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Thursday, September 11, 2014

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Release Blitz - Double Stuffed Eclairs (Sweet Things #1) by Faith Gibson

Synopsis
Annie Mae Dalton’s professional life is pretty sweet. Her bakery, Sweet Things, is doing really well. Her personal life has been almost non-existent. Until now. What happens when not one but three men from her past come storming in at the same time? 

FBI Agent Marcus Anders and Atlanta PD Detective Scott O’Malley are on the hunt for a kidnapper that takes them both back to their hometown of Clarksville, Georgia and to the girl of their high school dreams: Annie Dalton. 

Biker Mitch Rodriquez has been Annie’s on again off again lover for the past 15 years. He is also the half -brother of Marcus Anders. In trying to protect Annie, he inadvertently brings danger into her life. 

Passions are ignited, secrets unravel, trusts are broken, and lives are changed forever.
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Excerpt
As she was stirring the green beans, the doorbell rang. A lump formed in her throat but she quickly squashed it. This was Marcus. Just Marcus. Instead of going to the door, she yelled for him to come on in. 
She knew the moment he was in the kitchen, she could smell him. That manly smell she had noticed the last time they were together. It was a mixture of Aqua di Gio cologne and Marcus. All man. She turned to look at him and her breath caught. He was still in his suit from work. Damn he must have those suits specially made. There’s no way that came off a rack. He was holding a bottle of wine and a bouquet of wildflowers. She whispered, “You remembered.” 
He stepped even closer and presented the flowers to her. “I remember everything about you Dollface.” Annie took the flowers and immediately turned away and headed to the pantry to get a vase. 
“Well thank you. And you can put the wine in the freezer for now, if you want it chilled.” 
Marcus did just that. Then he leaned up against the counter, as he had done countless times in the past, just watching. Annie felt his eyes on her as she moved around the kitchen, stirring this, tasting that, trimming the flowers, putting them in a vase, then onto the middle of the table. 
She glanced at him only to notice him sniffing the air. Laughing she asked him, “Did you turn into a werewolf and not tell me? What are you sniffing?” 
Grinning at her, “I smell country fried steak, don’t I? You remembered too.” 
Annie nodded, “Yeah, I wasn’t sure if you still ate the good stuff though, with all that muscle you’re packing now, you probably only eat grilled meat and raw veggies.” She smirked at him while taking a couple of beers out of the fridge. 
“Smartass, I eat my veggies steamed.” He laughed at her while taking the offered beer. 
“I don’t want to ruin your appetite, but supper needs to simmer just a few more minutes. Can we sit down and talk?” 
“We can do whatever you want.”
Mitch leaned down, put a shoulder to Annie’s stomach and lifted her over his shoulder. He could feel her laughter and the sting of her hand as she smacked his ass. She didn’t struggle against him, this was their game. He walked straight to her bedroom, one he’d shared with her many nights, and tossed her on her bed. He immediately began stripping out of his clothes, not wanting to waste any time getting in her pussy. 
“Clothes, Sweetness.” He didn’t have to tell her twice. Annie was always compliant to his demands in the bedroom. Over the years some of his demands had been kinkier than others but Annie had always met him head on, playfully, lustfully, passionately. Tonight wasn’t any different. 
Mitch stood at the side of the bed, stroking his cock, watching as Annie knelt on the bed, removing all of her clothes except for her lace thong. Having that small barrier between them drove him crazy and she knew it, but that was her play, every time. He watched her lick her lips as she watched him sliding his hand up and down his long shaft. He waited while she slid her hands up and cupped her breasts. He waited longer while she reached one hand down and cupped her mound. 
He didn’t wait any longer when he heard the moan deep in her throat. Leaning into her body with his, they both went down on to the bed, Annie on her back, Mitch on her front. He didn’t have to tell her to spread her legs, they automatically opened for him. He lowered himself so his face was next to her pussy. He let his teeth graze over the lace material, licking her through the thin barrier. 
As soon as Annie pressed her back into the mattress and bucked up into his face, he reached down and ripped the thong. That was his play. Wrapping his arms around her thighs, Mitch began his assault on her.


