes of substance, Caroline’s latest novels’ defy convention and celebrate modern day Britain with several titles set primarily in the East Midlands, where she shares her love for the three main cities and the surrounding ‘shires’ with her readers. 

Caroline has come full circle and lives in Nottingham, England just twelve miles from where she was born. Married to her college sweetheart husband, David, they have two children and they are all ruled over by 17 year-old, rescue cat Naomi ‘Nay Nay Boo’.

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New Release: Temptation by Chiquita Dennie


TEMPTATION BY CHIQUITA DENNIE

Age ain’t nothing but a number.

Gabriel McCollough is the star basketball coach, Top draft pick that played in one season and retired from the game of basketball from a injury and the twenty-five-year-old alpha male every young woman in town can’t help but like.

Desiree Spence is a good teacher, a good person, a quiet, reserved soul, but a chance meeting with a handsome coach, ten years her junior, tests her limits and stirs up a controversy she could’ve ever anticipated.

He wants her. She wants him. Everyone in their lives is against their relationship.

Will they give into societal pressures or follow their hearts’ desires?

Note: Chiquita writes stories with explicit language and adult content.

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EXCERPT

Prologue: Desiree

“Do you, Desiree Spence, take Gabriel McCullough to be your lawfully-wedded husband?” the pastor asked. He looked between Gabriel and me as we stared into each other’s eyes. Gabriel’s touch was reassuring; his eyes alone seemed to undress me, as though it were just the two of us standing there. 

That was the moment we’d been waiting for. After multiple obstacles and breakups, I realized I needed to put myself first and not let other factors define my happiness. Gabriel showed no signs of hesitation in marrying me, and I appreciated his strength and motivation. 

Over the past year, I’d taken a new job at East High School after leaving my old job as a substitute teacher. I’d dealt with David’s betrayal and getting fired. My family stood by me—even though my father wanted to kick his ass. Hearing the gossip around town helped my decision to start over in a new townand make new memories. What I didn’t expect was to encounter an overwhelmingforce that turned my life upside down—thissmooth, charismatic charmer with rich,milk-chocolate skin and dimples, with a small scar next to his mouth. Some people might have been put off by it, but in a weird way, it made him even sexier to me. Standing tall, at around 6’3”, he had broad shoulders and thick, muscular arms that brought me comfort every night in bed—not to mention Gabriel’s soft, oval, dark-browneyes that hadme melting in the palms of his hands. I loved climbing onto him every chance I got. Feeling his hands running up anddown my back brought chills to my spine. 

We waited before having sex again until the wedding night. It was Gabriel’s idea, and after the shock wore off, I remembered he always put my needs above his own. 

David could never compare to Gabriel; many times, David came off as selfish, making plans that revolved around his own needs. He liked to show off to our mutual friends and make himself seem bigger and more important than anyone else. I could count on my one hand how many times he got involved in the community.

After several nights of tossing and turning and yearning to have Gabriel by my side, I couldn’t wait to get him alone and try something new. The church we picked out was beautiful, with its fine crystal-and-gold window trimming. Flowers adorned each row, and thanks to the high ceiling, the church choir sounded exquisite as they performed one of my favorite songs, Tamia’s “Spend My Life with You”.

“Baby, you, all right?” Gabriel asked and squeezed my hands tighter to pull me out of my trance. 

A part of me felt nervous; my stomach was doing somersaults and my hands were sweaty; I was about to become someone’s wife. I looked around the room at my family, and my best friend, Sidney, as she rocked her newborn baby and my goddaughter, Coco, to sleep. If I hadn’t listened to Sidney that day and interviewed for the job, I wouldn’t have met my future love, my backbone, best friend, and my weakness. 

“Excuse me, Pastor,what did you say?” I asked as our guests laughed at me for zoning out during my wedding. 

“I asked, do you take Gabriel to be your wedded husband, to have and to hold, through sickness and in health, till death do you part?”

“I do,” I answered, giving Gabriel a coy smile.

“I do,” Gabriel answered huskily.

“I now pronounce you husband and wife, and you may kiss the bride.”

I heard everyone shout and cheer before we even kissed.I caught a glimpse of Gabriel’s mother and sister, whispering back and forth; apparently, his mother was not the least bit interested in what was going on at her son’s wedding. I was amused by her long, sleeveless black dress and black sunglasses. Of course, she dressed like it was a funeral, instead of our wedding day. I was not surprised she showed up—just surprised she didn’t stop the wedding. 

