The Final Straight #99p #99c #romance

BUY LINK: mybook.to/FinalStraight

To celebrate Valentine’s, The Final Straight has been reduced to 99p / 99c on Kindle

Blurb:

April Miller works for her best-friend, Max Knight on his livery and competition yard. Their friendship has withstood many turbulent times, and while April is deeply in love with Max, she is also aware of his womanising ways and has refused to succumb to his flirtatious charms. When her ex, AJ, suddenly comes back with a business proposal, April finds herself torn between the two men.

Extract:

April stared at the few black blobs on the screen. She knew they should have formed sentences, but her mind was elsewhere and unable to create readable words out of the muddle. The biro’s plastic end crunched between her back teeth.

She’d managed as much as ‘Dear AJ,’ when a knock on the door disturbed her. Max poked his head around and gave her the same soulful puppy-eyed look he always did after he’d managed to upset her.

“What do you want, Max?” she asked, pretending to be engrossed in whatever was on her screen.

“Peace offering,” he said, walking in and putting the mug of tea by the mouse pad.

She looked up at him. The frustration and irritation faded. “I’m sorry for snapping.”

Max sank into the chair opposite. “I’m sorry for…”

April raised her eyebrows, waiting for him to finish the sentence. “Shagging everything in sight?” she suggested. “You need to watch yourself.”

“I know.”

“I don’t think you do. Every time your bedroom antics are flaunted, I get a phone call. Six o’clock this morning and Banks was on the phone screeching at me. You hadn’t even got out of the shower and I was helping him load his horses onto a lorry.”

Confusion spread across his face, giving him the look of an innocent teenager.

“She woke up, and you weren’t there,” April reminded him. “Of course she’s going to ring her dad, who, may I remind you, has a shotgun license. You’re lucky it was only money he was cutting off.”

Max winced. “I am sorry.”

April hummed, not sure whether to believe him. “They are the second client we’ve lost this month because of you. I’m fed up of having to placate pissed off husbands and fathers.” She rubbed at the corners of her eyes as her contact lenses began to itch. “We have a board meeting next week. Please don’t make me ask them for more money.”

“Hey,” he cooed, sweeping around to her. He knelt by her leg, taking her pale knuckles in his hands. “You won’t need to.”

“I will if we run out and I can’t pay the bills. I can’t afford to forfeit my wage to support this place.”

“No,” he said, with a shake of his head. “That won’t happen.”

“I do have something for you to consider.”

“What? Anything if it will cheer you up.”

“The college rang and asked if we’d be willing to take on a work experience girl over the summer holidays.”

He dropped her hands, stood up, and began to pace in front of the desk. “You know how I feel about that.”

“It would be free labour, good publicity, and we’d be helping her out. Good karma, which is something I think you need.”

“I just have…” he hovered around the words. “Standards.”

“I’m asking you to hire her, not sleep with her.”

He scooped her into his arms and carried her up the stairs. “I love you, April Miller, and tonight I_m going to prove it.”He scooped her into his arms and carried her up the stairs

What the readers are saying:

I can remember some of the first horse stories I read as a child and this is NOT one of those, no, this is a story for grownups who want a love story with a complex plot . . . I have to say that I enjoyed this story written in British dialect. As an American it is always intriguing to learn new terminology and phrasing while reading a new story. The flashbacks were numerous but fit in with the story . . . I liked the characters in the book and was rooting for April to make the right decision in the end. ~ Cathy Geha, Goodreads

• • •

The Final Straight is a straightforward; no holds barred sort of romance, and rather fun to get caught up in. Author Charlotte Howard makes excellent use of time jump to convey the back story of her characters. The plot is sensational enough to be fully believable to most equestrians, and the pacing is spot on. There is a comfortably familiar edge to this novel: it fits within its genre precisely as it ought to. Whilst the central characters are far from being perfect people, they are exactly the right people to carry this storyline. A fine balance is kept between poignancy and insufferableness – it is difficult not to want to intervene and tell them all to see sense! And that is undoubtedly a key aspect where this sort of romantic fiction is involved. Although far from a novice read, given the explicit nature of some of the material, this novel remains forward going enough to satisfy from start to finish. With just enough personal tragedy and growth in the mix, it is a thoroughly enjoyable journey to follow. ~ E.V. Greig, Goodreads