As he was coming down from his Annie induced high, he slowed his pace. His cock was still semi-hard so he used it to feel. To slowly stroke the inside of the most beautiful woman he had ever met. In. Out. In. Out. Oh. So. Slow. Torture was what this was but it was also something he desperately needed. To look, to feel, to remember this moment in time. Softy brushing her hair out of her face, he leaned over and with barely a breath between them, touched his lips to hers. Closing his eyes, Mitch Rodriguez breathed in the breath of the woman he loved. The breath he would take with him forever.
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MeetTheAuthor
Faith Gibson lives just outside Nashville TN with her husband and 4-legged children. She is waiting on her 2-legged children to give her grandbabies. When Faith isn't writing she is reading or riding her Harley. Faith has been writing since high school but just took the chance on putting her works out there. Writing, whether poetry, songs, or fiction is a great release for her.




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Release Blitz - Juice (The O'Malley's #1) by Michelle McLoughney - Sept 11

Synopsis
  Three years after the tragic accident that claimed the life of her brother Harry, Cassidy Evans is still struggling. Determined to focus on her career as an artistic consultant in London; when Cassidy lands the commission of a lifetime she has no choice but to dive in head first. There is only one very tall, very beautiful, man-shaped problem. Her attraction to her new client Rory O’Malley is proving impossible to ignore. Cassidy finds herself falling for Rory and for once she allows herself to be carried away by the prospect of true love. Rory seems almost too good to be true. Is he?

As CEO of the exclusive O’Malley resorts, Rory O’Malley frequently travels around the world. His good looks and healthy bank balance have always ensured that he has his pick of beautiful women, but through choice has been celibate for over six months. Whenever Rory is at home in Ireland his family provides more than enough drama to keep him entertained. Rory thinks his life is grand just as it is--until he meets Cassidy. Rory has never met anyone as sweet as Cassidy, both inside and out.

Cassidy is unaware that Rory harbours a secret about her brother’s accident. A secret that could potentially ruin their blossoming love affair. Soon, he is willing to move mountains to love--and protect--her, but should he be protecting her from himself?

Cassidy had vowed never to make the mistake of loving a man again. So, how the hell did she end up in his bed? And how the hell did he end up in her heart? The attraction between them sparkles and sizzles and love winds its grip around them both. But secrets rarely stay hidden and very soon Rory’s secret puts their love in jeopardy. Can Cassidy forgive the worst betrayal she had ever known?

 

Excerpt
May your home always be too small,
To hold all your friends.
Irish proverb.

