‘The Retrieval’ by Aly Martinez is available now!

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Blurb

I proposed on our first date.

She laughed and told me I was insane. Less than a day later, she said yes.

It was a whirlwind, but we were happy…

Until we got greedy and wanted a family.

It was a life I couldn’t give her, not for lack of trying. Fertility just wasn’t on our side. We sought out doctors and treatments. Spent money we didn’t have. Lied to our families. Smiled for our friends. Put on a brave face for a world that didn’t understand.

Finally, we were successful…

Until we were forced to bury our son.

We were left broken, battered, and destroyed.

They say love is in the details, but it was the details that ruined us.

This is the story of how I took back what had always been mine.

The retrieval of my wife and our family.

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Excerpt

“Where’d you get beer?” Elisabeth asked as she scrambled from the couch.

“Seth,” I replied, hanging my head and rubbing my eyes.

Jesus, I’d wanted to kiss her. She was being a bitch, spouting shit she didn’t mean just because she was too scared to let me in.

But, even through it, those plump lips were calling to me.

I’d never been able to resist that woman. Despite that we’d fallen apart, it hadn’t changed. The hum for her was still in my veins. It never went away, but for two years, it had been dormant. I’d packed it down so tightly that I’d hoped it had died. But, with one look, my body began thrumming like a live wire.

“Seth?” she asked as she bent over to straighten her tight, black pencil skirt.

It was a rare occasion to catch Elisabeth in something other than a perfectly pressed skirt and a pair of heels. But she’d been sleeping all day. It was wrinkled all to hell and back. The only thing her efforts succeeded in was drawing my attention down to her legs.

Legs that had spent many nights wrapped around my hips as she came while crying my name.

Shit. I should go.

But, after the way she’d latched on to me that morning, I wasn’t going anywhere.

“My assistant,” I answered. “I had him pick you up a bottle of wine, too.”

She blinked. “You have an assistant? Who delivers you beer? And your ex-wife wine?”

“No, I have an assistant who does whatever the fuck I need him to do. And, luckily for us, beer and wine happen to fall into the whatever-the-fuck-I-need-him-to-do category tonight.” She fought back a smile as I finished, “So do gyros.”

“Damn. I need to get one of those,” she mumbled to herself.

I smirked. “Cash my checks and you could afford one.”

It was a dick move, bringing up the money right then. But, despite her expert hand in decorating, that little starter house we’d bought with rose-colored glasses now needed a shit-ton of work.

Her back shot ramrod straight, fury crinkling the corners of her eyes as she snarled, “I’m not cashing your checks.”

I shrugged. “Guess you’ll have to figure out how to get your own wine and dinner after tonight.”

“I think I can manage,” she fired back.

“Suit yourself.” I pushed off the couch and meandered to the kitchen.

I went to the fridge and leaned in, searching for anything I could snack on. With the exception of at least a dozen Tupperware containers, she didn’t have much in the way of a quick bite.

Snagging a handful of grapes from the drawer, I made a mental note to send Seth to the grocery store after he’d delivered dinner.

Popping the grapes in my mouth one by one, I felt her watching me in what could only be defined as silent awe. I decided my best move would be to ignore it. “You know, I should have invented Tupperware. You alone could keep me in business,” I told her, retrieving a beer and then shutting the door.

She scoffed then muttered, “At least then I would have benefitted from you abandoning our marriage.”

Lava fresh off the volcanoes in Hell boiled in my veins.

I cocked my head to the side and questioned, “I’m sorry. Come again?”

“You should go,” she snapped.

Think a-fucking-gain.

“Nah, I’m good. Got any movies?”

I tipped the bottle to my lips, doing my best to calm the storm brewing within me, all while still fighting the desire to take her to the floor, plant myself between her legs, and remind her how that fucking attitude affected me.

Clearly, she had forgotten.

My cock had not.

“Roman, it’s been a crazy day. Please don’t do this tonight.”

“Do what?” I asked, leaning back against the huge, granite island.

She threw her hands out to the sides in frustration. “What you always do.”

“What do I always do, Lissy?”

“This!” she yelled.

I frowned and took another pull from my beer. “Haven’t been in our kitchen, drinking beer, in a long time. I hardly think it’s fair to say I always do it.”

Her eyes nearly bulged from her head. “My kitchen, Roman. This is my kitchen. Not ours. And you know good and damn well that is not what I’m talking about.”

My lips twitched as I pointed the neck of my bottle at her. “No. What I know good and damn well is that I have no idea what the fuck you are talking about. Or why you’re slinging unnecessary and, might I add, undeserved attitude at me like a short-order cook at the bitch house.”

“He did not say that to me,” she whispered to herself.

When I lifted a shoulder in a half shrug, she swung a pointed finger toward the door and yelled, “Get out!”

I grinned, crossing my legs at the ankle. “You always were cranky when you were hungry.”

And that was the exact moment her head exploded.

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ONE STORY. TWO COUPLES.

The Retrieval Duet by Aly Martinez is a two part series.

RETRIEVAL is NOW LIVE  and will bring readers the first part of this emotional second chance romance.

TRANSFER (Part Two) will release on September 27th!

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NOW AVAILABLE on the following retailers:

Retrieval (Part One):

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2aMnW74

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2aW07Yb

iBooks: http://apple.co/2aH2bFb

Nook:  http://bit.ly/2cOYcsK

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2aFOVxB

Want More?

