Bonus Scene for pre-orders of Twisted Truths
Thanks so much for pre-ordering a copy of Twisted Truths, which is the third book in the Blood Brothers series. This bonus scene (as you already know) features Audrey, who was the heroine in Blind Faith (Book 3 of the Sin Brothers series). The Blood Brothers are a spin-off series of the Sin Brothers, in case you didn’t know. Also, if you have not yet had a chance to read Twisted Truths, I’d save this bonus scene for afterward because there might be a spoiler or two. If you’ve read Twisted Truths, you’re good to go.
Thank you for your support for these two series and all of these wounded brothers. I so appreciate the reviews left online, the fan emails, the FB and Twitter comments…and for you reading the books. 🙂
At the end of this bonus scene, I’ve included a couple of excerpts for series releasing in 2018. I hope you enjoy them.
Somewhere in Montana
Audrey Dean gingerly waddled her very pregnant body around a fallen tree on the Montana property, humming softly beneath her breath. The sun, although weak, was peeking through the tall trees and lighting her way along the worn trail. The snow had disappeared, leaving foundling green shoots along the path. Ah, spring. Finally.
“Are you doing all right?” Chance asked, reaching out to steady her by gently wrapping his hand around her bicep, his fingers pressing into her thick coat.
She patted his already strong hand. “I’m fine. Stop worrying.” The baby wasn’t due for another month, and these walks in the fresh air helped to keep her sciatic nerve from going haywire.
“I don’t know. We should probably wait until everyone is back from town,” Chance said, his brow furrowing.
Man, he was adorable. In his mid-teens, the kid had startling gray eyes, a hard jaw, and a soft touch. Oh, at his age and with his past, he knew how to protect and defend as well as any thirty-year marine veteran, but now, in this place, he was finally able to be a kid.
When he wasn’t hovering.
Audrey tried to look down and check her feet, but her belly was in the way. As usual.
“Your shoes are tied,” Chance said, not missing a thing as usual.
She grinned. “You are becoming an old hovering maid, you know.”
The kid shrugged. “I ain’t letting anything happen to you.”
“Aren’t,” she corrected automatically, knowing full well he’d said ‘ain’t’ just to raise a reaction and keep her occupied. She glanced at a couple of early robins hopping over by a tree trunk. “It’s kind of nice having the ranch property to ourselves, you know?”
“No.” Chance scouted the area automatically, always on alert for a threat. “It’s weird. Too quiet.”
The grandparent generation was involved in a cut-throat Mah Jong tournament across town, while the kid generation, other than Chance, was at a baseball camp for the rest of the day. But that left several grownups…and all were in town for different reasons.
Chance growled. “I can’t believe Nate left you.”
Audrey snorted. “He hasn’t exactly abandoned me. He went to get me that pizza I like, and he should be back in about fifteen more minutes. I checked out yesterday perfectly at the doctor’s office. This babe has a good month to cook.” In fact, she’d never felt better. “She’s great.”
“He,” Chance said, probably since Nate wasn’t there to say the word. “You should’ve just found out the sex yesterday.”
“I want a surprise.” A small twinge caught her breath and she halted.
“Surprises suck.” Chance paused. “You okay?”
She nodded. “Fine.”
Another twinge ripped through her lower back. She coughed and pressed a hand to her stomach.
Chance released her and took a step back. “That’s not funny. I mean, really not funny, Audrey.”
Pain rippled along her abdomen. Her eyes widened. “Chance?”
“Shit, shit, shit.” He reached her and grasped both her arms. “You’re not joking. Okay. I’ve got this. I mean, this has to be just those pre-contraction thingies, right? That’s all. You’re good.” Panic darkened his eyes.
She nodded, trying to keep hold of her emotions. “Yes. I’m sure you’re right.”
“Audrey?” a strong voice called through the forest. “Where are you guys?”
Relief nearly dropped her to her knees. “Denver. Okay. It’s Denver.” Her brother was fantastic in an emergency. Which this was not. Nope.
Pain slashed through her again, and she doubled over, giving a low moan.