Walking onto Kirkland lane and heading towards the gallery, Cass noticed a sleek black SUV moving down the street at great speed. As it passed, she saw the little black kitten that had been hanging around the last few days dart suddenly across the road. The black SUV skidded to a grinding halt inches from the kitten. The kitten looked sheepishly at the wheels of the SUV and instead of running away, chose that exact moment to sit down and begin washing itself. A man jumped from the driver’s seat and started to shoo the kitten away with his shoe. Cass heard the kitten yelp as his foot made contact. Oh no, you did not! What the hell!  It was at this stage Cass realised with some trepidation that she was going to get involved, regardless of how stupid it was to approach the vehicle. Ordinarily, Cass left the superhero stuff to her best friend Marie who was more prone to sudden bursts of bravery. But seeing himkick the kitten roughly made her blood boil. What a fuck-knuckle!
Storming over to the car, Cass started to yell at him. If there is one thing she could not abide, it was the mistreatment of those most vulnerable. This jackass was going to hear it one way or the other. 
 “Oi tough guy, what the hell do you think you are doing? You big bully!” Cass picked up the kitten and cradled it gently in her hands.
The short stout man turned around suddenly and stared at her as though she had two heads.
  “Listen lady, I’m in a hurry here!”
 “In a hurry. Really?” she repeated incredulously, jiggling her shoulders in her most ghetto bitch pose.
 “Well maybe if you left earlier, you would get to your destination on time rather than bombing it down the street like you’re driving the flipping bat mobile.”     
  She snorted loudly in his general direction trying to keep the squirming kitten from running away. Ah hello kitty, a bit of cooperation please. I’m saving your arse here!
 Cass kept her eyes trained on the driver as she dropped and picked up the kitten a few times, finally snuggling it in-between her boobs in an effort to keep it still.
  “Poor kitty got a big fright, a big fright! Yes you did. Yes. You. Did. What is that bad man doing? Bad, bad man in a big silly car.” 
The driver stared open mouthed at her, and then dropped his gaze to her breasts which as usual were threatening to pop out of her top. As she rubbed the kitty in-between them, and murmured soft words reassuringly into the black fur. She felt his eyes on her and looked up to meet them. She squinted as she followed his gaze, until it landed on her boobs. The bloody cheek of it!
 “Have I something on belonging to you, Mister?’ she asked raising her eyebrows and jutting her chin out giving him ‘the look.’
  “No. But you certainly seem to be wearing that kitten quite well,” a deep voice drawled from the back of the SUV.
Cass stepped back and craned her neck in an effort to see who was behind the blackened window of the car. She hadn’t even realised the driver of the car had a passenger. The door opened, and she watched mute as a big Italian leather shoe dangled in mid air for a few seconds. The shoe was Promptly followed by a pair of grey suit trousers, a black fitted shirt, a body, and a man. A very-very, tall and very-very hot man!  Holy shit on a stick! 
Cass touched her face quickly to see if there was drool or leftover breakfast on her chin, and tried to stop the usual facial explosion of hot redness that she was cursed with. Epic fail. Having lived in London for a little over eighteen months now, she had seen plenty of good looking men in the city, but this guy…this guy! Towering over a foot above her own petite 5ft 2inches, he was built like a brick shit-house. Black shiny hair, cut long on the top and short at the back and sides flopped down over his right eye. 
As if on cue, he ran his fingers through his hair pushing it back. Cass gaped at the movement and darted her eyes back to the kitten. She looked up quickly, glanced to her left and right and wondered if she was being set up for a hidden camera show. Gorgeous, sexy, attractive, all the adjectives in the world seemed too paltry to describe him. She looked up at his face and took note of the sharpness of his cheekbones, the stubble, the wide set eyes and  strong jaw-line. She was surprised by the intensity of her attraction him. Her body was reacting to their closeness, and she didn’t appreciate it one little bit. He was staring at her. Why are you staring? The driver scurried back to the taller man and looked up at him with a lapdog expression on his face. His ridiculous chauffeur’s hat was too big and it kept dropping down over his eyes. Cass felt a giggle threatening to burst from her throat, and bit her top lip between her teeth. The driver spoke in a hushed whisper to the tall man. Cass assumed he was an important client and pursed her lips.
 “Apologies, Sir. I’ll have this taken care of in a moment. Listen, girl…. You-”
“Don’t you patronise me, Sir.” Cass fumbled with the daft kitten, and tried to put her hand on her hips while holding it. She watched as the sexgod smiled behind his hand, then rubbed his stubbled jaw and began to whistle softly between his teeth.
 And then he looked at her. He stared straight into her eyes, cocked his head to one side and suddenly held his hands up in mock submission.
 Cass raised one eyebrow at him.  Yeah big boy, you’re hilarious.
“Please accept my most sincere apologies, Miss?”
 He put out his hand for her to shake and ran the other one through his hair again, tossing it. Bloody hell! Thought Cass.
 “Evans. My name is Cassidy Evans.” Cass made no attempt to take his outstretched hand, and instead made a ‘tutting’ noise as loudly as she could and shook her head.
 Irish. He’d have to be. Typical! Hot and with a ‘fuck me’ accent to boot. Accents are the devil. Every girl knows that the right accent can guarantee that a man will get his leg over. Every. Damn. Time.
Cass felt a bitchy sense of self-satisfaction as his eyes widened in surprise when she left his hand hanging limply in mid-air. He adjusted his facial expression quickly to a cool and disinterested mask. Obviously not used to being rebuffed, Cass thought. Well, there ya go Mister sexy arse. Cass congratulated herself for taking one for the feminist movement. It didn’t feel too much like a win, admittedly.
 She failed miserably at trying to hide her inner evil smirk and it was proving impossible to keep the giddiness from her face.
“Miss Evans, please accept my apology. My driver should not have been so quick to remove the kitten without checking first, to see if it was okay.”
 The driver looked at Cassidy and then glanced back to his boss. He lifted his shoulders and dropped his eyes looking surprised. He looked as though he was about to argue, until sexy put his hand up in front of his face and muttered ‘Shush.’