• • •

A gripping story . . . A little bit of every emotion and enough twists to make you want to see it through to the end. ~ Natalie, Goodreads

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Four Letter Words – an extract #romance #erotic #tirgearrtuesday

Today’s Tirgearr Tuesday extract comes from Four Letter Words.

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ISBN: 9781311701978
ASIN: B01F82U040

Blurb:

Paige Holmes has made her choice. But as she begins to get her life back on track, she also starts to question her decision.

Then, the letters arrive. When Paige finds herself in trouble once again, she must decide who she can trust.

Will she go back to the one she denied, or will she stand by her choice?

Love and lust are, after all, both Four Letter Words.

Excerpt:

Laying my head back against the black leather seats of the Jag and gazing ahead, I lifted a finger and touched my lips that were swollen from his kiss. The weariness of the past few weeks was beginning to take over, weighing on my eyelids as they began to droop. I should have been reassured by the man sitting next to me.I shifted in my seat so I could watch him as he drove on. He was a force that even nature had no hold over. There was an urge to reach out and cling to his broad bicep, a need to feel the security of his physical strength, aching somewhere deep inside of me.

We didn’t speak as he pressed all his weight onto the accelerator, urging the car until it was over the speed limit. I half expected the shine of blue lights to fill the inside of the car, with sirens blaring around us. But they didn’t. Of course they didn’t. Even if a marked car was to pass, I doubted Vance Ellery would slow down, and I had even less that the police would attempt to pull him over. I suspected that the personal phone number of every single high-ranking officer in the country, was tucked away in a neat Rolodex on Vance’s desk or even stored in the memory bank of his mobile phone for easy access.

The silence should have been soothing. I should have been able to let my lashes flutter against my cheeks, and slip into a relaxing slumber. Instead the lack of conversation added to the tension that built behind my eyes. I closed them, hoping that soon I would drift off into a deep sleep, where I would be surrounded by falling flowers, rainbows, and sunlight. Ha! If only I was deserving of such luck. There were no pleasant dreams awaiting me after the sandman visited. Only nightmares wanted to be part of my night. They tormented me, bringing memories that I’d tried to bury and forget. They hounded the darkness, giving me nothing but misery and pain and suffering. It was as though all my sins from a previous life had been rolled over into this one.

If the visions of his face, the sound of his voice had been the only elements of my slumber, then I might have been willing to slip away and let the desperation of rest take me to the shadowed places I dreaded. My soul was destined for torture though. I was to be punished for his crime.

The mere suggestion of sleep forced my blood to pulsate until it was the only thing I could hear, throbbing in my temples. The searing pain of anxiety and panic stabbed at my chest, pins pricking my skin, as I let my eyelids fall. A shudder fell down my spine, waking me from the light doze I’d stumbled into.

Breathe in, breathe out. In with the good, out with the bad. In through the nose, out through the mouth. Breathe in, breathe out. A mantra, taught to me by a yoga instructor years before hell had entered my life, repeated over and over in my mind. I inhaled the cool air through my nasal passages, allowing it to slip down into my pain-filled lungs, exhaling all the bad out of my mouth in a gigantic whoosh.

Ahead, the roads were empty, weaving out of the village and headed towards Richart Courts, the hotel that was to be my sanctuary for the next couple of days before I had to face the next challenge. New York City.

How anyone could expect me to go back there was beyond belief. The only logical explanation for their plans for my future was that facing New York was the lesser of the two evils that haunted me, threatening to rip away the seams that had begun to fray around my already tattered edges.

