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Michelle Leighton’s book, EVERYTHING FOR US, is live!

3 Sep

My BFF, Michelle Leighton, has a new book out today!  Woot!!  The third book in her Bad Boys series is out… EVERYTHING FOR US.   I’ve read this book… and I can tell you that it’s amazing.

 

Everything for us

When it comes to passion this hot, it’s all or nothing. 

Olivia Townsend’s wealthy cousin Marissa had everything a girl could ask for—a great job, a privileged life, and all the friends she wanted. Or, at least, all the friends money could buy. But one case of mistaken identity has turned her privileged world upside down.

An abduction gone wrong lands her right in the lap of the sexiest, most dangerous man she’s ever met. To Marissa, he’s an enigma, but one to whom she’s irresistibly, inexplicably drawn.

With him comes a new world of freedom and passion, of dark shadows and dangerous secrets, a world where nothing is what it seems—except for the blind passion that Marissa can’t escape—or maybe even survive.

********

Michelle has graciously given me an excerpt…. check it out!

“Where’s your friend?” I ask tightly.

At first he doesn’t say anything.  I can see his movements and hear the shift of his clothing as he undresses.  Despite my irritation, desire sweeps through me, making me breathless and achy.

He walks to the side of the bed, staring down at me in the dark.  I can see just enough of his face to discern his expression. It’s serious.  Determined.  Heated.

“I realized something tonight.”

The mattress depresses where he sets his knee on it.  I feel the brush of his fingers against my skin as he curls them into the covers at my shoulder.  He pauses, as if waiting for me to respond.

“What’s that?”

My stomach is full of lava.  It pours through my core and down my legs when he slowly pulls back the covers.

“I realized that no matter how tightly I closed my eyes, no matter how much I tried to ignore it, no matter how much I wanted her to be…”  His voice is so quiet, I have to strain to hear him, even in the silence.  “She just wasn’t you.”

********

You can find Everything for Us in these retailers:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

Kobo

 

And if you want to learn more about M. Leighton, you can find her here:

Blog:  http://mleightonbooks.blogspot.com

Facebook:  M. Leighton, Author

Twitter:  mleightonbooks

Goodreads:  M. Leighton, Author

 

Teaser Tuesday: Nyrae Dawn’s Facade

3 Sep

On my blog today for Forever’s Teaser Tuesday, I’ve got Nyrae Dawn’s Facade.  Check out the excerpt below.  :)

 

Facade nyrae dawn

Chapter One

 ~Adrian~

I didn’t sleep for shit last night. Not that I ever really sleep that well, but last night was particularly bad. About 1:00 a.m., I was sick to death of all the drunk, high, loud-ass people in my house. Jesus, I wanted them gone. Wanted quiet, normal, but instead I’d smoked another bowl, lied and said I was going to bed before locking myself in my room.

The party went on without me because that’s what people do. It’s not that they really need me to have fun. I just have the house, shitty as it is, and everyone thinks I’m always down to have a good time. Scratch that. I am always down to have a good time. One look at me shows I’m stoned half the time. Weed? It clouds out the past. Parties drown out the stuff in my head I don’t want to hear. But last night of all nights? I deserved to hear that shit, since I’m the one who caused it. So that’s what I did. All night. Got blazed out of my head but kept myself awake so I could think about today.

Around six this morning, I jumped in my car like I have every January 12 for the past four years and drove my ass here. Rockville, Virginia. Home sweet fucking home, except I hate this place with a burning passion. When you spend your childhood getting beat by your dad, all you want to do is escape where you came from. I wouldn’t have come if I didn’t have to, but after everything, I figure it’s the least I can do.

Not that my sister, Angel, will ever know I came.

After all this time, I wonder if she’d want me here. If I were her, I wouldn’t.

Shaking my thermos, I realize I don’t have any more coffee. I toss it onto the passenger side floor and lean back in the seat. Four hours is a long-ass time to sit in my car, but I don’t want to risk getting out and her seeing me. Probably a good thing I ran out of coffee; otherwise I’d have to piss again.

Looking across the street, I see all the headstones. Most of them are laid flat, so I can’t see them from a distance, but I still know exactly which one belongs to Ashton. It’s under the big tree. He would have liked that. I bet he would have wanted me to lift him up and put him in that tree if he’d ever had the chance to see it. He thought it was cool to ride on my shoulders. I’d carry him all around the house and he’d laugh like it was fucking Disneyland or something.

Pain grabs hold of me, threatens to pull me under, and for the millionth time I wonder why I don’t let it. It would be so much easier than walking around in the masks I do now.

“Fuck.” I drop my head back. Run a hand through my dark hair. Feel my pocket for the pipe there and wish like hell I could light up. Seems kind of wrong to smoke weed at a cemetery, especially under the circumstances.

I hate the drugs anyway. You wouldn’t know it, though. No one does. Adrian’s always down to smoke. Adrian’s always good for it. That’s what everyone thinks, but really I just want to be swept away. To ride a tide or the wind or whatever the fuck will take me far from here. Weed is the only thing I can find. Sometimes it works; most of the time it doesn’t.

I’m itching to shove the key into the ignition, to push down on the gas pedal and get the hell out of here. Not that I ever went real far. I only live four hours away in Brenton because I couldn’t make myself leave the state. But I can’t live in Rockville anymore. I don’t want to see this. Don’t want to be here. I wish I could wake up and find out this has all been some fucked-up nightmare. Even if it meant going back in time before Ash and having to deal with shit from my parents.

Leaning forward, I push the useless thermos out of the way and reach for The Count of Monte Cristo, which is shoved under the seat. The cover’s all old and ripped. The spine’s cracked so much from how many times I’ve read it. It’ll probably fall apart any day now.

The thing is, I’ve always respected Edmond. He went through hell and back but fought despite it. He didn’t fold. He pushed through and worked his ass off to become so much more than he was. He was strong. Not me. I just can’t seem to make myself overcome the past.

There’s nothing to do but deal with it. And maybe lose myself behind a cloud of smoke or a girl.

I need to turn off my thoughts.

Even though I can’t stand hats, I grab the one from beside me, push it low on my head, open my book, and read. Maybe Edmond can help me clear my head.