  Denied. A bit of Cass wanted to high five sexgod for cutting off the little twerp. Sexgod looked at his driver and spoke sternly. “I think an apology is in order, don’t you.”
 “Am. Yes-” the driver stuttered. “Yes of course, is the kitten okay Miss-”
  “Cassidy Evans. Miss Cassidy Evans,” said the sexgod in an exasperated tone, never taking his eyes from Cass.
 “Yes. Apologies Miss Evans. The kitten, is it all right?”
Cass sniffed and looked down her nose at the kitty kicker. She held up the kitten and made a performance out of inspecting her paws and ears  “Why yes, I believe she is, Duffy is just fine now, just a little shook up. Thank you for your concern.”
  “Duffy?” queried the sexgod. He moved closer to her side and touched Duffy, tickling her ears.  Holy shit! He smells really good.
  His leg came to rest against Cass’ thigh, and she felt the muscles of her leg begin to quiver. Their eyes clashed and held each other until she was forced to look away from him.
 “It is your Kitten then, Cassidy?”
  He bent his head to one side and raised his perfect black brows at Cass, before smiling at her with straight white teeth. Bet an orthodontist had a field day with those choppers. Damn good work, damn good.
“Officially, no. But, she has been hanging around for the last two days and I have been feeding her. So I guess she has kind of adopted me.”
“How do you know her name is Duffy then?”
“Because she told me.”
“She what?” He stopped mid rub and frowned at her.
Cass was enjoying this far too much.
 “I’m kidding, relax! I just think she looks like a Duffy, don’t you think, yeah definitely a Duffy?”
  He looked at her as though she were a confusing puzzle.
“What is a Duffy?  I suppose she could be a Duffy,” he said rubbing the kitten under its chin. Duffy purred. Cass nearly groaned aloud. Were all females instinctively drawn to him? Probably. No doubt this man had pussys of all kinds at his beck and call.
He scrunched up his forehead and spoke to her with his face animated and curious. “Hang on, are you telling me you named this kitten in the last 30 seconds?”
“Everyone deserves a name, and I think it suits her,” said Cass furiously trying not to look at the him and failing miserably. Her eyes wouldn’t stop drinking him in and her imagination was in overdrive. Cass and sexgod holding hands, Cass and sexgod hugging. Hmm. Cass and sexgod in bed, fucking. Stop this immediately!
 “Oh..kay. Speaking of names, mine is Rory.” He put out his hand again, and this time Cass offered her shaking right hand slowly in return. As their fingers touched, Cass felt the electricity travel from her hand to her gut. Jumping back she frowned at him. Well that was new! Jesus did that actually happen in real life? Rory held her hand a moment longer than was necessary and she looked down at their hands still entwined. Eyeing the long brown fingers and wide hands, Cass wondered how hands could be considered sexy?
 “Rory…R..o..r..yyyyy.” She sounded it on her tongue. It sounded sexy, felt sexy. Rory coughed lightly and cleared his throat, Cass blushed to her roots realising that she had spoken aloud. Her nipples strained behind the fabric of her tee shirt, and between her legs suddenly felt electrified too. Cass clamped her legs together paranoid that it was visible in some way, and let an ‘oooh’ noise escape from her stupid betraying lips.
 Rory’s eyes widened and he parted his lips slightly.
Caught by the bollocks! Act normal for heavens sake, Cass! 
 “Rory, like from The G…Gilmore girls?” she stammered.
 He frowned then, as though she were speaking in tongues.
 “What or who is a Gilmore Girl?” When he frowned, little creases appeared on his forehead. Cute.
 “The TV show? The girl’s name is Rory. The daughter on the show. Lorelai's daughter?” 
Oh ye Gawds, this is going nowhere, fast. She was consciously aware that she was babbling and the more she tried to stop, the worse it got.
“Never heard of it,” he clipped. “Rory is an Irish boys’ name.”
“Oh, yes. Yes I know. It’s a nice name, and it’s a good show too. The Gilmore Girls, I mean.”
He nodded slowly at her. “I’ll check it out.” 
He was so not going to check it out. She nearly groaned at the mortification of it all. 
“Right,” she muttered, fidgeting.
“Cassidy is an unusual first name.”
“Yeah, I suppose. Most people call me Cass,” she shrugged.
“Pretty.”
“Huh?” She looked at him scrunching up her face. He thinks I’m pretty?
“I said your name is pretty, Cassidy. It suits you.”
“Oh…oh thanks. I’m an idiot! It was my great grandmothers maiden name, she was Irish too.”
“So we have something in common then.”
He smiled then, a big broad smile. Somewhere inside her, she envisaged her ovaries exploding and groaned internally.
“And where are you from, Cassidy? Your accent doesn’t sound like you’re from London.”
“Devon, I grew up in a small village called Ashworth.”
“Really? Nice part of the country, I’m told. And what brought you to London, Cassidy? Were you looking for something a bit more exciting than Devon?”
The way he said her name had the hairs standing on the back of her neck. His voice was gruff and deep. He had moved in closer to her. Too damn close. She had to lift her head back to meet his eyes, and could feel the hardness of his chest against her shoulder as he continued to rub Duffy’s body. Trying not to focus on the movement of his hand rubbing along the cats back, was an exercise in futility. Her breath was coming out hitched and nervous and the smell of him was intoxicating making her feel exposed, vulnerable.
“I came to London two and a half years ago to set up an art gallery with my friend 
Marie and we’ve have been here ever since. I run ‘The Muse’ gallery just off Brampton Street.  Just around the corner actually.”
Cass pointed in the general area behind him not taking her eyes from his face.
“Good for you, I might drop in for a look.” Yeah right, I won’t hold my breath.
“Cool. Anyway, I have to go, I have an appointment. It was lovely to meet you Mister…umm. Rory.” 
She took a step back from him.
He looked as though he wanted to continue the conversation, but Cass didn’t give him the chance. He was unsettling her, just by being so close. The artist in her kept imaging him naked, and spread out in front of her in all sorts of disgustingly elaborate, filthy poses. Gawd, I really need to get laid! Although, she had survived well this long without a man. Well, apart from the buzzing variety. A girl’s got needs!
And he smelled so good, like expensive cologne and lemon soap. Her eyes were wandering all over him, his crisp white shirt open at the neck revealed a smattering of  dark chest hair underneath. Very distracting indeed!