“Denver!” Chance yelled. “Help.”
Something big and loud crashed through the forest, sending birds flapping and squirrels squawking. Denver rounded a tree. “What? Whoa.” He pretty much leaped over the tree, skidding in the wet moss, and reached her in a second. “Aud?”
She slowly lifted up, breathing shallowly. “It hurts.” Was this normal? Who knew? Oh God. Laney, the doctor, was in town shopping for more baby clothes.
Denver’s sharp jaw hardened, and his blue eyes narrowed. His chest shuddered. Then he calmed. “All right, sweetheart.”
Oh, thank God. Denver was in control.
Another ripple shot through her and she breathed, and then something ripped. Inside her. She cried out, and her entire body shuddered.
“What the hell?” Denver picked her up and looked wildly around. “Where are we? Shit. How is this? I mean, this isn’t supposed. You know? What should we do?” He whirled around, sending her hair flying.
She planted a hand on his solid chest. “Stop.”
He halted immediately. “Oh. Yeah.” Another big breath. Then he looked down at her. “I’ve got you. Have read every book written on birthing a baby. This is a piece of cake. Yep. Got this.”
It was more words than he’d ever put together, she was sure. Tears pricked her eyes, and she batted them back. “I want Nate.” She needed him. Now more than ever.
Denver’s brow cleared. “Yeah. Nate. Let’s get Nate.”
If she wasn’t in so much pain, she would’ve laughed. “Denver. Calm down.” Something whooshed out of her, soaking her jeans. “Oh. My water just broke.”
Denver changed. Right there in front of her eyes. All sense of panic fled from his face, and he went into a mode she’d only seen from him once. Battle mode. He turned for Chance, his voice low and controlled. “Run back to the main lodge and call an ambulance. Then call both Nate and Laney. Tell them to get here. Now.”
Chance didn’t wait for another word, quickly sprinting out of sight.
Denver looked down at his sister. “Now, listen. Nothing bad in this entire world is ever going to hurt you or this kid. I promise.” His eyes softened. “Do I have time to get you back to the lodge?”
She took inventory. Her stomach rippled, but she didn’t feel the need to push. Yet. She nodded, trying not to cry. If he was calm, she could be, too.
“Okay.” Keeping her securely against his chest, he strode down the trail, protecting her as usual. “I don’t suppose you’ll let me kill Nate for leaving you so close to your due date?” He gingerly stepped over a bunch of branches.
“No.” She squirmed in pain. “My due date isn’t for month, and I really wanted Monty’s pizza.”
Denver frowned. “You can’t eat that sauce. It gives you heartburn every time.”
She smacked his chest. “Now isn’t the time to argue with you, again, about that pizza.” Her back felt like it was on fire. A contraction swept her, raking hard, and she arched. “Oh, no.” This was bad. No way was this normal.
Denver sped up. “We’re almost there.” He broke into the clearing and ran for the main lodge.
She arched again. “Need to push.” God, this hurt.
He kicked open the door and ran for the nearest sofa, placing her down. Quick motions had her coat removed and flung across the room. “Um, okay.”
She shoved down her pregnancy jeans, the pain unreal. Her big shirt still covered her to her knees, and at the moment, she didn’t care.
Denver dropped to his knees beside her head. “Just hold on.” He brushed hair back from her forehead.
Another contraction nearly had her seeing stars. She grabbed his hand, and he winced. Man, she didn’t want her brother to see her female parts, but they were running out of time. “I think the baby is coming.”
Denver paled. “Um. Okay. I’ll just, um.”
She closed her eyes and rode out the pain on the soft couch. This shouldn’t be embarrassing, but this was her brother. “I think you’re gonna have to look.”
His face went stoic again. “Yeah. Okay. I’ll look. I mean, I’ve seen a lot of, well, you know.”
She coughed through the pain and tried to chuckle. “You are such a dork.”
If he got any paler, he’d pass out. He nodded. “I know. Definitely a dork. Okay.” Visibly steeling himself, he began to stand.
The front door burst open, and Nate ran inside, pure panic on his warrior’s face.
