Cover Reveal: Saving Dancer Author: Jordan Marie Genre: MC Releasing: March 2015 Cover Designer: Margreet Asselbergs -https://www.facebook.com/rebeleditdesign Cover Model: Justin Miller - https://www.facebook.com/trainerjtoday Photographer: Shauna Kruse - https://www.facebook.com/KIPmodelsandboudoir READY? ... ... ... Carrie I’ve been in love with Jacob Blake since he picked me up in his strong arms. He held me close and promised me everything would be okay. I knew then, I had met the man who would own my heart forever. I was five years old. As the years went by, the need and longing for Jacob only increased—at least on my side. Jacob has never seen me as more than his kid sister’s best friend. I’ve spent my life chasing after Jacob and trying to make him see I’m more than just his sister’s little friend. I never dreamed that by trying to show Jacob how much I loved him, I would also destroy him. One night...one night that held so much promise, but ultimately destroyed the man I love and broke him in so many pieces, that I don’t know if he can be mended back together. Jacob “Dancer” Blake I’m finally home. Out of the hell hole I had been trapped in since killing another man. With the thrust of my knife everything changed. That night I ended two lives, the scum who had been trying to rape my little sister’s friend... and my own. The other man got the easier out. I live and breathe in a hell I’ll never escape. My brothers look at me with pity in their eyes. It cuts my insides out. There’s trouble in the club, trouble all around us and I have to get my head straight. I have to be able to help them. Trouble is, I can’t even help myself. I just keep piling the mistakes up. Carrie just might be my biggest mistake yet. Now it’s another night that’s haunting me--a night that I keep repeating even if I shouldn’t. I’m so trapped in the darkness that I can’t stop myself from going back because she is light. She wants to save me. You can’t save something as lost as I am. I’m going to destroy her. I’ve warned her. Now I’ll show her. Jordan is a small town Kentucky girl whose life revolves around her husband and daughter. She's an avid reader who has always had the dream of letting others hear what the voices inside of her head had to say. She hopes you find them as entertaining as she does.
"Sugar, Jules and I had run for our lives. Only our shadows had followed us. And no matter how hard we tried, we couldn't outpace them."All-around bad boy, and twenty-five-year-old heir to the Jameson fortune, Tommy Jameson, knows three things: - His family is disappointed in him. - Overcoming his addictions won't necessarily crush his vices. - He is wildly in love with Sugar Scarborough, a girl who is dealing with her own addictions and an insatiable need to please. Danger sends Tommy, Sugar and their friend, Julian Fitzpatrick, a heavily medicated, socially dysfunctional genius, fleeing from Green Willow Recovery Center. Now, together, they will face the outside world and uncover a horrifying mystery while being forced to confront their inner demons
** READ THE FIRST TWO CHAPTERS OF THAT TIME WITH SUGAR HERE **
* iBOOKS *
Being Jolene (Tell Me, #2)
Contemporary Romance – Can be read as a Stand-alone
Release Date: February 19, 2014
BlurbThe first time Jolene meets a mysterious man wearing flannel, it’s a case of mistaken identity. The second time, they end up against the side of a bar. Third time’s a charm, right? Jolene Hayes finds herself spending the summer in the picturesque mountains of Idaho in order to avoid a past fling. It’s a perfect escape, except for the one problem that keeps popping up: a sexy backcountry pilot named Ty Harrison. Jolene tries her hardest to resist his scruffy beard and flannel wearing ways, but eventually rationalizes that a summer fling would just be like the rest of them—love ‘em and leave ‘em and move on with her life. Between these two are secrets that could tear them apart before they even get started, though. Life changes without warning, and dealing with the results leaves Jolene protecting her heart at all costs. Ty knows he is everything Jolene doesn’t want, but he can’t let go of the fiery siren. Throw in the element of wilderness, a small town where secrets can’t hide and the past repeatedly showing up on Jolene’s front porch, the promise of a summer fling becomes complicated.