            *  *  *

 

Hours later, when I see my sister, Angel, walk over to Ash’s grave, I don’t get out of the car. When some guy walks up and grabs her hand, I don’t know who he is and yet, I don’t bother finding out. They hug and I don’t walk over and do the same thing to her. It’s not our thing to stand around having some group mourning session over the two-year-old boy who died too soon.

Nope. This is real life. Not like all the stupid fucking books I read or the movies people watch or the reality shows that couldn’t be farther away from reality.

Without moving an inch, I watch her. Watch as she sets flowers on Ashton’s grave. As the guy pulls her into a hug. As they kneel on the ground, probably talking to him in a way I’ll never have the balls to do.

The guy says something to her and then gets up and walks away. I duck lower in my seat, but no one is paying attention to me. He heads back to a little car and waits.

Angel’s hands go to her face and I know she’s crying in them. Know she’s mourning the loss of Ash, the boy she loved so much. The boy she took care of better than any mom could. I know she sent the guy away because she’s like me and needs to handle shit on her own. Only unlike me, she’ll never run.

She cries out there for probably thirty minutes. The whole time my chest is tight. Aching. It’s hard to breathe and I want to turn away, but I don’t. I deserve to feel this way and deserve to see this.

A fist squeezes tighter and tighter around my heart. My face is wet, but I don’t bother to wipe away the tears, either. Real men don’t fucking cry. That’s what Dad always said before he hit me in a series of body shots, until I couldn’t stop myself from doing just what he said I shouldn’t do.

Then he’d beat me harder for being weak.

Angel’s shoulders are shaking. I can tell from this far away.

I’m not an idiot. Never have been. I know it wouldn’t make me weak to walk over there and hug her. To hold her and tell her it’ll be okay, but I still won’t do it. What right do I have to try and console her when I’m the one who destroyed everything?

When I’m the one who let Ash die?

So I sit here and watch her, just so I’ll never forget the pain I caused.

********

You can find Facade on Amazon HERE and on Barnes and Noble HERE. 

To learn more about Nyrae Dawn, visit her website:  http://www.nyraedawn.com/

 

Forever Authors Teaser Tuesday: IF YOU LEAVE

27 Aug

Hey guys,

So on today’s Teaser Tuesday, we’re featuring…me.  :)    I’m posting chapter two of IF YOU LEAVE below.  Keep in mine, it contains adult language and sexual situations.   If you haven’t read IF YOU LEAVE, but would like to, you can find it HERE on Amazon and HERE on B&N.

Also, the winners of the Would You Rather contest are Brandi S. and Lindsee B.   You ladies will be hearing from our publicist at Forever about your prize.  :)

IYL, Final

Chapter Two

Eight Months Later

Chicago

Madison

The music in this club is so loud that it literally thumps in my chest, rattling into my rib cage. What the hell do people see in places like this? I cough from the fog-maker’s smoke, then strain my neck as I try to find my friend Jacey among the hundreds of sweaty people crammed in this room.

The last I saw, she’d disappeared into a dark corner with her loser boyfriend.

“Have you seen my friend? The blonde in the tight red shirt?” I yell to the random guy who has been intently watching me like a creeper for ten minutes. He smiles a piranha grin and inches toward me.

“No,” he yells back. “But we don’t need her for what I have in mind.”

Gross.

“Not now, not ever,” I answer coldly, turning my back on him to search the crush of people on the dance floor. I seriously just want to go home.

How I let Jacey talk me into coming into the city to celebrate her birthday is far, far beyond me right now. I’m supposed to finally meet her brother tonight, but Jacey disappeared with her boyfriend over an hour ago and I haven’t seen them since. My feet hurt, I’m exhausted from working sixty hours this week and I need something to eat before I stab someone’s eye out.

Knowing my limitations, I make my way through the bar and onto the sidewalk out front. I’ve got to get out of here. I’m the one who drove us, but I’m sure Jacey can get a ride home with Peter if she needs to. Her boyfriend can’t hold down a job, but at least he can drive.

I pull my phone out. I’m leaving. Can you catch a ride home with Peter?

As soon as I send the text, I realize that she’s not going to be able to hear it. So who knows when she’ll see it? With a sigh, I decide I have to hunt for her. At least for a few minutes. It wouldn’t be right to just leave her here.

“If I wanted to have public sex with my boyfriend, where would I be?” I muse aloud, trying to think like Jacey as I walk around to the side of the club. Jacey is pathetically bad about PDA. She doesn’t give a flying eff what people think about her. It’s one thing that I both admire about her and get annoyed at.

As I get farther and farther away from the sidewalk and into the shadows, it seems more and more like someplace Jacey and Peter might be getting it on against the building. But at the same time, it also seems like the perfect place to get mugged. It makes me instantly nervous and I glance around quickly.

I’m in an alley now, a narrow wet street that is littered with trash and graffiti. My heels click on the glistening asphalt and I take a deep breath, enjoying the fresh air as the inky darkness swallows me.

Thank God I’m out of that club. That’s my main thought as I walk farther into the darkness, but even still, I reach into my purse and grip my little can of pepper-spray. It doesn’t hurt to be prepared.

There’s nobody here. That much is apparent as I take in the dirty building, the heaping trash bins and the empty shadows. Well, I’m hoping the shadows are empty, anyway. They seem to be. And I seem to be all alone. While that’s comforting on the one hand, it’s frustrating on the other.

“Jacey, where the fuck are you?” I mutter.

Just as I’m getting ready to give up and head back into the club, I catch sight of something that snags my attention and I stop.

A guy is leaning against the building a little ways from me, half in the darkness, half in the light. Normally that wouldn’t give me pause, especially since I’m in an alley alone. But something about his posture intrigues me, something that I can’t quite put my finger on.

I peer at him more closely.

His long legs are crossed gracefully in front of him as he leans against the building. And holy cow, he’s big. He’s got to be a few inches over six feet tall with a broad chest and wide shoulders that narrow into a slender waist.

It’s chilly outside, but he’s not wearing a jacket, only a snug black T-shirt and a pair of perfectly fitting jeans. There isn’t a trace of fat on him. He’s lean and muscled, with short darkish hair. From the side his features are chiseled and from what I can tell, he’s got just the barest hint of stubble along his strong jaw. That’s an instant turn-on for me. It seems so rugged.

