#BookBlitz “Rabbithole (Nights of Alice, Book 1)” by Melissa Rea

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Nights of Alice, Book One

 

Romantic Erotica

 

Date Published: August 2021

Publisher: Melange Books

Brilliant, troubled driven Alice travels in time to meet men.

Last night, clothes began appearing in Alice Hightower’s closet at sunset. She might find bell bottoms from the seventies or a beaded flapper’s dress from the twenties, but they fit perfectly. She slips on the outfits and opens her balcony door to another place and time where extraordinary men fill her nights. CEO of a medical device company about to unveil a revolutionary heart bypass product, Alice escapes her challenging days to the adventures beyond her balcony door. How could her smoldering VP of sales, or her fascinating assistant compare to Tweedle Don and Tweedle Dan, twin doctors from the seventies, or the sixties rock group who scolds Alice for being late for their very important date. At forty-nine, after two divorces, relating to her male coworkers has been entirely too complicated. When industrial espionage threatens her company, Alice has to save the position that defines her, discover the truth of her fantastic travels and decide if the real men in her life might be more satisfying than those she enjoys by night.

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Excerpt

Chapter One

Wanna Be a Rockstar

Alice Hightower’s childhood ended one scorching summer morning on the parking lot of an Oklahoma truck stop. She held her breath and watched the heat rise in ripples off the blacktop. The car was gone. Mama, Daddy and her big brother Sean had disappeared down the turnpike and left her behind.

She didn’t really blame them. She tried hard, but she was not a very good girl. Her corner of the bedroom did look like a tornado hit it. She never went to bed when it was time but hid where no one could find her.

Mama always said she took too long in the bathroom. This time she’d just been trying to make her white-blonde hair lay flat in the wavy gas station restroom mirror. Tears gathered on her pale lashes. She blinked in the bright sunshine, and the tears ran down her sun-pink cheeks. She stood in the middle of a black ocean of sticky asphalt holding her teddy bear in one hand and her story book in the other. The sound of the blood rushing in her ears couldn’t drown out the cicadas screaming from every tree. She was alone.

Alice dropped the teddy bear and clutched her Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland picture-bookwith both hands. At that moment, it was as if the little tumblers in her head that held the combination to childhood began to spin. When they stopped, a new combination locked into place forever. She would not trust anyone to love or take care of her again.

Alice was six years old.

* * *

Grown-up Alice at forty-nine, didn’t believe in fairytales and had no time for fantasy. Hers was a sensible world of profit and loss statements, production schedules and sales projections. There was only one explanation for what happened to her last night. She had completely lost her mind.

Right this minute her impending insanity didn’t matter. Six impossible things had to be done before this breakfast meeting ended. Her adulteration of Mr. Carrol’s words nearly made her laugh, but she stopped herself. The other five people around the conference table might wonder why Excellcardia’s CEO, their boss, laughed at nothing. Dr. Elliott had a psychiatric explanation, but this wasn’t the time to worry about that.

Alice continued addressing the assembled members of her team. “Item number four on this morning’s agenda, Kirasaki. What the hell, Brad? I thought this was a done deal. Now they’re backing out of a two-million-dollar commitment?” Alice looked over her laptop at her Vice President of Sales. Though he was the object of her current ire, she couldn’t help but admire Bradley James, all cool, blue-eyed handsome like Paul Newman in The Color of Money. Alice knew Mr. Newman from her mother’s old movies and the salad dressing bottle. Stop it, she told herself. Concentrate.

Under control,” Bradley said. “They’re surprisingly cheap bastards and if we give them our rock bottom quote, they’ll come crawling back. Just a little dance we have to do.”

His obvious command of the situation let Alice breathe easier for an entire second. “I want something signed on my desk by day’s end and I know very well what time it is in Osaka.” Alice looked at her laptop screen for the next item on her agenda. The man sitting on Alice’s right at the long black marble conference table, had opened his mouth to speak, but now just nodded at her. Jonathan Salter, Alice’s administrative assistant, typed furiously on the silver laptop in front of him.She knew he wouldn’t miss a single pertinent detail and a perfect summary of this meeting’s discussions would be in her inbox thirty minutes after the meeting ended.