I had a great relationship with his father, grandparents, and friends. His mom thought I was the devil, and she had tried her best to keep us apart—even conspiring with his ex-girlfriend to break us up, and then trying to convince him to play basketball again and quit teaching.

Gabriel lifted my veil and stared into my eyes as the tears slowly slipped down my cheeks. Standing on my tiptoes, I met him halfway, and our mouths sealed our vows. It was a sensual, pulsating kiss that had my juices flowing. I was ready to take him into the bathroom for a quickie.

“I love you, Mrs. McCullough,” he said.

“I love you too, Mr. McCullough.”

He gently wiped the tears traveling down my face.  “How does it feel to marry a man 10 years younger than you, babe?”

“Like I have a lifetime to share new memories—”

The church doors opened, and a familiar voice cut me off. “Desiree!”

“Da—David?” I stuttered, shocked at his interruption. 

ABOUT CHIQUITA DENNIE

Chiquita is an Author and Entrepreneur. Born in Memphis, TN, and currently a Los Angeles CA native. Her background in film/tv has taught and shaped her passion for writing with her debut romance novel Antonio and Sabrina Struck In Love. Favorite genre to write Contemporary Romantic Suspense. Since its debut, fans have embraced the unconventional love story of Sabrina Washington and Antonio De Luca. Amazon Best Seller in Italian, African American Drama,and Multicultral Romance. Check out her other work in Erotic, Paranormal and Women’s Fiction under amazon.com/kekerenee.

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New Release: Torn by Brooklyn Knight

ABOUT THE BOOK

I did not tell her the truth about what I really am…

The circumstances surrounding our introduction are unimportant. The only thing that matters is that Sasha Wilcox is my mate and she belongs to me. A night of unbridled passion sealed the deal, but before I could tell her the truth, she was gone. Days have turned into weeks and there is no way I can be without her. I must find her and bring her back to me. No one will stand in my way, especially not the one man who thinks he can steal her from me, Stefan Miller.

I want him so badly, and I have no idea why…

The last thing I should be doing is thinking about Remi Moretti: the green-eyed Italian man who kidnapped me and held me hostage for three days in Tuscany. I want to say that I feared for my life while under his guard, but that would be a lie. The truth is, in a moment of… weakness, I gave my body to him. He set it on fire, but I escaped, and now I need to move on with my life with Stefan, a great guy, who will make a great boyfriend. But why do I crave Remi’s touch? Why do I smell his intoxicating essence every time I breathe? And why do I sense his presence, even though he’s in Italy, and I’m in Miami?

**READER ALERT**
This story contains extremely passionate and descriptive sex scenes. Not suitable for readers under the age of 18 years, or those who may be offended by somewhat graphic descriptions of sexual encounters. This story also contains scenes which include expletives. Brooklyn’s characters exhibit real emotions and desires, and though she is their creator, she is also very sensitive to their needs and wants, and works in partnership with them to create their unique HEAs.

Publication Date March 21, 2019
Series Alpha Series #1
Genre Multicultural & Interracial Romance, Paranormal Romance, Werewolf & Shifter Romance, Romance
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PURCHASE LINKS
Amazon eBook | Amazon Paperback


ABOUT BROOKLYN KNIGHT

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Brooklyn Knight is a romance enthusiast who lives in the island of Bermuda and has been writing stories since she was a little girl. Over the years, her gift for designing and bringing characters to life has evolved, and she enjoys creating vivid, memorable characters and unforgettable situations. Her characters are thought-provoking and evocative; and they will draw emotion out of you like water from a well.


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Chapter Reveal: Salt by Mara White

 

 

 

 

 

AP new - synopsis.jpg

 

 

Salana Livingston did everything right, from taking her multi-vitamin to kneeling before bed to say her prayers every night. She followed the path her parents had planned before she was born, never questioned the role until the day a bus-load of sweaty kids from the Bronx got dropped at her parent’s horse farm.

Tiago Alcazar knew a life of hard knocks. An incarcerated father, a missing and strung-out mother who left him to rely on his aged grandmother for most of his life.

Tiago runs the mean streets of the neighborhood that raised him, living hand-to-mouth, everyday a gift, if he can just make it.