And this guy…he definitely seems rugged. Everything about him screams strength and power. That’s an instant turn-on for me too. I decide that this is what intrigues me. He’s like power personified. He holds himself with purpose.

As I watch, he lights up a cigarette and takes a drag, releasing the smoke slowly into the night. His lips are full and masculine and he’s got a cleft in his chin. He’s undeniably sexy. Normally I would stay far away from someone like him, someone sinfully sexy but so…forceful. A guy like that is trouble. That’s for sure.

But I didn’t come to the club tonight to run away.

I came here to hook up. To blow off my responsibilities and be reckless for a night. To act my age. To be someone I’m not.

I eye the guy again.

Normally I would run away from him.

But maybe…just tonight…I won’t.

I don’t have to be me tonight. I can be anyone I want to be because he’ll never see me again.

Just for tonight.

I hesitate, trying to decide what to do.

Then, almost as though my feet have a mind of their own, I take a step toward him. And then another.

<orn_sb>

Gabriel

My cigarette burns red in the dark as I take a nice long drag. I suck in the city air and the nicotine, then exhale the toxic waste. I know that smokes are bad for me, that they’re shit for my lungs, but I don’t particularly care right now.

From inside the club, I can feel the bass thumping against the wall, vibrating my spine. Inside, women are mindlessly mashing together on the dance floor in time to those drums, waiting for guys like me to take them home and fuck them.

I don’t care about that either. I had to get some fresh air, to get away from the claustrophobic club smoke and sweat before I fucking exploded.

If I were a normal person, I’d be nervous in a dark Chicago alley by myself. I’m not a normal person, though, and the shit I saw in Afghanistan rendered my ability to feel fear impotent.

But not the rest of me.

I shift my weight and adjust the boys and my semi-hard dick. I’d have to be inhuman to not be horny after watching the half-dressed drunk girls rub themselves on anyone who might buy them a drink. I should feel bad about that, but I don’t.

Before my tour overseas, I wouldn’t have been caught dead with any of them. But after being overseas for three years, my penis isn’t listening to reason anymore. It knows what I need.

I sigh and adjust the constraining crotch of my jeans again, before taking another deep breath, then another. My dick starts to calm down and my claustrophobic feelings begin to fade. Thank God. One of the many things I brought home was claustrophobia, and it’s not even the predictable kind where I’m afraid of small spaces. It’s the random kind that can strike at the strangest times, like in the middle of a crowd.

Fuck it.

I toss down the cigarette and grind it out with my heel, then pull out another, lighting it up. It’s a bad habit I brought back with me, along with a couple tattoos and the tendency to wake up in a cold sweat from crazy-ass nightmares.

“You know those will kill you, right?”

I startle to attention, my head snapping around to find the soft voice in the dark.

A woman steps closer and I can’t believe that I didn’t see her approach.

Fucking hell.

We’re the only two people in an isolated alley. How could I have missed her? My senses have seriously dulled since I’ve been back stateside. She’s a tall, willowy bombshell, the kind of woman who stands out in a crowd, let alone an abandoned street.

Blonde hair falls halfway down her back and wide eyes stare at me. Her full lips are pursed, as though she’s trying to decide if it’s safe to be out here. And it’s not, especially for a woman who looks like she does.

“Don’t you know walking alone in a dark Chicago alley is more dangerous than a cigarette?”

I gaze at her levelly as I take another drag on my smoke.

She doesn’t look afraid at all as she shrugs.

“Either of those things has to be better than being crushed to death in there.”

She gestures toward the closed club door in disdain. I examine her again. She’s wearing the right clothes to be here…tight pink leather pants, a cream-colored halter top, equally tight, and a pair of extremely high glittery heels. As I examine her, I notice that she’s not wearing a bra under her light-colored shirt. Somehow that looks out of place on her, as though she doesn’t fit the slutty clothes.

The problem is, the slutty clothes definitely fit her, in all the right places. My dick lurches back to life as my gaze skims over her curved hips and tight ass.

“In that case, want one?” I offer her the pack.

She looks surprised, then chuckles, shaking her head.

“No, thanks. I’m already in the alley alone. I think that’s enough of a risk tonight.”

I grin back as I tuck the smokes into my pocket. “But you’re not alone now. I’m here.”

She eyes me and I can see now that her eyes are blue.

“Somehow,” she says thoughtfully, “I doubt I’m any safer.”

I smile. “Somehow, I think you’re right.”

The funny thing is, she doesn’t look worried. In fact, she steps closer and leans against the filthy brick wall beside me. Even under the yellowed dingy streetlight, she looks flawless.

“You’re going to get dirty,” I point out. She looks up at me innocently, her blue eyes wide.

“I like getting dirty sometimes.”

And then she grins a wicked grin.

I feel like I’ve been sucker-punched as all the air whooshes out of my body. A suggestive grin like that on this runway model is too much for my logical thought processes to overcome. My good sense has apparently been hijacked by my hormones.

Tossing the smoke down on the sidewalk, I grind the heel of my boot into it. I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing, but I don’t much care at this point. I’m horny and she’s gorgeous. That’s a perfect arrangement if I ever saw one. The air between us practically crackles with sexual attraction.

I look down at her and as I do, I let myself lean into her. She’s soft and she smells even softer.

“I’m Gabriel.”

“I’m Madison,” she answers. She hasn’t looked away from me even once. She’s definitely into me, although God knows why. I’m as different from her as I can be.

“Why are you here, Madison?” I ask. “You seem a little out of place.”

She suddenly looks self-conscious. “A friend talked me into coming. She thought I needed a night in the big city. But I really wish I was home instead. I’m tired and these heels hurt.”

I smile. Her shoes do look painful as hell. I’ve never understood why women wear shit like that.

“So you don’t live here?”

She shakes her head and as she does, her scent seems to envelop us, blocking out the pungent city smells. Her nearness is intoxicating and I brace myself against it so I don’t get sucked in any further.

“No. I’m from a little lake town, just an hour or so from here. But it seems like a world away. I’m not much of a big-city girl. Not anymore, anyway.”

I actually wouldn’t have guessed that. She’s got that perfectly put-together look that big-city girls have, that perfectly confident attitude.