Okay then, on to number five, the revised Mark IV schedule for BJC. Louise?”

Louise O’Neil raised two perfectly plucked and shaped dark eyebrows and said, “No way Alice. We can’t get the raw materials all on this continent in time let alone produce enough for BJC’s monster order. Maybe if we push it back two weeks.”

I have checked on all the materials personally,” Alice said. “Everything can be here in time, and if we just add a single shift for 3 days to production, it won’t wreck the P & L. BJC needs them by the second of the month and we can do that. The sooner we get them to the patients, the better their lives will be.”

Louise narrowed her eyes. “If you say so, Alice.” Alice caught the doubt in Louise’s voice. “The Mark IV is the best pacemaker on the market. Nobody can touch its reliability and ease of implantation for the price point. You should be proud of your baby, Louise.” Alice served up a wide and appreciative smile to go with the compliment. Engineers can be such children, she thought. Louise was one of the best on the planet, so Alice could take a little extra time to pat her on the back. She glanced down at her laptop’s screen and cleared her throat. “Okay, now on to the Biocardia project. I’ve increased the security in the lab. There’s a retinal scanner on the door now and two more cameras. Please stop by security to have your eyeballs registered soonest. We can’t have any of our ground-breaking technology stolen by a competitor. Dr. Petrus is here to update everyone for the board presentation. Proceed please.”

Petrus sat staring for one minute too long, as if to focus the group’s attention on him. Then he said, “The animal trials are proceeding on schedule by some miracle. What trials I can afford on this puny budget. Barney will be ready to show off to the rich old geezers on the Board. They’d be completely nuts not to approve more funds. The Biocardia device will revolutionize bypass surgery.” The man in the rumpled lab coat nodded to emphasize his words, shaking the long silver hair that always reminded Alice of the mad scientist in Back to the Future. She knew the good doctor was only fifty-two years old. Perhaps genius stripped the color from his hair.

It was brilliant work Alice knew full well. When approved and in production the device would make Excellcardia one of the top medical device companies in the world. Hopefully, the world would never find out such a company was run by a complete lunatic. She wasn’t going to tell.

The last order of business was a report by Arthur, head of the patent and clearance department. Alice had nearly forgotten he was there at all. She would have preferred to merely read his departmental reports, but Arthur Thomas insisted on being at the Friday morning meetings. His squeaky voice and rat-like eyes suggested a long hairless pink tail might be tucked into the back of the trousers in his baggy brown suit. She reminded herself that his expertise, not his appearance, made him vital to the company. Without clearance, no new device could be brought to the market. Arthur’s inarguable value didn’t prevent his reports from being torturous. She stared at her favorite baby pink pumps under the table and tried not to think about the strange goings-on in her apartment last night.

Jonathan nudged her foot gently under the desk, a reminder to look up so no one would think she hadn’t been listening. Some assistants, she thought, were worth their weight in gold.

Alright people, thank you and let’s end this week with a bang rather than a whimper.” Alice nodded, scooped up her laptop, and headed to her office one floor up. When the elevator doors opened onto the twenty-third floor, she paused to survey the cool black and white scene.

Onyx marble floor tiles and white leather furniture gave the reception area the proper weight. One of her first executive actions three years ago, had been to claim the entire floor for her office and decorate to her particular taste. A company the size of Excellcardia needed a whole floor for its CEO, Alice had reasoned. It wasn’t vanity but necessity. The twenty-third floor wasn’t just her office, but the center of the company’s communications. The huge-framed photographs of scarlet flowers were the only hint at the passion of Excellcardia’s CEO. She straightened a picture, unacceptably crooked by two millimeters, and double-checked the others as she walked by.