Burdened by a world that only wants to see her as perfect, Salana finds her greatest confidant in a boy society has labeled as worthless. Their paths cross too many times for their stubborn hearts to deny the connection, but can the delinquent and the debutant defy the odds and overcome the social constructs that condemn them?

Tiago

“I’m telling you, homie! As soon as this bitch-ass arm heals we’re going back to Connecticut. You got the code for the garage, we roll out a Lamborghini and we’re set for life mother fucker!” They were sitting in Chico’s living room. The air was hot and sticky circulated by only a lazy ceiling fan that was covered in years of greasy dust and the dangling remnants of some bygone party streamers. They’d ordered a pizza and demolished the whole thing. Chico was only gaining more of gut rendered immobile by his collarbone break. He had pizza sauce on his tank top. A real gem. A catch—this kid. But the horse ranch trip, the fall, and Tiago’s ride home from the princess were still high on their list of the most exciting things to happen that summer. They rehashed it all, spilling the details to their friends.
“I don’t want to steal her car. I liked that chick,” Tiago said in weak protest. He flipped through the channels now that Chico’s mom had gone out to get groceries and relieved them from endless Telemundo. He left the television on a basketball game and did his best slam dunk swoosh leaping up from the couch.

“Mano, we won’t be stealing from her really if you think about it. That’s her parent’s car—not hers. And what the fuck would she care, she’s got so much money anyway? We’d be doing them a favor taking one of those off their hands.”

“That’s pushing it, Chico. Why don’t we just steal a different car from someone else in the same neighborhood?”

“Cause you got the code for her garage fuck face! Jesus Christ!” Chico hit his forehead exaggeratedly. “How many cars can one family even drive?”

“What you don’t have the guts to break in?”

“Neither do you, bitch. Can you help me take my shirt off so I can take a shower?”

“Fucking baby, you are on your own for that shit cause you stink. Check you later. I gotta go home and check on my Ma anyway.”

“I’d help you if it was the other way around!”

“Never will be, cause I ain’t fucking stupid, bro!” Tiago punched Chico hard in the arm that wasn’t in a sling. He got up and threw the remote at Chico’s belly. “I’ll fucking go if you park that shit downtown and the fuck away from my building. I’ll drive it, but I don’t want to sell it.”

“Deal!” Chico said, smiling triumphantly. Tiago wasn’t giving him a bath. He had to draw the line somewhere.

The tickets for the metro north just about cleaned them out. There must have been irony in the deal, spend all your money on transportation to go steal something that could help you get around and then sell it to make money. Tiago was so nervous his sweat stunk, Chico however, was riding on cloud nine, already ticking off the list of things he was going to buy in his head. Tiago would buy a washing machine for his grandmother, so she wouldn’t have to lug laundry down to the corner, or wash it in the tub with her arthritic hands like she sometimes did.

“’Mijo, there was no laundromat when I was growing up. My mother scrubbed the clothes on a board in the yard, hung it to dry on a line between two trees.”

“Look at your hands, Ma. You not even sixty but your hands are eighty. That’s why.” He kissed her on the cheek and grabbed his book bag off the back of the chair. “I’ll be home late, don’t wait up.”

Tiago had spent countless hours in school daydreaming about being able to provide for his grandmother. Visions of washing machines with a red bow on top, a new refrigerator that didn’t drip or smell. He never imagined what he’d get for himself, just fantasize about the amenities that would make her life easier.

“Shit, this train is huge. The seats look like couches!” Chico couldn’t play it cool to save his life. The kid was green as fuck, not a seasoned car thief. The only thing Chico was good at was remembering stats on baseball cards and eating everyone under the table.

“Bro, we’re trying to not call attention to ourselves, you hear me?” Tiago sat down by the window, the uneasy feeling creeping through his belly. They stuck out like sore thumbs with the evening commuters. Everyone in suits and blazers, reading newspapers, scrolling through stocks on their phones. How could they pull off a car theft with so many witnesses? Every single one of these jerks would remember them. Nobody who looked like them was on their way to Connecticut. Tiago’s gut felt heavier with each mile gained toward their destination. How fucked up was it that they were gonna go after the girl who’d been so kind to them? Rip her off in return? No wonder people branded them as thugs, maybe that’s what they were.