Pre-order Transfer (Part Two)

Releasing September 27th

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2b3AJ6S

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2aW0WAf

iBooks: http://apple.co/2beFszd

Nook: http://bit.ly/2c6BYR9

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2aW1So5

aly martinez

Born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, Aly Martinez is a stay-at-home mom to four crazy kids under the age of five, including a set of twins. Currently living in South Carolina, she passes what little free time she has reading anything and everything she can get her hands on, preferably with a glass of wine at her side.

After some encouragement from her friends, Aly decided to add “Author” to her ever-growing list of job titles. Five books later, she shows no signs of slowing. So grab a glass of Chardonnay, or a bottle if you’re hanging out with Aly, and join her aboard the crazy train she calls life.

STALK HER: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Are you going to buy The Retrieval?

Thanks to Rock Stars of Romance for setting up the launch

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‘Wide Open Spaces’ by Aurora Rose Reynolds release day blitz

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Blurb

That moment your life changes.

That moment that changes your life.

That moment you love someone more than you love yourself.

That was the moment we gave our son up for adoption and the moment I was left bare. A wide-open space that would forever be empty.

There are moments that define you as a person, moments that prove just how strong you are, moments you push yourself to keep going forward when all you really want to do is give up. It was in one of those moments when I reached out and found him waiting for me.

When Shelby Calder left home fifteen years ago, she never planned on returning to the Alaskan town she left behind. But after the death of her grandfather and a bitter divorce, she hopes going home will be a fresh start for her and her ten-year-old son.

Zach Watters has made a lot of mistakes in his life. But when he sees Shelby Calder, looking more beautiful than ever, standing outside her childhood home, he promises himself that letting her go won’t be a mistake he ever makes again.

Some things never change and love is one of them.

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WIDE OPEN NOW AVAILABLE

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Review

Wide Open Spaces

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2bB0Ejm

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2bB0Ejm

AURORA

Aurora Rose Reynolds

Aurora Rose Reynolds is a navy brat who’s husband served in the United States Navy. She has lived all over the country but now resides in New York City with her Husband and pet fish. She’s married to an alpha male that loves her as much as the men in her books love their women. He gives her over the top inspiration everyday. In her free time she reads, writes and enjoys going to the movies with her husband and cookie. She also enjoys taking mini weekend vacations to nowhere, or spends time at home with friends and family. Last but not least she appreciates everyday and admires it’s beauty.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest

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Read the first chapter of ‘Wide Open Spaces’ by Aurora Rose Reynolds now

wide open spaces

Blurb

That moment your life changes.

That moment that changes your life.

That moment you love someone more than you love yourself.

That was the moment we gave our son up for adoption and the moment I was left bare. A wide-open space that would forever be empty.

There are moments that define you as a person, moments that prove just how strong you are, moments you push yourself to keep going forward when all you really want to do is give up. It was in one of those moments when I reached out and found him waiting for me.

When Shelby Calder left home fifteen years ago, she never planned on returning to the Alaskan town she left behind. But after the death of her grandfather and a bitter divorce, she hopes going home will be a fresh start for her and her ten-year-old son.

Zach Watters has made a lot of mistakes in his life. But when he sees Shelby Calder, looking more beautiful than ever, standing outside her childhood home, he promises himself that letting her go won’t be a mistake he ever makes again.

Some things never change and love is one of them.


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Excerpt

Chapter 1

Shelby

Shutting off my car, I stare at the two-story house I used to call home. It looks the same as it did when I left. The deep blue is still vibrant, even more so now against the backdrop of the gray sky behind it. The white porch is still welcoming, with flowers hanging from the banister.

My grandmother and I would spend hours planting flowers in those boxes during the summer. When she passed away during my sophomore year of high school, I made sure to keep up the tradition in her memory. It looks like, in my absence over these last fifteen years, someone else had taken over the job.

Looking at the bright blooms growing wild, hanging over the sides of the boxes, I wonder if Granddad hired someone to plant them for him when he left to live in Florida. He never mentioned that he cared about the flowers we planted. Honesty, I don’t remember him mentioning them. Growing up, I didn’t even think he noticed, but now, looking at the blooming buds that are artfully arranged, I know they meant something to him after all.

“Mom?” Turning my head, I look at my son Hunter and force a smile as aching pain and regret slice through my chest.

“Sorry, honey. I spaced out. Do you want to unpack tonight, or do you want to wait until tomorrow, kiddo?”

Looking over his shoulder, he eyes the boxes and suitcases piled in the back then looks at me. I hate the sadness I see in his eyes. I hate I’m the cause of his pain. I know he misses his father already, and I know that at ten years old, he doesn’t understand why we’re no longer together even if it’s been over two years since we separated and divorced.

“Tomorrow,” he grumbles, and I feel that ache in my chest expand. He hates me for moving him across the country. Away from his friends, away from everything he knew. And I hate myself a little bit, too, for failing miserably at keeping my family together. I just hope this move will be a new start for us.

“Tomorrow,” I agree softly, unhooking my belt and opening the door.

Rounding the hood of the van, Hunter has already made it to the porch and is waiting at the top of the stairs, with his eyes pointed over my shoulder. Stopping, I look behind me as rain soaks through my clothes. I can’t believe how much the town has changed and grown. When I’d left home, you could see the sound from the front porch of my grandparents’ home. Now, the view is blocked by houses that have been built up side-by-side across the road. The street looks more like a New York City block, rather than a street in small-town Alaska.