 

Next time…

 

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New Release – Duty Bound, Contemporary Reverse Harem Romances! #reverseharem #whychoose

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Featuring stories from Felicity Brandon, Katie Douglas, Lily Harlem and Lucy Felthouse.

Buy now or read free in KU (universal link): http://mybook.to/dutybound

Blurb:

When their uniforms come off…

Bossy, dedicated, overprotective, super complicated. A woman needs a man like that in her life like she needs a temporal lobe headache, right? Think again, because when the uniforms come off and the temperature skyrockets, it’s time to forget Hell and take a trip straight to Heaven.

How about multiplying that by three, four, or more? You get the picture? This set of panty-melting reverse harem stories will have you gasping, panting, squirming and sweating. Read late into the night with these steamy tales featuring priests, military men, S.W.A.T. officers, gardeners, waiters, and more.

For a limited time only, grab your own harem of hot men who are determined to be the best of the best, especially when it comes to adoring their woman.

Buy now or read free in KU (universal link): http://mybook.to/dutybound

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Excerpt from Chasing the Chambermaid by Lucy Felthouse:

Prologue

Only the slop, slop, slopping sound of her painfully slow footsteps through the thick, sucking mud convinced Connie White she was actually making any progress. Her limbs and extremities had long since gone so numb that she couldn’t be sure otherwise.

Come on, Con, just a little bit further. That sign said something about an estate, and an estate means buildings. A bloody cowshed will do—anything for some respite from this infernal sodding weather.

She pushed on for several more minutes, then gasped with shock and relief when her next step met not with sloppy mud or waterlogged grass, but a track. A rough track, but a track nonetheless. And it had to lead somewhere, surely? It ran left to right across the line she’d been taking, so Connie had to make a decision. Which way would lead her to… something? She was already soaked to the skin and freezing cold, so a couple of seconds of rumination wouldn’t make the slightest bit of difference to her physical state. She really didn’t want to end up going in the wrong direction and heading further away from any semblance of civilisation.

She took a breath and remembered her gran’s—long since dead, bless her—nonsensical motto—or one of them, anyway: If in doubt, turn left.

Connie shrugged, and another of her gran’s daft phrases flitted into her brain. In for a penny, in for a pound.

She hoiked her backpack higher, hunched her shoulders against the relentless wind and rain, and turned left. Moments later, she was rewarded as the hulking shape of a building appeared from the sheets of wind-buffeted rain. Excitement gave her a burst of energy, spurring her on. Fifty feet. Forty. Twenty-five. God, what was this place? It looked so old and decrepit the Vikings could have left it behind. Doesn’t matter. If it provides even a modicum of shelter, it’s an improvement on where you slept last night. The wooden bench on the tiny village’s green hadn’t exactly been the warmest or most comfortable place to lay her head. And she shuddered to think about what would have happened if someone unsavoury had happened across her, alone and vulnerable. She’d been very glad to wake up and hurriedly continue on her journey that morning.

The last few feet went by in a blur of motion, her body still numb and not entirely under her control. At least the track was easier to walk on. It wasn’t particularly smooth, but at least it wasn’t trying to pull off her walking boots, like the sucking mud had been.

Finally, she burst through the building’s heavy door, only the adrenaline pumping in her veins making it possible to even shift the thing. Fuck, I’m exhausted.

The last thing she remembered was shucking off her backpack and slamming the door against the elements. Then silence.

 

Buy now or read free in KU (universal link): http://mybook.to/dutybound

 

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Release blitz organised by Writer Marketing Services.

Seven Dirty Words – an extract #tirgearrtuesday #erotic #romance

Welcome to Tirgearr Tuesday! Today’s extract comes from Seven Dirty Words.

seven_dirty_words_by_charlotte_howard_500

ISBN: 9781310160417
ASIN: B00XB8JCH0

Blurb:
Paige Holmes hides herself in a masculine world in a desperate attempt to remain safe.

