Howdy! A few of you who follow me on Facebook and my newsletter might already know this, but I don’t want you to feel left out if you follow my blog alone! There are so many ways to find out information, so sometimes you might see it twice, so sorry about that!
I got back from RT in Dallas I think last week. I say I think because my brain hurts and days tend to blend together! I had a blast. I saw so many people and had a fantastic time. If you have any photos of us together, send them to me! I’d love to see you!
My next conference is Authors After Dark (Aug 12-16th 2015). Registration is open now. I’m doing a few panels, hosting an exclusive party with Stephanie Julian, hosting a lunch table, and hosting a table at the Bump in the Night Ball. You can sign up for the latter soon. I’ll also be at the book signing so you should stop by if you’re in Atlanta! Or come for the whole thing anyway because it should be fun.
After that I have the Baltimore Book Festival (Sept 25-27th 2015). Its going to be a lot of fun with panels and a bookstore within the tent. I’ll be there all weekend inside Inner Harbor. I hope you can come!
I might be at NYC Comic Con in October. More info to come.
And then finally this year, I will be at Philly Author Fest (Nov 14th). Its an all day signing that is free and open to the public. Come on by!
I’m going to go book by book for a bit. 😀
Harder than Words (Montgomery Ink Book 3): Releases June 16th. Meghan and Luc’s story is out for review and you can preorder it now. This is an emotional book and mighty steamy. The reviews so far are great so I’m excited. I hope you love it. You can read the first chapter on my blog now.
Finally Found You (A Tempting Signs Novella): Releases June 23rd. This is Presley and Mason’s story. They are both Cancer Zodiac signs but it IS a contemporary romance. She’s a professional gamer and designer. He’s a blue collar worker and her best friend. I freaking love this story. Its stand alone though you can read the other books in the series by other authors too. I hope you love this one. The first chapter is on my blog now.
Stolen and Forgiven (Branded Packs Book 1): Releases July 14th. This is the first book in the series that I’m writing with Alexandra Ivy. Its a dark series. A sexy series. And I am LOVING it. The series is a paranormal one that centers on the idea that shifters are out in public, but locked away because the humans have control. For now. Its in final edits now and we might have a few copies for review. You can pre-order it now. 😀
An Alpha’s Choice (Talon Pack Book 2): Releases August 18th. I’m writing this badboy now. Its due any day now so I’m working my bum off on it. I had a few issues with my health and the idea of the book since the Talon Pack series is a little crazy after what happened in Tattered Loyalties (Book 1). *SPOILER LOL* Brynn and Finn are so freaking filled with sexy angst, that the book took awhile and a few misfires to take shape. But OMG I love where its going. You guys are going to flip. Just saying. 😀 You can pre-order it now.
The rest of the books for 2015 and 2016 are either plotted or ready to be plotted.
Talon Pack (Redwood Pack) – The Redwood Pack books are “officially” over. From now on anything set in that world will be labeled as Talon Pack. Why? Because the timeline gets confusing and I don’t want y’all to get confused as what to read and when. I keep the order on my site and on Goodreads. That includes novellas. So if you want to read about The Redwood Pack children, they will be in The Talon Pack. For the last half of 2015, you will get one more Talon Pack novel (An Alpha’s Choice). 2016 will probably have 1-2 novels and a novella. The novella will ALSO be part of 1,001 Dark Nights. We will see how things go. 😀
Montgomery Ink – The Montgomery Ink series is going strong. I am SO happy you’re loving the contemporary flare of mine. Book 3 (Harder than Words) releases June 16th. Book 4 (Written in Ink) releases Oct 11th. Its Griffin’s book and you will meet your heroine in Book 3. Next year there will probably be a novel and novella in the series. I also met a group of people in this series that I wanted to know more about…so you might be seeing a spin off series of sexy bearded tattooed brothers. Ahem.
Branded Packs – Alexandra and I are releasing 2 books this year. (Book 1 – Stolen and Forgiven. Book 2 – Abandoned and Unseen.) I hope y’all love it because we want to release book 3 next year! Title and info to come!
Dante’s Circle – I am releasing one book a year in this series until I reach book 7. So Amara and Eliana will get their stories. In their own time. The books take awhile to write because each one opens up 2-5 new realms that need world building etc. Fallen for Alphas, a novella I had wanted to write, is postponed until I can write a full length novel for Alec and Liam.
I’m updating the website with new book info soon. Plus a few things might change since my brand has changed a bit since I first got the new site. So if you see it in mid change, sorry for the mess!
Finally Found You releases June 23rd!!! I wrote this baby a year ago and I have been dying to show you Presley and Mason’s story. Its my best-friends-turned-loves-gamer-girl-blue-collar-worker-zodiac-contemporary romance LOL. Yes. I know. I am in LOVE! Its part of the Tempting Signs Series (Book 4 in fact). Each book is written by a different author but you can read each as a stand alone. 😀
Here is the first chapter!
It is said that a kitchen counter can harvest more bacteria than a toilet bowl.