“Is it always raining?” Hunter’s voice breaks into my thoughts, and I turn back toward him and take the steps slowly, noticing they are rotting out in a few spots. Something I will have to fix soon.

“Not always, but this is a rainforest, so I guess the answer in some ways is yes,” I tell him, when I make it up to the covered porch.

His brows draw together over his blue eyes, making him look like his father, as he asks, “This is a rainforest?”

“It is.” I want so badly to reach out and run my finger down his cheek, but I keep my hand locked at my side. I don’t know exactly when it happened, but some time ago, he stopped wanting my affection. Stopped being my little boy.

“Really?” he asks curiously, with wide eyes. “It doesn’t look like a rainforest,” he states, and he’s right; it doesn’t look like what you might imagine a rainforest would look like.

“It doesn’t look like one, but it is all the same.” I smile, and his eyes move over my face then to the view, and his face loses the curiosity it held a moment ago.

He turns, muttering, “Whatever.”

Biting my lip, I take the key the lawyer mailed me out of the front pocket of my jeans, put it in the lock, and turn. The door opens with a loud creak and dust rises up from the floors. A loud alarm sounds, making us both jump. Running into the house, I look frantically for some kind of alarm system, finally finding the small white box off the door in the kitchen. Flipping the panel open, I stare at the numbers.

“What’s the code?” Hunter yells over the siren, covering his ears.

“I don’t know,” I yell back, pressing in every single number combination I can think of, but none of them work.

“Is it in the papers in the car?”

“Maybe,” I yell, then run for the door and down the stairs to the van. Swinging open the back door, I shove three boxes out of the way before finding the one I’m looking for. Ripping off the tape, I shuffle through the contents and scan the papers the lawyer sent, searching for the code, but stop and look over the hood of the van when the alarm goes quiet. “What was the code?” I ask Hunter, when he steps out onto the porch.

“I don’t know.” He shrugs, looking over his shoulder into the house, like he’s waiting for someone to come out, which makes me frown.

“Did it just stop?” I question, slamming the van door. His eyes come back to me and he shakes his head then starts to open his mouth to say something else, but is cut off by a deep voice.

“I turned it off.”

It takes one breath to realize who just stepped out of my grandparents’ house. One breath for every moment I spent with the man standing before me to flash through my head. Two seconds for me to feel my world come to a stop.

The boy I once knew is gone. There’s nothing boyish about Zach Watters anymore. His jaw is now sharp, the stubble on it giving him a rugged look while accentuating his full lips. His dark hair has silvered around the edges, drawing attention to his expressive hazel eyes that look like they hold a thousand stories. His red and black plaid shirt is stretched tight across broad shoulders, giving a glimpse of the muscles it’s covering. He’s still every bit as beautiful as he once was, only more so now that time has aged him, taking him from a handsome boy to a gorgeous man.

Swallowing, I look at my son then back again. “Thanks,” I whisper, and Zach’s eyebrows pull together as he sweeps his gaze over me. I have no doubt that I too have changed, but unlike him, time hasn’t been good to me. I’ve gained a few too many pound from eating my feelings over the last year. My skin has lost its youthful glow, and my hair has grown out at the roots without my bi-monthly maintenance appointments.

“Shelby?” he asks, but all I can do is confirm with a nod, since my mouth has dried up and I can’t find my voice. “Jesus.” His eyes widen as he looks down at Hunter then back toward me. “What are you doing here?”

“My… my son Hunter and I are moving in,” I stutter, caught off guard by his presence. I wasn’t stupid enough to believe I wouldn’t see him when I moved home, but I had convinced myself that seeing him would be on my terms, or sporadic at best.

“What?” he whispers, leaning back on his boots, crossing his arms over his chest.

Ignoring his question, I start to move back toward the stairs, asking, “Do you mind giving me the code for the alarm? I’m sure it’s somewhere in the papers the lawyer sent, but…” I stop and look to the left when Zach’s name is called. Standing on the porch of the house next door is a woman I know he got with a few months after I left. A woman he married soon after she gave birth to their twins. A woman I used to call my friend.

A woman I now hate.

I absently hear him say something to her, but the nausea turning my stomach and the sadness prickling my skin have me moving quickly up the steps, focusing on not falling over as I move past him. “Never mind about the code. I’m sure I’ll find it. Thanks for shutting off the alarm,” I mumble, as I walk through the door.

“Mom.”

“Come on, honey. Let’s have a look around, and then we need to get to the store.”

“Mom,” Hunter repeats, sounding confused. I plaster a fake smile on my face.

“The pizza place we drove past has the best pizza I’ve ever tasted. We could do that for dinner.”

“Mom.”

“Right here, honey.” I laugh, even though that laugh feels like glass edging down my windpipe.

Studying me for a long moment, he finally mutters, “Pizza sounds good. I’m gonna call Dad before we go, and tell him we’re here.”

“Sure,” I agree, watching him pull out his cell phone and walk toward the kitchen. I didn’t agree that he needed a cell phone at his age, but like all things with his dad, there was never any kind of conversation. He didn’t ask what I thought about it; he just did what he wanted to do.

I hear a familiar throat clear. “You’re back?” Zach asks from behind me, making my shoulders slump forward and my eyes slide closed briefly.