They filed off the train with a million commuters, it was nearing dark when they arrived and everyone rushed to the park and ride lot to get home to their families. Must be nice, Tiago thought. A house and a car, back yard and people acting happy you came home, a jumping dog, kids with spelling tests to show you. Probably a fucking pool to swim in. He’d seen it in the movies and on TV. That wasn’t what happened in his neighborhood. Broken families were the norm, functional ones, the exception. At least half of his friends were being raised by their grandparents. A parent in jail, addicted to drugs, never made it to the States, was plain old down-on-their-luck, were the stories he heard on his block. Domestic violence, child abuse, neglect—those were the cuts that tore families apart.

The park and ride lot emptied just as fast as the train to leave Tiago and Chico standing under the bright sweep of street light looking caught in the headlights. Tiago started walking toward the street and Chico followed him. He had a good sense of direction and he knew Salana’s house, her estate, was walking distance from the train station. Walking distance in a town where nobody walked. Again they stuck out like strobe lights ambling along the side of a residential street with no fucking sidewalk.

“These people probably gonna call the police on us just because of how we look. Probably got cameras set up.”

They walked for twenty minutes, the houses bordering the streets becoming more and more opulent, the gates taller, the security tighter. Tiago recognized Salana’s house as soon as they neared. Not because he’d cased the place to steal, but because he’d wanted to see her again, to return to the spot under different circumstances. He’d imagined himself as her boyfriend countless times in his head.

“It’s this one up here with the all the lights on. How we gonna stay hidden when they got that place lit up like a stadium?”

“We crawl on the border and then stand up and sprint to get to the garage.” Chico flicked his cigarette and the cherry bounced on the street and spewed sparks. The kid had watched too many action flicks.

“Bet the fucking gate is wired,” Tiago said. He was getting cold feet.

“We move fast. That way if we trigger the gate, by the time they get there to check it out, we’re basically already in the garage with our pick of cars.” Tiago thought Chico was being unrealistically optimistic. Grand Theft Auto had inflated his ego to carjacker extraordinaire, when in reality the most he’d ever stolen was a handful of cash out of the collection plate at church. Their luck peaked in the unexpected arrival of a car, it’s lights looming larger out of the darkness. The driver signaled and pulled into Salana’s driveway. A young man stuck his head out and said something into the intercom. He smiled like a million bucks and Tiago already hated him. Fucking Hitler haircut, first car—a Tesla. But what really made him want to smash the guy’s head in was the idea of him touching Salana, her laughing at his jokes. Tiago would fight with bloody fists for her, that douche would throw his money in the air as a distraction and start crying before someone even hit him.

The boys crouched and ran, slipped through the gates right before they closed. As they approached the house, it became apparent they’d crashed some kind of party. The half-moon driveway was crowded with parked cars, not a Ford or a Toyota in sight. The sickest cars Tiago and Chico had ever seen. They stared openly, the lighted up mansion, the driveway turned car showroom. Drake was sounding from a top of the line stereo reverberating through the walls and bursting forth into the still night and the silence of the suburbs. They were slow to process that this was real life. Sure they’d seen it in music videos and placed themselves in the role of protagonist in plenty of daydreams, why not? Honey’s with string bikinis, pouring out label Champagne into the hot tub, the ice and gold, the cars, the clothes, the sunglasses that cost as much as their family’s annual food budget. But that was fantasy and this was someone’s real life.

“Salt is a fucking pimp, bro. She’s straight up balling that bitch,” Chico said, jaw on the floor.

“Good. They won’t even miss the car,” Tiago said. His voice was full of rancor. He felt jealously swim in his bloodstream—toxic—like the sewage that overflowed into the Hudson during a rainstorm. He strutted across the brightly lit, meticulously manicured lawns like a boss, pimp limp fired, repping the dignity of who he was in the face of this great wealth.

“Yo, Tiago, wait up!” Chico yelled. Chico’s ambling limp was real on account of his one arm still braced in a sling and useless. They were a ramshackle crew. No guns, knives or experience, just hood attitude bolstered by the accomplishment of seeing the task this far through—they’d made it to Connecticut, it was worth something.

Tiago’s hair stood on end and nerves seesawed in his stomach. He wasn’t afraid, but rather on high alert, excited, reckless and ruthless, ready to take someone down just for looking at him the wrong way. A car door slammed and Chico and Tiago both froze. A tall blond guy in a sweater vest looked at them inquisitively.