She nudges me, her slender shoulder bumping mine. “Why are you here? You don’t look like you fit here either. Not here at this club, anyway.”

I cock an eyebrow. “Oh?”

The Underground is a trendy Chicago hot spot. And she’s right. I don’t fit in here. I fit in a Humvee in the hills of Afghanistan. Except I don’t. Not anymore.

Madison notices my expression and flushes.

“No offense. But you’re not wearing skinny jeans and hipster glasses. You seem more like…the football-playing type. Or the outdoors type, maybe.”

I smile down at her. “No offense taken. And I am more of the outdoors type.”

The gun-toting soldier type, to be exact, but I don’t say that.

Madison looks relieved. “I thought so. So what are you doing in the middle of the city?”

“What makes you think I don’t live here? Can’t I enjoy the outdoors but still live in the city? Or am I too uncool for that?” I raise my eyebrow again.

She flushes yet again. “I’m sorry. I guess I just assumed. Where do you live?”

I grin. “Here. Just call me a fish out of water.”

She shakes her head and swats at me, but I easily catch her wrist and pull her to me instead. It’s a ballsy move, but I’m feeling cocky. She doesn’t resist, which both pleases and surprises me.

She presses against me, looking into my eyes. She looks expectant and nervous, confident yet hesitant. Her tits are smashed against me, making it hard to form coherent thoughts, hard to examine our differences or even her motives. Her softness is the perfect contrast to my hardness. That’s all I can think about.

“To answer your question, I’m here at the club because my little sister thought I should come out and meet someone. To quote her, I’m ‘getting mean as hell and need a piece of ass.’”

Madison laughs, a low and husky sound.

“Do you? Need a piece of ass?”

She sounds anxious. And interested.

I hold her gaze.

“More than you can imagine.”

I slide my hands from her back down to her ass, cupping it, squeezing it.

“And I like yours,” I add. I’m being cocky again, but she seems to like it.

She practically purrs as she leans into me even closer, her nose almost touching mine. Her lips hover so close that I can feel them.

She slides her hands down to my ass, gripping it in her fingers.

“Yours will do.”

The air hangs heavy between us, charged and electric. Our eyes are locked and we each pause, waiting for the other to make a move.

The anticipation is killing me.

I take a breath.

Then she takes one.

Her lips graze mine and her mouth smells like mint. And then before I can think another agonizing thought, she covers my mouth with her own.

Finally.

Her tongue slips into my mouth and she tastes like Heaven, like an icy drink of water at the end of a hot day in the desert. Our tongues tangle together and her lips consume mine. I find myself instantly rock-hard and she notices.

She smiles against my lips.

“I think you liked that.”

“What gave me away?” I ask with a grin, wedging myself even tighter against her.

Madison grins back and kisses me again. The second kiss is just as consuming as the first. She seems a little bit desperate, a little bit vulnerable. And a whole lot sexy.

She slides her hands back up my spine, wrapping her arms around my neck. As she does, I run my palms along her sides, feeling the skin of her back beneath my fingers.

“Remember when I told you that my feet hurt? I’d like to take my shoes off.”

I stare down at her. “So take them off.”

“At your place,” she adds.

I inhale sharply as I grip her hips even tighter.

“You don’t have to say that twice.”

And she doesn’t. I grab her hand and practically drag her toward the street, hailing a taxi.

In less than a minute we have tumbled into the back seat of a cab and we’re speeding toward my apartment.

Madison kisses my neck, tugging at my ear with her teeth as her hands skim my chest. “How far away do you live?”

“Not very,” I manage to say. I’m actually proud of myself for being able to speak at this point, since her hand has made its way down to my throbbing crotch. I arch my hips so that I am planted more firmly in her hand.

She licks my neck.

“You taste good,” she whispers.

I can’t take it. I wish she were wearing a skirt, but she’s not. So instead I cup my hand between her legs, moving my thumb in circles against the outside of her pants. She moves against me, moaning.

I thrust my hand into the front of her pants, finding her panties completely soaked.

I slip one finger in.

And then two.

Then I withdraw them both and slowly rake them into my mouth.

Her eyes widen, exhaling a tiny sigh as her fingers clutch me.

“Are you drunk?” I ask her. I don’t know why, but it feels like the right thing to do, to make sure that she’s not. Please say no, I silently urge her as her fingers spin circles around my nipple.

“No.”

Thank Christ. I don’t ask again. Instead I lift her onto my lap and rock her against my body. The friction is both satisfying and frustrating.

Her eyes widen as I thrust against her through her clothes and she reaches her hand down to skim it over my throbbing dick.

“You’re enormous,” she breathes, her eyes widening in both apprehension and appreciation.

I grin.

“When we get to my house, I’m going to fuck you with that,” I tell her in her ear. “And you’re going to like it.”

Her teeth graze my lip, her hips firmly planted against mine. “You’re pretty sure of yourself, aren’t you?”

I smile against her throat before I bite at it.

“Very sure. In fact, let’s make a deal. If you don’t end up screaming my name within the hour, I’ll buy you breakfast in the morning.”

She pauses, looking into my eyes. “Sounds like I win either way.”

“You do,” I manage to say before I plunge my tongue into her mouth again.

In between panting kisses, Madison manages to ask a question.

“I’ve never done this before. How do I know you’re not a crazy person?” she asks in a near whisper.

“You don’t,” I answer, as I pull up her shirt and suck at her bare nipple, my fingers splayed around her slender rib cage. She arches against me and gasps. “But I won’t hurt you.” I pause and look up at her. “And somehow, I get the feeling that you need this as much as I do. Am I right?”

Madison catches her breath and nods.

“I do.”

I don’t answer and I don’t ask why. I just wrap my arms around her shoulders and kiss her again.

I’m inhaling her feminine scent, sucking it down, when I’m startled by the squeal of tires. Before I can even see where it’s coming from, instinct raises the hair on the back of my neck. I shove Madison onto the floor of the taxi and duck down on top of her.

The impact is shockingly violent.

There is a crunch of shrieking metal as the door next to me is bashed in and our taxi is flung in a spin across the narrow city street, slamming to a stop against the wall of a nearby building. The car rocks to and fro for a moment, then it is still.