“Yeah.” I turn to face him and wrap my arms around my waist, feeling my stomach twist into knots. When I left town, we didn’t fight, didn’t yell at each other, didn’t say things we would end up regretting one day. I just knew there was too much pain between us to make what we had left work, and Zach, knowing the same, didn’t put up a fight when I told him my plans.

“You’re staying here?” he asks, and I nod. Running a hand over his head as his eyes move to the right, where Tina had been moments ago, before bringing his gaze back to mine. “The code for the alarm is one, two, three, four. I told Pat to change it, but you know Pat,” he mutters, and I nod, knowing exactly how stubborn Gramps was. Shoving his hands into the front pocket of his jeans, his voice drops. “I’m really sorry about Pat.”

“Thanks.” I hold myself a little tighter. His eyes drop to my arms around my waist and soften before moving up to meet mine once more.

“If you need anything, I’m next door.” He lifts his chin in that direction, and my world stops again.

“Pardon?” I breathe.

“I live next door.”

Okay, maybe I should have guessed that, since Tina was over there, but I didn’t, and this is not good… as in really not good. There is not one damn thing I can do about it, though, unless I want to load Hunter back into the van and live out of it for the next year or so, which I don’t think will win me any brownie points with my son.

“Cool,” I whisper pathetically, with nothing else to say. Something familiar-looking and soft slides through his features, making my stomachache twist again, but this time in a way I haven’t felt in a long time.

“Well…” I pause, needing this encounter to be over. “Thanks again for turning off the alarm. I wish we had time to catch up,” I lie. “But I need to get to the store before it closes, and then I need to get Hunter some food. Growing boys don’t do well without food,” I ramble, as I put my hand to the door, wanting so badly to shove it closed.

“Sure.” He nods then looks over my shoulder, into the house. “Nice meeting you, Hunter.”

“You too—” Hunter looks between Zach and me.

“Mr. Watters, honey,” I mutter, answering his unspoken question, as he comes to stand at my side with his cell phone in his hand.

“You too, Mr. Watters.”

Zach’s eyes come to me and his face softens once more. “See you around, Shelby.”

“Yeah, see you around,” I lie again, since I plan to pretend he doesn’t exist from this moment forward. I wait, even though I don’t want to, until he is walking away to close the door then stand there for a moment, trying to process what just happened.

“How do you know him, Mom?” Hunter asks.

“When I was younger,” I say, turning to face him, “we were friends.” I shrug, looking toward the stairs. “My room used to be in the attic—it’s the best room in the house—and if you make it there before me, I’ll let you have it.” I raise my brows before taking off in a sprint up the stairs, listening to my son, who I haven’t heard laugh in weeks, giggle as he runs up the stairs behind me.

“Wow, this is awesome.”

Looking over my shoulder at Hunter I smile as he walks into the room with wide eyes. “I told you it’s the coolest room in the house.” I used to love hanging out up here when I was a teenager. The vastness of the space, with its angled ceilings and four large skylights, was a cool place to spend time. Looking at my son now, I can see the excitement in his eyes as he wanders around the room.

“Do you think I could get a telescope?” he asks, looking up at the cloud-covered sky through one of the skylights.

“Definitely.” I bump my shoulder with his as I walk past him toward the couch in the corner that’s covered with a sheet and pull it off. “We may also want to find a cover for this thing while we’re at it,” I say, looking from the floral-covered couch to his scrunched up face.

“Yeah.” He nods, moving to the bed, where he rips off the sheet that is covering the mattress. “I can’t wait to tell Dad about this. He’s going to think it’s so cool,” he mutters, and I bite my tongue to keep from saying, No, your dad will definitely not think it’s cool.

Max, Hunter’s father, grew up wealthy. He never owned anything that had been used. Even when we got married, he insisted I sell the Victorian house I bought when I graduated college, wanting instead for us to buy a newly built house in a cliché subdivision, where all of his friends lived. Shortly thereafter, he insisted I sell all of my old furniture, things I had bought secondhand and refurbished over the years. At the time, I was blinded by hope and love, so I didn’t think anything about it. But over time, I slowly realized I was no longer the person I used to be. I had turned into a trophy wife who lived in a show home and neither of us had any real character.

“Mom,” Hunter calls, bringing me out of my thoughts, and I turn to look at him and notice he has a stack of photos in his hand. “Who’s this?”

“That’s my mom,” I say softly, while walking over to where he’s sitting on the bed, holding out a picture of my mom and me. In the photo, we’re sitting outside on the porch, with our arms wrapped around each other, smiling at the camera.

“You look like her,” he says thoughtfully. “You have her eyes and hair.”

“You think so?” I ask, looking at my mom, who had to have been about my age when the photo was taken. She was beautiful, with long dark blonde hair, big blue eyes, and a smile that lit up the world.

“Yeah.” He nods then looks at me, and asks quietly, “Do you miss her?”

“Every day.” I nod, taking the photo from his hands. “She gave the best hugs,” I say, fighting back the tears I feel creeping up my throat. My mom and dad both died in a plane crash when I was fifteen. My father was the owner and pilot of a local adventure company, and he had taken my mom with him to drop off supplies to some men who were bear hunting out at one of the islands. On their way back into town, the weather shifted, and their plane went down on one of the mountains. Neither of them survived. That’s when I moved to Cordova to live with my dad’s parents.

“Do you have any pictures of your dad?”