Just as she is ready to face her fears and her past, she finds herself torn between Matt Jackson and Vance Ellery: handsome, rich, and safe – or handsome, rich, and dangerous?

Which will she choose?

The one who appears to be the most perfect, or the one who makes her use all Seven Dirty Words?

Excerpt:
I died for a short while the first time we met. There was no fluttering in my chest, no somersault of my stomach, no burning in my loins; my heart literally stopped. He was tall, at least six foot four, and dressed in a pair of worn indigo jeans that perfectly matched his intense stare. A silk black shirt covered what I imagined to be a ripple of hard muscle, and opened at the top, showing a dusting of tight dark curls. His thick neck led towards a razor-sharp, square jaw line, a straight nose that had clearly never seen the ill-effects of rough play, and deep hooded eyes. Hair that could have been straight had been styled with a slight wave. I was sure it was dark brown, but it could have easily been black, and had shots of silver-grey streaking through it.My face was lined with his toes, or more precisely, his pristinely polished black patent Chukka boots. Palms down in the thick mud beneath me, I pushed up and let my eyes glance at the man in front of me. He looked none-to-pleased to see his clothes spattered with flecks of dirt from where I had landed and splashed him.

I struggled to get to my feet as my own boots dug into the ground, slipping against the wet grass. Eventually I found my knees and leant back, looking up at him. I forced a grin on my mud-covered face, but he didn’t return it. Finally able to stand without landing on my backside, I wiped my hands down the sides of my bare thighs.

His glare speared through the apology that I tried to splutter, words failing to come from my vocal chords. In the distance I heard someone call my name. Looking over my shoulder I could see my teammates beckoning me to re-join the group. “Sorry,” the word leapt forward.

A dark eyebrow flicked upwards. “Are you going to pay for that?” he asked, snapping each word as though he was talking to some insolent child.

“It’s a muddy field, you’re watching a rugby match,” I countered, my eyes narrowing. “Try stepping away from the lines.”

“You’ve got a mouth on you.” A smile twitched at the corners of his lips. I’ve got a mouth on me? What the hell was that supposed to mean? I was about to make some loud comment about him being arrogant and conceited, but the captain of the team had already reached my heel.

“You coming?” Lou tugged on my elbow, throwing a smile towards the man who loomed over me.

“Yeah,” I said racing back into the game.

“Who’s your friend?” Lou asked, nodding towards Tall, Dark, and Smouldering.

“I haven’t got a clue, but he wasn’t impressed by my skidding halt!” I laughed, tossing her the ball.

We finished practise at two o’clock, as we did every Saturday afternoon. I listened to the laughter and loud chattering of my teammates and friends, as I scrubbed at the mud that caked my arms, legs, and face. Warm water pummelled at my aching muscles, I rubbed away the sweat with a floral scented shower gel. I made a point of using feminine scented products, since I lived in such a masculine world.

Not only did I play rugby, a game that my mother always told me was unbecoming for a woman of my standing, but I also lived with two men and worked in an office where I was the only female. I was also incredibly single.

Next Time…

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In the Eye of the Wind by Katherine Wyvern – A Guest Blog #evernight

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Hello and thank you for hosting me and my pirate story today! This was such a wonderful book for me to write! It came about by chance when I was drawing an elf, messed up his left eye, and ended up with a one-eyed pirate instead.

I have been afloat on imaginary seas with many favorite authors of mine from Melville, to Conrad, to Patrick O’Brian and Björn Larsson all of my life, so I pounced on the chance of writing a pirate story!

The original idea, as much as I had an idea at all, was to keep it light and fun (and short… most of all short). I wrote a bunch of dialogues very much at random in the first day, all of them full of banter, innuendoes and bratty jokes and I thought that I would keep the story on that note. But I didn’t have a plot, and I still missed one of the main characters, and I had only the vaguest idea of what universe the story could be set in. For a brief while I even considered making it a bit of tongue-in-cheek Tolkien fan fiction. But then the muse spoke, and suggested such a dark twist to the main character, Rikko’, that it became clear that the story needed to grow and to have deeper layers.