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ExcerptYet, as I stood in the country bar in the middle of Gypsum, Idaho, I started to rethink my whole notion on the bar scene. What I was looking at was quite strange. All I could see was cowboy boots, wranglers, and granola type people. Lots of hats. I scanned the bar from the rickety wooden table I was perched at. This was one of those times where I knew heavy drinking was not a good idea so I slowly nursed my vodka cranberry and took in the crowd. The good ol' boys were out in full force tonight. I mean, yes I was from Idaho, but I rarely left Boise, a large city. I was used to the more outdoorsy type, Boise was full of them, but all the cowboys I was seeing reminded me that I did in fact live in Idaho. As I took another drink of the watered down beverage, my eyes caught made contact with the last person I wanted to see. The lumberjack. Shit. Of all my luck, of course Sexy Lumberjack would be here. I was known for being on top of my game. I always had a witty comeback and I never let anything affect me. Or at least that was the image I put out there. Sexy lumberjack threw me off my game that morning a month ago. Not okay. I scrunched up my nose as I took him in as he stood there, a bright smile on his face as he twisted the bottled in his hands. Fuck me. What was I supposed to do for four months in this barely-there town with all of these cowboys. And one lumberjack. I didn't even bother to drink the rest of vodka cranberry. I threw a few singles on the table and grabbed my purse to head out of the bar. I was done with this night. I was practically out the door when I heard, "Hey. Caleb's girl." I stopped. His alluring soft, deep voice wasn't anything new. I had heard plenty of men whisper pet names in my ear because they couldn't remember my actual name. I smirked to myself and turned around to face him. "Lumberjack," I addressed him. He raised a brow. "I'm not a lumberjack." I matched his raised brow. "I'm not Caleb's girl."
Finding June (Tell Me, #1)Tell me your story.... June Rosewood followed the plan. College degree? Check. Longtime boyfriend who is possible husband material? Check. Finding a job after school? Working on it. Yet, it only took one emotionless conversation on a beach in Mexico for everything to fall apart. After running away for the summer, June’s back in Boise, can’t find a job and is stuck working as a waitress When June runs smack dab into Reece Day, her new coworker, she knows to stay far away from him. After being away from the town Reece grew up in, his journey has brought him back to where it all began. Reece is searching for forgiveness, but also stumbles upon the lively and smart mouthed June, who is so clearly lost in herself. Reece catches June's attention with his uncanny ability to always get under her skin, leaving her questioning what she really wants in life. Soon, June embarks on a journey of self-discovery to let go of the plan, because sometimes the unexpected surprises along the way are the most important and meaningful. Finding June is recommended for ages 17+ due to adult matters.
About the AuthorCaitlin Kerry is obsessed with the stories we tell. Her love of reading and writing led her to accomplish a goal she set for herself at the age of seventeen. She has a degree in History and Political Science and a Masters in Public Administration. Caitlin is an avid tea drinker, hopeful adventurer, lover of music and often finds the best medicine is the quiet of nature. When Caitlin isn't writing or reading she usually can be found enjoying the great outdoors with her geologist husband, always looking for the next adventure. She currently resides in Idaho. I love meeting new people. Feel free to say hi!
Connect with Caitlin
Twitter: @CaitKerry | Instagram: Caitlove88
Tempt the Night
Trust No One # 5
By: Dixie Lee Brown
Releasing February 24th, 2015
Dixie Lee Brown concludes her thrilling Trust No One series with the fast-paced tale of a damaged hero and the sexy fugitive he can't help falling for.
Samantha "Mac" McCallister barely believes her own tale of dirty cops and murder that landed her in the hands of the sexy Jim Brady. One minute she was enjoying a ride-along in her best friend's cruiser, the next he's dead and she's wanted for his murder. Mac never expected to be hiding out from the law, but with Jim by her side, maybe she can survive long enough to clear her name. The question is, can she survive the way Jim makes her feel?
Former Navy Seal Jim Brady works best under pressure. At least he used to. Now, fighting flashbacks from his time in Iraq, he has given up everything he knows in order to protect the innocent … from himself. So working with a woman on the run from the law? Not in his plans for this lifetime. Still, something about the blue-eyed beauty tells him she's not the source of the danger—she's running from it. Deep down he knows he'll protect her no matter what. But his heart? That's another story.
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The words were nothing more than breaths exhaled one after another, but there was no mistaking his meaning. What shattered her into a million pieces, however, were the tears in his eyes when she raised her head and looked at him.
It was an impossible situation. How could she leave him? She wasn’t strong enough to carry him, and she couldn’t ignore the request that obviously meant so much to him. “Okay. I’ll do what you say…but don’t get used to it.” With her heart ripping open inside her chest, she held his gaze until he released her, and she stumbled to her feet. With footsteps creaking on the stairs, Mac tried to give him his handgun, but he again shook his head and motioned toward the side wall. Finally she gave up, her vision blurring as she hurried toward the dumbwaiter.