I pause, trying to recall if I’ve ever really spoken to Hunter about my parents, if Max ever asked about them, but I can’t think of a single time. “There are a few downstairs on the wall. I’ll point them out to you.” I lean into him a little then stop when his arm wraps around my shoulders, surprising me. “I love you, kid,” I whisper, not surprised when he doesn’t say it back, but happy that his arm tightens ever so slightly.

“I’m starving.” He chuckles releasing me when his stomach growls loudly, breaking the moment.

“We can’t have that.” I laugh, standing from the bed. “Let’s go to Joe’s. Hopefully, the pizza is still awesome. If not, you’re gonna have to suffer and eat it anyway, ‘cause the store is probably closed by now.

“Is there such a thing as bad pizza?”

“I guess we’ll find out,” I murmur, and then head out of the room and down the stairs, grabbing my purse as we leave.

When we make it to Joe’s, I find nothing has changed in the years I’ve been gone. The owner Joe, an older Korean gentleman, is still in the back making the pizzas, and his wife Kim is still working the counter, gossiping about everything and everyone. While we wait for our pizza, Kim talks my ear off, telling me about the people in town, including Zach, who she informs me is not only a cop, but also the sheriff. She also tells me that Zach is single. He and Tina supposedly got divorced nine years ago, and Zach has had full custody of both his kids since then. I tell myself I don’t care that Zach is no longer with Tina, but I still feel some relief knowing I won’t have to witness seeing them together.

“Can I sleep in my room tonight?” Hunter asks, as I finish off my third slice of pizza and wipe my mouth with a paper towel.

“I don’t mind, but everything in the house needs to be washed. So if you want to sleep up there, we have to get your stuff from the van.”

“I’ll get it, and then we can bring in everything else too.”

“You want to clean out the van?” I ask, not at all excited about lugging stuff up three flights of stairs.

“Yeah.” He nods again, taking his half of the pizza box lid that he used as a plate to the trash bin.

“If that’s what you want,” I agree, regretting those words an hour later as I head out for the last box. My arms and legs are tired from carting everything inside and up the stairs. I haven’t worked out in the last year, and I can feel it now as every muscle in my body protest.

Stopping when I hear a door close, I hold the box in my hands closer to my chest and look toward the house next door. I spot a handsome blond boy, who looks a lot like Zach, hopping down the steps, with Tina following close behind. Ducking down, I hide and watch them as they get into an old pickup truck, only coming out of hiding when they drive off.

Having over fifteen years to deal with the adoption of Samuel should make it easier to see Zach’s other children, but it doesn’t. I still feel bitter about the situation. I know it’s the fact that Zach’s children were born a little over a year after Samuel, meaning Tina got pregnant not long after I left town. So not only did Zach have a relationship with Tina, but he built a family with her and kept the kids they had together.

Heading back into the house with the final box, I wonder how I’m going to do what I’ve been doing for the last fifteen years. It was easy to block out thoughts of Zach when I was gone, but now that I’m back and living next door to him, I wonder if it will be as easy to ignore the feeling in my chest that coincides with thoughts of him.

~*~*~

Grabbing my quilt from the end the my bed, I carefully balance my Kindle and glass of wine in one hand as I open the sliding glass door in my room and step out onto the balcony. Tonight is one of the first nights it hasn’t rained since we moved in, and I have been looking forward to sitting outside under the stars with a good book all day long. Grabbing my glass, I take a sip then look to the left when the sound of rock music starts up and light flutters across the back deck next door, making me wonder if Zach’s room is off the balcony like mine.

Pushing that thought away, I turn on my Kindle then proceed to get lost in someone else’s happily ever after.

“Shelby.” Jumping, some of the contents from the glass in my hand sloshes out over the side and runs down my fingers as I swing my head to the left, where Zach is leaning on the banister, his eyes on me. A short glass full of dark liquid is in his hands, and the light casts a glow behind him.

“You scared the crap out of me,” I gripe, holding my free hand over my rapidly beating heart.

“I’ve been standing here awhile,” he mutters, then takes a swig of his drink. “I thought you would have noticed.” He rolls the glass between his hands while looking at me intently, making me fight the urge to squirm in my chair.

“When I’m lost in a good book, the world could crash down around me and I wouldn’t notice.” I shrug, taking a sip of wine, using the moment of reprieve as an excuse to look away from him, but realizing for the first time that I don’t know the man standing across from me. Yes, he looks a little like the guy I dated years ago, but he also seems more intense, like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders. He’s definitely not the easygoing kid I dated in high school.

“How are you guys settling in?”

Pulling my legs out from under me, I rest my Kindle on the edge of my lap and turn to face him fully while adjusting the blanket.

“It’s going to take a little bit to get everything cleaned up. I didn’t know Gramps was such a hoarder until now. I think I’ve thrown out about ten thousand issues of National Geographic, along with a hundred empty boxes and every single item you can possibly buy from an infomercial,” I reply, then smile when he laughs a deep rumbling laugh and leans a little farther over the railing between us, causing another plaid shirt—this one blues and yellows—to tighten across his wide chest.

“You didn’t keep them? You never know when you might need an automatic potato peeler.”

“I thought about it, but if I did, I wouldn’t have anywhere to put my shoes, since all of it was stacked up on the floor in his closet, everything unopened.” I smile, watching him grin for a moment before the smile slides away and his eyes move beyond me to the forest that sits behind the house.