The black marble slab of Jonathan’s desk sat shining and empty. He never went home with anything left undone. A handsome male administrative assistant had always been Alice’s secret dream, and Jonathan Salter was certainly that. He wore a suit as well as any man she’d ever seen. Something about men in business attire got Alice all moist and tingly. If he wasn’t quite so good at what he did, she wouldn’t have cared—much.

Alice liked to start the coffee, read emails, and watch the parking lot fill up twenty-three floors below. She knew who arrived early and who was perpetually late.

This morning, she forgot the password to open her emails. Panic! She used the same one every day, but today she couldn’t remember it. What would Dr. Elliot say? Is memory loss a new symptom? Heart racing, she searched her mental files. “SlythyToves49, that’s it,” she said out loud and exhaled with relief. This morning, at least, the men in the white coats could pass her by.

Louise O Neil appeared in the doorway. Brow furrowed and lips a tight red-lip sticked line, she slammed the door to Alice’s office. “I’m glad to go along with the revised schedule but I do not appreciate being blindsided at the Friday meeting.”

Coffee, Louise?”

Damn it, Alice, I would appreciate a little more respect than that, and thank you.”

People in the company called her Jackie O. The same meticulously coiffed dark hair, lean arrow-straight frame, and perfect sense of style had something to do with the nickname; but Louise also carried herself like a Bouvier. Louise’s African-American heritage did not lessen her resemblance to one of America’s best loved first ladies one little bit. Alice doubted the late former first lady would have let her feathers be ruffled by a simple change in a manufacturing schedule. Alice needed to smooth the feathers right back down on this important peahen.

We deliver what our clients need when they need it on my watch. Sit down and have coffee with me. It’s been a while since we talked about anything but business.” Louise poured herself a half cup of coffee from the pot on the credenza and dropped gracefully into the white leather chair in front of Alice’s black desk.

I would appreciate a little warning next time.” Louise’s eyes were still narrowed but her lips relaxed a bit. Least you could do for a friend who didn’t even hate you when you got the top job, even though she had ten years more experience. A friend who made sure you ate something healthy once in a while after you and Robert split. A friend who—”

I get it, Louise, and I do really appreciate all you’ve done for me. I’ll have Jonathan email you any and all changes to the production schedules immediately in the future.”

Thank you. Now tell me about the exciting life of a single CEO.”

Nothing exciting about my life. I go home alone every night. I’m certainly not looking for love. That crap doesn’t exist outside of romance novels and Hallmark Original movies.”

Such a cynic,” Louise said. “I can help change your mind, you know. Say the word. Older or younger, Bill and I know lots of people. How much weight have you lost? You look great. You know cool-laser-liposuction really works for those stubborn areas. Not that you need it of course.”

Of course she’s talking about my ass.

Do you want some of my breakfast smoothie? Organic kale, wheatgrass, and mango? I have plenty left in my office.”

No thank you, Lou. No more of your health goo for me. Not enough preservatives. There could be God knows what flesh-eating bacteria on that kale without serious chemicals to kill it. I’m way too busy for any kind of romance and no laser’s touching this fine derriere, hot or cool. It’s only been a year since—”

Since that man-dog cheated on you and left you for a twenty-five-year-old child?” said Louise. “It’s actually nearly two years. No one deserves a good time more than you. Who said anything about romance? Just some dinner and maybe a little dancing in the sheets with some nice guy. You can’t live and breathe this place. You need a hobby. Some kind of distraction.”

Alice burst out laughing. Could Louise somehow know about the completely insane thing that happened to her last night? Louise’s irritation was replaced by concern, even a little speck of fear.

Inappropriate affect, Alice thought. Common in people with her diagnosis, according to Dr. Elliot.

Sorry. I do appreciate your concern.” Alice looked down to compose herself. The first edition of Lewis Carroll’s most famous work, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, sitting on her desk always brought her comfort. She ran her hand over the lovely brown leather-bound book, her favorite since childhood. As a child, she was positive it had been written just for her. When she learned the book was published over a hundred years before her birth, she’d cried for hours. Alice had finally decided Mr. Carroll must have been a special kind of magician, to write a story that would come to mean so much to her.