Cass realised that she hadn’t in fact moved at all, she was just standing there in the same position ogling him. Something she suspected he was fairly familiar with. Giving him a ridiculous half nod, half Japanese bow and an embarrassed smile she stalked off towards the gallery, kitten in hand. She cringed and mouthed ‘no no no no,' the entire journey to the other side of the road. She turned around and waved quickly, then groaned when she saw the two men still staring after her. 
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MeetTheAuthor
Michelle McLoughney was raised and still lives in the south west of Ireland, where she runs a Montessori school. An award winning poet, she began writing her first adult romance over a year ago. Being a lover of all things romantic, Michelle just loves a happy ever after. She likes to write strong but loving male leads, and their feisty and funny love interests. When she is not busy daydreaming, plotting or having conversations with her characters; she likes to indulge her addiction to Netflix, usually accompanied by chocolate and wine.

I really hope readers enjoy my debut novel ‘Juice.’ It is the first book of the O’Malley family series, book 2 is due out in January 2015. Please feel free to drop me an email or contact me on Facebook. I would love to hear your thoughts.
 

  


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Release Day Blitz - In Distress by Caethes Faron

Synopsis
After the Great Destruction destroyed the world, science is the new god. Geneticists rule, instituting a DNA-based caste system in their effort to restore the human genome.

As a Zed, Will’s a virtual slave who isn’t allowed medical care. A tragic accident has left him crippled, awaiting death. Just before his time is up, Malcolm, an enigmatic Alpha with two differently colored eyes sweeps in and buys him. Will becomes part of a family of freaks—other damaged Zeds who should be dead. Life seems ideal until Malcolm makes a request that could change Will’s life.

Malcolm harbors more secrets than his Zeds could imagine. His attraction to Will unravels his carefully cultivated control, and one secret escapes: he craves pain, not just as a sexual release, but as a way to atone for his past. Will may be the one person who can give him what he needs if Malcolm can only allow him into his heart.

As they struggle to build trust, each secret Malcolm reveals threatens their relationship. In the end, their desire for each other may heal both men if they can unlearn the lessons of the past.
 