Knowing that, Presley Mackenzie figured it would take more than bleach to get her friend’s ass print off the countertop after the woman finished having sex with Trent.
Trent, as in Presley’s boyfriend.
At first, Presley wasn’t exactly sure what she was witnessing. Yes, that was her kitchen counter. Yes, that was her friend, Stacy—former friend, now that she thought about it—with her skirt hiked up around her waist. Her now ex-friend had her shirt open, her bra glaringly red against her fake-tanned skin. That same ex-friend had her arms back, her hands clinging to the edge of the breakfast counter where Presley had once loved to eat and enjoy a fresh cup of coffee in the mornings.
She wasn’t sure she’d be able to do that anymore.
Eat there, that was.
She’d never had sex on her kitchen counter. In fact, she’d never had sex anywhere except for her bedroom.
With the lights off.
And her back to the mattress.
Trent had always frowned on doing something as improper as giving into one’s urges. He liked things done on time, quietly, and quickly. In his case, the latter was spot on every time. The irony of what he frowned on made her want to scream since the man currently had his pants around his ankles, his belt buckle clanging against the tile with each thrust, as he banged her friend. The woman had one leg wrapped around his waist, the other on his shoulder. It seemed her hours in yoga were paying off.
Not that she truly cared how flexible Stacy was.
No, right then, Presley wanted to crawl in a hole and hide. Maybe if she did, she’d wake up and find out it was all a very bad dream. Hiding might not be the bravest thing, but it beat having to deal with this.
God, she didn’t want to deal with this. For a moment, she wished she could walk back out and forget what she’d seen. Maybe even go back in time and stop at the store for milk or something so Trent and Stacy would have been done.
Burying her head in the sand wouldn’t work though.
It never did.
Trent moaned then gripped Stacy’s breast, plucking her nipple.
“Oh, yeah, Stacy. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.”
Nope. Not a dream.
Trent needed a new phrase while getting his groove on—or whatever the hell this was. Just saying.
Why the hell was she thinking about Trent’s sex phrases while he fucked Stacy? It wasn’t like Trent ever spoke during their times together. No, he merely panted a bit before grunting, his eyes closed or off in the distance. He never gave her the same eye contact he was giving Stacy.
What a bastard.
Stacy’s blonde hair shone brightly under the warm lights Presley had put in the kitchen. She hadn’t known Trent had a thing for blondes. After all, her shoulder-length brown tresses were nothing short of boring. Not that she cared. No, she’d never had a problem with the unruly mass of curls, waves, and straight pieces that decided every morning which way they would go. Most days it was all three. She just pulled it up in a ponytail or stuffed it under a hat and called it a day.
She didn’t need the two-hundred-dollar dye jobs Stacy had every four weeks.
Or so she thought.
She wasn’t going to compare herself. Not when Trent was still pumping like a lunatic and Presley didn’t have any ice cream in her hand.
“I guess I should have called to say I was coming home early,” Presley said, surprising herself. “Or maybe that was you two. Coming that is.”
Well, look at her go, making jokes while she wanted to run and hide. Good job.
Stacy looked over, a wide smile on her face before forming that perfect “O” as she came.
Trent, on the other hand, looked over, scrunched his face, and then pumped one last time before he froze. His lip lifted in a snarl, one eye squinted, and he moaned a weird grunt before pausing.
Yep, that was Trent’s sex face.
And yet her heart felt as if someone had ripped it out and put it in the blender at the sight of the two people she should have trusted the most on her kitchen counter.
“You’re home early,” Trent said calmly. He then pulled out of Stacy, took off the condom, and waddled over to the trashcan.
He bent over—so not an image Presley ever wanted to see again—and pulled up his pants. Stacy hummed a bit as she righted her clothing, and Presley seethed.
Why were they acting so calm?
Shouldn’t they be looking a little ashamed? Shouldn’t they be trying to hide themselves? What the hell?
Nope. She was done. So freaking done.
“Get out. Both of you. Just get the fuck out of my house.”
Trent raised a brow. “Honey. Please. Don’t make a scene.”
“Yes, darling,” Stacy purred. “It’s unbecoming.”
Presley’s hands shook, and she tucked them in the pockets of her hoodie. She knew she looked like some grunge reject next to Perfect Stacy and Polished Trent, but grunge was who she was. Presley of the hoodie and jeans.
The person Trent had dated for over a year.
And yet, apparently, he’d been screwing Stacy as well. There was no way from the way they were acting just then that this was a one-time thing. Oh no, not with that cat-in-cream look on Stacy’s face.
“I said get out. We’re done. All of us. I don’t care what you have to say, but I’m not going to stand here and listen to your excuses.”
She loved this man. Loved him. She’d told him so, and he’d said it back to her, but he had to have been lying. There was no way someone could truly love one person and fuck another person on the first person’s kitchen counter.
There had to be a rule about that somewhere.
If not, she was totally going to make one.
Damn it. She veered off track. Again.