Now,” Alice said, “tell me what’s going on with you.” She tried hard to look interested as Louise launched into an account of her adult children’s activities and the upcoming holiday parties, hoping the occasional nod and ‘hmm’ sufficed. How could such a brilliant woman be so good at prattling on about such trivial matters?

Jonathan opened Alice’s office door and placed the doorstop in its usual place, after a reassuring look and head nod from his boss. He made sure Alice’s door always remained open.

It’s important,” he’d said when she first hired him. “Gives the impression you are approachable and are always ready to listen to anyone’s ideas. Adds to the team mentality, don’t you think?” His thick mahogany hair moussed straight back and black-framed glasses gave him a definite Clark Kent appeal. The suit that hung so nicely on his six-foot-two-inch frame today was moss green, Alice noted.

Brad James is on his way up,” he said. “He says he absolutely has to talk to you before your ten o’clock. Shall I have him wait?” Jonathan shot Louise a quick glance and focused his dark eyes on Alice.

No. I need to talk to him about his trip to Sweden. Give us two minutes.”

Louise watched him walk out. She gave Alice a sly smile and spoke softly. “Of course you don’t need me to set you up. That hotness could put a smile on any girl’s face.”

You know damn well I would never—”

Uh huh,” Louise lowered her voice. “He looks at you like a sick puppy. Everyone thinks he’s in love with you.”

Seriously? My co-workers need to get to work and not waste time speculating about me. How ridiculous. He’s far too young, gorgeous or not. That little hint of an English accent has to keep his bed full of hot young babes. Not that she cared. What he did on his own time didn’t matter as long as he continued to give Excellcardia his best during his workday.

Alice had to admit, occasionally she would call Jonathan into her office and ask him some trivial question she didn’t really need the answer to just to listen to the music of his voice. His formal phrasing seemed a little odd for someone so young, but it added a certain richness to his armamentarium of interesting traits, including a droll sense of humor that could defuse the most intense situation.

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About the Author

As a little girl, Melissa Rea fell asleep whispering stories to herself in the dark. In elementary school, she got in trouble for embellishing when the truth just seemed too boring. She learned to control her imagination as she grew up and her stories became daydreams. Pursuing a sensible career, Melissa filled her spare time with the wondrous worlds of Bram Stoker, Mary Shelly, Robert Heinlein, Philippa Gregory, Stephen King, Dean Coontz, Jackie Collins, Jennifer Weiner, Sarah Dunant and any and all authors who caught her fancy. Still, the stories in her head persisted, now colored by the delicious words of others. One day, she could no longer keep the in her and she began to write novels. Conjuring Casanova was published in 2016 and was a Recommended Indie Book by Kirkus Review. Nights of Alice Book I, Rabbithole will be published in 2021 by Melange Publishing. Nights of Alice Book II, Pool of Tears will follow in 2022. She lives in St. Louis were she has a solo dental practice and lives with her husband and rescue cats.

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#NewRelease “The Love Below (Prototype Glimpse Collection)” by Jacinta Howard

Narrators: Jakobi Diem and Wesleigh Siobhan

Publication Date: December 29, 2020

Audible – https://buff.ly/34YKhcR

Amazon – https://buff.ly/2JweDff

Love is the music between the notes. What happens after fame and success? Take a Glimpse into the lives of The Prototype as they explore a new rhythm and navigate love and life after breaking big.

Bam+Cassie (Glimpse 1): They’ve found their rhythm. Prototype keyboardist Bam Mosley and Cassandra James have put the drama that defined their early relationship behind them. But what happens when decisions are made that threaten to disrupt the calm they’ve worked so hard to create? Will they falter in their love and the life they’ve built together?

Devin+Willow (Glimpse 2): Passionate and intense, Prototype founder/drummer Devin Walker and Willow Harden’s relationship has always been push and pull. But one thing has always been for certain—they can’t be without each other. When a situation arises that puts that to the test, they’re both forced to make some hard decisions about their marriage, and themselves.