“I’m gonna miss him. I know he’s been gone from town for years, but I’ll miss our talks,” he mutters, then looks up at the sky for a moment before meeting my gaze once more. “Why’d you come back? Last time I talked to Pat, he told me you were planning on following him down to Florida.”

His words catch me off guard, since Gramps never told me he kept in contact with Zach. But then again, I never asked. I shouldn’t be surprised they kept in touch, since they we’re close when I was home, and were obviously neighbors before Gramps moved to Florida. Plus, Zach is the sheriff in town. Yet, it still feels strange that he knows about me, while I know nothing about him.

“I was.” I let out a breath, adjusting the blanket around my shoulders. “But I had to wait until…” I trail off, not wanting to talk about my divorce to anyone, especially not him. “Then when Gramps passed away, there was nothing for me in Florida, so I decided to come back here instead.”

“You didn’t want to stay in Seattle?”

“No, I needed something different, so when I found out Gramps left me his house, I just knew I needed to come back here,” I whisper the truth. Ever since I read the will and found out this house was mine to do with as I please, I had a feeling in my gut that I couldn’t get rid of. Something telling me that I needed to come back here.

“This is a good town,” he murmurs, but the look in his eyes is saying something I can’t quite figure out.

“This is the last place I remember being really happy. I hope that I can make it that way for Hunter,” I say quietly, and his face softens.

“He looks like you.” His words and tone catch me by surprise and I sit up a little taller. Never in a million years would I have thought I’d be sitting on my granddad’s deck in the middle of the night talking to Zach about anything. Definitely not about my son.

“You wouldn’t say that if you saw his dad,” I return honestly. “When he was a baby, he looked like me, but not any more.”

“He has your eyes and your smile.” He pauses, taking a drink from his glass. “He seems like a good kid.”

“He’s the best kid.” I take a sip of wine, trying to keep whatever it is I’m feeling right now in check.

“I… I think I saw your son. Um, the other day. He looks like you,” I tell him, wanting to take the words back after I say them, because I don’t want him to think I was spying on him.

“He looks like his mom, but has my personality, which I can’t decide if it’s a good thing or not. My daughter, Aubrey, on the other hand, looks like me, but is sweet down to her core. Where she gets that sweetness, I have no fucking clue.”

“Oh.” I bite my lip, trying to figure out what to say to that. The Zach I knew was a good guy, sweet even. Tina, however, was mostly bitch, and I honestly don’t even know why we were friends. Then again, growing up here, there weren’t a hundred girls to choose from. My graduating class had five girls in it, and none of them liked Tina, which meant none of them really liked me either.

“I better go in,” he says abruptly, cutting into my thoughts, standing to his full height. “I need to be to the station early tomorrow.”

“Sure… uh… have a good night.” The urge to say something that will make him stay hits me hard, and it takes everything I have in me to keep my mouth shut.

“You too, Shelby. And be careful when you’re out here reading. Louie’s out and about around this time of night, searching for food.”

“Louie?” I question, scrunching up my nose. Cordova never had homeless people before, and I can’t imagine it would now.

“Louie’s a black bear. Normally, he sticks to the woods, but he’s been known to nap on the decks now and then.

“Oh, man.” I jump up, looking around for any sign of Louie, not sure how I could forget there are bears out here, since we are in Alaska. “What’s funny?” I frown, turning to face him when I hear his deep laughter.

“You’re in Alaska, babe. You lived here for years. You know there are bears out in those woods.” He nods to the trees.

Babe. Why, oh, why did that word make butterflies erupt in my stomach?

“I know that, but I forgot.” I shake my head and watch his face soften once again.

“Still sweet as pie,” I think I hear him say, but can’t be sure, because his voice dropped to a low rumble that I felt skid across my skin.

“Well, I’m gonna go in too,” I blurt, picking up my Kindle and wine glass. “Have a good night.” And with that, I duck my head and go back into my room. Closing the door I lock it behind me then hurry and get into bed where I try to forget once more about Zach Watters.

~~**~~

“Hello?” I answer the phone, still half asleep, then look at the clock and notice that even though it’s light out, it’s barely 6:00 a.m.

“Shelby, I’ve called three times,” Max, my ex-husband, says into my ear, and I pull my pillow over my head with thoughts of suffocating myself with it.

“It’s only six, Max. I haven’t gotten out of bed,” I grumble, tossing the covers back and sitting up. “What’s going on?”

“I want to fly out there this weekend,” he states, and I fight the urge to toss my phone across the room or scream at the top of my lungs.

“This weekend?” I verify, rubbing my face. “We haven’t even been here a week.”

“I have a few days off and would like to see Hunter.”

I sigh, considering him and his request. “Our stuff is going to be delivered in two days. Then I start my new job next week, and Hunter has swi—”

“You’re not keeping my boy from me,” he cuts me off, and I can tell by his tone that he’s mad and likely pulling at his ever-present tie in annoyance. Something I make him do often.

“I’m not saying you can’t see him, Max,” I clarify, wishing I had at least one cup of coffee before this conversation. “I’m just explaining to you that we’re trying to get settled in here. Can you wait a few weeks before you come out?”

“Such fucking bullshit. I can’t believe you moved to Alaska, of all goddamn places. A boy should have his dad in his life.” My heart stutters and I feel my pulse skyrocket. We didn’t have a custody battle, but I wouldn’t put it past Max to take me to court to gain custody of Hunter if I step out of line in his eyes.