“Oh, thank God,” Denver said, dropping to his knees again. He looked over his shoulder. “I’ve got her head. You get the baby.”
Nate all but skidded on his knees across the floor, landing at Audrey’s side. His broad chest and ripped arms caught her attention. “Aud? What the hell?”
“What the hell?” she burst out, partially sitting up. “Your baby, that’s what the hell. Apparently, a month is too long to wait.” She reached out and curled her fingers into Nate’s dark T-shirt. “Figures your kid would have its own timetable.” Hysteria felt kind of good.
Nate settled. His eyes glowed a deep gray, and tenderness filled them. “Ah, baby. Okay.” He leaned in and kissed her, his lips firm and promising. “We’ve got this.” He leaned back until his nose was just touching hers. “After all we’ve been through, this will be a walk in the park.”
It was true. He’d been her first love, her first crush, her first everything. And now they were married and about to have a baby. “I love you, Nate Dean,” she whispered, tears clogging her throat.
Shocking tears filled his eyes. A sight she’d never thought to see. “You’re everything, Audrey. It’s that simple.” His rugged features softened a fraction. “I love you. The words aren’t enough.”
Denver shoved Nate down the couch. “Enough mushy. Check the baby.”
Nate cut him a look and then moved down, gently lifting her shirt. “Whoa.” He looked up, surprise clear across his hard-cut face. “There’s a head. A baby.”
Jesus. Men were morons. What did he think was inside her these last few months? A contraction took her, and she cried out, arching.
Nate ripped off his shirt and set it on the sofa. “You’re doing great, Aud.” He pressed a large-bone hand against her abdomen in support. “You’ve got this. You’re the strongest woman I’ve ever met.” He looked up, every feeling in the world in his eyes. “Trust me.”
She came down from the pain and nodded. Trust. Yeah. She did. With everything she had and everything she’d ever be. He wasn’t a moron. He’d be there for her until her last breath. Pain shot through her. She pushed, giving it everything she had.
Fifteen minutes later, she was still pushing.
“One more, baby,” Nate said, rubbing her belly.
She closed her eyes and bore down, pushing with her last ounce of strength. Her body released. Nate leaned forward, and a baby cried, long and loud. Nate wrapped the little body, tears now on his face, and lifted the baby toward her. “Ten toes, ten fingers, lots of dark hair. Like you.”
She held the squirmy little one, her heart so full it was hard to breathe. “You didn’t say?”
Nate grinned and sat back, exhaustion lines along his eyes. “Oh, it’s a boy. Another Dean male.”
Denver high-fived him. “Healthy baby. That’s all that matters.”
Audrey looked at her son and tenderly ran her finger down his cheek. It was already rugged, and his eyes were gray? Blue? Maybe both. “He’s perfect.”
Nate moved up and kissed the baby and then her, the motion tender. “He is perfect. Would probably like a baby sister?”
She lifted an eyebrow. “One at a time, champ.” She kissed her baby. Was it possible to be this happy? Really? She’d had a feeling the entire pregnancy that she was carrying a boy, but she still had wanted to be surprised. “This is the best surprise of my life.” Then she caught her husband’s eyes. “So were you,” she murmured.
His smile said it all. Then he glanced at Denver. “Should we tell him?”
Audrey looked at her brother. “We planned to name a boy Mathew Denver, after our big brothers. Meet your nephew.”
Denver’s eyes softened in a way she’d never imagined. “Mathew Denver.” He patted Nate on the back. “That’s the perfect name.”
Then Denver grinned. “MD for initials. Man, guys. You know what this means, right?”
Audrey frowned. “What?”
Denver chuckled. “Mad Dog.” He leaned down and gently tugged the shirt up to cover the body. “Meet Mad Dog Dean.” Then he turned and headed for the door to give them some privacy.
Nate’s mouth opened and then closed. Amusement filled his eyes.
Initials didn’t automatically create a nickname, for goodness sakes. Audrey tucked the baby closer. “They are not calling my sweet baby boy ‘Mad Dog.’