Travis+Kennedy (Glimpse 3): Their connection has always been otherworldly, magnetic… even spiritual. Prototype guitarist Travis Broussard and lead singer Kennedy James know their love for one another surpasses understanding. But when outside forces threaten the sanctity of their bond, they have to decide how far they’re willing to go to protect their love.

Zay+Jersey (Glimpse 4): Beautiful and complicated, absorbent and fated, Prototype singer Isaiah Broussard and bassist Jersey Kincaid are more than lovers, more than best friends, more than life partners… they are kindred spirits. Over the years, they’ve proven that their love for one another is bigger than any obstacle that threatens to separate them. But when life circumstances arise that make them examine their individual truths and desires, they must decide if their love is truly big enough to overcome anything, or if their decisions will place them on separate paths, possibly for good.

Jay+Sasha (Bonus Glimpse): Jay Little knows what he wants. As the even-tempered manager of The Prototype and founder of a successful indie label, Jay’s level-headed nature has always played to his advantage. The only person who’s ever been able to knock him off-balance is his label’s publicist, and his longtime friend, Sasha Baptiste. After Jay’s self-control is put to the test one night, Sasha and Jay have to decide what they really mean to each other. Friends? Lovers? Or somewhere in-between?



About Jacinta Howard

A longtime culture and music journalist and lifelong music lover, Jacinta Howard lives in Atlanta. For years, she’s worked as a writer and editor, mostly covering hip-hop, soul, R&B, entertainment, travel and art. She is the author of New Adult, Women’s Fiction, and Contemporary Romance, and a two-time RONE Award nominee. Her stories often explore the intricacies of relationships, healing, and the bumps we experience along the road to real intimacy.

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“Solstice Burn (A Club Altura Romance Novella)” by Kym Grosso

Solstice Burn cover

Solstice Burn (A Club Altura Romance Novella)

by Kym Grosso

Genre: Genre Fiction/Romance Erotica

FREE at time of posting!

SOLSTICE BURN a Club Altura Romance Novella 

Temptations flare in the hedonistic tropics when wealthy philanthropist and professional deep sea diver, Chase Abbott, rescues a beautiful woman at sea.

Penny Travis, a big city lawyer, may have been looking for relaxation at the exclusive adults’ resort, but she soon embraces adventure, submitting to secret fantasies within the arms of her charismatic hero.

Warning: This book contains several erotic love scenes and is intended for adult readers only.

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#ReleaseBlitz “Claimed” by Jenika Snow

The world that was once known is gone. In its place is a society where the rich rule, and the female population is auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Claire

Xavier saved me, purchasing me off the auction block and making me feel human again. Although I knew he wanted me, could see it in the way he watched me, he never touched me.
But I wanted him to.
I wanted to feel what it would be like to have his big body over mine, his strong hands running over my bare flesh. I shouldn’t want a man like him: rich, dangerous … one of the elite.
But I did.
Maybe it was time to break free from my shell and give myself something I deserved … him.

Xavier

I had money and power, and I used those to my advantage, to purchase women from the auction under the guise that they were for me. But they weren’t. I purchased them to set them free. I’d been doing it for years without romantic attachment to any of them … until Claire came into my life.
And once I saw her, I knew she’d be the one I couldn’t let go. She’d be my downfall, but I was more than ready to fall to my knees and worship the ground she walked on.

Warning: Set in the same world as Mine To Keep, but a total standalone, this story is a safe read with a happily ever after. It might be short, but it promises to make you blush and reach for a fan. There is no OW/OM drama, just one alpha hero who knows what he wants … the heroine.