“Max,” I soften my voice as I walk to the kitchen, “you know we talked about this. You can come see him anytime, and in a couple years, he can fly out to see you whenever he has a break,” I say, then drop my voice even lower. “We agreed on him living with me at least until he’s sixteen. After that, he can choose who he wants to live with.”

“I miss you both.” He sighs, making me roll my eyes. I know he doesn’t miss me. I know this, because he’s been dating woman after woman since I asked for a separation. For all I know, he was dating before that. Hell, the last year I spent under the same roof as him, he hardly spared me a glance. Hunter later suffered from his lack of attention, when we lived in the same town after our separation. With Max, it’s always about him getting his way.

“Max, please just wait a few more weeks, and then you can come and stay as long as you like,” I offer, the words leaving a horrid taste in my mouth. I will do whatever I have to in order to keep my son, though, including putting up with his dad in my childhood home for more than a few days.

“Fine, when?”

Closing my eyes, I whisper, “Next month. Whenever you like. Just let me know, so I can make sure I don’t make plans for Hunter. I know there are a few camps here he’s interested in.”

“Fine. Where is he now? I called his cell phone, but he didn’t pick up.”

“Sleeping. Like I said, it’s only six here, and he was up late talking to his friends back in Seattle on Skype.”

“You really shouldn’t let him stay up so late, Shelby,” he scolds, sounding disapproving, and again, that’s not a surprise.

“It’s summer, Max, and his ‘late’ is ten, not three in the morning,” I mutter, wondering how the hell I put up with him for so many years. “I’ll have him call you when he gets up.”

“Don’t tell him I’m coming out. I want to tell him that myself.”

“Will do,” I grumble, looking at the coffee pot and begging it to hurry up.

“Talk to you later.”

“Talk to you later,” I agree, setting the phone down on the counter. I make myself a cup of coffee and take it out to the back deck, drinking it while the morning sun beats down on me.


Aurora Rose Reynolds

AURORA

Aurora Rose Reynolds is a navy brat who’s husband served in the United States Navy. She has lived all over the country but now resides in New York City with her Husband and pet fish. She’s married to an alpha male that loves her as much as the men in her books love their women. He gives her over the top inspiration everyday. In her free time she reads, writes and enjoys going to the movies with her husband and cookie. She also enjoys taking mini weekend vacations to nowhere, or spends time at home with friends and family. Last but not least she appreciates everyday and admires it’s beauty.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest

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‘Neighbor Dearest’ by Penelope Ward release day blitz

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Blurb

A STANDALONE NOVEL that does NOT need to be read in conjunction with any other book.

From New York Times bestselling author, Penelope Ward, comes a friends-to-lovers story with sexy new characters.

After getting dumped, the last thing I needed was to move next door to someone who reminded me of my ex-boyfriend, Elec.

Damien was a hotter version of my ex.

The neighbor I’d dubbed “Angry Artist” also had two massive dogs that kept me up with their barking.

He wanted nothing to do with me. Or so I thought until one night I heard laughter coming through an apparent hole in my bedroom wall.

Damien had been listening to all of my phone sessions with my therapist.

The sexy artist next door now knew all of my deepest secrets and insecurities.

We got to talking.

He set me straight with tips to get over my breakup.

He became a good friend, but Damien made it clear that he couldn’t be anything more.

Problem was, I was falling hard for him anyway. And as much as he pushed me away, I knew he felt the same…because his heartbeat didn’t lie.

I thought my heart had been broken by Elec, but it was alive and beating harder than ever for Damien.

I just hoped he wouldn’t shatter it for good.

Author’s note – Neighbor Dearest is a full-length standalone novel. Due to strong language and sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of 18.

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PENELOPE WARD

Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today and #1 Wall Street Journal Bestselling author. She grew up in Boston with five older brothers and spent most of her twenties as a television news anchor, before switching to a more family-friendly career. She is the proud mother of a beautiful 11-year-old girl with autism and a 9-year-old boy. Penelope and her family reside in Rhode Island.

Connect with Penelope Ward:

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Read the first chapter of ‘Neighbor Dearest’ by Penelope Ward

neighbor dearest

Blurb

After getting dumped, the last thing I needed was to move next door to someone who reminded me of my ex-boyfriend, Elec.

Damien was a hotter version of my ex.

The neighbor I’d dubbed “Angry Artist” also had two massive dogs that kept me up with their barking.

He wanted nothing to do with me. Or so I thought until one night I heard laughter coming through an apparent hole in my bedroom wall.

Damien had been listening to all of my phone sessions with my therapist.

The sexy artist next door now knew all of my deepest secrets and insecurities.

We got to talking.

He set me straight with tips to get over my breakup.

He became a good friend, but Damien made it clear that he couldn’t be anything more.

Problem was, I was falling hard for him anyway. And as much as he pushed me away, I knew he felt the same…because his heartbeat didn’t lie.

I thought my heart had been broken by Elec, but it was alive and beating harder than ever for Damien.

I just hoped he wouldn’t shatter it for good.

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You can read the first chapter by going here.

Neighbor Dearest is expected to come out August 15th.

Penelope Ward

PENELOPE WARD

Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today and #1 Wall Street Journal Bestselling author. She grew up in Boston with five older brothers and spent most of her twenties as a television news anchor, before switching to a more family-friendly career. She is the proud mother of a beautiful 11-year-old girl with autism and a 9-year-old boy. Penelope and her family reside in Rhode Island.