“Who the fuck are you?” he asked. The guy threw his joint to the ground. Tiago could smell the sweet burn of weed, but to his seasoned nose he could also tell it wasn’t good. Not like the premium he could get these rich kids. Sell it for more, take them all for a ride and then roll around in cash like a dog in mud from the profits.

How the hell would they pull off taking a car now? Tiago didn’t even know what they were there for anymore. What if they missed the last train back to the city? Would they sleep in the station like bums? And what if they got arrested? His grandmother wasn’t capable of making a trip all the way to Connecticut to bail him out for trespassing.

“Salana around?” Tiago asked the guy staring them down. The way the words took a bite out of his heart made him realize stealing cars was pretense all along. He’d only wanted to see her, to stroke her blonde hair, to rub his nose against her little one and have his insides turned out. But if he had to break the law to see her, he would.

“It’s her fucking party. She know you’re coming?”

The guy was wearing loafers. He had to answer to a guy wearing loafers and a sweater vest. A fucking asshole Mr. Rogers was what he was.

“Dude, what are you doing?” Chico screeched at him. Tiago’s pants felt heavy, his kicks impossibly clunky, he couldn’t remember if he’s put on cologne or deodorant for that matter. His shirt was clean, but it was old and suddenly felt so cheap to have Billionaire Boy’s Club emblazoned across the front of his chest, when he was in the presence of the real Billionaire’s Club. It didn’t help that the guy stared at them like unsavory rats that had wandered across his clean pasture.

“Can you get Salana for us? Tell her we’re in the garage when she gets a chance?”

“Why don’t you wait here,” the guy said quickly texting on his phone. Tiago walked toward the garage anyway; he couldn’t stand to be scrutinized by the judgmental mother fucker anymore.

“Ti, bro. I swear to fucking God you lost your mind!” Chico said as Santiago disabled the alarm on the garage. There were cameras, two he could see plainly right over the door.

“Let’s bounce. This is crazy,” Chico said. He didn’t want to go to jail he liked his mother’s cooking too much. He loved sitting in the sun and playing basketball in the park for twenty-three hours a day as opposed to one. “I’m out!” Chico said, turned on a dime and ran.

“Ditch me, why don’t you, when the going gets tough?” Tiago wanted to scream, Unleash the hounds! But he wasn’t so mean he’d want his friend to pee his pants.

Tiago decided to go through the motions. He chose the Rover for the resale ease and value. It was unlocked and the door opened smooth like honey. All the keys were in the lockbox by the door, just as they had been when Salana did it all in front of him. Like a temptress, like an invitation to take one.

Here’s the big red juicy apple. I know you’re starving. Bite it!

There was something about the feel and smell of brand new that was extraordinarily pleasing, that gave an air of authority and power without doing a thing. Wealth and pipe dreams of attaining it could be as addictive as a drug and probably just as dangerous. He was about to slide into the driver’s seat when someone grabbed him from behind. He cursed, angry at himself for having let his guard down. One held him back against the car, while the other, the blond, knocked his fist into Tiago’s face, hitting him just below the nose. Not a trained fighter, just beginner’s luck that he made contact. It was a weak punch but it landed and stung like a bitch. Tiago heaved his shoulders forward to throw off the one he couldn’t see. The taste of blood in his mouth made him vicious and he landed a punch right in Vest and Loafer’s gut that promptly knocked the wind out of him. Tiago was used to fighting dirty and street. He’d been in scuffles on the corner since first grade. The boys in Connecticut had never taken a real beating.

“Call the police!” the guy shouted at his friend.

“Don’t fucking call the police!” Tiago responded almost casually. “Why call the cops? Because we hit each other? Come on! Don’t be a pussy.”

“Then get the fuck out of here right now! Leave!” Loafer’s feathers were ruffled, his face was red and his hair disheveled.

“Did you tell Salana like I told you too, bitch?”

“I’m right here,” she said. Salana walked into the garage and put her hand on Loafer’s arm.

“I just wanted to talk to you,” Tiago said. “Alone.”

He wiped his hand across his mouth, it felt warm and burned. There was blood on the back of his hand and he spat blood on the floor gaining a look of fury from the handsome boys.

“Brandt, just go. It’s fine, I know him.”

“If you fucking touch her, you’re a dead man,” Brandt pointed his finger at Santiago like his threat carried weight. Tiago spat again. “Piece of shit, thug,” Brandt muttered as he turned to go.

