Tag Archives: preorder

It Began With a Sigh

I’m just full of surprises this year! My next book was planned to come out in May but I decided to push it up to April because otherwise my whole schedule would be thrown off. Then the lovely Dawn Brower popped in and this fantastic box set is the result!

It Began With a Sigh is a fabulous collection of contemporary romance books by seven amazing, bestselling, award-winning authors, and I am super excited that At Any Cost is part of it. If you already bought it, that’s okay! For $0.99 for a limited time, you get six more books in the bargain. If you haven’t bought it, it’s an even sweeter deal! Eventually the price is going up to $4.99 after release so now is the time to jump on this deal.

It’s scheduled for release on March 26th, but the preorder price is only $0.99 for two weeks. After that it’s $2.99, but you’re still making out like a bandit at that price! Don’t worry, I’ll remind you.

It’s available to preorder everywhere, so head on over to your favorite store and pick it up!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07N12D7DW

Nook, Kobo, iBooks: http://www.books2read.com/ItBeganWithaSigh

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At Any Cost – Chapter Two

As nice it had been to have a whirlpool in her hotel room, Michelle Andress – better known as The Hawk – much preferred the condo she was now renting. The bed was about the same size, but the rest of the appliances and electronics were much bigger and there was a lot to be said for a full-size refrigerator and a stove. The condo had been subletted to her furnished, and the quality of the furniture was second only to the view of the Loop she had when she looked out over the city.

She was rummaging around in the refrigerator when her phone rang from where she’d left it on the coffee table. Michelle took a beer from the bottom shelf and twisted it off as she went to answer it. She wasn’t particularly surprised to see that the name on the phone was “Private,” and she picked it up and put it to her ear.

“Hello?” Michelle was careful to keep her voice neutral as she spoke, not wanting to give away too much information until she knew who was on the other end.

“Is this the Hawk?”

“Who’s asking?” Michelle couldn’t quite place the voice so she erred on the side of caution and went with authoritative.

“It’s Martin Caiber,” he said, not hearing the tension in her voice. Michelle relaxed and held her phone between her cheek and shoulder as she twisted the top off the beer. “I wanted to thank you for the money you deposited this morning, and also ask you how you got my account number to do it.”

“Probably the same way you got my private phone number,” Michelle said, sitting back on the couch and putting her feet up. “It’s my business to find people, and you’re no different. Besides, the account was in your father’s name. If you’re going to do your business behind closed doors, you should probably use someone else’s name.” She sipped her beer and Martin laughed.

“I’m using Dad’s account because most of the business is under his name and it makes things easier.” She could hear a smile in his voice and couldn’t help smiling herself. “I was surprised that you really gave me twenty percent.”

“I said you were cute,” Michelle said playfully. “Was that it? You were just calling about the money?”

“Actually, no,” Martin replied. “Since you paid me, that must mean you finished your job. Does that mean you’re going back wherever you came from?”

“Not right away,” Michelle replied, taking another drink of her beer. “I’m between jobs and I like Chicago, so I thought I’d hang around for a little while. My work is mostly mobile, anyway. I can do the majority of it on my computer.”

“I’m glad to hear it,” Martin said. “This might sound strange, but have you ever done any kind of bodyguard work?”

“Not per se,” Michelle said, frowning. “I have self-defense training and did some Krav Maga classes with my father, so I can handle myself. I also make sure I have a gun on me when I do any sort of confrontation but that’s just a perk of having my PI license. Why, do you need someone to watch out for you?”

“Right now I just need someone to come with me to a meeting at a casino,” Martin said. “But I am looking for a bodyguard and you’re at the top of my list.”

“I am?”

“Yeah. I don’t know if you realize it, but you’re pretty intimidating.” He sounded completely serious but Michelle couldn’t help laughing. “So is that a yes or a no?”

“Sure, I’ll help you out,” she said, setting aside her beer. “After all, you put it so nicely. When and where do you need me?”

“Can you meet me at the club where we met in about half an hour?”

“Right now?” Michelle looked at the clock on the wall and saw that it was two o’clock. “It’ll take me at least forty minutes to get dressed and get there from the Loop. I’m still trying to figure out the streets here.”

“That’s fine, they can wait. Just get here as soon as you can,” Martin said. “What’s this going to cost me, by the way?”

“Buy me dinner and it’ll be on the house,” Michelle said, getting up from the couch and walking into the bedroom. She hadn’t had much to unpack, but the few things that had been in her suitcases were in the closet and they gave it a sort of forlorn hotel-like look. “Someplace fancy, though. No White Castle or anything like that.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever actually been to a White Castle,” Martin said. “If you’re not from here, you probably haven’t heard of it but there’s a place called Cerise that’s pretty nice on the Mile. I think you’ll like it.”

“Sounds like a plan. I’ll throw on some clothes and be there as soon as I can.” Without bothering to say goodbye, Michelle hung up and tossed her phone on the bed. Since she never knew when a client might call she made sure her suits were always pressed, and she took one out of the closet and tossed it on the bed beside her phone while she considered her shirts.