And it began to fit very well into the fantasy universe where my older novel Spellbreakers was set, and to connect rather neatly with that story, although it’s not really a sequel to it, and it can be read as a standalone. I hope you find my pirate as irresistible as I did!

Blurb:

Born in the northern wastes of Kaleva in the middle of a devastating war between light and darkness, Rikko’ has found his way south to the warm shores of the Circled Sea, the first elver to ever turn pirate.

Forbidden by the rules of the Andalouan court to pursue such an ungentlemanly career, Gael can only dream of ever becoming a doctor, and his medical studies remain unfinished until his aunt the Queen sends him on a covert mission to the pirate city of Beyas’kahl.

And here, after one night with Rikko’, all his loyalties are put to the test.

Queen Amata has reigned for three decades, and she always used her men cunningly. But even the best player can miscalculate, and her blunder places Gael first in slavery, then in a naval battle, and finally, worst of all, face to face with Rikko’s darkest and deadliest side.

From such darkness, is there any coming back? Is there any hope of love for Gael, or redemption for Rikko’?

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Excerpt:

“Come, Puna, sweetie,” he said, plucking the lemur off Gael’s shoulder with one hand. He placed her on his chest of drawers, on a pile of freshly laundered clothes, her favorite bedding in the world, after himself. She grumbled a little but soon settled down. “And as for you, my boy, you come here to me,” he whispered, drawing Gael to the edge of his bed, where they both tumbled down together, kissing.

Gael was still frantically pecking at him, with those tight-lipped clueless kisses that drove Rikko’ to distraction. He let himself be kissed like that for some minutes—it was so ridiculously lovable.

Ah, it is a pity to teach him anything, he thought. I wish I could keep him like this forever. He knows nothing, except that he has this need…

But you can’t have your cake and eat it, I suppose.

“Wait, sweet, wait,” he whispered finally, and laid Gael on his back, pinning his body down with his folded leg as he lay beside him, and took his cheek in his palm. He put his mouth to Gael’s mouth, and gently, slowly, savoring every minute instant of it, he ran the tip of his tongue along the seam of those tightly closed lips, lightly at first, then harder, until the lips finally parted, like two halves of a plum, and Gael gasped in surprise and then lust. His body arched in desire when Rikko’s tongue met his, and he groaned with hunger, welcoming the new intimacy of that tongue-to-tongue kiss with an adoring fierceness that had Rikko’ near to tears with emotion. He groaned again, hugging Rikko’ closer, sinking his fingers in his hair, touching his face and neck and ears, pursuing his mouth when Rikko’ pulled back to breathe, licking Rikko’s lips.

Rikko’ had never met any grown man (Gael was young, sure, but not a child—Rikko’ despised child lovers, and never, ever went close to the little creatures himself) both so inexperienced, so shy, and yet so wholeheartedly passionate. It was enchanting, and utterly enflaming. He laughed softly and pulled back from the kisses. This was just too much. He could not wait any longer. He needed to touch this boy properly all over; he had to have his cock in his mouth, and maybe, if Gael was so inclined, inside that beautiful, taut little butt.

“Too many clothes,” he said, in Gael’s ear. He kicked off his flip-flops, and realized, with a bit of a shock, that he was still wearing his dagger, stuck in his sash, and his sword belt. He had forgotten all about them. He crossed the room to lay both weapons on his chest of drawers and untied his sash, and felt Gael’s hands on his hips.

“C—can I? Sir? Please?” whispered the boy, and Rikko’ smiled as Gael, with almost religious awe, unwound the length of silk from around his waist and hips and let it fall to the floor around his feet.

Rikko’ stepped out of the puddled folds and murmured, “You too.”

He finished undressing in a few seconds. He never wore a lot. It just got in the way.