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Chapter One

Will adjusted his back against the metal bars of his cage, welcoming the cool touch of steel against his hot skin. It would have been nice if the cage had at least one solid wall to lean against. Instead, it was fashioned like a giant bird cage, and the metal bars were a bitch on sore muscles. Of course, they weren’t really meant for long-term use. Their sole purpose was to display Zeds to shopping Alphas like zoo animals. If all went well, a Zed would spend a few days, maybe a week, in one of these cages before being carted off home with an Alpha. That was how it was supposed to work, but in the back room of Emporium, it wasn’t so simple.
A flash of pain shot up Will’s left leg, and he winced as he shifted position. He could barely look at the twisted mess of a limb. His leg was the reason he waited in the back room instead of out front. He looked around the room at the other cages. The most undesirable of the undesirables stared back at him with no hope in their faces. It was easy in this stuffy room to see why the Alphas and Betas viewed Zeds as less than human. Everyone in the back room had some deformity, something that made their resale value plummet—something that made it all right in the eyes of the law for them to be quietly disposed of if they weren’t sold within a month.
The air chilled, and goose bumps rose on Will’s flesh where sweat had been a moment before. He scrambled to his feet along with the others in their cages. If the climate control was being activated, it could only mean one thing: an Alpha was approaching to do some shopping. As he stood, the goose bumps spread without the huddled warmth of his body. He wore a pair of tight gray shorts that barely covered him, displaying his scrawny frame and mangled leg. He hadn’t been attractive before the accident, and he certainly wasn’t now. In a few more days, one of the handlers would pull him from his cell, and he’d finally learn how Zeds were disposed of. Was it a nice, quiet injection? Will scoffed. He knew better than to hope for such mercy at the hands of the Alphas or even the Betas who operated Emporium. More likely, he’d be tortured, and then when he happened to die, it’d be a nice little “oops” that no one would have to account for. Yeah, that was more in line with how New Cali worked.
Will was so lost in his dark thoughts that he almost missed the shadow of a man who strolled into the back room like a regular visitor. Not only was he silent as a shadow, he resembled one. Thick, straight black hair curled slightly at the ends. A smartly tailored black suit complete with black dress shirt clung to his tall, perfect frame. Not too bulky, but not skinny either. He sported the build of a man whose muscles were strictly for show. Like most Alphas, he probably hardly had to work to maintain that physique.
The man made his way from cage to cage, examining each inhabitant with a silent, cool gaze. Will steeled himself when the Alpha reached him. He stared straight back into the man’s eyes, trying his damnedest to show that he wouldn’t be judged by his deformity. The man didn’t even seem to notice. Gazing into the Alpha’s eyes, Will had to keep himself from jerking in surprise. Staring back at him were two differently colored irises: one ice blue and the other amber. He never thought he’d find such an apparent flaw in an Alpha, and Will took a little satisfaction in seeing it before he died.
The man finished his inspection and went to a Zed who must already belong to him. She appeared to be in her late thirties—old for a Zed in personal service—and was well-attired in a modest, bright blue dress that appeared to be made out of real cotton instead of synthetic fabric. She was the exact opposite of her Alpha. From a distance, she could have passed for a Beta if it weren’t for the metal collar encircling her neck. She must hold some sentimental value to her owner for him to keep her so long.
Will leaned against the bars of his cage. He would have sat back down, but there was no way for him to do so with dignity, and he wasn’t about to show an Alpha even a smidge of weakness. Will wished the man would just pick who he wanted and leave so he could get back to his morbid thoughts. He knew this man was just one more prick he didn’t have to worry about belonging to. The Alpha hadn’t looked at Will any longer than the others, and Will wasn’t the only one to meet his eyes. There was nothing to distinguish him from the other offerings.
The Alpha leaned down and whispered into the woman’s ear. She snapped her head around to look at him with what appeared to be disapproval and pursed her lips before nodding. He swept out of the room as quickly and quietly as he had entered.
“That one.” The woman’s voice seemed loud in the silent room.
Will startled to see her finger pointed directly at him. His stomach sank, and he tried to keep the shock from his face. Who knew what she’d report back to her Alpha about his reaction. Their Alpha. Will hadn’t ever expected to be owned again. I was so close to it all ending. If only he’d had the courage to take care of it himself before he’d been brought to Emporium. He should have done it the day that damn horse broke his leg.