Mac threw open the miniature overhead door and curled herself into the small, dark space. Obviously, she’d been much younger the last time she’d played in here. She hadn’t remembered it being such a tight fit. Hoping the old contraption would hold her weight, she shoved the door closed, placed Paddy’s weapon and flashlight on her lap, and waited. One tiny plexi-glass window gave her a limited view of the room.
She jumped when the door across the room flew inward and banged against the wall. Two figures walked in, but without the aid of her flashlight, she couldn’t tell who they were. One of them flipped on the overhead light, and a dim fluorescent glow pushed the shadows back. Gallagher and Simpson stood over Paddy, and Mac practically screamed her elation, until Gallagher’s words stopped her cold.
“Where is she, Callahan? We know she called you an ambulance, so she must be here somewhere. Too bad you had to have her along tonight. It’s really your fault she has to die.” He turned toward his partner and smirked. “Callahan’s not very talkative tonight.”
Simpson moved alongside him. “We won’t get anything from him. We’ll have to find her on our own.” He pulled his weapon and stood over Paddy. A second later, he fired one shot, point blank, into her best friend’s chest.
Mac slammed both hands against the window, wanting to erase the image that was now seared on her retinas. “Noooo!” The wail escaped with the force of her sorrow behind it. When both troopers jerked their gazes toward her, she understood the magnitude of her foolish mistake.
These men wanted to kill her.
And although the reason behind that escaped her, Paddy had known and had sacrificed his life to give her a chance. If she didn’t get away, his death would be in vain.
Frantically, she searched for the button old man Wagner had installed on the inside of the makeshift elevator. As Simpson and Gallagher started toward her, she jabbed the switch, and the old apparatus began its descent. Her last view from the window was Paddy’s still form and the flying feet of the two dirty cops as they scurried out the door, no doubt on their way to intercept her in the kitchen downstairs.
Luckily, Simpson wasn’t from around here, and Gallagher hadn’t chosen to hang out with her group of friends when they were kids, so neither of them knew Mr. Wagner’s secret. They’d find the dumbwaiter in the kitchen all right, but she’d be long gone.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
DIXIE LEE BROWN lives and writes in Central Oregon, inspired by what she believes is the most gorgeous scenery anywhere. She resides with two dogs and a cat, who make sure she never takes herself too seriously. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, movies, and trips to the beach.
Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
WARNING*** This novella is intended for those 18+ of age and contains strong language, sexual content, and adult situations. The Kingsmen M.C's saga continues in this newest installment of Tara Oakes' tantalizing new series. In the first three novella's you've come to know and love the characters within the club. Jay and Lil's have had their epic love story play out over the pages of "A Lil' Less Broken", followed by "A Lil' Less Lost" and finally, "A Lil' Less Hopeless". While their fairytale is far from over, the next arc in the series concentrates on some of the other intriguing characters that have been woven throughout Jay and Lil's storyline. The question on everyone's mind is.... WHO IS CHARLIE? And what is she hiding? Planting herself deep within the club's inner circle, Charlie came to Chisolm with one goal in mind... to destroy the Kingsmen, M.C., no matter the personal cost. An unknown hatred fuels her mission to take them down. Pairing herself up with one of the club's bad boy's, the M.C.'s enforcer, Clink, seemed like just the ticket to get her in the door. Once inside the club she had been eyeing from afar, she comes to realizes things are very different from what she had imagined them to be. Villainizing the group as a whole for an injustice that was done to her many years earlier no longer seemed to fit with growing attachments and relationships she was forming. And then there's Clink. He may very well be the wild card thrown into the mix that derailed Charlie's plans from the get go. Originally, serving as nothing but a way in to the club, and a body to warm her sheets at night, Clink has thrown Charlie for a loop. Determined from an early age to never need a man, Charlie can't help but find herself drawn to him in a carnal and ethereal way. She's tried to fight it, to deny it, but it was in vain. He calls her sugar... but, she's anything but sweet. A chance twist of luck placed Charlie right in the middle of club politics, where she was able to help free the club's Vice President, Jay, from serving time for murder he did not commit, but willingly confessed to in Book 2. Her risk earned her the hard earned respect and admiration that is hard to come by in the world of the M.C. Now that she finally has a place of her own in life, a place where she belongs and is wanted... is she willing to give it up? Give Him up? Willing to let it all slip through her fingers? Find out in Book 4 of Tara Oakes' Kingsmen M.C. series, "Bitter Sweet Deception"
Buy on Amazon And don’t forget to join the Release Event! There will be a few giveaways and several takeovers! You can join here: https://www.facebook.com/events/710559499063030/
More About Tara Oakes
Tara is a thirty something newbie author from Long Island, New York. She's a voracious reader, a passionate writer and obsessive junk T.V. aficionado. When she's not doing one of those three things she is attempting to garden, hanging with her hubby or partaking in some retail therapy. She enjoys connecting with her readers and is having a blast entering into this new world of publishing.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lil_Oakes Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Tara-Oakes/e/B00N71SH18/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tara-Oakes/1468537190061965?ref=hl Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8390968.Tara_Oakes Website: https://www.authortaraoakes.com Newsletter Sign-Up: http://www.authortaraoakes.com/contact.html
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FOREVER IN MY HEART
Author: Aleya Michelle
Series: My Heart, Book #3
~ SYNOPSIS ~
Roxy & Kade have finally reunited.