Gael took off his clothes, and Rikko’ watched him from the bed, waiting. Under those strangely unattractive breeches and shirt, he was every bit as delicious as Rikko’ had always known he would be, not particularly muscular, but sleek and quick, and just a little awkward, like a young animal, full-grown but still uncertain of his body.

Rikko’ pulled him close, pressing that lithe soft form against his own, and their cocks met halfway, both hard and quite ready, so that they had to be pulled up against their bellies for them to embrace. Rikko’ smiled and palmed Gael’s butt, and kissed him, deep and long, and then put a hand between them and took the boy’s member in his fingers just for a bit of a feel, a bit of foreplay.

He tugged at the lovely taut cock once.

Gael gave a sort of astonished yelp, tensed all over, and then moaned wildly against Rikko’s shoulder, oh, oh, ooh, and suddenly Rikko’ found himself awash in hot, splashing, dripping jets of sperm, all down his belly, lap, and leg, a veritable, goddamn, bleeding flood of it.

He let go, dumbfounded, and then burst into laughter.

“Wh—well, I’ll be … what the…” he began, but, really, he could only laugh. I just barely touched him!

“Damn it, doctor, our ship sprung a leak,” he said finally, still laughing. “I’m drowned!”

“Oh gods, oh gods, oh gods,” said Gael, absolutely frantic, “oh gods, sir, I am so sorry!” He jumped out of bed, fumbling around. “I’ll find my handkerchief, sir, I’ll mop it up this minute…”

Rikko’ laughed even harder and stretched out to pull him back in bed.

“Stop that. Leave it. Leave it, damn it! It’s all right. I’m joking. It’s all right! It’s all good! Stuff’s good for the skin, it is known. Leave it.” He couldn’t stop laughing.

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Visit In the Eye of the Wind’s web page with maps and an exclusive excerpt: HERE

Amazon (free sample): HERE

Evernight (sexy ecerpt): HERE

BIO:

I have entered that age when looking at beautiful male models in their prime makes me a cougar, ahem.

Almost all my heroines are short: that’s because I look at the world from hobbit level. Being so small I am three times more concentrated (read: obsessive) than anybody I know. I am exhaustingly creative in writing, arts, crafts… Sometimes my brain gets friction burns from hurtling at such speed from one universe to the next.

I love animals, plants, and occasionally even people.

Like the Highlander I come from a lot of different places. I was born in Italy but lived here and there and consider myself simply and deeply European. I love Europe passionately, its antiquity, its diversity, its quirkiness. All my books are set in Europe, or alternate versions of it.

I have been writing since I can remember.

LINKS:

Katherine’s Blog: https://katherinewyvern.blogspot.fr/

Katherine’s Website: http://meetingivory.wixsite.com/katherinewyvern

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katherinewyvern

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KatherineWyvern

Or follow her on Instagram @katherinewyvern

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The Hidden Legacy by Christine Rees #evernight #YA #evernightteen

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Blurb:
The curse of premonition follows Faye Lithyer, forcing her to witness death—over and over again.

When Faye moves in with her grandmother in Astoria, Oregon, her visions grow stronger. Faye watches a new friend fall victim to a murder in the not-so-distant future and becomes obsessed with preventing it from happening. However, Faye’s insecurity has her undecided whether she should tell her friend about their impending death or hunt down the murderer before it’s too late.

Faye will be faced with an epic choice that threatens to expose her abilities. Will she choose to save her friend from a monster or risk becoming one herself?

 
Publishing Details:
Book Title: The Hidden Legacy
Author: Christine Rees
Publisher: Evernight Teen
Release Date: December 15, 2016
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Canadian teen fiction author Christine Rees is a Western University graduate, Sheridan alumni, and lover of all literature. Christine spends most of her time traveling, writing books, and helping others pursue their passion. She is also an admitted TV junkie, content creator for the Student Life Network, blogger, and animal enthusiast.

Christine’s debut paranormal, suspense novel, THE HIDDEN LEGACY, is a #1 Amazon Best Seller in Canada and won the 2017 Raven Award for Favorite New and Young Adult. The sequel is currently in-works. 