The last person she had expected to call was Martin, but she was glad he had. When they’d parted a week earlier she had felt a little like she’d missed out on something, but now that she had the opportunity to spend some time with him and get to know him better she wasn’t going to turn it down. She’d never directly put herself in a situation where she might have had to fight someone but she had a feeling her father would be proud of her.

When she’d left the hotel room, Michelle had taken the vase of fire-tipped roses with her. She’d bought them on the spur of the moment at a grocery store and had put one in her lapel when she went to meet Martin on a whim. Now it seemed like a nice, professional touch – the kind that would make her look as if everyone else was completely beneath her – and she wanted to impress Martin just as much as she wanted to intimidate whoever they were going to be pushing around.

Michelle smirked as she took a red pinstriped shirt out of the closet and tossed it on top of her suit. She couldn’t believe that anyone would find her intimidating enough to be their bodyguard, especially the son of a Chicago mob boss. He really was cute, though, and she supposed she had hoped something like this would happen when she dropped twenty thousand dollars in his bank account. Once they got through with his meeting, she was going to have dinner with him; she just had to possibly threaten someone first.

“Be careful what you wish for, I guess,” she said to the roses as she took off her t-shirt and dropped it on the floor.

She dressed quickly, then ran a brush through her hair before snapping a bloom off of the roses and tucking it in her lapel with a smile. Pleased with her appearance, she took her gun off the table and tucked it into the back of her pants. Then she went downstairs and out to her car to be on her way.

Michelle had only seen Trees after dark, so she was somewhat surprised by how small the club seemed in the daytime. She parked in the same space she’d used the night before, paid the meter, and went in. Martin was sitting at the bar and he looked up as soon as the door opened. Even across the room Michelle saw him freeze and she was struck by a moment of self-consciousness as she tried to figure out why.

“Sorry to keep you waiting,” she said instead. Martin recovered and smiled at her as he got up and put his phone in his pocket.

“You were faster than I expected,” he said, joining her at the door. When they’d met before he’d been sitting down, so Michelle was surprised to find that he was only a few inches taller than her. She only stood about 5’6” in her boots so she couldn’t have put him at more than 5’8”. Not particularly short, but not at all what she had expected either. “Come on, let’s get going. They’re not going to wait forever.”

“Right.” Michelle followed him out the back door and behind the club to where his car was parked. “Do you want me to drive? It’ll probably make you look powerful to have your bodyguard drive you to this meeting.”

“You think?”

“You haven’t been doing this very long, have you?” She held out her hand. “Keys, please. Your car is much nicer than mine.” Martin gave them to her and she got into the driver’s seat while he went to the passenger seat. “You can sit in the back if you want.”

“This whole thing is getting really weird really quickly,” Martin said, getting into the front seat and closing the door.

“So you’ve never had a bodyguard before?” Michelle turned the key and the engine rumbled to life.

“Of course not. Why would I have?” He reached forward and set the GPS to an address a few miles away. Michelle raised an eyebrow at him and he sighed. “Look—”

“So tell me more about where we’re going,” Michelle said, cutting him off. “How many guys are we looking at? Am I going to have to pull my gun?”

“I sure as hell hope not,” Martin said, looking slightly alarmed. “Before my dad died, he bought me some property and I’m building another nightclub on it. I’ve been trying to get some last-minute construction done and the contractors are trying to get more money out of me. If Dad was alive they wouldn’t be trying to screw me over, and I’m hoping having you there will make it look like I’m on his level.”

“I see,” Michelle said, nodding. “So you’re just a regular property owner being pressured by some shady contractors, and there’s nothing going on that might get me killed. It’s a good thing I don’t have any family in town.”

“No one’s going to try to kill you,” Martin said. “I just need it to look like I’ve got a bodyguard. I’ll explain more at that dinner I’m taking you to.”

“I look forward to it,” Michelle said. She nodded at a classy-looking building at the end of the block. “Looks like we’re here. I guess I’ll just park in front.” Martin didn’t reply so she pulled into the first empty parking space she saw and got out of the car before he could open his door so she could open it for him.

Michelle couldn’t help being a little on edge as she followed Martin into the half-finished club. She had a pretty good idea of the line of business Martin and his father were actually in, and she was almost certain that she was no match for a couple of mob enforcers. There was nothing she could do but trust that he knew what they were up against, and she was glad she had her gun on her.

“That’s them,” Martin said, indicating a pair of men leaning on the bar. In the interest of knowing what she was up against, Michelle sized them up as they approached. They didn’t seem like the kind of men who would threaten to break her fingers but looks could be deceiving. As soon as they saw Michelle and Martin, the two men pushed off the bar and met them in the middle of the room. “Nice to see you,” he said to the contractors. One of them eyed Michelle and Martin smiled. “This is Hawk. She’ll be joining us for the meeting.”