Claire

I shivered, the thin gown I was wearing barely keeping the chill off my body. I couldn’t see much aside from the bright lights that illuminated the stage. There were several other women behind me, some of them crying, others so emotionless I wondered if they were already broken.
All of us were property.
This was the world I lived in, where being a fertile female made me someone else’s property.
I knew out there, in the crowd hidden behind shadows, were wealthy men of all ages. They’d purchase us, do whatever they wanted with us. We’d be nothing but chattel to them, a shiny new toy for them to use … to abuse. The society I lived in was barbaric, where humans could be taken against their will and sold off to someone who had the right amount of coin.
That thought had fear freezing my body.
How I wished I lived in a time where this was only read about in fiction, where it wasn’t a reality. How I wished I could go to the past, where society wasn’t fucked-up and people weren’t starving.
Would the person who purchased me use me as a sex slave, strictly to get them off? Or maybe they’d use me as a breeder, a vessel to carry their heir and pass on their lineage. Either way, all I wanted to do was run off the stage and escape, but I knew I wouldn’t make it. I knew I would be captured before I even got to the front doors.
I felt my hands shaking, and soon my entire body followed suit. It was a silent auction, one where I wouldn’t know who purchased me until it was far too late.
It was already too late.
And so I closed my eyes, focusing on something else, somewhere else. I thought about the small camp of “runaways” I’d been staying with, men and women who were against how the world was, how the government could sell humans as if they were nothing more than a new toy.
I stood there, my eyes closed, my thoughts on being free, on being alone in the woods where I could pretend that where I was, wasn’t the end of the line for me. I didn’t know how long I stood there, not focused on anything but myself, but I finally felt someone take hold of my arm and cart me offstage.
I was led into the back hallways, pushed into a room where I was changed into a thicker gown, my feet shoved into flats, my hair haphazardly put into a messy bun. I had a bracelet snapped around my wrist, a number etched all around it … my new owner’s purchase number.
And so it is. I am a piece of property.
Once I was dressed and ready for my hell-on-earth future, I was again led toward the back. There I saw two double doors wide open, the breeze washing over me and almost making me cry. I could see the woods just behind, so close yet so far away. I wanted to run, but I didn’t want to make this harder on myself. I didn’t want to make my life even more miserable than I knew it already would be.
It can’t get any worse. Death would be far more humane.
And then, once I was outside, I tugged on the two men leading me. They tightened their holds until the pain lanced up my arms. There, waiting no more than a few feet from me, was a dark car, shiny, reeking of money. The back door was opened by what I could only assume was a servant of the man awaiting me inside. God, would he be old? Would he be gentle or cruel and violent to me?
Nothing was said, no words spoken. I was, after all, nothing more than chattel to them.
Once in the car, my eyes adjusted to the darkness. I could see his big body across from me, the shadows partially hiding his face. My heart was beating so fast, and I felt sweat start to cover my body in fearful beads of emotion.
The vehicle started moving, and I curled my hands into tight fists, afraid to breathe, let alone say anything. And then he leaned forward, the light finally making a swatch across his face. He was brutally handsome, with dark hair and even darker eyes. I saw the tattoos that covered his body, not something that was practiced much anymore, but seeming to make my heart beat harder, painfully fast.
He was older, maybe in his thirties, still much older than my mere twenty years. But he appeared wiser, as if he’d seen more than he should have, experienced more than he’d wanted to.
And then he leaned forward, grabbed my hand in his much bigger one, and I swear I felt fire kick across my skin. The cuff of his jacket rode up slightly, and I saw the tattoos painting his wrist and creeping up his forearm.
I was frozen in place, my muscles tensed, not knowing what he was going to do. He stared into my eyes, his so dark, so deep. Who was this man? Why was he making me feel like I was on edge? Why was he making me feel aroused with just a touch? I should be disgusted by him, frightened because I had no idea what he would do to me.
But he said nothing, his big body making me feel so small, so vulnerable. And then, before I could realize what he was doing, he tore the property bracelet from my wrist. I felt my eyes widen as I realized what he’d just done. That simple act was one of rebellion. I was not his property, and he’d made that clear without saying one word.
Without saying anything, he leaned back, swallowed by the shadows of the interior of the car once more.
My heart thundered so hard and fast, worse than when I’d stood on that auction block not knowing what my future held. The car ride seemed endless. But eventually we were slowing and I glanced out the tinted window to see a massive estate coming into view. Although I wasn’t looking at the man, I could feel his gaze on me, like tendrils of fire moving along my skin. It was as if he was reaching out and stroking my arms with his fingertips. But I refused to look at him. He might have taken off the bracelet, but that didn’t mean I knew what was going to happen or if he would let me go. I could’ve laughed at my thoughts.
Let me go? No doubt he paid an exorbitant amount of money for me.
The vehicle came to a stop, and I sat there, my breathing increasing as I thought about all the horrible things that might happen once I stepped inside that house.
“You’re safe,” the man finally said, his voice so deep, so masculine I felt it race up my spine.
I looked at him then. He leaned forward so the light moved along his face once more.
“No one will ever hurt you again. I’ll make sure you’re protected and healed properly; then after that, you’re free to go.”
I felt my eyes widen. “Free to go?” I whispered. Although I wanted to escape, I also knew I didn’t have anywhere safe to run to. The chances of being caught again played through my head like a horror movie.
“Yes. I can set you up in a safe house once I know you’ll be protected and they can’t find you again.”
I couldn’t believe what was happening right now. “I don’t understand.” I could have cried, and in fact I felt a single tear slip out of the corner of my eye.
“We can talk about this more once you’re inside, a change of clothes covering you, and a warm meal in your belly.”
I felt dizzy, like if I stood right now, I might faint. He helped me out of the vehicle and all I could do was lean on him for support, not sure if I was dreaming or if this was reality. I looked up at him, his body so much bigger than mine. Could this be real? Could I actually be … free?
* * *
Xavier