“I don’t want to see you. I don’t want to listen to you. I need you to leave and never talk to me again. Then I need to see about getting my counters replaced.”
“Honey, if you’re getting your counters replaced, you’re going to want to get your bed replaced, too.”
Presley blinked, her mind going blank. Her bed?
They’d screwed each other in her bed?
If she was the type of person to hit another, she would have done it right then. However, she was a Cancer, meaning she reined in the urge to slap that smirk off of Stacy’s face and took a deep breath. She would be the better person.
Then she’d find a way to mend her broken heart.
Because, no matter how much it sucked to say, Trent had totally ripped into her in every way possible.
Her eyes stung, and she forced herself not to cry.
No. She wouldn’t give them the satisfaction.
“Leave. Now.” Her voice wasn’t so strong this time, and she had a feeling from the look in Trent’s eyes that he knew it.
“We will talk about what you just saw later, Presley,” Trent drawled in that smooth, condescending tone of his. “You’re just not thinking clearly. Once you do, you’ll realize that what you saw was a mistake, and what needs to happen in the future revolves around you and me.”
“Hey!” Stacy screamed.
“I’m so not dealing with this,” Presley mumbled and went to the phone. “I’m calling the police in ten seconds. If you’re not off my property by then, face the consequences.” Her words might have been strong, but she was numb.
She thought she was going to marry Trent. She’d even thought about babies and new houses, and a future filled with his smile.
That damn smile.
Her heart ached, and her chin wobbled.
Trent met her gaze then nodded. From the look in his eyes, she knew he didn’t get it. Knew he didn’t understand what he’d done wrong.
He pulled a screaming Stacy by the elbow out of Presley’s house, quietly closing the door behind him.
He’d acted so…civilized.
Her boyfriend had just cheated on her in her own house, and now Presley had to deal with it.
With the phone in her hand, she shuffled to the front door and locked it. Then she dragged herself to the living room and sank into the couch. There was no way she’d be able to sleep in her bed.
The first tear fell, and she choked on a sob.
Trent had cheated.
Cheated with her friend.
That sharp pang ricocheted off her heart again, and she sucked in a breath, tears falling freely now. A hollow ache spread from deep within, and she shook, her hand clinging to the phone. She’d call her friends. Soon. She’d do whatever she was supposed to do in a breakup and move on because she wouldn’t let this kill her.
But, oh God, it hurt.
It hurt so freaking much, and she didn’t want to think about taking that next step.
She wrapped her afghan around her and laid on the couch, tucking her knees to her chest. She’d deal with it all. Later. Right then…right then, she needed her tears.
Needed to let herself feel the pain.
She’d trusted and loved, and he’d broken her.
She wouldn’t love again.
No way. There would be no more taking that leap.
Presley Mackenzie was off love forever.
Mason Sutton tugged on his tie for the fifth time that night before checking his watch. Again. Where the hell was Lorena, and why had she asked him to come at a certain time if she wasn’t going to show up on time?
Well, that was just like Lorena, he supposed. She liked to make grand entrances, show up fashionably late, and be the center of attention. When they first started dating, he hadn’t noticed it, but as the months passed, it started to get on his nerves. One moment, she was the soft and petite woman he’d grown to love, and the next, she was throwing her hands up in the air, lamenting the fact she was turning thirty.
The dreaded thirty.
She’d reached and passed that milestone two years ago.
Not that he’d actually tell her that. He valued his life. And his balls.
He took a sip of his beer. His head hurt from his long day at work and the fact that he was waiting for Lorena to show up after she’d demanded he be there. Normally, he wouldn’t acquiesce to her every wish, but he hadn’t had dinner yet and he was hungry. Plus, she was his girlfriend. If she wanted to go on a date, it shouldn’t have been a problem.
Jesus, what was wrong with him? He liked Lorena. Loved her in fact. She’d moved into his place three months ago, and he figured they were on the road to a proposal. Maybe he should have been a little more enthusiastic about it, but he was comfortable with Lorena. He didn’t need much more.
Great. Now he sounded like an asshole. He just needed to finish his beer and get some food in his stomach. Then he wouldn’t sound like an uncaring ass. He was thirty-two and ready to settle down. Lorena was the perfect woman for that. All soft curves and fire. He wouldn’t be bored with her, that’s for sure.
He loved her. He couldn’t forget that. Even when she decided to keep him waiting at restaurant bar because, as usual, she wanted to keep him on his toes.
Damn it. He drained his lone beer for the evening since he was driving then checked his phone again. What if she’d been in an accident? Here he was being an ass about her being late, and she was probably stuck in a ditch somewhere. He quickly left cash on the bar for his drink and the tip then got up so he could figure out what to do.
As soon as he pulled his jacket on, Lorena strolled in.
It was more of a prowl with the sway of her hips and the pout on her face. Once she reached his side, she swept her coat off her shoulders and laid it over the chair.
“You’re here,” he said, grateful she was okay. If she’d been hurt when he was inwardly complaining about her, he’d never forgive himself. Though now that he thought about it, she looked perfectly healthy and had, therefore, made him wait on purpose.