Nate wisely kept quiet. “I love you, Audrey Dean. Forever.”
Coming in 2018:
A return to the Dark Protectors and a great entry point for the series if you haven’t read the Dark Protectors: VAMPIRE’S FAITH in June 2018:
Fangs? Okay. This wasn’t a joke.
Somebody was seriously messing with her, and maybe they wanted her hurt. She couldn’t explain the eyes and the fangs, so this had to be bad. This guy was obviously capable of inflicting some real damage. His eyes morphed again to the electric blue, and somehow, he broadened even more, looking more animalistic than human.
“I don’t understand,” she said, her voice shaking as her mind tried to make sense of what her eyes were seeing. “Who are you? Why were you unconscious in a coma? How did you know my name?”
He breathed out, his broad chest moving with the effort. The fangs slowly slid back up, and his eyes returned to the sizzling aqua. “My name is Ronan Kayrs, and I was unconscious because the shield fell.” He eyed her, tugging her even closer. “I know your name because I spent four hundred years seeing your face and feeling your soft touch in my dreams.”
Also coming in 2018: THE HIDDEN, the first book in the Requisition Force romantic suspense series to be released in October of 2018. Here’s a quick excerpt:
The day he moved in next door, dark clouds covered the sky with the promise of a powerful storm. Pippa watched from her window, the one over the kitchen sink, partially hidden by the cheerful polka-dotted curtains. Yellow dots over a crisp white background—what she figured happy people would use.
He moved box after box after box through the two-stall garage, all by himself, cut muscles bunching in his arms.
Angles and shadows made up his face, more shadows than angles. He didn’t smile, and although he didn’t frown, his expression had settled into harsh lines.
A guy like him, dangerously handsome, should probably have friends helping.
Yet he didn’t. His black truck, dusty yet seemingly well kept, sat alone in the driveway containing the boxes.
She swallowed several times, instinctively knowing he wasn’t a man to cross, even if she was a person who crossed others. She was not.
For a while she tried to amuse herself with counting the boxes, and then guessing their weight, and then just studying the man. He appeared to be in his early thirties, maybe just a couple of years older than she.
Thick black hair fell to his collar in unruly waves, giving him an unkempt appearance that hinted nobody took care of him. His shoulders were tense and his body language fluid. She couldn’t see his eyes.
The damn wondering would keep her up at night.
But no way, and there was absolutely no way, would she venture outside to appease the beast of curiosity.
The new neighbor stood well over six feet tall, his shoulders broad, his long legs encased in worn and frayed jeans. If a man could be hard all over, head to toe, even in movement, then he was.
He was very much alone as well.
A scar curved in a half-moon shape over his left eye, and some sort of tattoo, a crest of something, decorated his muscled left bicep. She tilted her head, reaching for the curtains to push them aside just a little more.
He paused, an overlarge box held easily in his arms, and turned his head, much like an animal rising to attention.
Green. Those eyes, narrow and suspicious, alert and dangerous, focused directly on her.
She gasped. Her heart thundered. She fell to the floor below the counter. Not to the side, not even in a crouch, she fell flat on her ass on the worn tile floor. Her heart ticking, she wrapped her arms around her shins and rested her chin on her knees.
She bit her lip and held her breath, shutting her eyes.
No sound, no hint of an approaching person, no rap on the door.
After about ten minutes of holding perfectly still, she lifted her head. Another five and she released her legs. Then she rolled up onto her knees and reached for the counter, her fingers curling over.
Taking a deep breath, she pulled herself up to stand, angling to the side of the counter.
He stood at the window, facing her, his chest taking up most of the panes.
Her heart exploded. She screamed, turned, and ran. She cleared the kitchen in three steps and plowed through the living room, smashing into an antique table that had sat in the place for more than two decades.
Pain ratcheted up her leg, and she dropped, making panicked grunting noises as she crawled past the sofa and toward her bedroom. Her hands slapped the polished wooden floor, and she sobbed out, reaching the room and slamming the door.
She scrabbled her legs up to her chest again, her back to the door, and reached up to engage the lock. She rocked back and forth just enough to not make a sound.