She’s mine.
Those words slammed into my head over and over again, a derailed train about to crash and destroy anything and everything in its path. I couldn’t control it, couldn’t stop the deep rumble that came from me. I could see her eyes widen farther, the blues so startling they made my heart slam harder in my chest. The long fall of her blonde hair had my hands twitching, my fingers tingling. I wanted to touch the locks, wanted to see if they felt as soft as they looked.
Get yourself under fucking control.
I exhaled slowly, reining in my control. I wasn’t about to lose my shit. I couldn’t, not in front of her.
My words had shocked her. It was unbelievable to her, I was sure. I had purchased her just to set her free. But as I stared at her, something in me shifted. I didn’t want to set her free, not because I was a sadistic bastard, but because for the first time in my life I finally felt something come alive in me.
It had taken one look, one sound of her voice, and this possessive side in me came forth like a dangerous beast. I was doing everything in my power to be calm, to keep collected and be stoic. No need to frighten her further. She needed to earn my trust, know that I wouldn’t hurt her.
But despite all of that, I could only think about was how I wanted.
She is mine. She will be mine.
And as those words beat in my head like a war drum, a song before a battle, I knew she was different. She was so very different from any woman I’d ever seen, ever known.
Mine.
“What’s your name?” My voice was thick, scratchy. I’d kept in the shadows of the car, watching her, seeing her reaction play across her face. She licked her lips, and I lowered my gaze to watch the act.
“Claire,” she said in the sweetest, softest voice I’d ever heard, a song from the very heavens above.
My body became tense, my blood rushing through my veins. I wanted to protect her, to kill anyone who ever hurt her, who dared to even think about doing so. I wanted blood on my hands, bodies at my feet. It would all be in the name of Claire. I’d always been protective of the women I saved, but this was different. Where I felt an almost parental connection to those woman, a part of me wanting to care for them because they’d had such a rough go at life, with Claire I felt something much more personal. I was protective of her, territorial of her, not only because I wanted to make sure she was safe, but because I wanted her as my own.
I watched her, not saying anything for long seconds. When I finally felt in control and knew I could say anything without sounding like a ravished animal, I spoke. “I’m Xavier…”
And you’re mine.

Jenika Snow is a USA Today Bestselling Author that lives in the northwest with her husband and their two daughters. Before she started writing full-time she worked as a nurse.

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