Soul mates destined to be together...
Their magnetism drawing them back into each other's embrace was far too strong.
Their Happily Ever After is written in the stars and their hearts beat as one in unison... All is magical...
So what could happen that could shatter their plans of forever after?
What evil force will be the one to alter the path of happiness & bliss?
And can Kade & Roxy's Love withstand the chaos and turmoil that is heading their way?
~ PURCHASE ~
~ TEASERS ~
~ MY HEART SERIES ~
Book #1: BREAKING MY HEART: http://amzn.to/1Fw3Wib
Book #2: HEALING MY HEART: http://amzn.to/1Fw46pP
~ ABOUT THE AUTHOR ~
Born and raised in Sydney, Australia.
Happily married and mother of 3 gorgeous and very active boys. A true lover of reading and escaping into a book, I love to write and find solace and escape through my characters and story lines.
So excited to finally publish my debut novel Breaking my Heart in May, Book 2 Healing my Heart was released September 17th.
The third and final book in My Heart Series is Forever in my Heart and is releasing February 20th.
Favorite past times include shopping, reading, going to the beach and seeing friends.
Music is another great love.
Social media links:
~ Tour Host ~
HEA Book Tours, PR & More: http://heabooktours.blogspot.com/
Release Day Blitz
Enticing Sky by H.K. Szczesiak
February 24th, 2015
Skyrah Jane Campbell has always been driven to succeed and make a name for herself away from her family. Moving to Chicago to attend college and start a career doesnât leave much room for romance. Living with Anabelle, her feisty best friend, has helped Skyrah begin to come out of her shell. However, nothing could prepare Skyrah for the day she first laid eyes on Wyatt Weston.
Wyatt, a successful business man, is the owner of the Weston Building where coincidentally Skyrah works. When his father died, Wyatt inherited his company. A forever playboy and commitment-phobe, Wyatt never wanted to settle down until a brief encounter with Skyrah turns his world upside down.
Will Skyrahâs encounter with Wyattâs sexy younger brother, Wriston, come between the two? How will The Weston family handle learning their family isnât as reputable and honest as they once thought?
While trying to build a lasting relationship, can Skyrah and Wyatt handle everything life throws at them?
H.K. Szczesiak, author of contemporary romance, lives in Delaware with her husband and two children.
She is an avid reader who loves romance novels the most. She also works full time in an office setting, as well as owns and runs her own photography company, Captures From the Heart Photography.
To say she is busy is an understatement. Her love of writing has always been present from the time she was a child and now shows in her first self-published novel, Enticing Sky.
Title: Strength from Loyalty
Series: Lost Kings MC #3
Author: Autumn Jones Lake
Cover Design: LJ at Mayhem Cover Creations
Release Date: March 17, 2015
Struggling attorney, Hope Kendall loves her outlaw, biker boyfriend, Rochlan “Rock” North with all her heart, but the questionable activities his motorcycle club are involved in are about to threaten the legal career she’s not even sure she still wants.
Rock finally has the support of all his officers to bring Hope deeper into the inner circle of the Lost Kings MC. When his offer to have the club help her out of her legal predicament is met with hostility, he’s once again forced to question whether they are able to make their drastic differences work for the long haul.
A near death makes any squabble seem insignificant, but puts a cloud over their future.
Even though Hope has finally found her place in the club as Rock’s Ol’ Lady, can she mingle with other clubs as effortlessly as she does with Rock’s? A trip to the downstate charter of the Lost Kings MC will put Hope to the test.
While Rock works hard to give Hope the honesty she craves, tension from outside forces threaten to push Rock to the brink. And one secret Hope’s been hiding all along may finally drive them apart for good.