“What exactly are you planning that you felt it necessary to bring a bodyguard?” The larger of the two contractors looked at her suspiciously and Martin shrugged.

“Nothing in particular, Rich. I’ve discovered recently that it would be a good idea to have someone watching my back, and she’s one of the best,” he said. Michelle thought privately that he was going a bit far but she kept her face impassive and her arms folded over her chest. The contractors looked at her dubiously and she locked eyes with the bigger of the two until he looked away from her. “Let’s sit.” The men went to one of the booths that were still being installed and sat down while Michelle stood by Martin’s shoulder. He looked up at her. “There’s room for you too.”

“No thanks,” Michelle said, keeping her eyes on the contractors. “I’d rather stand.”

“Suit yourself,” the larger of the two said. “Now, let’s talk about the changes you wanted to make.”

Their talk turned to permits and installations, and Michelle let her eyes travel around the room that would, if these men could come to an agreement, soon be a club. It was larger than Trees, and the bar was central to the top floor. Steps led to an empty area below that looked as if it was made to be a dancefloor. Michelle could see that it would be a great place to dance and have a drink, and she hoped she would be around to see it. She felt a smile trying to surface and pushed it back down, turning her attention to Martin.

Even though she’d never met his father, she could tell that Martin had a long way to go before he measured up to him and the men he was speaking with knew it. Confident though he was, she doubted he was going to leave the room without paying something. All three men were smiling but she could feel the tension between them. Luckily, she didn’t feel that Martin was in danger, and when they shook hands across the table she began to relax.

“I’ll have the check over to you tomorrow,” Martin said. “Thank you for being reasonable about this.”

“I could say the same,” Rich said, standing up. He glanced over at Michelle. “See there? We didn’t even need to bring your bodyguard into it.” She didn’t reply to this, only kept her eyes on his until he cleared his throat. “In any case, we’ll look forward to seeing that payment. As a show of good faith, we’ll get started right away.”

“I appreciate it.” Martin stood up and turned to Michelle. “We’ll be on our way. I’ll be glad when this place is open and I don’t have five meetings a day.” She didn’t respond, only followed Martin toward the door. He smiled at her. “Have you ever had lobster Thermidor? Cerise has the best in the city.”

“No, I’ve never tried it,” Michelle said. “If you’re saying you’re going to buy me lobster, I’m happy to give it a shot.” Martin replied but she didn’t hear what he said, as the conversation the two contractors were having caught her attention. Michelle had been blessed since she was a girl with excellent hearing, and while it had saved her life on more than one occasion there were some things she hadn’t wanted to hear.

“I didn’t expect her,” the contractor whose name she hadn’t heard said. “I didn’t even know Caiber Junior had a bodyguard yet.”

“A woman bodyguard,” Rich snorted. “Guess he doesn’t trust himself around a male one, but I had no idea he even knew any women.” Michelle frowned and started to turn around to tell the man exactly what she thought about him but Martin grabbed her arm.

“Don’t bother,” he muttered. “I’m used to it.”

“You shouldn’t have to be,” Michelle said in an equally low voice. Behind them the contractors were laughing and it grated on Michelle’s nerves. She hadn’t heard what they said but a moment later she heard one of them use a slur that made Martin cringe. “Hang out for a second, will you?” Not waiting for him to tell her not to go over, she strode across the room and stood in front of the two men.

“I thought you’d be out the door by now,” Leon said. “Did you come over here to try and teach us a lesson?”

“Not at all,” Michelle said. “I never just try to do anything. Now I think you owe Mr. Caiber an apology.”

“Nothing to apologize for,” Leon said. “I was just saying what everyone already knows. I suppose you didn’t know you were working for a faggot.”

“Don’t use that disgusting word in front of me,” Michelle snarled. “Besides, whether he’s gay or straight isn’t any of your business.” She hoped she sounded tough in spite of the fact that her stomach had dropped like an elevator with a broken cable. He was gay. The one guy she’d liked enough in to flirt with wasn’t even interested in women.

“Let me guess, you’re a dyke. Guess you’re perfectly suited to one another.” Rich started laughing and his friend joined in, and Michelle took the opportunity to look them over. She could definitely take one of them but wasn’t sure she could fight them both. It had been years since her Krav Maga classes, and she was no doubt out of practice. Her best bet was to focus on the bigger one and hope that it would intimidate his friend. Michelle didn’t give him a chance to stop laughing before she stepped closer and drove her fist into his solar plexus. Rich doubled over, the wind escaping his lungs and giving Michelle a perfect target. She grabbed the sides of his head and brought it down onto her knee, and Rich crumpled to the ground with blood streaming out of his nose. Michelle turned her gaze onto the other man, who held his hands up in front of him.

“I’m sorry, lady. I don’t want any trouble,” he said.