We‘re stunned as we sit for a scant second, trying to wrap our minds around what just happened. Steam and smoke begin to pour out from under the hood of the taxi and the driver stumbles from his seat, opening the door next to Madison.

“Quick, get out,” he says in a heavy Indian accent. “Hurry.”

I all but shove Madison out ahead of me and then pull her away from the crumpled car. There’s a hissing sound coming from the engine, then a strange crackle. I know what it means. I know from the acrid scent of gasoline that’s stinging my nose.

“Move,” I snap to Madison, and her heels click loudly on the pavement as we rush to the curb on the other side of the street. We turn when we reach the sidewalk, just in time to see the cabbie duck for cover as the front end of the cab bursts into flames.

“Oh my God,” Madison breathes, leaning into my arm, shielding her face from the waves of heat that roll over us even from this distance.

As I watch the orange flames licking the black night, as the heated breeze brushes across my face, it triggers a response in me.

I feel the now-familiar anxiety coming on and my gut clenches tighter than a vise grip. I can feel my throat begin to close up as it prevents me from getting a full breath.

Fuck.

“I’ve got to get out of here,” I mutter as my chest tightens. Sweat pours down my temples and I wipe at it, squinting as the salt stings my eyes. Madison stares up at me, her eyes filled with concern.

“Are you OK?” she asks, her fingers trembling as they curl around my arm. “We can’t leave. I’m pretty sure the police will want to talk to us.”

She gestures toward the crowd forming, to where cop cars have already begun to congregate. I can see uniformed officers milling about, a couple of them headed our way. Heat from the fire and from my own anxiety begins to overwhelm me.

“I’ve got to get out of here,” I mutter again. Her fingers are too tight now, along with everything else…my shirt, my waistband, my shoes. Everything bears down on me in blurs and smells and sounds. I can’t take it. I’m going to fucking explode. Or implode. I yank my arm from her grasp and stalk away.

The last thing I see before everything turns black is the astonished look on Madison’s face, backlit by the red-and-orange glow of the taxi fire.

The bad thing caught you.

 

Teaser Tuesday: Breaking Nova by Jessica Sorensen

20 Aug

Hey guys!

So my publisher, Forever (Grand Central) has organized a super awesome Teaser Tuesday for the next few weeks.  I’ll be hosting a different teaser from a Forever author.  Today, I’ve got Jessica Sorensen’s Breaking Nova, which-by the way, looks amazing.  But don’t take my word for it.  Check it out for yourself below!  :)

Breaking Nova

 

********

Prologue

Nova

Sometimes I wonder if there are some memories the mind doesn’t want to deal with and that if it really wants to, it can block out the images, shut down, numb the pain connected to what we saw—what we didn’t want to see. If we allow it to, the numbness can drown out everything, even the spark of life inside us. And eventually the person we once were is nothing but a vanishing memory.

I didn’t always use to think this way. I used to have hope. I used to believe in things. Like when my father told me if I wanted something bad enough that I could make it happen.

“No one else in the world can make things happen for you, Nova,” he’d said while we were lying on our backs on the hill in our backyard, staring up at the stars. I was six and happy and a little naïve, eating his words up like handfuls of sugar. “But if you want something bad enough and are willing to work hard at it, then anything’s possible.”

“Anything?” I’d said, turning my head toward him. “Even if I want to be a princess?”

He smiled, looking genuinely happy. “Even a princess.”

I grinned, looking up at the sky, thinking how wonderful it would be to wear a diamond tiara on my head and a sparkly pink dress and matching heels. I would spin around in circles and laugh as my dress spun with me. Never once did I think about what it truly meant to be a princess and how impossible it was for me to actually become one.

“Earth to Nova.” My boyfriend, Landon Evans, waves his hand in front of my face.

I blink my gaze away from the stars and angle my head sideways along the bottom of the grassy hill in his backyard, looking him in the eyes. “What’s up?”

He laughs at me, but his smile looks unnatural, like it doesn’t belong there. But that’s normal for Landon. He’s an artist, and he tells me that in order to portray pain in his portraits he has to carry it within him all the time. “You were totally spacing off on me there.” The front porch light is on, and the fluorescent glow makes his honey-brown eyes look like the charcoal he uses for his sketchings.

I roll on my side and tuck my hands underneath my head, so I can really look at him. “Sorry, I was just thinking.”

“You have that look on your face, like you’re thinking deep.” He rotates on his hip and props his elbow up on the ground, resting his head against his palm. Wisps of his inky-black hair fall into his eyes. “Want to talk about it?”

I shake my head. “No, I don’t really feel like talking.”

He offers me a trivial but genuine smile, and the sadness in my mind fleetingly dissolves. It’s one of the things that I love about Landon. He’s the only person on this planet who can make me smile—except for my dad, but he’s no longer alive anymore, so smiles are rare in my book.

Landon and I were best friends up until about six months ago, and maybe that’s why he can make me happy. We got to bond on a deeper level and understand each other before all the kissing and hormones came along. I know we’re only eighteen and haven’t even graduated high school yet, but sometimes, when I’m alone in my room, I can picture him and me together years ahead, in love, maybe getting married. It’s surprising because for a long time after my dad died, I couldn’t picture my future—I didn’t want to. But things change. People evolve. Move on. Grow as new people enter their lives.

“I saw the picture you drew for the art project,” I say, brushing some of the hair out of his eyes. “It was hanging up on Mr. Felmon’s wall.”

He frowns, which he always does whenever we’re talking about his art. “Yeah, it didn’t turn out how I planned.”

“It seemed like you were sad when you were drawing it,” I tell him, lowering my hand to my hip. “But all your drawings do.”

Any happiness in his expression withers as he rolls onto his back and pinpoints his attention to the star-cut sky. He’s silent for a while and I turn onto my back, letting him be, knowing that he’s stuck in his own head. Landon is one of the saddest people I’ve met, and it’s part of what drew me to him.

I was thirteen, and he’d just moved in across the street from me. He was sitting against the tree in his front his yard, scribbling in a sketchbook, when I first saw him and decided to go over and introduce myself. It was right after my dad had died, and I’d pretty much kept my distance from people. But with Landon, I don’t know, there was just something about him.