That familiar anger churned in his belly, but he ignored it. There was a reason she was late. There was always a reason.
“Yes, Mason, I’m here,” she purred as she put her hand on his chest.
Out of the corner of his eye, Mason could see other men in the bar rake their gazes over Lorena’s curves. He was a possessive bastard when it came to what was his, but Lorena loved the attention. As long as the others didn’t touch and knew Lorena was his, Mason would ignore the leering glances and eye-fucks when it came to Lorena and her clingy red dress.
“Let’s get a table, then,” he said then leaned down to brush his lips over hers. She turned her head at the last moment so he caught her cheek.
What the fuck?
“Mason, we must talk first.”
He blinked. That didn’t sound good. No, that sounded like a kiss-off, but she wouldn’t be so brazen as to ask him to dinner then dump him in public. He paused, rethinking that last statement. No, making a public spectacle of the both of them was the perfect Lorena thing to do.
Son of a bitch.
“Let’s take this outside, Lorena,” he ground out through clenched teeth.
“No, no, darling. I’ll make this short.” She batted her eyelashes over the big brown eyes he used to love to get lost in, and he felt a quick slice across his heart.
“Mason, this isn’t working,” she said in a clipped tone.
She stuck out her lower lip then sucked it back in. Mason had no idea if she really cared about what she was doing or if she just wanted the spectacle. Jesus Christ, this couldn’t be happening.
“Lorena, let’s talk about this in private.” The vein at his temple was pounding, and he wanted to pull her out of the building so people couldn’t see what she was about to do. He honestly didn’t know if he cared if she broke up with him and made him look like an ass. No, he just didn’t want her to make herself the center of attention as she did so. Damn it. That was exactly what she wanted.
He’d be upset later about what was going on, but right then, he was fucking pissed.
“No, Mason. I’m done with you. You’re not who I thought you were.” Her voice trembled for effect on the second sentence, and he held back the urge to shake her. He’d never hurt a woman before, and he wouldn’t do it now, but Jesus.
“I have no idea what you mean by that,” he snapped. “I’m the same person I always was. You, on the other hand…”
In retrospect, he should have expected the slap across his face. He blinked, working his jaw.
“You don’t get to speak in that manner about me. I’m Lorena Van Cross, and you’re merely Mason Sutton. Never forget that.”
“I’m out of here, Lorena.” He surprised himself at how calm he sounded. People had stopped drinking around them, their attention solely on him and Lorena.
Exactly what she wanted.
“You were supposed to be further in your career. Instead you’re a gardener.”
He was an award-winning landscape architect, but whatever. He needed to get out of there. Now.
“’Bye, Lorena. Have fun with whatever the hell you’re looking for.”
“You don’t walk away from me, Mason Sutton. I’m walking away from you!”
“Good luck with that.”
He stormed off, ignoring the curious and pity-filled glances. He was sure any one of the numerous men who’d had eyes on Lorena would comfort her. She’d be in her element.
Not with him.
He paid the valet, got in his truck, and then beat his head against the steering wheel.
That was not how he’d expected to spend the night. Not at all.
The anger that filled his mind flared again at the thought of the stunt Lorena pulled, and he had to grip the wheel harder so he wouldn’t punch something and damage his truck. He knew he’d feel like shit later as the reality of what had just happened settled in.
Right then, though, the only thing Mason knew was that he was done.
He’d taken a chance on love and failed.
He wouldn’t be doing it again.
No matter what.
Find out more in FINALLY FOUND YOU coming June 23rd.
So…the next Montgomery Ink book, HARDER THAN WORDS, releases June 16th. That’s SUPER CLOSE. And because so many of you had a blast with the last Read-A-Long we did, so I’m doing it again. What’s a Read-A-Long? Well for the next couple of weeks leading up to the release of HARDER THAN WORDS, we will spend a few days or so reading the novellas and novels that got us to this point. I will have special trivia for you as well as flash giveaways. ALL of this happens in the Fan Club so make sure you’re part of it! I can’t wait to see your thoughts on each book and start the party! You can join the Fan Club HERE.
Here is the schedule for the Montgomery Ink Read-A-Long
May 27th – May 30th: Book 0.5 INK INSPIRED
May 31st – June 3rd: Book 0.6 INK REUNITED
June 4th – June 7th: Book 1 DELICATE INK
June 8th – 11th: Book 1.5 FOREVER INK
June 12th – 15th: Book 2 TEMPTING BOUNDARIES
June 16th HARDER THAN WORDS Releases!
Harder than Words (Montgomery Ink Book 3) Releases June 16th. And because I’m so excited, I’m revealing the entire first chapter!
Nine Years Ago
If today didn’t kill him, the thought of what would happen later that night would. Luc Dodd ran a hand over his face, wishing he’d been smart enough to down that shot of single malt whiskey the father of the bride had offered him a couple hours before. Instead, he’d waved it off, wanting a clear and collected head when the deed was done.