“You really don’t,” Michelle said. She folded her arms over her chest. “I’ll accept your apology since you’re the only one conscious.” Aiming a kick at Rich as she went past him, she joined Martin at the door, where he was standing with his mouth slightly open. “I don’t know about you, but I’m starving.”

“Sure,” Martin managed, pushing the door open for her. “You, uh, you have some blood on your pants.”

“Do I?” Michelle groaned. “Would you mind if we swing by my house before we go to the restaurant? I want to put on some different pants.”

“I’ll do better than that,” Martin said with a grin. “They have some amazing shops on the Mile that are on the way to Cerise. How do you feel about Chanel?”

“I buy most of my clothes at Macy’s,” Michelle said, raising an eyebrow at him. Martin laughed and went around to the driver’s side, then took the keys from her hand. Shaking his head, he slid into the driver’s seat and turned on the car. Michelle hurried to the other side to get in. She wasn’t exactly sure what to say to him now. Flirting was obviously out of the question, but it was probably for the best. She’d never been good at it anyway, and now that she was out of practice she would have embarrassed them both.

“We should get you some shoes too,” Martin was saying, and Michelle looked out the window as they made their way down the street.

“Whatever you want,” she said, picking at the stain on her knee. “You’re the boss.”

Available at all retailers January 15, 2019 – preorder now for $0.99!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07L2J1932

Nook, Kobo, Apple Books: http://books2read.com/BuyAtAnyCost

At Any Cost – Chapter One

It was late, and all Martin Caiber could think about was how much he wanted to go home. Thankfully, he was almost finished with his business and he yawned as he leaned back in his chair to watch his father’s accountant writing figures in his ledger. Stacks of money, carefully banded together, lay on the table around them and the accountant was tallying them up as he moved them from the table to a black duffel bag. Martin didn’t want to look at them, but he couldn’t help it.

He’d grown up seeing stacks of cash on tables just like the one they were sitting at, but had never gotten used to it. Now that his father was gone, all of it belonged to him and every time he saw one, it was surreal.

“That’s all of it,” the accountant said, putting the last stack of money into a duffel bag as he closed the ledger. “Good take tonight. It’ll put you far enough into the black that you can afford that pay raise you want to give the bartenders.”

“Good,” Martin said. “They deserve it. I’ve seen some of the crap they put up with from drunks and tips don’t make up for half of it, even if the drunks do tip well.” He pulled the bag across the table and zipped it up, then handed it to one of the bouncers who was inexplicably wearing sunglasses at night. “Take this with you and make sure it goes into the private account.”

“Sure thing, boss,” the bouncer said, heading for the door. Martin sighed.

“And don’t call me that,” he called after the bouncer. He put his hands over his face and rubbed it as the accountant put his ledger in his briefcase. “Thanks, Bill.”

“You’re always welcome,” Bill said, zipping his bag. “I don’t know that I ever said it, but I’m so sorry about your dad. It was a lovely funeral and I appreciated the invitation.” Martin nodded and his accountant put on his jacket. “Have a good night, sir.”

“Thanks, I will.” Martin yawned again and leaned his head back to look up at the ceiling. The late nights he’d been putting in at the clubs were starting to catch up with him, and he closed his eyes for a second. He was going to have to get used to them if he wanted to take his father’s place but he still wasn’t sure he wanted to.

Martin stood up, ran his hand through the black hair he’d inherited from his father along with his thin frame and put his jacket on. He was starting to zip it up when one of the other bouncers came in. He was still wearing the earpiece he wore when he was working the door, and the black suit he was wearing marked him as one of the men who dealt with clubgoers.

“Sorry to catch you when you’re just about to leave,” the bouncer said. “There’s a woman here asking to see you.”

“A woman?” Martin didn’t want to talk to a woman, he only wanted to go home. Unfortunately there was no other option. His new duties included meeting with new people and directing them to whatever part of the organization could help them. “Does she look like a cop?”

“No, sir. She’s wearing a suit with a flower in it. If she’s a cop, she’s not on duty.”

“Fine, send her in,” Martin sighed. The bouncer nodded, then went back into the club proper. He took his jacket off and sat back down at the table. It was a good thing the money had been removed from it; the last thing he wanted was some strange woman getting ideas about stealing it. There was a glass of whiskey near his hand and he picked it up to take a drink. He was already tired but the buzz he’d gotten from his previous glass had worn off, so he figured he could stand another. Martin was just finishing his drink when the door opened again and a woman walked through it.

She was indeed wearing a suit, and Martin could tell with one look that it was a man’s suit that had been tailored for a woman. It was black and obviously expensive, and she was wearing a peacock blue shirt beneath it. In her buttonhole was a fire-tipped rose, and she wasn’t wearing a tie. The boots she was wearing had a low heel that tapped in an authoritative way as she crossed the floor toward him, and her dark brown hair was twisted into an updo behind her head. The effect of it all was that he was dealing with a woman who knew what she was doing, and exactly what she wanted from him. When her bright blue eyes met his hazel ones, Martin felt warmth spreading through her body. He didn’t just want to talk to her, he wanted to ask her out.