I’d crossed the street, very curious about what he was drawing. When I stopped in front of him, he glanced up at me, and I was taken aback by how much anguish was in his honey-brown eyes—the torture and internal suffering. I’d never seen so much of it in anyone my age before, and even though I didn’t know what was causing it, I guessed we were going to be friends. He looked how I felt inside, like I’d been broken apart and the pieces hadn’t healed correctly. Just like I guessed, we did become best friends—more than best friends, actually. We’re almost inseparable, addicted to each other, and I absolutely hate being away from him because I feel lost and misplaced in the world whenever he’s gone.

“Do you ever get the feeling that we’re all just lost?” Landon utters, jerking me away from my thoughts again. “Just roaming around the earth, waiting around to die.”

I bite on my lip, considering what he said as I find Cassiopeia in the sky. “Is that what you really think?”

“I’m not sure,” he answers, and I turn my head, analyzing his perfect profile. “I sometimes wonder, though, what the point of life is.” He stops, and it feels like he’s waiting for me to say something.

“I’m not sure.” I rack my brain for something else to add. But I can’t think of a single coherent, reasonable response to his dark thoughts on the meaning of life, so I add, “I love you.”

“I love you too, Nova,” he promises without looking at me, then he reaches across the grass and grabs my hand, twining his fingers through mine. “And I mean that, Nova, no matter what. I love you.”

We get lost in the stillness of the night while we watch the stars glimmer and fade. It’s peaceful but unsettling at the same time, because I can’t turn my thoughts off. I worry about him when he gets depressed like this. It’s like he goes into his own little world that’s carved of gloomy thoughts and a blackened future, and I can’t reach him no matter how hard I try.

We lie quietly, watching the stars and holding on to each other. Eventually, I drift to sleep with my face pressed against the cool grass, the spring breeze chilly against my skin, and Landon’s fingers soothingly stroking the inside of my wrist. When I wake up again, all the stars have blended in with the grayness of morning, the moon is tucked away in the glow of daybreak, and the grass is damp with dew. The first thing I notice is that Landon’s hand is missing from mine, and it makes me feel empty, like one of my arms has been detached from my body.

I sit up, rubbing my eyes then stretching my arms above my head as I glance around the backyard, searching for Landon. The only thing I can think of is that he got up to go to the bathroom, because he would never leave me sleeping on the hill alone in his backyard.

I push to my feet and brush the grass off the back of my legs before hiking up the hill toward his two-story house at the top of the backyard. It seems like a really long walk, because I’m tired—it’s too early in the morning to be up. When I reach the back porch, I take my phone from my pocket to text Landon and see what he’s doing. But I notice the back door is cracked, and I find myself walking inside, which is a little out of character for me. It’s not like I’m used to walking into his house without being let in. I always knock, even when he texts me and tells me to come straight up to his room.

But this time, something begs my feet to step over the threshold. It’s cold inside the kitchen, and I wonder how long the back door has been open. Shivering, I wrap my arms around myself and cross the entryway to the kitchen. Landon’s parents are asleep upstairs, so I make sure to walk quietly, heading downstairs to Landon’s room, which is in the basement. The stairs creak underneath my shoes, and I hold my breath the entire way down, not sure what will happen if his parents wake up and catch me sneaking down to his room.

“Landon,” I whisper as I walk toward his bedroom. It’s dark, except for the spark of the sunlight through the windows. “Are you down here?”

Silence is the only answer, and I almost turn around and go back upstairs. But then I hear the lyrics of an unknown song playing softly from somewhere in the house. I head for his bedroom door, and the music gets louder.

“Landon,” I say as I approach his closed door, my nerves bubbling inside me. I don’t know why I feel nervous. Or maybe I do. Maybe I’ve known for a long time, but I never wanted to accept it.

My hand trembles as I turn the knob. When I push the door open, every single word Landon’s ever said to me suddenly makes sense to me. As the powerful lyrics playing from the stereo wrap around me, so does an undying chill. My hand falls lifeless to my side and I stand in the doorway, unblinking. I keep wishing for what I’m seeing to go away, to disappear from my mind, to erase the memories. I wish and wish—will it to happen—telling myself that if I want it badly enough, it’ll happen. I start to count backward, focusing on the pattern and rhythm of the numbers, and after a few minutes, numbness swallows my heart. Just like I wanted, my surroundings fade and I can’t feel anything.

I fall to the floor, hitting it hard, but I can’t feel the pain.…

 

Quinton

I’m driving way too fast. I know that and I know I should slow down, but everyone’s complaining for me to hurry up and get them home. They’re worried we’re going to miss our curfew. Sometimes I wonder how I get myself into these kinds of messes. It’s not like it’s a big deal, but I’d probably be having a lot more fun if I was wasted with the rest of them, because it’s spring break and I should be having fun. I’m not a fan of being the designated driver, but I usually end up offering to be one, and now I’m stuck driving around a bunch of drunken idiots.

“Stop smoking in here.” I roll down the window as smoke begins to fill up the car. “My mom will smell it from a mile away, and then she’s not going to let me drive her car anymore.”

“Oh come on, Quinton,” my girlfriend, Lexi, pouts as she takes a deep drag off her cigarette, then extends her arm out the open window. “We’ll air it out.”

Shaking my head, I reach over with my free hand and snatch the cigarette from her. “No more smoking.” I hold the cigarette out my cracked window until the cherry falls off, then release the rest out into the night. It’s late, the road we’re driving on is windy and curves around a lake, and we haven’t seen a car in ages. It’s good, though, since everyone else in the car is underage and drunk out of their minds.

Lexi sticks out her lip and crosses her arms over her chest, slumping back in her seat. “You’re so boring when you’re sober.”

I press back a grin. We’ve been dating for a couple of years now, and she’s the only girl I’ve ever been with and can ever see myself being with. I know it sounds superlame and cheesy because we’re only eighteen, but I’m seriously going to end up marrying her.

Still pouting, she slides her hand up my thigh until she reaches my cock, then she gives it a good rub. “Does that feel good? Because I’ll keep doing it if you just let me smoke.”

I try not to laugh at her, because she’s wasted and it’ll probably piss her off, but it’s funny how annoyed she’s getting by my soberness. “And you’re feisty and pouty when you’re drunk.” I squirm as she hits the right spot and fight not to shut my eyelids. “But I’m still not going to let you smoke in the car.”