The doorbell rang.
Her chest tightened, and her vision fuzzed. Tremors started from her shoulders down to her waist and back up. Not now. Not now. God, not now. She took several deep breaths and acknowledged the oncoming panic attack much as Dr. Valentine had taught her. Sometimes letting the panic in actually abated it.
Not this time.
The attack took her full force, pricking sweat along her body. Her arms shook, and her legs went numb. Her breathing panted out, her vision fuzzed, and her heart blasted into motion.
Maybe it really was a heart attack this time.
No. It was only a panic attack.
But it could be. Maybe the doctors had missed something in her tests, and it really was a heart attack. Or maybe a stroke.
She couldn’t make it to the phone to dial for help.
Her heart hurt. Her chest really ached. Glancing up at the lock, a flimsy golden thing, she inched away from the door to the bed table on her hands and knees. Jerking open the drawer, she fumbled for a Xanax.
She popped the pill beneath her tongue, letting it quickly absorb. The bitter chalkiness made her gag, but she didn’t move until it had dissolved.
A hard rapping sound echoed from the living room.
Shit. He was knocking on the door. Was it locked? Of course it was locked. She always kept it locked. But would a lock, even a really good one, keep a guy like that out?
She’d been watching him, and he knew it. Maybe he wasn’t a guy who wanted to be watched, which was why he was moving his stuff all alone. Worse yet, had he been sent to find her? He had looked so furious. Was he angry?
If so, what could she do?
The online martial arts lessons she’d taken lately ran through her head, but once again, she wondered if one could really learn self-defense by watching videos. Something told her that all the self-defense lessons in the world wouldn’t help against that guy.
Oh, why had Mrs. Melonci moved to Florida? Sure, the elderly lady wanted to be closer to her grandchildren, but Cottage Grove was a much better place to live.
The house had sold in less than a week.
Pippa had hoped to watch young children play and frolic in the large-treed backyard, but this guy didn’t seem to have a family.
Perhaps he’d bring one in, yet there was something chillingly solitary about him.
Of course, she hadn’t set foot outside her house for nearly five years, so maybe family men had changed.
Probably not, though.
He knocked again, the sound somehow stronger and more insistent this time.
She opened the bedroom door and peered around the corner. The front door was visible above the sofa.
He knocked again. “Lady?” Deep and rich, his voice easily carried into her home.
She might have squawked.
“Listen, lady. I…ah, saw you fall and just wanna make sure you’re all right. You don’t have to answer the door.” His tone didn’t rise and remained perfectly calm.
She sucked in a deep breath and tried to answer him, but only air came out. Man, she was pathetic. She tapped her head against the doorframe in a sad attempt to self-soothe.
“Um, are you okay?” he asked, hidden by the big door. “I can call for help.”
No. Oh, no. She swallowed several times. “I’m all right.” Finally, her voice worked. “Honest. It’s okay. Don’t call for anybody.” If she didn’t let them in, the authorities would probably break down the door, right? She couldn’t have that.
Silence came from the front porch, but no steps echoed. He remained in place.
Her heart continued to thunder against her ribs. She wiped her sweaty palms down her yoga pants. Why wasn’t he leaving? “Okay?” she whispered.
“You sure you don’t need help?” he called.
Her throat began to close. “I’m sure.” Go away. Please, he had to go away.
“Okay.” Heavy bootsteps clomped across her front porch, and then silence. He was gone.
Malcolm West knew the sound of terror, and he knew it well. The woman, whoever she was, had been beyond frightened at seeing him in the window. Damn it. What the hell had he been thinking to approach her house like that?
A fence enclosed their backyards together, and he’d wondered why. Had a family shared the two homes?
He grabbed another box of shit from the truck and hefted it toward the house. Maybe this had been a mistake. He’d purchased the little one-story home sight unseen because of the white clapboard siding, the blue shutters, and the damn name of the town—Cottage Grove. It sounded peaceful.
He’d never truly see peace again, and he knew it.