“Hi,” she said as she reached the table. “You must be Mr. Caiber.”

“I am,” Martin said, motioning to the chair. “Have a seat.” The woman nodded and pulled out the chair across from him. “What can I do for you?”

“A significant amount, I hope,” the woman said. “Forgive me for showing up so late, by the way. I’ve been driving for hours.”

“Oh? Where were you driving from?”

“Michigan. I just finished a job there and decided I’d take off as fast as I could.” She smiled and Martin wondered exactly what kind of work she did. “Anyway, it just so happens that I’m looking for someone and I was told that if I wanted to find something out about any underground activity, Barry Caiber was the one to ask.” The woman raked her eyes over him critically. “You’re a lot younger than I expected.”

“That’s because I’m not Barry, I’m his son. My father died about a week ago, I’m afraid, and I don’t have his connections just yet. I’ll help you however I can, though.” Martin offered his hand to her. “I’m Martin Caiber.”

“People call me the Hawk,” the woman said with a smile as she took his hand and shook it. “Either that or just Hawk. Nice to meet you.”

“You too,” Martin said, drawing back his hand. “What is it that you do?”

“I find people,” Hawk replied simply. She reached into the breast pocket of her jacket and withdrew a business card, which she handed to Martin. He looked down at it, scanning the plain white card with interest. Written in simple black type were the words The Hawk and a phone number with a Texas area code.

“So you need information. Mind if I ask what for?” He offered the card back to her and she held up a hand.

“Keep it. In case you ever need anything.” She smiled and leaned forward. “There’s a little girl missing from Texas, and her mother has hired me to find her. My information led me to Michigan, but I hit a dead end with a pair of train tickets to Chicago. Which is why I’m here.” Hawk hesitated a moment and Martin raised an eyebrow, indicating she should continue. “Eddie Brighton gave me your father’s name.”

“I see.” Martin looked down at her card again. “Best I can do is give you another name, I’m afraid.” He took out his phone and brought up his list of contacts. “I have an associate that was a friend of my father’s who can probably help you. From what I’ve heard, he can find anyone.” He looked up at Hawk. “I haven’t had a reason to try him out, though.”

“I’m happy to take any help you can offer,” Hawk said. “I don’t like to waste time when I’m looking for children. Finding them is particularly important to me.”

“Glad to hear it,” Martin said. He rummaged through his pockets until he found one of his own business cards. It was much more detailed than Hawk’s, with a colorful logo and a font that had been created for him, and he flipped it over to write a name and phone number on it. “Jimmy Hirakawa. He’s supposed to be the best.”

“That’s just because you hadn’t met me yet,” Hawk said with a wink. She took the card from him and tucked it into her breast pocket. “Thanks for your time.” It looked as if she was going to get up and Martin was struck by the feeling that he was never going to see her again.

“How about having a drink with me?” He was afraid his voice sounded desperate but either Hawk didn’t realize it or didn’t care, as she smiled at him and leaned back in her chair.

“Sure,” she said. “This is a nice club, you’ve probably got some top-notch booze.”

“Damn right I do,” Martin said. “Hey, Jessie, bring us a couple of Rey Sol Anejo,” he called out into the bar, and a woman’s voice replied with something he couldn’t quite hear.

“Rey Sol, huh?” Hawk smirked at him. “You must be trying to impress me.” She crossed her leg over her knee and Martin returned the smile.

“Is it working?” A woman with a ponytail and an undercut came in and set two glasses of crystal clear tequila on the table between them, along with a bottle of what appeared to be the same liquor.

“You know I was about to clock out, right?” Jessie’s tone of voice suggested that she was extremely put out by having to serve him, but she brightened when Hawk took a folded bill out of her inside pocket and held it out to her with two fingers. The number 50 was clearly visible and it was Martin’s turn to be impressed.

“For your trouble,” Hawk said. Jessie gave Martin a withering look, then left them alone with their drinks. “My dad always told me you should try never to piss off your bartender or your hairstylist.”

“Good advice,” Martin said, lifting his glass. “Welcome to town. Here’s to what’s hopefully the start of a new friendship.” Hawk raised her glass and clinked it against his, then tipped it up and drained her tequila in one drink.

“That’s really good,” she said, setting her empty glass on the table. “Definitely worth tipping well. Speaking of money,” she went on, “I suppose you get paid for giving me this information?”

“My dad would have insisted on it, but I’m not going to push the issue. I’d rather not interfere with anything that a kid’s life might depend on.” Martin finished off his own drink and nodded to the bottle. “Want another?”

“Why not? I’m just going to my hotel after this.” She set her glass down and Martin poured her another. “Of course I’m going to pay you, by the way. You’ll get your money when I get mine. How does ten percent of my fee sound?”

“Sounds fine to me.” He poured himself another bottle and raised his glass. Hawk did the same and smiled. “I’m not in any hurry.”

