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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

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50 Best Indie Books of 2018

This year has been fantastic for me. In September, I broke through my pre-order goal for The Search for Sam and sold more books than I’d ever hoped, putting me in the Top 100 in 20th Century Historical Romance. I was so excited that I thought nothing better could ever happen. Then in October, I had my first book signing. It’s almost the end of November and A Christmas Reunion debuted at #1 in New Releases, hung out there for almost a week, and made it to #4 in Tudor Historical Romance.

Hopefully December will be as amazing, because The Search for Sam has been shortlisted for the ReadFreely 50 Best Indie Books of 2018 in the romance category! However, I’ll need your help to make that happen. The awards are based on votes from readers, and I would love it if you helped me out by voting! The link below takes you to a pre-filled form with the information from The Search for Sam, so voting only takes a few seconds. Sometimes you have to click twice on it but it will work! Polls close on Monday so make the most of this weekend and head on over.

It is a bit unlikely that I’ll make the top 50, what with being a new author and not even a year into my self publishing career, but if I did it would be amazing. Help make my Christmas amazing. Vote for me below!

http://www.readfree.ly/50-best-indie-books-2018-prefilled/?indie50title=THE+SEARCH+FOR+SAM+by+REBECCA+LOVELL&indie50genre=Romance

As always, thank you for all your support! Even if I don’t make the list, my readers and fans have made 2018 a year to remember.

The Enduring Legacy Series is Now Complete!

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With the release of Tammy Andresen’s Capturing a Lady’s Love, the Enduring Legacy series is complete at 14 books! All of these women have done a phenomenal job writing these books, and you can now get the entire series at once if you haven’t already done so! You can also still buy the individual books if you don’t have them all, clicking on the link will take you to the series page and you can buy whichever you like from there.

The Search for Sam is also still available at all retailers, and will remain that way so those of you who read it on Apple Books, Nook, Kobo, or even through your library you’ll be able to read it.

The Search for Sam – Universal Link

Thank you so much for reading and supporting indie authors, and if you’ve already bought the books please leave a review! It’s the easiest way to support us and provides important feedback as well. Thanks again!

Climbing the Ranks

This year has been bonkers for me, writing-wise, and the hits keep coming.

I released The Search for Sam in September to moderate success – top 100 for the first time ever! Then I had my very first book signing in October and sold several books! Now this has happened and it’s blowing my mind.

I was so excited about being #1 in New Releases that it barely occurred to look at the main Tudor Historical Romance list, but when I did I got a huge surprise this morning when I woke up. I was excited about top 20 last night and woke up to #4. I’ve basically been losing it all day.

On top of that, I’m still at #1 in New Releases at the time of this writing. I’ve slipped down the general list but I’m holding firmly on to New Releases. I can’t help but hope that the next book will bring me closer to #1 on the bestseller list.

if you want to read it, it’s on sale for $0.99 for a limited time. After next Tuesday it goes up to $2.99, so this is your chance!

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07H23KFS2

All Good Things

As of Wednesday, The Absence of Intellect is complete. I enjoyed writing it, and I also enjoyed sharing it here with you. I’ve re-edited it and will release October 30th for Kindle. It’ll be permafree, and I really hope you’ll download it so you can read it at your leisure all over again, or read the whole thing if you’ve missed any chapters.

So what’s next? Don’t you worry a bit, friends. Starting in December a new novella begins! At Any Cost is a little different in tone and features some morally grey main characters, but it’s still a love story in the end. I hope you’ll stay with me for the new story too!

September Forever

I was on the plane having a minor panic attack over the turbulence and weighing the options of spending $7 on a tiny cocktail when it occurred to me that last year I was at my conference when Every Rogue’s Heart blew up.

I say blew up, because I’d never had anything I’ve been involved with come close to reaching this level of success. I watched it climb the entire time I was at SWVS (the annual conference I have attended for the last eight or so years) and I spent my downtime in my hotel room working on Book One of the Night Lodge series feeling pretty damn good about life.

This month I released The Search For Sam and it has also done better than I could have hoped. I’m sure a lot of the success of ERH can be attributed to the amazing women I was working with, so for a book that I wrote alone, promoted and published on my own to reach the top 100 in 20th Century Historical when I’m such a new author is amazing.

It’s only fitting I guess that my success has come in the same month as last year’s amazingness, and I fully intend on continuing to spend my downtime in my fancy hotel suite finishing A Christmas Reunion. This year is a different conference that takes place in a different state so I had some downtime in airports as well to work on things.

On the subject of Night Lodge, I plan to release the first book next summer. I’m hoping to release a new book around this time next year, this one closer in time to Drowned History so hopefully this upward momentum continues! It would be amazing to break the Top 50 next time.

I Broke The Top 100!

Well, this was unexpected! The Search For Sam came out Tuesday as planned and I had an awesome party! It was well attended, people engaged my posts, and my friends had fun too. I figured with my mindblowing number of preorders and that party, it couldn’t get any better.

I was wrong.

Wednesday I checked my stats and discovered that I had made it into the top 100 in one of my categories! My rank crept steadily up until Thursday morning when it peaked at #60, far higher than I ever hoped as a new author.

I posted immediately in my planning group and all the ladies, some of whom are bestselling authors, congratulated me on it! It’s small potatoes compared to them but they were so kind about it. I’m so glad I met them all.

I got another unexpected surprise today at work when I opened my locker after surgery (hence the extra post).

A tiny cake! It’s actually a huge cupcake but the fact that they are proud enough of me to celebrate my accomplishment means a lot to me.

I am so lucky that my family, friends, and work are all so supportive of my writing. When I was growing up, some members of my family said I would never be successful doing it, so I chose not to pursue my English major. While I regret it, I do love my job and I never would have met these wonderful people otherwise.

I’ve got a plan of action for my Christmas novel’s release so I hope I’ll go even higher next time!