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
B&N / KOBO
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
B&N / KOBO
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
B&N / KOBO
As an only child, Autumn kept herself entertained by making up all sorts of stories. For a long time, life and school dimmed her enthusiasm for creative writing. But as soon as she rediscovered her love of storytelling, she put her fingers to the keyboard and hasn’t looked back.
Her favorite books to read are mystery, thrillers, horror, romance, erotica and urban fantasy.
Her favorite thing to write is romance. All of her stories have to include a hunky hero and an optimistic ending.
When she’s not writing, Autumn spends time listening to music, going to concerts, and driving her family nuts. She enjoys reading, gardening, acting, and collecting nail polish. (Her husband says she shouldn’t be allowed to include gardening in her list of hobbies, because she makes him do all the work, but that’s not relevant.)
Meet Becks & Haddie in SLOW BURN - the newest stand alone in the
Driven Series by K. Bromberg!
“Yeah. That’s one way to put it. Is there something else you called for besides trying to stick your nose in where it doesn’t belong?”
I open my mouth and then shut it, unsure how calling him because I just needed to hear his voice has devolved so quickly into this. Into me scrambling for words I can’t find to fix shit that doesn’t need fixing.
Because I don’t want this. Don’t want him.
“Well then, if you want to actually talk instead of pull this ridiculous bullshit, I’m here for you…but Had…? Whatever this is here…this passive aggressive crap? I don’t do too well with that. We had our one night. You made it quite clear you didn’t want anything more than that so you don’t get to call me up and question what I might or might not be doing with anybody else. You want no strings? Then cut the ties…but frankly I don’t think you know what the fuck you want so until you figure your shit out, I think it’s best that we say good night before we make a bad situation even worse.”
“Wait!” Desperation rings in my voice in the single word. And I hate myself for sounding like this but I’m so lonely, so scared and just want the comfort I know he can bring me right now.
I wait for the sound of the dial tone to assault my ears. Wait for the incessant beep that reaffirms why I have barbed wire wrapped around my heart – painful but necessary. But there is nothing for a few moments until I hear the phone scrape against the stubble on his face.
And I wait…my throat burning with the tears I want to shed but am so sick of. The ones that no longer bring me comfort.
“I’m here, Haddie. I’m not going anywhere, okay?” The timbre of his voice carries his concern and sympathy to me through the line.
The incoherent sound I make is all I can offer in thank you to him for not hanging up on me. For not giving up on me.
ONE NIGHT. THAT'S ALL IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE.
Reeling from the sudden loss of her sister, Haddie Montgomery has sworn off relationships. All she wanted from Beckett Daniels was a sexy distraction to help her escape her pain for just a little while....There weren’t supposed to be any strings attached—so why can’t she shake the memory of that unforgettable night from her thoughts? Or the taste of his kiss from her lips?
No matter how hard Haddie tries to forget about him, Becks relentlessly tries to prove that she should start living for today. But she is determined to avoid romantic commitment, and she can always use her ex-boyfriend’s reappearance to help snuff out the slow burn within her that Becks has sparked....
Or will fate force her to realize that this kind of connection doesn’t come along very often and a chance at love is worth the risk?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author K. Bromberg is that reserved woman sitting in the corner who has you all fooled about the wild child inside of her—the one she lets out every time her fingertips touch the computer keyboard.
K. lives in Southern California with her husband and three children. When she needs a break from the daily chaos of her life, you can most likely find her on the treadmill or with Kindle in hand, devouring the pages of a good, saucy book.
On a whim, K. Bromberg decided to try her hand at this writing thing. Her debut novels, Driven, Fueled, and Crashed of The Driven Trilogy were well received and went on to become multi-platform bestsellers as well as landing on the New York Times and USA Today lists. Her other works include a short story, UnRaveled, and a companion piece to The Driven Trilogy titled Raced. She is currently working on three stand alone Driven novels, Slow Burn, Sweet Ache, and Hard Beat. She also plans to release a novel addressing the 10 year gap at the ending of Crashed in late fall 2015
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Red Hot Russians # 1
By: Elizabeth Harmon
Releasing February 2, 2015
A scandal-plagued American figure skater's last chance at gold means pairing up with Russia's sexiest male skater...who happens to be the first man she ever loved.
"The Cutting Edge" with a Russian twist.
American pairs figure skater Carrie Parker’s Winter Games dreams were dashed when her philandering partner caused one of the greatest scandals in skating history. Blacklisted from competing in America, her career is over…until she receives a mysterious invitation and is reunited with the most infuriating, talented—and handsome—skater she’s ever met.