Once alone, the silence between them rose up and expanded like leavened bread in an oven, filling even the dark corners and the ceiling above them. They stood ten feet away from one another and took the other in. Tiago clenched his fists and Salana watched blood drip from his split lip. She cut across the space first and grabbed his chin so as to better inspect his face.

“You’re bleeding,” she said. “Come inside, we can put something on it.”

“Give me a minute to cool down so I don’t kill your friend, Salt.”

“Why did you come here, Tiago? You should have at least called.”

“To steal a car. You let me see that code. It was an invitation I couldn’t resist.”

She crossed her arms across her chest and looked relatively unaffected by what he said.

“Take one if you want, but I’m sure there will be repercussions.”

“Naw, when I got here, I realized what I really wanted was to steal you instead.”

He saw her pupils dilate. He heard how her breath caught in her chest. He felt tingly all over like he might pass the fuck out at her feet after one bitchass punch.

“Come on, let’s get your face cleaned up.” She took his hand and led him around the side of the huge estate.

“We’ll just go downstairs and that way we can avoid Brandt and the others.” Salana punched in another code and allowed Tiago to see it. He felt like he had to memorize those numbers because they were symbolic of her letting him in. Seeing those numbers meant something. Code for: trust. Cipher for: I accept you just as you are.

He followed her down a sweeping staircase and into what looked like a basement entertainment room. A pool table, leather couches, a full bar and a fireplace. Basically a space he and his friends would sacrifice their left nuts for. Salana flicked on stained-glass low hanging lights in the basement room which was bigger than his entire apartment.

“The bathroom is right there, I’ll grab the first aid kit.”

The lights rose by themselves as he stepped into the bathroom, a room so spotless and sparkling it nearly strained his eyes. Salana’s life looked like a Hollywood set whereas his looked like a public service announcement for the dangers of drug use. He ran his hand underwater to wash off the blood.

“Sit up here,” Salana said, patting the counter sink. She ran a white washcloth under warm water and brought it to his lip. “I’m sorry he punched you,” she whispered as she dapped at the gash.

“Probably deserved it,” he said through the towel. “What’s the occasion for the party?”
Salana squirted some ointment on her finger and brought it to his upper lip.

“Oh, my friend Justine’s birthday. She’s upstairs. My parents are in Europe so everyone decided to come here.” She tried to touch the bleeding gash and Tiago grabbed her wrist. She stopped and made eye contact.

“You’re so fucking fine, Salt. I can’t stop thinking about you. I wouldn’t steal from you. I just wanted to see you.” His grip on her wrist was tight, because his confession felt important. He usually let a girl know he was into her with body language, lingering hands and soft words in her ear, but with Salana he told her as if he were in the confessional. “I like you and I don’t know what the fuck to do about it.”

Who knew honesty could feel like getting run over by a steam roller. Cracking your head open and letting the rabid butterflies escape to fly upwards in a swarm. It was almost too much for him. Butterflies? They were bats and he was a goner.

Her lips were parted and she stared intently at his face. Her blue eyes flared with emotion and his searched her face for even a hint of reciprocation. “I know it ain’t even possible. I just wanted to let you know how I felt, and shit.”
“I—” was all she could get out
“You can go back to your party, back to Branch. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.”
Salana blinked and her eyes were filling with tears. She closed them and leaned into Tiago. He caught her face in his hands and his lips found hers. The kiss was so soft and ghostly like a whisper—almost nothing—until it wasn’t and then, it was real, it was perfect, it was fucking everything.

She gasped when he took her whole mouth, prying open the seam of her lips with his tongue. Tiago kissed like a carnivore. Wolf-mouth. No rich-pansy orthodontist’s dream. He came from real life. His cut was the ghetto. He kissed projects and food stamps and lives that were cut short. He kissed give.it.all.to.me.now because punk-ass-bitches steal what doesn’t belong to them. His hands went to her hair, soft like silk and cool like the flip side of a pillow. He wanted to eat her, make a meal out of her flesh and touch the raw center of her heart after he’d consumed her.

“Fuck,” he whispered into her mouth. “Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.”

His dick was already hard, pressing against his jeans with an urgency that was painful. He’d blow his load from her tongue alone like a fucking kid looking at a Hustler under the covers with a flashlight.

“God, I want you so bad,” he lamented. Was he kissing for the first time? No, but it fucking felt like it.