All of the homes the real estate company had emailed him about had been sad and run- down…until this one. It had been on the market only a few days, and the agent had insisted it wouldn’t be for long. After six months of searching desperately for a place to call home, he’d jumped on the sale.
It had been so convenient as to have been fate.
If he believed in fate, which he did not.
He walked through the simple one-story home and dropped the box in the kitchen, looking out at the pine trees beyond the wooden fence. The area had been subdivided into twenty-acre lots, with tons and tons of trees, so he’d figured he wouldn’t see any other houses, which had suited him just fine.
Yet his house was next to another, and one fence enclosed their backyards together.
No other homes were even visible.
He sighed and started to turn for the living room when a sound caught his attention. His body automatically went on full alert, and he reached for the Sig nestled at his waist. Had they found him?
“Detective West? Don’t shoot. I’m a friendly,” came a deep male voice.
Malcolm pulled the gun free, the weight of it in his hand more familiar than his own voice. “Friendlies don’t show up uninvited,” he said calmly, eyeing the two main exits from the room in case he needed to run.
A guy strode toward him, hands loose at his sides. Probably in his thirties, he had bloodshot brown eyes, dark hair, and graceful movements. His gaze showed he’d seen some shit, and there was a slight tremble in his right arm. Trying to kick a habit, was he?
Malcolm pointed the weapon at the guy’s head. “Two seconds.”
The man looked at the few boxes set around the room, not seeming to notice the gun. Even with the tremor, he moved like he could fight. “There’s nowhere to sit.”
“You’re not staying.” Malcolm could get to the vehicle hidden a mile away within minutes and then take off again. The pretty cottage was a useless dream, and he’d known it the second he’d signed the papers. “I’d hate to ruin the yellow wallpaper.” It had flowers on it, and he’d planned to change it anyway.
“Then don’t.” The guy leaned against the wall and shook out his arm.
“What are you kicking?” Malcolm asked, his voice going low.
The guy winced. “I’m losing some friends.”
“Jack, Jose, and Bud?” Mal guessed easily.
“Mainly Jack Daniels.” Now he eyed the weapon. “Mind putting that down?”
Mal didn’t flinch. “Who are you?”
Broad shoulders heaved in an exaggerated sigh. “My name is Angus Force, and I’m here to offer you an opportunity.”
“Is that a fact? I don’t need a new toaster.” Mal slid the gun back into place. “Go away.”
“I’m not a detective any longer, asshole. Get out of my house.” Mal could use a good fight, and he was about to give himself what he needed.
“Whoa.” Force held up a hand. “Just hear me out. I’m part of a new unit with, ah, the federal government, and we need a guy with your skills.”
Heat rushed up Mal’s chest. His main skill these days was keeping himself from going ballistic on assholes, and he was about to fail in that. “I’m not interested, Force. Now get the fuck out of my house.”
Force shook his head. “I understand you’re struggling with the aftereffects of a difficult assignment, but you won. You got the bad guy.”
Yeah, but how many people had died? In front of him? Mal’s vision started to narrow. “You don’t want to be here any longer, Force.”
“You think you’re the only one with PTSD, dickhead?” Force spat, losing his casual façade.
“No, but I ain’t lookin’ to bond over it.” Sweat rolled down Mal’s back. “How’d you find me, anyway?”
Force visibly settled himself. “It’s not exactly a coincidence that you bought this house. The only one that came close to what you were looking for.” He looked around the old-lady cheerful kitchen. “Though it is sweet.”
Mal’s fingers closed into a fist. “You set me up.”
“Yeah, we did. We need you here.” Force gestured around.
Mal’s lungs compressed. “Why?”
“Because you’re the best undercover cop we’ve ever seen, and we need that right now. Bad.” Mal ran a shaking hand through his hair.
“Why?” Mal asked, already fearing the answer.
“The shut-in next door. She’s the key to one of the biggest homegrown threats to our entire country. And here you are.” Force’s eyes gleamed with the hit.
Thank you to everyone for your support, and I hope you liked the bonus scene and excerpts! Have a very blessed holiday season and a wonderful start to 2018!
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