“It shouldn’t be long, once I find the girl.” She smiled at him and downed her tequila. Martin looked at her a little more closely as she did. With the outfit she was wearing, she looked like a stereotypical hitman and he smiled at her.

“So what are you going to do when you find them? With the kidnapper, I mean.”

“Let’s just hope for his sake that he comes quietly.” She set aside her glass. “I’d better get going. My legs are cramped after driving so long and my hotel room has a whirlpool.” Hawk stood up and buttoned her jacket. “Thanks for the drink. I don’t know when I’ll get to have Rey Sol again.”

“Anytime you want some, come back here. I’m usually back here dealing with business.” He got up from the table to see her out and she raised an eyebrow.

“Business, huh?” Martin knew what she was implying, and part of him wanted to tell her it wasn’t what she thought but he also knew that he wouldn’t be considering that if he hadn’t been so struck by her. “Whatever you say, Marty.” She walked briskly toward the door, then stopped and looked back at him with a smirk, holding the card up between her first and index fingers. “Maybe I’ll make it twenty percent because you’re so cute.”

At a loss for words, Martin stood and watched her disappear into the front of the club. Once she was gone, he dropped back into his chair and exhaled. The woman was a hurricane in a tailored suit but it didn’t stop him from wanting to talk to her again. It wasn’t just that she was beautiful, she was also obviously intelligent and focused on her goal, which made him think that even if he wanted to see more of her, she would be too busy for it. It was a shame, though. He’d been so focused on trying to keep his life and his father’s separate that he hadn’t let himself have much of a social life, and now that he’d come across someone he liked it seemed as if she wasn’t in the market for one of her own.

The two Reys had given him back his buzz but he didn’t want to stay around the club much longer, so he finished his whiskey and put on his jacket. He didn’t feel like driving home himself, so he stepped outside to catch a cab. Even at this time of night there were plenty driving around and he went to the curb to flag one down. He was looking down at his cell phone, thinking he should put Hawk’s number into it, and didn’t noticed the car headed for him until its headlights splashed over him.

The gray sedan jumped the curb just as Martin dove out of the way into the alley, stumbled, and fell headfirst into a pile of garbage bags. One of the bouncers ran toward him as the sedan pulled back into the street and drove off in a squeal of tires. Martin sat up, surrounded by bottles and things he would rather not think about, and put a hand to his head.

“Are you okay, Mr. Caiber?” The bouncer stood over him and offered a hand, which Martin took gratefully to help him off the ground.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Martin said. “Just a little shaken up.”

“That car was coming right for you,” the bouncer said, looking down the street in the direction the car had driven. “Any idea who it might have been?”

“Not in the least,” Martin said. He picked a squashed lime wedge off his jacket and tossed it on the ground. “I don’t want to deal with it right now, either. All I want to do is go home and take a shower.”

“Let me drive you then,” the bouncer said. He pulled the earpiece he was wearing out and stuck it in his jacket pocket. “It’s too dangerous for you to stand around out here waiting for a cab.”

“If you say so,” Martin said, glad for the offer. He followed the bouncer around the back of the building where there were a couple of parking spots for employees. His own car was in one of them but he walked past it. If he hadn’t been in any shape to drive after the drinks he’d had with Hawk, he definitely wasn’t now.

The bouncer unlocked the car and Martin got into the back seat and pulled the door shut, then leaned his head back against the leather and closed his eyes. This was getting out of hand. As much as he didn’t want to seem paranoid, there was no getting around the fact that it was the second time in a week that someone had tried to kill him.

Available at all retailers January 15, 2019 – preorder now for $0.99!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07L2J1932

Nook, Kobo, Apple Books: http://books2read.com/BuyAtAnyCost

At Any Cost – Prologue

At Any Cost_banner

It was late, and Michelle smelled like buttercream. She’d been working with the powerfully sweet frosting for hours, trying to get the texture just right so she could use it to make flowers on a wedding cake. As a result, it was in her hair and under her nails, and she never wanted to eat another bite of it. She walked out to her car, yawning. It was dark but her car was a sporty orange and easy to see, and its lights flashed as she unlocked it from a distance.

She was so tired that even taking off the bandanna that she had tied around her long, dark brown hair felt like it would take too much effort, and she wondered if Fox would be mad at her if she tried to go to bed without showering.

He’d probably make some stupid joke about ants, she thought with a roll of her eyes as she turned on the engine. Fox had the unfortunate tendency to think he was hilarious when he mostly just cracked corny jokes, but he was so earnest that Michelle couldn’t help loving him. She was backing out of her parking space when her phone rang and she frowned, glancing over at the display on the console to see it was her father.

“Hi, Dad,” she said, answering the call with a push of the button on the steering wheel. “What are you up to?”

“Nothing much,” Eddie replied, his voice rough from years of smoking. “I was calling to see if you and Fox wanted to get together for dinner on Saturday. Charlotte too, of course. I haven’t seen that cutie in a week and I don’t want her to forget her grandad.”