The tall, unpleasant Beta who was on shift in the back room unlocked Will’s cage. Will ignored the Beta’s helpful hand as he stepped out. There was no way he would appear weak in front of the Zed woman.
She sighed. “What’s your name, boy?”
“Will.”
She flinched slightly at his name, and her eyes narrowed for a moment. “How old are you, Will?”
“Twenty-three.”
She tsked, as if his answer didn’t please her at all, then turned to the Beta. “If you’ll send the invoice to my tablet, I’ll transfer the credits.”
“Payments must be authorized by the purchasing Alpha.” The Beta sneered.
“I have the authorization code. Let me worry about doing my job. Or if you like, I can go get my Alpha to come back in here. I’m sure he’d be thrilled to explain to a Beta how to do his job. We’ll see how long you keep that job and how long Emporium will keep my Alpha’s business if this is the kind of hassle he has to put up with here.”
Will could’ve sworn the temperature dipped a few degrees. He bit the inside of his cheek to keep from smiling. Under different circumstances, Will might have even liked her. The Beta murmured under his breath, something about barren Zeds getting above their caste. Nonetheless, he went to the data screen in the corner of the room as the woman withdrew a glass square the size of her palm from her pocket. She swiped her thumb across it, and the glass unfolded into a rectangular tablet. It was common for Zeds to have tablets in order to assist their Alphas, but Will had never seen a Zed with a Glass Tab before.
“There. Did you get that confirmation? Or do I have to come show you how to find it?”
“I have it here. I don’t need an arid bitch mouthing off at me. You’re free to go.”
Will bristled. It was a low blow to insult a Zed for being sterile, as if they had any choice.
“Come along, Will.”
Will followed her to a side door. It was no surprise Emporium didn’t want him exiting through the front, soiling the appearance of all the young, attractive Zeds on display. As they passed the Beta, whose name Will had never heard, he couldn’t help throwing him a dirty look, not only for his insult to the woman, but for his complicity in Will’s imprisonment.
Outside the side door, a sleek black and chrome bullet car waited. The woman opened the door and gestured for Will to get in. He scooted all the way over, and the woman followed. As soon as the door closed, the car took off without a word or glance from the Alpha behind the wheel.
Will’s nerves crawled up his stomach. The others had told him not to stare down Alphas, that some of them liked that, and the ones who did relished the challenge of breaking Zeds to their wills. Will wouldn’t let that happen. Before this man could do too much damage, he’d provoke him to kill him, or he’d off himself somehow. There was no way he’d die in misery as an Alpha’s plaything.
No use thinking about it. In moments of honesty, Will doubted he had the nerve to follow through. It was nice to imagine he had that kind of control over his life. However, it was best to not make too many assumptions. After all, the man clearly had a soft spot for the woman beside Will. She was pretty in her own way. Her long brown hair was thick and straight. Dark blue eyes kept casting worried glances at the driver.
The silence in the car felt taut, but the man to whom Will had been sold didn’t seem to notice. He kept his eyes on the road, veering in and out of traffic with the kind of clipped movements that made it seem like he only just kept his anger in check. Will wondered why he didn’t fly or use the autopilot if the traffic bothered him so much. Only Alphas had clearance to disable autopilot and drive manually or fly if they wanted. Maybe it was a good sign that he was keeping to the streets. If he wasn’t showy with his vehicle, there was a chance he wouldn’t be showy with his Zeds. Reserved. That was the word for it. This Alpha seemed entirely too reserved. With any luck, that was a good thing.
Will lost track of time as they sped out of the city. He tried to relax and enjoy the relative safety of the drive. The green of the suburbs faded, and the barren wastes spread out before them. Eventually, they ended up outside a large concrete wall. Will craned his neck, but the wall extended out of sight in both directions and rose over twenty meters tall. The blue light of the security net crackled and flickered in the air. So the wall wasn’t exclusively to keep Betas and Zeds in or out; it was also to protect against other Alphas. Interesting. Will had never seen a compound anywhere near as massive as this one.
Giant steel gates opened to allow the car to pass. Inside, the drab scenery instantly transformed into manicured lawns, neat walkways, and well-kept flower beds, like an idyllic park, with houses interspersed throughout. The car approached a hill on which perched a mansion that looked like something from before the Great Destruction instead of the modern homes of most Alphas. Underneath the house, wooden garage doors opened to admit them. The bullet car pulled in next to six other cars, all flashier than the one they were driving.