Christine’s first YA contemporary romance, JUST LIKE THE MOVIES, is the lead story in Evernight Teen’s KISSED anthology, which released on July 20, 2018. Visit www.christinerees.com to learn more.

 
Social Media Links:
Twitter – @christineeerees
Instagram – @christineeerees

Slaughtered by K.A. Lugo – an extract #tirgearrtuesday #mystery #crime

This week, I’d like to welcome K.A. Lugo to Tirgearr Tuesday:

Slaughtered is available to download through Kindle Unlimited & in print

Kindle US, Kindle UK

Amazon USAmazon UK

The Texter

Fallen homicide detective, Jack Slaughter, closes the door on the home where his perfect family has been brutally snatched from him. Moving across the city, he works as a private investigator to fund his own investigation into what happened to his family—who killed his little girl, Zoë, and where is his wife, Leah?

Every three month for the last three years, Jack receives a simple text telling him where he can find his missing wife. There’s a body at each location, but none of them are Leah.

Jack hates missing person’s cases, but they’re his bread and butter. He only takes the case to find Carl Boyd’s missing wife because the details of her disappearance closely match Leah’s. He hopes by finding Bonnie Boyd, he’ll find his own wife.

The Butcher

Following the leads in the Bonnie Boyd case, Jack discovers someone has been killing women all over the city for the last three years, a fact Jack’s ex-partner and still best friend, Ray Navarro, has neglected to tell him. The city has a serial killer and officials haven’t been able to find a single lead on the person they’ve dubbed The Butcher.

Could Bonnie Boyd’s disappearance be linked to The Butcher? More important, was Leah one of The Butcher’s victims? Could he have gone so far as to murder a child?

With every clue Jack weaves together, the more his own life unravels.

Excerpt:

San Francisco, California

Wednesday

“Is it her? Is it Leah?”

Jack Slaughter’s heart hammered a hole in his chest as he watched the rail-thin form of the newly-made detective, Paul Travers, stride toward him. If he could read the man’s expression and body language, Travers seemed more amused by Jack’s presence than annoyed.

When Jack started lifting the crime scene tape to duck under it, Travers pushed him back with a firm hand on his shoulder.

“You gotta stop turning up like this, Jackie.” Travers’ flippant voice grated on Jack, almost as much as the man’s ruddy complexion and brassy hair. His voice edged on being just a bit too high and too nasal to want to listen to for long. Jack didn’t know how his best friend and former partner, Ray Navarro, could stand it.

With a hand still on his shoulder, Travers nudged Jack back. He made a shooing motion with his other hand. “Why don’t you just go on home and let the professionals do their jobs?”

Travers’ condescending tone made Jack want to punch him in the throat.

“Where’s Ray?” He followed Travers’ gaze over the man’s shoulder and saw Ray standing over the victim’s body several yards away. It appeared to have been positioned at the foot of a tall pine at the dead-end of the road. “I want to talk to him.”

Travers caught his gaze and looked back. “Go home, Jackie. You don’t belong here.” He emphasized the word you. They both knew why Jack was no longer Ray’s partner, nor on the force.

Ignoring the little pissant, Jack shouted over the man’s shoulder. “Ray!” His friend looked up and gave a quick wave to acknowledge he’d seen Jack. He finished up with a CSI, then made his way over.

“What are you doing here, Jack?” When Ray reached up to shake hands, Jack palmed his cell phone into Ray’s.

“I told him to go home . . . partner.”

In Jack’s opinion, Travers seemed to take every opportunity to rub it in that he now occupied Jack’s former position. It didn’t escape his notice that Ray also cringed at the word partner. Jack knew his leaving the force had been a blow to his friend too.

He gazed directly into Ray’s eyes, trying to keep the anxiety he felt from his voice. “I got another one.”