“Like she ever could,” Michelle said with a smirk. “With all the stuff you buy her, every time she comes back from seeing you all she can talk about is her grandad.” She pulled out into the street and started for home with another yawn. “I’ll talk to Fox when I get home and see which day is best for him, then I’ll call you tomorrow.”

“What do you mean when you get home? Are you still at work?”

“I just left,” Michelle said. “I’m ready to take a shower, kiss the sprout goodnight, and stuff my face before I go to sleep myself. I finally figured out the flowers on the wedding cake.”

“You’re going to work yourself to death,” Eddie sighed, and Michelle wondered if this was what having a mother would be like. “Next you’re going to tell me you have to put in all these hours so you can buy the owner out of the shop.”

“Maybe one day,” Michelle said with a smile. “Right now I’m happy just to learn everything I can. Whatever else happens, happens.”

“All right, all right,” Eddie said. “You talk to your husband and I’ll talk to you tomorrow. Don’t forget to send me the pictures from Charlotte’s birthday party.”

“I will, Dad, I promise. I’m just tired right now, and starving.” Thankfully, Michelle didn’t live very far from the bakery where she worked, so she was still on the phone with her father when she turned off the main street and onto the one that led to her neighborhood. “Whenever we get the time worked out, can we go to an all-you-can-eat place? A Chinese buffet or something?”

“You always did like that cheap Chinese food, now you’re passing it on to Charlotte,” he laughed. “How many times did I try to take you to nicer places?”

“Obviously not enough, otherwise I wouldn’t still love the cheap stuff. And of course Charlotte likes it, she’s three. She can get sweet and sour chicken and mac and cheese at the same time, what kid wouldn’t love—” Her voice trailed away as she turned the corner and saw a riot of flickering lights on her street. There were fire trucks, police cars, and even an ambulance. Michelle frowned and slowed to a crawl. “What the hell?” As she got closer a horrifying sight became visible around the fire trucks.

The flickering she had seen wasn’t all coming from the vehicles. One of the houses was on fire, and so consumed by flames that she was surprised she hadn’t seen the smoke. Hoping that it wouldn’t spread to her house and that the emergency vehicles would let her get home for the night, she continued her slow progression down the street. The closer she got to the burning house, the more familiar it looked and her stomach turned when she saw why.

“No,” she said, her voice no more than a whisper before building to a shout. “No, no, no!”

“Misha, what’s the matter? What’s going on?”

Not wanting to take the time to explain, Michelle threw open the car door and ran for the house without bothering to take her phone or bag, leaving the door open and the engine running as she did.  Barricades were set up in front of her house and she ducked under them smoothly. Fire lit up every window in the house and the firemen were unrolling several large hoses. They were all shouting at one another, but there was a ringing in Michelle’s ears that muffled everything they were saying.

“Ma’am,” a police officer said, hurrying up to her. “You can’t be here. We need you to get back behind the barricades where it’s safe.”

“This is my house,” Michelle said, trying to push past him only to be stopped by a very broad fireman. “My husband and daughter are in there, I have to get to them!”

“We’re doing all we can,” the fireman said, holding her arms tightly. “You have to get back right now and let us do our job.” Shaking her head, Michelle continued to try to get around both the policeman and fireman, who were determined not to let her pass.

“Calm down, ma’am,” the officer said. “We can’t let you put yourself in danger.”

“You have to—” A sudden, sharp pain stabbed into Michelle’s abdomen and she paused to press a hand to it. A second pain caused her knees to buckle and she stumbled to the ground. The pain was constant now, aching and sharp by turns, and it felt as if something was building inside her. Michelle struggled to get to her feet and there was a stab of pain as she did, followed by the feeling of a rubber band breaking after being stretched too far.

This time the pain was too much for her, and she slid out of the fireman’s arms onto the ground. Something hot and damp was spreading from her jeans and Michelle cried out as she clutched her abdomen. She heard someone shouting for EMS but it hardly registered.  She laid on the grass, tears streaming down her face as she watched her home slowly getting consumed by fire, until the paramedics converged on her and she finally passed out.

Available at all retailers January 15, 2019 – preorder now for $0.99!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07L2J1932

Nook, Kobo, Apple Books: http://books2read.com/BuyAtAnyCost

Cover Reveal and Preorder – At Any Cost

At Any Cost_Medium

Surprise! Well, two surprises. Take a look at the hot off the press cover for my first contemporary romance, At Any Cost. It was done as always by the fantastic Victoria Miller and perfectly captures Michelle (also known as The Hawk) and her personality. She’s Martin’s bodyguard and definitely the alpha in this story. I absolutely love it and am looking forward to seeing the full cover wrap. Yep, there will be paperbacks!