She rolls her eyes, draws her hand away from me, and glances in the backseat, where my cousin Ryder is making out with some guy she met at the party. Their hands are all over each other. I’m not a fan of hanging out with her, but she comes out to Seattle sometimes and stays with my grandma. Lexi and Ryder became best friends during one of her visits when they were about twelve, and they’ve been inseparable ever since, which is pretty much how I met Lexi.

When Lexi looks away, her nose is scrunched. “So gross.”

I decelerate the car for a sharp corner in the road. “Oh, don’t pretend like you don’t wish it was you and me back there.” I wink at her and she rolls her eyes. “You know you do.”

She sighs and lets her arms fall to her lap. “Yeah, right. If we were back there and I was trying to stick my tongue down your throat, you’d totally be like”—she makes air quotes— “‘Lexi, please, there are people in the front seat who can see us.’”

“You’re making me sound like an old man.” I flash a playful grin at her as I downshift the car and the engine roars. The road is getting windier, and I have to slow down.

“You kind of are.”

“Bullshit. I’m fucking fun as hell.”

“No, you’re nice as hell, Quinton Carter. You’re seriously like the nicest guy I know, but the most fun? I’m not sure…” A conniving look crosses her face as she taps her finger against her lip. “How about we find out?” Without taking her eyes off me, she rolls the window down the rest of the way. The wind howls inside and blows her hair into her face.

“What the hell?” Ryder says from the backseat, jerking her lips away from the guy’s, and plucks strands of her hair out of her mouth. “Lexi, roll up the damn window. I’m eating my own hair here.”

“So Mr. Fucking Fun as Hell,” Lexi says, with her eyes on me as she arches her back and moves her head toward the window. “Let’s find out just how fun you are.”

I don’t like where she’s going with this. She’s too drunk, and even sober she’s always been a daredevil, impulsive and a little bit reckless. “Lexi, what are you doing? Get in here. I don’t want you to get hurt.”

A lazy smile spreads across her lips as she sticks her head farther out the window. The pale glow of the moon hits her chest and makes her skin look ghostly against the darkness. “I want to see just how fun you are, Quinton.” She extends her arms above her head as she slides up onto the windowsill. “I want to see how much you love me.”

“Quinton, make her stop,” Ryder says, scooting forward in the seat. “She’s going to hurt herself.”

“Lexi, stop it,” I warn, gripping onto the steering wheel with one hand and reaching for her with my other. “I love you and that’s why I need you to get down. Right now.”

She shakes her head. I can’t see her face or if she’s not holding onto anything. I have no idea what the hell she’s doing or thinking, and I’m pretty sure she doesn’t, either, and it’s fucking terrifying.

“If you’re so fun, then just let me be free,” she calls out. Her dress is blowing up over her legs and her feet are tucked down between the seat and the door.

Ryder lifts her leg to climb over into the front seat, but smacks her head on the roof and falls back. Shaking my head, I gently tap on the brakes as I lean over in the seat to grab Lexi. My fingers snag the bottom of Lexi’s dress and that’s when I hear the scream. Seconds later, the car is spinning out of control, and I don’t know what’s up or what’s down. Shards of glass fly everywhere and cut at my arms and face as I try to hold onto Lexi’s dress. But I feel the fabric leave my fingers as I’m jarred to the side. Everyone is screaming and crying as metal crunches and bends. I see bright lights, feel the warmth of blood as something slashes through my chest.

“Quinton…,” I hear someone whisper, but I can’t see who it is. I try to open my eyes, but it feels like they’re already open, yet all I see is darkness.

But maybe that’s better than seeing what’s actually there.…

********

OMG– so awesome, right?     Breaking Nova will be available on September 3rd, but you can pre-order it now.   You can find it HERE on Amazon and HERE on Barnes and Noble.   Happy Teaser Tuesday, guys!  :)

Last excerpt of IF YOU LEAVE

2 Aug

IF YOU LEAVE releases on Tuesday, August 6!  I’m so excited!  There’s just a couple of days left.  So, it’s time for one last excerpt before release day.  Woot!!

This scene is from Gabriel’s Point of view– and if you are offended by adult language and content, please don’t scroll down to read it.  It contains both.

 

IYL, Final

Excerpt from IF YOU LEAVE:

She stares into my eyes and I see the blatant question there.

Do you want to play?

I stare back with an answer.

Yes.

Madison leans back in her chair, her eyes pointedly on my face, the air charged around us.  The attraction between us is potent, yet we’re sitting here talking about her date with another guy.

We’re definitely playing now, a game of cat and mouse.  Only right now, I’m not sure who is the cat and who is the mouse.

“Oh, don’t feel bad,” she says smoothly.  “Ethan and I are very old friends.  It wasn’t a bother at all.  Until you stopped and pushed him around, that is.”

I snort. “Your candyass boyfriend started it.  And I didn’t lay one finger on him. If I wanted to push him around, you’d both know it.”

Madison doesn’t react to that, her face is a perfect expressionless mask.

“Were you dating Ethan when we met at the club?” I ask curiously.  Madison doesn’t seem like the type to cheat, but then, what the hell do I know?  My training is in military tactics.  I honestly don’t know shit about the inner-workings of the female mind.

She flushes again, probably thinking back to that night and how she was so very willing to go home with me.

Thinking about it actually stirs my dick to life and I shift in my seat, picturing the way her nipple tasted in my mouth and how her soft lips had felt against mine.  The simple thought makes me hard and I shift my hand so that it’s covering my tell-tale crotch.

“Of course not,” Madison answers quickly, her slender hand fluttering up to push her hair behind her ear.  “I wouldn’t do that.”

“I didn’t think so,” I tell her.  “I just thought I’d ask.”

“Why?  Looking out for Ethan’s best interests?” she asks me sharply. I stare down at her, my eyes frozen on hers…unwavering.

“No…my own.  You aren’t really into Ethan.  You’re into me.”

******

I hope by now that you’re ready to read IF YOU LEAVE!  I know that I, for one, am ready for it to release.  :)   It will be available on Tuesday on all platforms in the US.  (It will be available on Kindle only in the UK at this time.)    And have I mentioned that I’ll be giving away a Kindle Fire HD during the IF YOU LEAVE blog tour??  Yeah, I will.  So I’m excited about that.  Stay tuned for details.