His fingers speared through her hair cupping her ears and the back of her skull as he devoured her mouth and pulled her to him, registering nothing, only desperate for more. Tiago hopped down from the counter, scooped Salana up and placed her where he’d been. Jerking her forward by the hips he brought her flush with his erection. Salana opened her eyes wide suddenly, the blue piercing right through him. Her eye contact sent a surge of power to his groin. He leaned into her again and thumbed her nipples through her white cotton shirt. Salana tipped her head back and mewled. The heat coming from her center made him lose control. He couldn’t stand how erotic she looked, head thrown back, nipples tipped to the ceiling and her long hair almost touching the sink behind her. His blood smeared on her full lips made his stomach muscles clench with something forbidden and primal.

“Stop,” she said still kissing him. “Stop!” she pushed at his chest this time and he backed all the way up to the wall.

“Fuck, I’m sorry. Shit, Salana. I’m sorry, I lost control.” His longing was so fierce that kissing her felt like survival. He was the hunter, she was the doe. He didn’t want to kill her, but he wanted to make the damn shot even if it killed him in the process.
She shook her head and wiped at her mouth with her fingers.

His chest heaved like he’d been running, but he was standing there in her bathroom, palms upturned like a fucking idiot. That kiss meant the world to him.
“I’ll show myself out. I shouldn’t have come.”

 

 

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Mara White is a contemporary romance and erotica writer who laces forbidden love stories with hard issues, such as race, gender and inequality. She holds an Ivy League degree but has also worked in more strip clubs than even she can remember. She is not a former Mexican telenovela star contrary to what the tabloids might say, but she is a former ballerina and will always remain one in her heart. She lives in NYC with her husband and two children and yes, when she’s not writing you can find her on the playground.

 

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New Release: Salt by Mara White

 

 

 

 

 

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Salana Livingston did everything right, from taking her multi-vitamin to kneeling before bed to say her prayers every night. She followed the path her parents had planned before she was born, never questioned the role until the day a bus-load of sweaty kids from the Bronx got dropped at her parent’s horse farm.

Tiago Alcazar knew a life of hard knocks. An incarcerated father, a missing and strung-out mother who left him to rely on his aged grandmother for most of his life.

Tiago runs the mean streets of the neighborhood that raised him, living hand-to-mouth, everyday a gift, if he can just make it.

Burdened by a world that only wants to see her as perfect, Salana finds her greatest confidant in a boy society has labeled as worthless. Their paths cross too many times for their stubborn hearts to deny the connection, but can the delinquent and the debutant defy the odds and overcome the social constructs that condemn them?

 

AP  new -about the author.jpg

 

 

Mara White is a contemporary romance and erotica writer who laces forbidden love stories with hard issues, such as race, gender and inequality. She holds an Ivy League degree but has also worked in more strip clubs than even she can remember. She is not a former Mexican telenovela star contrary to what the tabloids might say, but she is a former ballerina and will always remain one in her heart. She lives in NYC with her husband and two children and yes, when she’s not writing you can find her on the playground.

 

Author Links

 

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Book Blitz: Bound to Favor by Kiru Taye

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❤🎉🎈😍 📚🔞✔💯❤

Title: Bound to Favor

Author: Kiru Taye

Series: Bound #4

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Africa

Tagline: He doesn’t want to get married again. She doesn’t do families. Can they fake perfect together?

BLURB

Kamali Danladi has sworn never to get married again. But his meddling mother is bent on hitching him to any eligible female that comes along to the next family gathering. There’s only one thing for it. Get fake-hitched to his executive assistant. If anyone is more averse to marriage than he is, it’s her. So they’ll be perfect together. Or at least, they’ll fake perfect together.

Ebun Forson doesn’t do families. She certainly doesn’t do festivities. So when she has to spend a week playing fiancée to her boss, how is she going to cope with the extensive Danladi kinsfolk without breaking out in hives? Her next shopping trip funded by the bonus he’s giving her should more than make up for the inconvenience.

However, she soon finds the real threat is to her heart. The dark and intense Kamali behaves as if he sees through to her soul, making her almost forget that this is all an act. In any case, someone with a past like hers doesn’t deserve a happy ever after, surely.

Bound to Favor is a story about learning to heal from emotional pain and finding love in the most unexpected places.

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EXCERPT

“Oh, don’t you dare patronise me. I am not your fiancée. I’m not polished or elegant enough to be considered your wife. According to your family the only reason you would consider me is if I were pregnant.”