“Welcome home.” Something sounded off about the Zed’s voice, but Will was too distracted by his appearance to puzzle it out. The man was huge, barrel chested with rich, dark brown skin, much darker than the light tan hue of the people of New Cali. Will had never seen a foreign Zed before. He knew some Alphas liked that sort of thing, but importing was a hassle and pretty rare.
Will’s new owner strode past the Zed before Will or the woman could even get out of the car. “Take care of him, Kaleana.” He never broke his stride or glanced back. Within a few steps, he was inside and out of sight.
Kaleana shook her head at the big man, and he got back to work on one of the other cars. “Come on then, Will. Do you need any help?”
Will exited the car. “No, I walk just fine.” His leg was twisted, not missing.
Kaleana simply raised an eyebrow and turned to go inside. Will followed, trying to mask his limp as much as possible. Walking felt like a novelty after three weeks in that cage. Once his leg stopped sending shocks of pain through his body with every step, he paid attention to where they were going.
Will felt his eyes widen. He didn’t know why he continued to be amazed by the wealth the Alphas held. The floor was marble: gray, black, and white swirls polished to a clean shine. Old-fashioned light fixtures hung from the ceiling without an embedded light in sight. The walls above the chair rail were upholstered with white fabric with a black filigree pattern, and below, the colors of the fabric were inverted.
Kaleana disappeared around a corner, and Will hurried to catch her as she ascended a narrow staircase. The steps presented something of a challenge, but he settled into a rhythm. They passed the first floor, and on the second, Kaleana led him to a thick, rich wooden door. The dark wood of the doors was an interesting contrast to the stark walls, and the gold doorknob was carved with the Alpha crest of the New Cali nation-state. It seemed a work of art in itself. Will had no idea where such an elegant door would lead.
Kaleana opened the door, and Will followed her inside. A large mattress with stark white bedding rested on an intricately carved black wooden frame. The furniture was all black and white with a few polished metal accents. It was the cleanest place Will had ever seen.
“This is your room.”
Will shook his head, thinking something must be lodged in his ears. “Excuse me?”
A smile played at the edges of Kaleana’s lips. “You heard right. There’s a bathroom through the door over there.” Kaleana nodded toward the far right corner. “There’re some clothes in the closet. We’ll get you some new ones that fit better.”
Will’s mind raced. A private bathroom? Clothes specially made for him? His new Alpha must have some weird sexual kink that attracted him to deformed Zeds. It was a basic fact that Zeds either did hard labor that was too dangerous for Betas, or they served as sexual or entertainment companions. It was clear which situation Will had landed himself in. He couldn’t decide if it was a good thing.
“Do I share this room with another Zed, ma’am?”
“No, and there’s no need to call me ma’am. It’s just Kaleana. There’s a Glass Tab by the bed that you are free to use. It has limited access at the moment. Now, there are very few rules in this house, which means there’s no excuse not to follow all of them. You’re to keep yourself clean. Your meals will be taken with the rest of the boys.”
“The rest of the boys?” When Kaleana had said he wasn’t sharing the room, he assumed that meant there were no Zeds other than the man in the garage in the house. It didn’t make sense to give each his own room.
“Yes. There are seven, including you.”
“And what are they all here for? What are my duties?”
“To do as you’re told. Now, stop interrupting.” Will got the distinct impression Kaleana would rather be somewhere else. “Breakfast is at eight o’clock every morning. Lunch is at one, and dinner is at six. Keep yourself and your room tidy. There is to be absolutely no fighting with anyone else. As long as you don’t cause trouble, you should fit in well here. This is a nice home. You’re very lucky. Do you have any questions?”
He had hundreds of questions, but Will was smart enough to wait until he found the right time—and the right person—to ask them. Only one matter left him with too much curiosity to ignore. “The Alpha, what’s his name?”

Kaleana fully smiled for the first time, her face softening around the creases next to her eyes. “Malcolm.”

MeetTheAuthor

Caethes Faron is a bisexual, genre-queer writer. Her books are equal opportunity, featuring gay, straight, and bisexual characters. Her bittersweet tales of love and loyalty are just as likely to leave readers in tears as smiles, and her love scenes don't fade to black. She enjoys empowering the powerless and exploring the nature of human relationships, especially in differing power dynamics. All of her books feature adults in adult situations. Foul language, diverse sexual situations, aspects of BDSM, and other things that are sure to offend some people make regular appearances in her novels.

Caethes's writing is influenced by her observations of this imperfect world and the flawed characters who inhabit it. She's lived in seven states and is always looking for the next place to call home with her husband and two dogs. She currently resides in Florida.

   


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