Not one of the most logical things Luc had ever done in his life.
For a normal person, watching his best friend get married would be one of the best days of his life. For Luc, not so much.
Today royally sucked.
He rolled his shoulders back, the ache down his spine clinging. He hadn’t slept for shit the night before, but he’d expected nothing less. It wasn’t as if he spent the evening with the groom making sure the guy was ready to be married or even helping with any of the setup. No, he wasn’t friends with the man and, honestly, never planned on trying to be.
The bride? He wanted to be there for her no matter what. He’d promised her he’d always be there and always help her follow the path she’d been destined for. Only he didn’t know what that was anymore. It had forked in a new direction he wasn’t sure he could follow with her.
It seemed he wasn’t going to be able to live up to his promises.
Not that Meghan knew that presently.
No, that bomb would drop when she came back from her honeymoon.
Damn. Her fucking honeymoon.
His best friend was getting married to a man Luc didn’t know much about, and what he did know he hated. As much as he tried to jump on board with the whole damn thing, he hadn’t been able to.
Not when he loved Meghan with all his heart.
Fuck. He let out a breath and paced the hallway. He needed to get his head out of his ass and back squarely on his shoulders. He’d paste a smile on his face and fake it through the ceremony and the reception. Then he’d jump on his bike and head out because he wasn’t sure he’d be able to make it if he had to see her day in and day out in her new life.
That didn’t make him much of a friend. In fact, that made him a shitty one. He was pretty sure she’d never forgive him for leaving, but he also figured it would be for the best. He didn’t want her to see the man he’d become once he was forced to watch her grow and intertwine her life with a man who wasn’t him.
Jealousy wasn’t becoming, but it was the only thing he had left.
That and the memories of what he’d had with her.
He’d take those, and he’d leave. She’d be better off without him and his moods.
It wasn’t as if she didn’t have seven siblings and countless cousins to rely on anyway. Luc wasn’t family. He wasn’t her fiancé. He wasn’t good for her.
And as soon as she said her vows, he’d put the last nail in the coffin of what they once were and never see her again. His stomach rolled, and the lead weight grew heavier. That weight had been there since the moment Meghan showed him her shiny ring while crying happily in his arms. He didn’t want to do this, didn’t want to see the lace and silk with roses and baby’s breath. He didn’t want to watch her walk down the aisle with her hand tucked inside her father’s elbow. He didn’t want to stand on the sidelines at the reception while those who were actually part of the wedding gave toasts and celebrated the union of a man and a woman who couldn’t be more different from one another.
Well, in that, he was wrong. He and Meghan were the ones so opposite even their friendship didn’t make sense.
Meghan and Richard made more sense.
And if he kept telling himself that, then maybe one day he’d believe it.
He was only a guest at the wedding, not a groomsman or even an usher, though Meghan had done her best to try and get him to be a freaking bridesmaid. He grinned in spite of himself at the memory of her begging him to stand at her side. She’d promised him he wouldn’t have to wear a dress and heels, though her sister, Maya, pointed out that his legs would look damn fine in heels. Maya scared the shit out of him sometimes, but he wasn’t about to admit that out loud.
He did agree to stand as her man of honor because he couldn’t help but say yes when Meghan blinked her big eyes up at him and smiled. He would walk with Meghan’s sisters, Maya and Miranda, down the aisle and stand in a row up front, and make damn sure his best friend was happy.
Of course, the groom nixed the whole idea as soon as he could. Oh, he wasn’t rude about it. Richard was smart when it came to Meghan’s feelings, but he’d pressed ever so slightly about appearances and his family. Ironic that the bastard would be so concerned with clean lines and perfection considering the fact that most of Meghan’s family members were tattooed and pierced. Luc could at least hide most of his ink under a shirt—not so for many of the other Montgomerys.
Meghan conceded defeat and didn’t ask Luc to be on Richard’s side since her groom had his roles already handed out.
So Luc would sit in a pew in the back of the church and nod along, and watch his best friend slip through his fingers.
He hated the fact that he couldn’t be happy for her.
But most of all, he hated himself for loving a woman who would never love him.
In his early twenties, he should have been sowing his oats or some shit like Meghan’s brothers and cousins had done, but he’d fallen in love with his best friend in high school and was too chickenshit to tell her.
It was his fault he was in this situation, so he would just have to deal with it.
“Luc? What the hell are you doing pacing the halls? Get in here. We need you.”
His head snapped up at Maya’s words, and he couldn’t help smiling. Her black and hot pink hair was in some kind of complicated updo, but with the vibrant colors, it made her look just punk enough to still be Maya. Meghan had gone with a soft dove gray with a subtle pink outline for her wedding’s color scheme, and the look on Maya worked for her. He was sure that the other Montgomery sister, Miranda, would look just as good. As soon as he thought of her, Miranda stuck her head out the door and smiled.
“Oh good, Luc. You’re here. Meghan wants to see you.” She opened the door a bit wider, and Luc shook his head.