Russian champion Anton Belikov knows sacrifice. He gave up a normal life and any hope of a meaningful relationship to pursue his dream. And he’s come close—with a silver medal already under his belt, the next stop is the gold. All he needs is a partner. While he’s never forgotten the young American skater he seduced one long-ago night in Amsterdam, he never expected to see her again…never mind skate with her.
When what starts as a publicity stunt grows into something real between them, Carrie and Anton’s partnership will test their loyalties to family, country, and each other. With only a few months to train for the competition of a lifetime, can they master technique and their emotions, or will they lose their footing and fall victim to the heartaches of their pasts?
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This is it…I’m going to die.
Carrie clutched the back of the sticky vinyl seat and braced for the end. She hadn’t imagined she’d meet it speeding down a Moscow highway in a small, vomit-scented taxicab.
“Slow down!” she shouted, but it was useless. The driver spoke almost no English. She knew three words of Russian. Desperately, she tried to remember one. “Pozhalujsta! Please! Slow! Gooo sloooow!” She gestured with raised, outstretched hands.
The driver glanced back. “Chto?”
Thank God, he’d understood. “Yes! Slow!”
Instead, she was thrown back against the seat as he darted into a tiny gap between an 18-wheeler and a sinister, black Lexus SUV with tinted windows. The Lexus honked its displeasure. Wind whipped through the open windows, blowing her hair into her eyes and mouth. As they rocketed past the warehouses, office buildings and apartment blocks that lined Kashirskoe Highway, Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky” blasted from the rear speakers.
“When I die and they lay me to rest…”
Nice music. What was next, Death Cab for Cutie? From behind, a shadow loomed. She turned to see the Lexus bearing down.
The cabdriver saw it too. Yelling, he gestured out the window with a raised middle finger and shot back into the center lane, just missing the front bumper of a cement mixer. More horns honked. She yelped and covered her eyes. It was best not to look.
She could have waited for a legitimate cab, but her flight landed late, Customs took forever and the line at the taxi-booking desk inched forward at a glacial pace. When two German-speaking business types left the official line and gravitated toward the motley fleet of private cabs parked outside, she’d followed. The driver, a friendly guy in a faded Beatles T-shirt and Yankees cap, promised in very broken English to get her downtown by 3:00, or 15:00 as it was known here, no problem.
She should have mentioned that alive would be nice too.
She was rocked by another wild swerve, followed by more horns and Russian swear words. Then, the cab slowed. She peeked between her fingers. They were on an exit ramp. The tense knot between her shoulders relaxed, and she glanced at her watch. Two forty-five. Miraculously, she’d survived, and was right on time to meet her new coach.
A little smile tugged at her lips. For the first time in a long time, things were looking up. They parked in front of an old red brick building in an industrial area near a river. A concrete medallion of a hammer and sickle loomed above the door, but the geranium-filled urns flanking the front steps were a nice touch.
The driver turned in his seat and tugged his ragged ballcap, ready for his fare. Carrie reached into her purse, her fingers brushed against the clasp of her wallet. At the airport, they’d agreed on one hundred U.S. dollars, but that was before he’d almost killed her. She shifted her gaze from his expectant, gap-toothed smile, to the dirty windshield. The peeling dashboard. The items attached to the sun visor with rubber bands. A pencil and notepad. A packet of tissues. School photos of two little girls.
The driver pointed to the pictures and his smile grew wider. “Moi docheri.”
His daughters. The pride in his voice required no translation. This man supported a family with his beat-up, smelly taxi. She counted out five twenties, and added an extra as a tip. “Spasibo,” she said. A Southern girl always knew the words for please and thank you.
As the driver carted her bags inside, she reread Galina Borisova’s email, shaking her head in wonder. American skating had shunned her, fans had turned their backs, yet here was the official paperwork confirming that someone—a Russian coach of all people—still thought Carrie was worthy of her time.
In the rink’s lobby, she bit back disappointment. This looked more like a neighborhood hangout than an elite training facility. Why was she surprised? Galina was a minor coach who’d gotten lucky and discovered Olga Zelenskaya, one of skating’s stars in the making. After winning silver at Worlds in Halifax this spring, Olga and her partner, Anton, had no doubt left to train with a top-level coach, leaving Galina to cast her net for new skaters. That she was willing to take on the pariah of American figure skating proved how desperate she must be.
Good thing Carrie’s expectations were modest. Since no one in North America would partner with her, she’d team up with a reasonably skilled Russian leftover, and find something low-profile to fill the days—maybe a cruise ship ice show—while she figured out what to do with the rest of her life.