“Jack—” Ray sighed, gazing down at the phone’s screen to the open text—Spreckels Lake.

Since the very first text he’d received—You’ll find your wife in the Panhandle—there had never been anything more than the next location. The texts came every three months, as if on schedule. Every one of them led Jack to a body, but none of them were Leah. If the texter was trying to drive him crazy, it was working. But he couldn’t risk that the guy was crying wolf. Even after three years, Jack still showed up . . . just in case.

Ray handed back the phone then threw his hands onto his hips. Jack could almost hear the gears working in his friend’s head as he gazed around Spreckels Lake with obvious concentration.

This was a beautiful location. Jack remembered bringing his family here, but pushed the memory from his mind. He gazed away from the water, trying to breathe. He knew the answer, but he had to ask it anyway. “Is it her?” Even he heard the waver in his voice.

“You gotta let me do my job, man. You gotta trust me. If this was Leah, you know I’d tell you.”

“I know, but—”

“No buts, Jackie,” Travers cut in, edging up closer to him as if posturing. “You’re not a cop anymore. You don’t belong here. Go home.”

Jack starred at Travers with a look he hoped said, go ahead and touch me again, pissant, I dare you. He must have got his point across because Travers hesitated before stepping away, his back noticeably erect.

“I’m sorry. Paul’s right. You don’t need to be here. It’s not her.” Ray’s voice remained calm. Jack knew the tone, as he often used it to try defusing situations with suspects and distraught families.

“You’re just a distraction, Jackie.”

“Paul!” Ray’s warning tone made Travers jump, as it did those around them.

In his heart, Jack knew when a victim’s family turned up on a crime scene, or tried insinuating themselves into an investigation, it only disrupted the process. More times than he could count, the time he’d spent dealing with the family would have been better served on the investigation.

Jack shrank away from the crime scene tape, his energy evaporating. “You’re right, Ray. I’m sorry. I just can’t risk that the one time I don’t respond to the text, it really will be Leah.”

“I know, Jack. I know.” Ray put his hand on Jack’s shoulder this time, drawing Jack’s attention. “But this isn’t her. Go ho—” Ray stopped short, both knowing Jack hadn’t been home since that night three years ago. “Go back to your place. I’ll stop by after my shift. We’ll talk then, okay?”

Jack looked past Ray’s shoulder to the lifeless body. He watched as technicians carefully placed a protective tarp over the victim, telling him the CSIs had retrieved all the scene evidence they needed and now waited for the coroner’s removal.

Dumping the body at the lake had been a bold move. Even at this dead-end in the road, Golden Gate Park attracted a huge number of people, homeless and visitors alike. Someone had to have seen something.

“Can you use an extra hand?”

“Sorry, Jack. You know I can’t. I gotta get back. I’ll see you later, at your place.”

“Don’t bother.” Jack didn’t have to look back to know Ray watched to make sure he was leaving.

From behind him, he heard Travers ask, “What’s with that guy?”

“Lay off, Paul,” Ray said. “You’d react the same way if your daughter had been murdered and your wife was still missing.”

Meet the Author

K.A. Lugo is a native Northern Californian who grew up in Carmel-by-the-Sea, part of a larger community founded by artists and writers, including John Steinbeck, George Sterling, and Jack London. Over the years, she’s worked with several Carmel notables, but it was in 1997 she left the employ of Clint Eastwood to live in Ireland for six months. It was during this time she met the man she would marry, and relocated to live in Ireland.

While always writing since a very young age, K.A. earned her keep in Ireland as one of the country’s foremost travel consultants who also wrote travel articles about Ireland.

Since 2005, K.A. has published fourteen titles in genres including romantic suspense, erotic romance, cozy mystery, and now thrillers.

Slaughtered is the first in the new highly acclaimed Jack Slaughter Thriller series, set in San Francisco, a city close to K.A.’s heart.

K.A. loves hearing from readers and promises to reply to each message. Please visit her socials to stay up-to-date on this exciting new series.

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