Have a fabulous weekend!!

Excerpt 3: IF YOU LEAVE

25 Jul

Happy Thursday, guys!

So far, I’ve released two excerpts of IF YOU LEAVE.  You can find them here and here.  

And now it’s time for Excerpt Three!  Woot!   ** Please note:  This excerpt contains adult language.  If adult language offends you, please don’t scroll down to read this excerpt**    In this excerpt, Madison is across the room from Gabriel, engaged in conversation with someone else.

 

From Madison’s Point of View, Excerpt Three:

Turning my head slightly, I can see Gabriel’s dark shape from the corner of my eye and I almost flush again.

Throughout this entire conversation, his smoldering stare has burned holes into me. It’s so potent that it almost feels like it’s actually touching me.  Finally, I’m unable to resist and I glance at him.

He stares back at me, his eyes stormy and dark.

What the hell is he thinking?  Is he remembering the accident?  Or is he remembering how scorchingly hot last night was before the accident?  I stare at his mouth and I can’t help but remember how it tasted last night before his meltdown.

Smoky, minty…like a man.  I gulp.

And then I die. Because with his gaze still connected to mine, he very purposefully slips his finger into his mouth, then pulls it out slowly, sucking it.

Just like he sucked the taste of me off his fingers last night.

Oh. My. God.

My cheeks explode into flame and his dark, dark eyes glimmer with amusement.  I stare at him as I realize that he’s fucking with me.  He’s purposely trying to remind me of last night.

The corner of his lip twitches and I know.

I know that he thinks he won whatever little game that he’s been playing.

********

Gabriel Vincent is so freaking hot… he makes me fan myself.  :)

Anyway.  Ahem.  Let’s re-cap the events that are still going on for IF YOU LEAVE.  

1.  IF YOU LEAVE is still available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and iTunes.    If you send me your receipt and your mailing address for the pre-order, I will mail you a signed postcard which contains another excerpt.

2.  If you have a friend who hasn’t read IF YOU STAY and you’ve pre-ordered IF YOU LEAVE, all you need to do is mail your receipt to my assistant, Avery, at avery@courtneycoleauthor.com and you can give a copy of IF YOU STAY to your friend for free via NetGalley.

3.  I still have a contest going on to make a fan-made trailer.  I’ve never had one and I’d love one.  So, if you’d like to make a trailer for either IF YOU STAY or IF YOU LEAVE, just email it to me by August 3rd.  I’ll post my two favorites here on my blog and voters can choose their favorite.  The winner will receive a special prize:  A signed galley copy of IF YOU LEAVE which also contains my notes about the book scribbled throughout.  It’s like stepping inside of my head, which is generally a scary place to be.

I  will have ONE last contest going on to win a regular signed ARC and I’ll release those details tomorrow.  Until then, I hope you enjoy the excerpt!

 

Last Excerpt from IF YOU STAY

6 Feb

OMGeeeeeee you guys!  If You Stay releases in six days!!  I can’t wait– I’m so excited for Pax to be set loose on the world.  :)   But it’s not time quite yet.  So, to pacify myself, I’m going to release the last excerpt that you will see prior to release date.  Yayy!

This excerpt is from Mila’s point of view and she’s talking to Pax.  :)

IfyouStay Amazon (2)

 

“I don’t know why I’m here,” he admits softly, and his voice is so close to my neck.  “Because I can’t stop thinking about you, I guess.  And because I’ll never get that horrified expression on your face out of my head.  I’m sorry to have put it there.  Just know that she doesn’t mean anything to me.  She was persistent and I didn’t say no.  It was a habit.  I’m sorry.”

My heart hammers hard in my chest.  I don’t know what to say.  I know that I should tell him to get far away from me, but my heart is a traitor and wants him here. My heart must have issues. But I can’t say that.

 “You don’t even know me,” I tell him instead, finally turning around to look at him, pulling my hand away as I do.  I stare up into his hazel eyes and find an expression there that I haven’t yet seen. Trepidation.  “Why would you apologize to someone that you barely even know? You don’t owe me anything.”

He shrugs and his movement stirs his masculine scent. I inhale it and fight the urge to close my eyes so that I can better enjoy the smell.

“I don’t know.  All I know is that ever since I met you, I’ve wanted to know you.  That’s why I’ve been coming into town this week to see you.  Something about you makes me think that I can be better, maybe even get my shit straight.  I haven’t felt that way in a very long time. And I feel like I do owe you something.”

Hell.  His words strike a chord in me and I swallow hard.  His tone is hesitant, soft.  And it melts my heart.  I can’t help it.  Sometimes, there is such a broken look in his eyes.  And deep down, I just want to fix it.

“Why?” I ask, my gaze firmly locked with his.  He shakes his head.

“I don’t know. You just seem so good, so wholesome.  It draws me to you.  I can’t explain it.”

I laugh now, thoroughly amused.

I gesture toward my painting.  “Does that seem good and wholesome to you?”

We both study the angry black and gray canvas.  It looks like something that someone in a Psych ward might have painted.  Pax finally smiles.

“Well, then, Red, it looks like you’ve got a dark side.  But the difference between you and me is that you channel yours in a healthy way.  I don’t.”

I stare at him, trying to decide what to say, how honest to be.  But this moment seems like a good time for honesty, so I don’t hesitate.

“I don’t know if it’s all that healthy that I’m attracted to you,” I admit finally.  “I’ve never been attracted to a bad boy before.”

He is so close to me that his proximity is a bit intoxicating.  I feel almost dizzy from it as I stare up at him, waiting for his response.  It also seems as though I can feel the danger emanating from him…it’s charged, electrical, fascinating.

Pax thinks on it for a moment, his jaw covered in day-old stubble.

“Well, I’ve never wanted to be good before, so I guess it’s a first for both of us.”

********

Okay!  There you have it!  The last excerpt of IF YOU STAY before it releases.  I hope you liked it– and that you will like the book.  Eeeppp!  I’m getting more excited every day.   Also, don’t forget to send me your pictures of Pax for my Find Your Pax contest if you’d like a chance to win my last signed ARC.  You can find the details of the contest here. 

Have an awesome Wednesday!

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