“It’s bad luck to see the bride before the wedding.” And if he saw her so close, he wasn’t sure he’d be able to leave when he had to—either then or later.
Maya raised her pierced brow at him, and he held back a curse. That damn woman could always see through his bullshit. Meghan usually could as well, although she’d been blissfully oblivious to his feelings for her.
“That’s for the groom, silly,” Miranda said, rolling her eyes. She was still a teenager, so he was surprised she didn’t huff when she said it. There were so many freaking Montgomerys that they ran the gamut on ages.
Luc cleared his throat. “Damn. Who knew?”
“Everyone,” Maya said dryly. “Now get your ass in here because Meghan wants to see you before the wedding. This way I don’t have to go hunt you down.”
“Tactful as ever, Maya,” Miranda remarked sweetly, then reached out and gripped Luc’s arm. “Come on.” With surprising strength, she pulled him into the bridal suite and closed the door behind her.
And he found himself alone in the room with Meghan after the others had scurried away.
He couldn’t find the words to scold Maya. Not when he’d just swallowed his tongue at the sight before him.
Holy Mother of God, she was captivating.
Fucking sexy as hell.
Every word that described the picture she made slammed into his brain then fluttered away, leaving him at a loss for words.
“Well?” she asked, her voice low and husky. Or maybe that was just his hearing because she was usually a little more crisp and to the point. “What do you think? I trust you to tell me if I look like a hag or something. You’re my best friend.”
The dress molded her body and flared out at her hips and knees slightly. The lace looked antique over a more golden white than a bright white. He wasn’t a tattoo artist or good with colors, so he couldn’t tell what the true difference was, but he knew it made her pale skin glisten in the light. She’d opted not to go sleeveless since her breasts were too big for that kind of dress. The lace-capped sleeves were so delicate he wasn’t sure how they were holding up the dress, but he didn’t care. The fact that she felt free to tell him that even now told him she thought of him only as her friend, but right then, he pushed that thought out of his head.
Her hair had been pulled back in soft curls that bunched at the base of her neck with flowers tucked here and there. She’d chosen delicate jewelry that paled in comparison to the brightness of her eyes and the width of her smile.
Damn it to hell, she was happy.
Happy to marry a guy he hated.
Happy to marry a guy who wasn’t him.
He swallowed hard and smiled back. It wasn’t her fault, he reminded himself. He’d never stepped up to the plate, and now he had to deal with the fact that he’d never have the woman he wanted.
This was his doing.
“Luc?” A hint of uncertainty layered her voice.
He shook his head and winced. He was totally botching this. “Meghan, you look utterly breathtaking.” He spoke softly, his voice low, deep. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you look so beautiful.” Her eyes brightened, and he grinned. “Well, maybe that one time when you were covered in mud, grass, and who knows what else after the mud run, but I’ll let you take this one as the top runner. It is your wedding day, after all.”
She let out a laugh then rolled her eyes. “Jerk. You had me worried for a moment. Come over here and help me make sure my lace is right in the back, okay? The girls left me, and I’m freaking nervous.”
He didn’t want to step closer to her because, if he did, he’d be able to touch her, scent her, and he’d never let her go. He wasn’t sure he was strong enough to resist that.
He stepped closer anyway.
When he reached her, she tilted her head up at him, a single tear rolling down her cheek. His chest ached, and he reached up to brush it away with his thumb. The image of his dark skin against the creamy paleness of hers made his cock twitch and his heart thud, but he pushed that away.
“What’s wrong, angel eyes?” He kept his hand on her cheek, his thumb running along the silk of her skin.
She licked her lips, and his eyes followed the motion. He swallowed hard, forcing himself not to move, not to breathe, not to think too hard.
“I’m getting married today,” she whispered.
He tried to smile but knew he failed. “I got that from the dress and the fact that I’m wearing this monkey suit.”
“I’m happy,” she said softly, her gaze on his.
“Are you telling me that or yourself?” he asked before he could stop himself.
She tilted her head, her cheek pressing into his palm. “Both of us,” she said firmly. “Thank you for being here, Luc. I know you couldn’t be part of the wedding, but I’m grateful you’re here.”
“I wouldn’t be anywhere else.” With that, he leaned down and brushed his lips against hers. It was just a moment, nothing more than a whisper between friends. They’d done it countless times before during special circumstances, but he knew this would be the last.
Not only because he was leaving, but also because he couldn’t stand by and watch her move on anymore.
From the look in Meghan’s eyes when he pulled back, she knew it too.
She would soon be Mrs. Richard Warren. A wife. A partner.
“I wish you all the best, Meghan Montgomery. I want you to be happy, loved, cherished, and the center of his universe. I love you, Meghan. You’ll always be my angel eyes. No matter what.”
She swallowed hard and gave him a searching look, her eyes glittering with tears. “I love you, too, Luc.”
“Good luck today, Meghan. Good luck with everything.” With that, he kissed her cheek then moved away.