In one corner of the rink’s lobby were wooden benches and day lockers, in the other, a shuttered blade-sharpening counter. At the rear of the lobby was a concession stand, also closed. The faint, fried aroma that hung in the air brought a memory of corn dogs. And just like that, she was ten years old, gliding across the oval at the Sweetspire Ice Palace.
“Momma! Watch me land a toe loop!”
At the boards, Momma chuckled and shook her head. “You’re gonna crack your skull, baby girl.”
Not that it would have mattered. She would have been back on the ice the minute the bandages came off. Skating once made her so happy. Dare she hope that it might again?
She pressed her fingers against her lips. She wasn’t asking much, just to find the joy she lost somewhere between landing that first jump, winning—then losing—the U.S. Championship, and arriving at this run-down Moscow rink, hoping for a fresh start.
She wiped perspiration from her brow and took a zippered makeup pouch from her purse. Her hair was a snarled disaster, but she tugged out most of the tangles and dabbed powder on her shiny cheeks. She slicked her lips in Succulent Peach, dabbed on enough Calvin Klein to mask any trace of the Vomit Comet and straightened her travel-wrinkled linen skirt and silk top.
She glanced at the swinging doors that led to the rink and took a deep breath. Time to face the future.
She’d seen Galina Borisova at competitions, but they’d never been introduced. Galina looked to be in her fifties and her thin neck, sharp features and spiky bleached blond hair, tinted pink on the ends, brought to mind a flamingo. Her dark eyes and brows suggested neither blond nor pink were her natural shade.
“It is well to meet you. Flight was agreeable, yes?” Galina’s accent was so heavy, Carrie struggled to understand. The ancient Zamboni rumbling past on the ice didn’t help.
“Yes. Spasibo. As I said before, I want to reimburse you for the airfare. I know it was very expensive.”
Galina waved the offer away. “Money is made to be spent. I consider investment. I wish you had let me arrange pickup car.”
“Really, that’s fine. You’ve been more than generous.” The Russian coach’s willingness to pay for and arrange everything now seemed too good to be true. Didn’t Dad always say “There’s no such thing as a free lunch?” She had the feeling she’d just flown six thousand miles to see him proven right. “I’m excited to begin training. I was a big admirer of your work with Zelenskaya and Belikov.”
Galina gazed wistfully at the departing Zamboni and the glistening ice left in its wake. “Olga and Anton were once-in-lifetime pair. Every coach should have good fortune to work with skaters so talented.”
Carrie offered a sympathetic smile. Losing her longtime students must have been heartbreaking for Galina. “Well, I’m no Olga Zelenskaya, but I’ve also been quite successful.”
Galina thinned her lips. “In your way. But we all must move forward, not live in past, yes?”
She bobbed her head, as her cheeks grew warm. Just how successful she’d been was the subject of ongoing debate. From the corner of her eye, she spotted someone doing warm-up stretches on the opposite side of the rink. “Is that my new partner? Your emails didn’t provide much information.”
A tall, dark-haired man skated out. Fast and athletic, he stroked halfway around, then cut toward center ice, launching himself into a double axel. After a confident landing, he glided into the far corner and did a camel spin, rotating with perfect form, his muscular body in flawless, T-shaped alignment over the ice.
Carrie caught her breath, but it wasn’t his beautiful skating that made her heart race. “Oh. My. God.”
“Yes, this must be good news for you. Antosha!” Galina waved, beckoning him over.
Carrie grasped the rink board to ground herself in reality, shaking even more than in the cab. This couldn’t be happening. But incredibly, it was. Her new skating partner was Anton Belikov, World silver medalist…and the first man she’d ever made love to.
He gave a polite nod, but didn’t smile. “Hello, Carrie. Welcome to Moscow.”
How could this be? He belonged with Olga, training at a top rink with a top coach. Not here, with a second-rate coach and skating with…her! She gaped and shook her head. “What are you doing here?”
His brows lifted in surprise. “You don’t keep up with news of your sport?”
Under normal circumstances yes, but these past months she’d avoided as much contact as possible with the outside world and especially the skating world. Galina crossed her arms. “Olga has teamed with Valentin Egorov. You are to be her replacement.”
She grasped the board tighter, as her out-of-control life spun into orbit. “That’s impossible.”
“I’m afraid I don’t understand,” Galina said. “You will train with me, and partner with one of world’s top male pair skaters. I cannot see how this is bad thing.”