He moved and sat at the edge of the bed. “Don’t mind my sisters. Their opinions don’t matter.”

“So if I discount your sisters, what about you?” She waved her hand in the air at him.

“What about me?” His eyes narrowed as his brows creased.

“I’ve worked with you for two years and you’ve never even noticed me, never paid me any attention other than for work. I’m here now because you need a fake fiancée. Your sisters think we’ve been having sex in the office. If only they knew you wouldn’t touch me with a barge pole.”

She suddenly had no wish to hide her emotions about him, as anger bolstered her resolve.

“You think I never noticed you all these years?” Kamali asked in a gravelly voice that carried a warning.

Ebun halted before she reached the door to the bathroom. Heart racing, she folded her arms around her midriff to hide their trembling and didn’t turn to face him.

“When you’re deep in concentration you bite your bottom lip until it turns pink,” he continued, his tone deeper than normal. “When you smile, a dimple appears on your left cheek … and when you’re excited, your brown eyes sparkle like gold dust.”

So enthralled by his words, she hadn’t heard his approaching footsteps until her back prickled with his body heat.

“Ebunoluwa, I notice you every goddamned day.”

His candour undid her, and smashed through defences she’d erected around her. All the while she’d thought he’d overlooked her, he’d been paying attention. Warmth seeped into her heart and tingled across her chest.

What could she say to him? ‘Thank you’ seemed inadequate and inappropriate.

In any case, it wasn’t gratitude making her pulse accelerate and her body tremble as she turned around.

Her heart slammed against her ribs when she met Kamali’s burning gaze.

The intensity of his stare pinned her to the spot and she couldn’t move.

“Granted, we’re here now because I need your help. But it doesn’t take away the fact that you are a beautiful woman. There’s no way anybody will not notice you. Trust me.”

Before she could assimilate his words, his lips descended on her. First it was a light brush against hers from one edge to the other. But in that heart-stopping moment, her lips parted as she wanted closer contact, the urge to taste him increasing by the second.

He didn’t disappoint her. His tongue delved into her mouth. Plundered and possessed her. She yielded and opened up. Welcomed the heat, and the intensity.

He unleashed repressed feelings, allowing passion to reign supreme.

Her fingers clutched his shirt, clinging on, needing his solidity to keep her standing when her knees threatened to give way.

He was her anchor keeping her grounded in a world where she was boneless and about to float away.

He broke the kiss and whispered against her lips, “Look at what you do to me.”

The deep timbre of his voice made her heart race as his fingers gripped the nape and tilted her head back.

“If you knew the thoughts in my head, the things I want to do to you, to your beautiful body,” he continued.

She breathed in short bursts, his words as electrifying as his touch. He thought she had a beautiful body?

There was no mistaking the lust in his dark gaze. But there was something else, enthralling and revealing, all at the same time.

“You want me?” She couldn’t hide the surprise in her voice. She’d just had the most exhilarating kiss of her life. Was there a chance for more?

“Yes. Don’t look so surprised. I’ve wanted you from the first day I met you. But I swore I wouldn’t touch you.” His thumb stroked the sensitive skin of her neck.

The weight on her chest fizzled away leaving her lightheaded as her pulse sped up and adrenaline rushed through her.

“I thought…” Her mouth had dried out. She licked her lip and swallowed. “I thought you didn’t want me. Couldn’t want me. Look at me, I’m not pretty.”

“Ebunoluwa,” his voice suddenly took on a stern, warning tone. “Don’t ever say that. You are beautiful.”

She shook her head. He had to say it to cheer her up.

How could he describe her as beautiful? His sisters were beautiful. The woman they’d called Laila was beautiful.

He gripped her hand and tugged it down. “Do you need proof of how beautiful you are, of how much I want you?”

She lowered her gaze to his groin before he placed her hand on the bulge tenting his trousers. He was hard and hot under the fabric.

“This is what you do to me every time I see you.”

“Really?” she asked in a breathless voice.

“Yes,” his voice sounded gruff as if he was fighting for control.

Desire burnt away the last of her inhibitions. Feeling emboldened, she stroked his turgid length through the linen.

His groan rumbled around them, his eyes gleaming. “If you keep doing that, I’m going to come. But I’d rather do it while buried inside you.”

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GIVEAWAY
Kiru is giving away $10/£10 Gift card or N3000 Okadabooks credit