He turned his back on her, unable to look at her any longer and not tell her everything in his heart. He was too late. Too fucking late.
He left the bridal suite just as Maya and Miranda stormed in, a blur of silk and lace.
“See you soon, Luc!” Miranda called as he made his way down the hallway.
He sucked in a breath and tried to calm his heart down. He could make it through the ceremony, make it through the reception…right?
He let out a breath and moved out of the way as a flower girl did tumbles down the hallway, a harried-looking mother following her. The woman gave Luc an apologetic look then ran after her daughter.
He heard the music starting up in the distance and felt the tension in the air rising. His stomach clenched, and he fisted his hands at his sides. He didn’t think he had the strength to endure the sight of her promising herself to another man.
He was a coward. A useless, fucking coward who needed to find the man he would be without Meghan Montgomery by his side and in his life.
Knowing he was about to do something she would never forgive him for, he stepped outside the church. The sun beat down on his face as if casually judging him for breaking a promise and his soul.
He jumped on the back of his bike and slid his helmet on. Meghan was strong, so fucking strong; she’d be fine without him. She had Richard to lean on and a family that would never let her fall. If he stayed, he’d only regret who he’d become. Instead, he kick-started his bike and gunned it out of the parking lot.
Meghan Montgomery wasn’t his anymore.
She never had been.
There had to be a better way to deal with files and estimates other than wanting to burn them in a fire of glory and pain.
At least that’s what Luc figured when he stopped himself from slamming his head against the desk. He knew for a fact that wasn’t true. He’d been the journeyman electrician for Montgomery Inc. for over a year now, and he felt like all he did was paperwork. Estimates, bids and proposals were the bane of his existence. It didn’t matter that he knew his shit inside and out. It still sucked. The family-owned business was the most efficient one he’d ever worked for, and their administrative assistant, Tabby, did most of the work with her scarily organized methods, but he felt the need to complain about it anyway.
When he’d come back to Denver after almost a decade away, he never thought Storm and Wes Montgomery would hire him on without even looking at his resume. Yeah, Luc had worked for them before and grew up learning the trade. He was over at the Montgomery house more than his own most weeks, but still… He’d left everyone without a word, and they welcomed him back with open arms.
Well, that wasn’t strictly true. At the time, he’d told Harry Montgomery, the Montgomery siblings’ father and owner of the company, he’d be leaving, but that was it. He swore Harry to strict secrecy, even though he knew it had hurt the older man to keep it from his daughter. But if Luc thought about it too hard, he’d recognize the fact that nothing got past Harry, and there was a reason the man let Luc go without a word.
But, again, Luc wasn’t going to think about that.
It had been too fucking long, and he was no longer the lost boy who wanted the girl he could never have. He’d lived his life and seen the world to become the man he was today.
A man who wanted to scream at the numbers on the screen.
He’d rather be working with his hands than doing this number shit, but being an adult meant he had to be accountable and actually do his job.
“Are you still threatening to slam your head into the screen rather than actually finish up the work?” Wes, his boss and friend, said as he walked up to Luc’s desk.
Wes, like the rest of the Montgomerys, had dark brown hair, strong features, and bright blue eyes. He wasn’t as built as some of the others, not even his twin, Storm, but he was still pretty big. Luc had a couple inches on the man, but it didn’t feel like that much when he was surrounded by the whole Montgomery crew.
“I hate doing this.” Luc pushed his chair back so he could stretch his legs. “I have everything input and triple-checked, but I still have to freaking organize it and make sure I’m not fucking up. I hate working with estimates.”
Wes shook his head. “Then don’t. You did the part you needed to do. Let me or Tabby work on the other parts. I’d rather you get out to the project house and work on the system than sit here and let your eyes dry out because you’re not blinking.”
Luc ran a hand over his face then blinked a few times. Huh. He guessed his eyes were drying out. Who knew? “It’s not your job to take care of my work, Wes.”
“Actually, you’re doing our work,” Wes countered. “We’re a team, and you did your part. I know you want to be able to handle everything, but the number parts aren’t your job. You did most of the estimates already, and now you’re just nitpicking. You’ve put in everything you can, so now, let’s work on the projections and everything else that comes with them.”
And this was why Luc didn’t want to own his own business. Yeah, he could do it all if he had to. He’d even been forced to do it a couple times when he preferred working as an electrician and not on payroll. He’d rather fix the problems he could handle rather than make more for himself by worrying about those details that were out of his control.
“You’re working too hard on things you can delegate. Let us help.”
“But I should be able to do it all.” Luc was annoyed with himself for some reason.
“You can, but you don’t have to. That’s the whole point of delegating.”
“Funny words coming from your mouth, bro,” Storm said as he came up from behind his twin.
They were fraternal twins, so they didn’t look too much alike, other than clearly being siblings. Storm liked to dress down all the time; Wes dressed in slacks and pressed shirts while he was in the office and not on a project site.
“I delegate,” Wes said. His friend was lying. But Luc wasn’t one to talk then, so he didn’t point it out.