So what’s it about? Glad you asked…

Martin Caiber has a problem. As the son of a high-ranking member of Chicago’s underworld, he knows his family has enemies, but he never expected to have someone trying to kill him. Unwilling to inherit his father’s legacy, he wants to keep his nightclubs on the legal side of things but after nearly being run down in front of his club, Martin decides that it’s time to enlist outside help.

Michelle “The Hawk” Andress is a woman with a past. A private investigator who specializes in finding lost children, she has talents she is glad she rarely has to use. It is these talents that put her on Martin’s radar, and after an attempt on his life she agrees to become his bodyguard.

The attraction between the two is undeniable, but when Michelle becomes the target of hitmen too, her past comes back to haunt her and puts their future in jeopardy. If they’re going to make it out alive, they’ll have to use Martin’s contacts and Michelle’s deadly aim to put an end to the threat for good, and find out if love makes the ends justify the means.

If this sounds like something that’s up your alley, the release is January 15th – my first release of 2019!

The second surprise is that it is now available for preorder! Right now it’s up on Amazon and Kobo, but it will (hopefully) be on all retailers by the end of the week. I’ll drop the link here once it is so Nook and Apple Books can pick it up for the sale price of $0.99 during preorder and the first week of release.

Amazon:

Kobo: http://books2read.com/BuyAtAnyCost

This is a super-short preorder period, mainly because I didn’t intend to release this as a full novel. Turn the Page will still be coming out in March, this is just a lil bonus.

Stay tuned for the first of six FULL chapters of At Any Cost, releasing here every Wednesday!

Training Journal: Mistakes Were Made

mistakesGood job, Rebecca. Good job.

Last week I went running on Tuesday, like I do. I ran five miles on one of my favorite routes, then checked my preorder status. I’d been refreshing like mad because I was so close to a milestone…literally ten times the number of copies I sold of any of my books before! I needed to get out of the obsessive headspace I was in so I went out on the trail. I finished my five planned miles, then checked in on my preorders.

When I saw that I’d blown past my milestone, I got so excited that I did a celebratory extra five miles. And promptly pulled what Dr. Google has informed me is my hip flexor. I took it easy for the rest of the week and over the weekend with a few breaks to walk dogs, which actually made me feel better. Even the dog who tried to drag me across the concrete and caused a leash injury to my finger didn’t make it hurt so I thought I’d be cool to run on Sunday.

Nope.

I made it 2.5 miles before I had to tap out and I was kind of disappointed in myself. It didn’t hurt nearly as bad as it did on Tuesday but I could feel it getting annoyed with me so I stopped. Then I walked some dogs and it felt better. I don’t know what’s up but I’ve been looking up hip flexor exercises and I’m going to try laser therapy at work this week. I’ve also got two rolls of KT tape that I can pull out but I have got to put a bandaid on this thing because there’s less than 2 months til the Skyline Challenge, then another 2 months before the marathon.

I have a feeling that I’ll be walking the Cowtown Half in 2019.

Coming Soon – A Christmas Reunion

img_4033-1On the banks of Llyn Ffynnon Las, a wish is made under the winter moon…

Carys Anwyl doesn’t much care for the man her father has arranged for her to marry, but as she is already twenty with no prospects she has little choice in the matter. She dreams of adventure and excitement, traveling a little further away from her village with each trip in the hopes she will one day get the courage to leave for good.

In the forest near Mount Snowden she meets Emrys, a young man who seems to have lost his memory, and she feels a connection with him like nothing she’s ever known. When he appears in her village a few days later, Carys’ dreams of leading her own life seem closer than ever. Unfortunately, her fiance has other plans, and as Emrys’ secrets slowly come to light she has to make a choice between love and duty that will change both of their lives for eternity.

Here’s some exciting news I’m finally able to share with you! Not only have I been lucky enough to be invited to write a book for one series this year, I’ve also got a second one coming out in November for the Christmas Wishes series!

This gorgeous cover was once again courtesy of the amazing Victoria Miller, and she’s outdone herself yet again. The back cover is going to look just as beautiful, and I’ll be revealing that at a later day.

Christmas Wishes is a series of six different holiday-themed stories from six different eras, all based on folklore or myth, and all starting with a wish. The books will be coming out starting in November with a Viking novel and ending in December in the Edwardian era. In a departure from my usual modern(ish) eras, this one takes place in the Tudor era! I’ve also never written a holiday-themed book either so I hope you enjoy it.

It’s been a lot of fun mapping this book out and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you on November 13th! Preorders are already underway and you can get mine for $0.99 and buy the whole set of six together! Here are all six beautiful covers, along with the full release schedule with handy links to everyone’s books:img_4050

11/6/18   Hela Takes a Holiday by Rebekah Lewis
11/13/18  A Christmas Reunion by Rebecca Lovell
11/20/18  The Appeal of an Elusive Viscount by Hildie McQueen
11/27/18  Christmas in the Duke’s Embrace by Amanda Mariel
12/4/18   The Magic of Gingerbread by Sandra Sookoo
12/11/18  Rebellious Angel by Dawn Brower