Well gosh, for starters, she knew how he looked naked. Damn good, if memory served. Though seven years had passed since that night, this wasn’t an ideal start to a professional partnership. Even if he and Olga no longer skated together, she assumed they were still an off-ice couple. She searched his eyes for any sign of recognition. There was none. Was she relieved, or disappointed?
And how was it that Galina had simply decided to pair her with Anton, without even a tryout? Skaters were matched after weeks of evaluation, like dating before you were engaged. This felt more like a quickie Vegas wedding. She shook her head, as if that might clear her addled brain. This was ridiculous. They couldn’t possibly skate together. “We’re very different,” she began. “Olga’s delicate and artistic. I’m more of a jumper. An acrobat.”
Anton nodded. “You and Olga are different. But with right coach…and right partner, you could be champion again.”
His smile was much too attractive. Straight, perfect teeth gleamed against tawny skin dusted with the shadow of late afternoon stubble. She flashed back to that smile shining brightly in a stranger’s dim bedroom, as Anton gazed down and gently stroked her face. She crossed her arms over her chest as her cheeks burned hot and she let out a harsh laugh.
“Well, bless your heart.” The damn drawl slipped out, the way it always seemed to when she was nervous. “This is all very flattering but I’m afraid we can’t compete together. I’m an American. I’m not eligible.”
Galina spoke up. “Under international rules, you are eligible by permission to compete for us one year after date of your last competition for United States. Since you never skated at World Championship, your last competition was U.S. Nationals and this year, Russian Nationals begin exactly three days after one-year date. Our skating federation has contacted yours and both are willing to grant permission.”
Wasn’t that nice of them? Normally, a top-tier skater wouldn’t be released to compete for another country so easily. American figure skating was clearly anxious to be rid of her.
“As for citizenships,” Galina continued, “you can be both American and Russian. Becoming citizen here normally takes long time, but our government can be most accommodating when dreams of gold medals are at stake. Now then, shall we get to work?”
Carrie stared. Her hands fell to her sides. These two weren’t talking cruise ships. “Lake Placid is in less than seven months! You can’t be serious.”
But the Russians looked dead serious. Anton shrugged. “Not ideal situation, but neither of us is beginner. I am World medalist. You were U.S. champion.”
“Only because my partner slept with a judge!”
“Is that what you think?”
She gave a bitter laugh. “What difference does it make? Everyone else thinks so.” “Maybe you have something to prove, then?” His deep, exotic voice sent a shiver up her spine.
God, it was tempting. She’d been so close to her dream of competing at the Winter Games, only to see it snatched away. Here was another chance. Maybe, if she could salvage her career and restore her reputation, she could finally hold her head up. The public would forgive her. Dad would forgive her.
Was this the opportunity of a lifetime…or a disaster waiting to happen?
Just as she had skating dreams, Dad had political dreams; to win Georgia’s U.S. Senate seat this fall…then in a few years, maybe run for president. The Cody scandal had embarrassed him, and as much as it hurt that he’d done nothing to defend her publicly, she understood. His political opponents had slobbered over images of Les Parker’s cheating daughter like dogs with new bones.
Imagine how they would react to her turning Russian so she could compete in Lake Placid.
And suppose Anton suddenly remembered their night in Amsterdam? True, she’d had jet-black hair at the time, and been hidden behind those silly sunglasses she and the other Silverettes wore when they snuck out after curfew. Back then, she’d still talked like Scarlett O’Hara too. But hey, it could happen. How would he feel about skating with a girl he’d deflowered, even if it meant nothing? Nothing to him, anyway.
Besides, who was she kidding? She didn’t belong here. The Russians ruled figure skating—especially pair skating—like the popular kids ruled the school cafeteria. She’d been the queen of that lunch table in high school, and if you didn’t belong there, you didn’t try to sit down. She’d lost her seat in spectacular fashion and now the quarterback wanted to take her to prom.
This was too weird for words, and she’d had enough weird to last a lifetime.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I love stories that give a fresh take on classic themes, and feature characters and locations not often seen in romance. Give me a lovable, if less-than-perfect heroine, a gorgeous hero with a heart of gold, take them a little off the beaten path and I'm a happy girl.
I read a variety of genres-- romance to horror and just about everything in between. I am a member of Romance Writers of America. I have worked as a freelance journalist for a number of local publications and am a contributing writer to Romance Writers Report.
When I'm not writing, I love to ice skate, bike ride, hang out at the beach or on my front porch. I love vintage homes, adventurous cooking, spending time with my family and traveling.
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