Connect with Penelope Ward:

Stalk Her: Facebook | Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Private Fan Group

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neighbor dearest chapter reveal

Pim finds herself in a rough situation in the first excerpt from ‘Pennies’ by Pepper Winters

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Blurb

“At 18 I had pennies, but money didn’t make me bold. At 19 I had dollars, but it didn’t dull the pain of being sold. At 20 I had hundreds, but then I met him and was found. At 21 I had thousands, but all I wanted was to be bound.”

“At 23 I had dollars, but life changed and made me rich. At 25 I had hundreds, but it wasn’t enough to stop my killing itch. At 27 I had thousands, but my reputation didn’t set me free. At 29 I had millions, but I met her and could finally see.”

Tasmin was killed on her 18th birthday. She had everything planned out. A psychology degree, a mother who pushed her to greatness, and a future anyone would die for. But then her murderer saved her life, only to sell her into a totally different existence.

Elder went from penniless to stinking rich with one twist of fate. His lifetime of crime and shadows of thievery are behind him but no matter the power he now wields, it’s not enough. He has an agenda to fulfil and he won’t stop until it’s complete.

But then they meet.

A beaten slave and a richly dressed thief. Money is what guided their separate fates. Money is what brought them together. And money is ultimately what destroys them.

She was poor.

He was rich.

Together…they were bankrupt.

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Excerpt

“Do you always oppose the man in your bed or just me?” My hand lashed up, looping around her throat. “You just made me break the no touching rule so soon. Don’t make me break the other rules keeping me in line tonight.”

Her eyes locked onto mine, pooling with panicked uncertainty.

“Ah, that’s intrigued you.” Loosening my fingers, I didn’t threaten to throttle her, merely held softly, trapping her mind in her body rather than flying free. “I have many laws that run my life.” I bared my teeth. “Want to know a few?”

I waited for her to nod, to blink—to do something that could be a signal for yes.

But she was too good.

Or too terrified.

She’d gone iceberg white, her eyes as complex as snowflakes.

“You don’t like your neck being touched?” I removed more of my weight but didn’t withdraw my fingers. “Does he strangle you…is that why you’re looking at me as if I’ve grown horns?”

She didn’t respond in any way, but her pulse gushed like a riptide beneath my thumb. “Don’t focus on where I’m holding you. Focus on why I’m holding you.” My thumb caressed the side of her neck, tangling with the escaped hair I’d secured. “Focus on my questions.”

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******

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Pennie$ is Book One in the Dollar Series releasing July 2016!

Pre-order your copy here:

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Add Pennie$ to your TBR at: http://bit.ly/1X2jy4I

Amazon will be available at a later date.

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Pre-order the Entire Series HERE!

Dollars (Book Two)

Release date to be determined

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Hundreds (Book Three)

Release date to be determined

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Thousands (Book Four)

Release date to be determined

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Millions (Book Five)

Release date to be determined

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pennies coming soon

About the Author

Pepper Winters wears many roles. Some of them include writer, reader, sometimes wife. She loves dark, taboo stories that twist with your head. The more tortured the hero, the better, and she constantly thinks up ways to break and fix her characters. Oh, and sex… her books have sex.

She loves to travel and has an amazing, fabulous hubby who puts up with her love affair with her book boyfriends.

STALK Pepper: Website | Pinterest | Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Goodreads

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pennies excerpt reveal

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Read the first chapter of ‘Bossman’ by Vi Keeland now

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It is almost time for fans of Vi Keeland to read the new book to come from her brilliant mind. She is the author that brought us the MMA Fighter series and Stuck Up Suit. Here is what we can expect from Bossman:

The first time I met Chase Parker, I didn’t exactly make a good impression.

I was hiding in the bathroom hallway of a restaurant, leaving a message for my best friend to save me from my awful date.

He overheard and told me I was a bitch, then proceeded to offer me some dating advice.

So I told him to mind his own damn business—his own tall, gorgeous, full-of-himself damn business—and went back to my miserable date.

When he walked by my table, he smirked, and I watched his arrogant, sexy ass walk back to his date.

I couldn’t help but sneak hidden glances at the condescending jerk on the other side of the room. Of course, he caught me on more than one occasion, and winked.

When the gorgeous stranger and his equally hot date suddenly appeared at our table, I thought he was going to rat me out.

But instead, he pretended we knew each other and joined us—telling elaborate, embarrassing stories about our fake childhood.

My date suddenly went from boring to bizarrely exciting.

When it was over and we parted ways, I thought about him more than I would ever admit, even though I knew I’d never see him again.

I mean, what were the chances I’d run into him again in a city with eight million people?
Then again…

What were the chances a month later he’d wind up being my new sexy boss?

You can read the first chapter by going here: https://gallery.mailchimp.com/653a5a8a7ab1ee6768e90841e/files/Bossman_Sneak_Peek.pdf

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Bossman is available for pre-order now.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iBooks

Vi Keeland

Vi Keeland is a native New Yorker with three children that occupy most of her free time, which she complains about often, but wouldn’t change for the world. She is a bookworm and has been known to read her kindle at stop lights, while styling her hair, cleaning, walking, during sporting events, and frequently while pretending to work. She is a boring attorney by day, and an exciting smut author by night!

You can keep up to date on news from Vi Keeland by going to her website, ‘Like’ her on Facebook , or follow her on Twitter

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