“We all kind of suck at it,” Decker said. Decker was Miranda Montgomery’s husband and their lead contractor. “But still, stop doing everything and try to work less than sixty hours a week. It’s okay to actually have a life.”
Luc frowned. “I have a life outside Montgomery Inc.”
“Do you?” Decker asked, and Luc just glared.
As much as he liked working with his friends, sometimes it sucked that they knew so much about him. Or at least were learning about the man he was now.
There was only one person who knew more about who he was.
“What are all of you gathered around for?”
And there she was.
Luc looked over at the front door of the building as Meghan Montgomery-Warren came in, her face freckled with dirt and her jeans caked with mud. As she was the Montgomery Inc. landscape architect, so the mud overlay wasn’t an unusual occurrence. Still, every time he saw her, he got what felt like a kick to the solar plexus. After all these years, he figured he’d be over her by now, but nope. He still thought she was fucking gorgeous.
Her long chestnut hair fell over her shoulders in waves as she took it out of her ponytail. Her high cheekbones had become more prominent over the years as she’d grown out of her youth. Her bright blue eyes weren’t as carefree anymore—the darkness of divorce and the pain of her life since he’d left taking hold—but damn, she was still beautiful. She’d lost weight when she was married and was just now starting to gain it back. But because she worked her ass off—more than any of the men around his desk, including himself—she was still too thin for his liking.
“We’re just trying to convince Luc to not work so hard,” Wes said as he grinned at his sister. “Though since you’re here, we’ll yell at you, too. Why the hell are you covered in mud?”
Luc held back a groan when Meghan narrowed her eyes at her brother. “Excuse me? I’m working for a living. It gets messy. I can’t help it if you love your pressed linen to the point of obsession.”
Luc snorted a laugh, as did the other guys, but Wes just grinned. “I look good, and you know it. Anyway, you were supposed to be back from your job site an hour ago. What happened?”
Meghan shrugged. “Had an issue with one of the burlap-wrapped trees. Little bastard didn’t want to go in the hole.”
“Probably should have used more lube,” Storm said with a straight face, and Luc closed his eyes.
Nope. Not going there.
Meghan clucked her tongue, but when he opened his eyes again, she was smiling. “I walked right into that one. Anyway, I need to go pick up the kids and head to the parents’. You guys coming to dinner?”
“Yep,” the three others said.
Meghan turned to Luc then and, for the first time that day, met his gaze. They’d seen and talked to one another often in the past year she’d been divorced and he’d been back. He even held her that one time she’d needed it. But they’d never be the friends they once were.
He’d broken that.
“What about you, Luc? You coming?”
He shook his head, regret in his heart. “I’m having dinner with my own folks tonight. But have fun.”
She smiled then, the light in her eyes reminding him of a better time. “Have fun.”
“Always,” he said softly then cleared his throat. “Okay, then. If I don’t need to work on this paperwork, I’m heading out.”
He said his goodbyes and made his way out to his truck, determined not to stare too long at the woman who had once been the best, and most painful, part of his life.
He couldn’t help but stare at her.
But he didn’t love her. Not anymore. The man he used to be loved the woman she had been long ago. He didn’t know this Meghan, and that was on purpose. The distance between them was calculated and necessary.
He’d left Denver and the life he’d created for the woman in front of him once before, and he wasn’t about to do it again. Staying away and being the man he was now, and letting her find the woman she wanted to be, was the only way he could survive.
Even if it hurt like hell.
Find out more in HARDER THAN WORDS (Montgomery Ink Book 3). Coming June 16th.
Redwood Pack Vol 5 contains the sixth book in the Redwood Pack series and a special novella in print and digital form.
North Jamenson has always held his wolf closer to the surface then others. He’s the quiet one, the one no one really knows about yet he holds the darkest secret. He’s watched his brothers find their mates and start families, and now it was his turn. He knows Lexi could be his and her son could be part of his family, but he doesn’t know if he’s ready to share the darkness that’s entwined with his soul.
Lexi Anderson is a mother, a sister, a latent wolf, and a new member of the Redwood Pack. She’s also holding secrets so close to her heart she’s not even sure she knows the truth anymore. When North takes another step closer to wanting to cement their bond, Lexi must come to grips with her past and what it means for her future. The Centrals’ war isn’t over yet and Lexi’s life is on the line as the paths they’ve chosen takes a drastic turn.
Being the Beta of the Redwood Pack isn’t an easy task, but Jasper has never complained. He’s spent his entire adult life dropping everything so he can take care of others. Now he’s a father, a husband…and tired. His mate, Willow, knows Jasper won’t let others know that he might need a break, even for a weekend, so that’s where she comes in.
Once Jasper lets go and allows his mate to call the shots, this Beta might just be in for the ride of a lifetime.
Author’s Note: This is a novella set between books 6 and 7 to give you a taste of Jasper and Willow. It is best that you have already immersed yourselves in the Redwood Pack world, however even new readers will enjoy a glimpse of one of the Redwood’s favorite couples.