Loving Cassie by Jacinta Howard

 

LOVING CASSIE BY JACINTA HOWARD

Cassandra James thinks she has her place in the world all figured out. But an unexpected betrayal forces her to ask if her “free black girl” vibe is a myth, or worse, a mask to hide herself from the world.

Bam Mosley, keyboardist for the alt-soul band, the Prototype, knows who he is. He just wants to make good music and see the people he cares about win.

Then he meets her.

Sure, Cassandra is gorgeous and smart, with hypnotic eyes, but his bandmate’s sister wasn’t supposed to be this…disruptive and break down all his defenses.

She sees what he hides from everyone else. He allows her to take off her mask.

But is their connection powerful enough to survive life’s low notes? Or maybe the true test of love is knowing when to let go…

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Excerpt:

Kennedy was shaking me awake way before I was ready to function.

“I’m up,” I croaked, to get her to stop jerking on my shoulder. I buried my head in her comforter, struggling to push myself into consciousness. It felt like my body was filled with concrete. Probably because I was operating on a little over two hours of sleep, messing around with Bam.

Bam: A sudden impact or occurrence.

His face crowded into my brain, his lips on my ear, beard scratching my skin, his skilled hands on my body. I ran a hand down my face, like that would erase the memory, or my attraction to him. I could still smell him in my clothes from last night. I heard Kennedy already rustling around and finally pushed myself to set up, blinking sand out of my eyes.

She was rummaging through her bag, and looked up at me. She smiled sleepily.

“We can crash in the van,” she informed me, yawning. “The guys never make us drive.”

Probably another southern thing I wasn’t privy to living in the Midwest. I nodded, rubbing my eyes as I swung my legs over the twin sized bed, standing and heading into the bathroom. When I came out a few minutes later, Kennedy was fully dressed, lugging her bag into the living room.

“They’re outside,” she said quietly, moving further down the darkened hallway. I saw light peering from the kitchen. Pepper was already up?

I headed back into the bedroom and dressed quickly, throwing on a pair of leggings, a t-shirt and shoving Bam’s hoodie over my head again after I brushed my teeth and washed my face. I pulled my skull cap on and rolled my carryon out of the bedroom.

“I can’t believe you’re awake,” I greeted Pepper, who was standing in the living room, wearing a lavender jogging suit, her hair hanging down the middle of her back in one long braid. She looked as if she’d been up and at it for hours.

“Had to see my grand-girls off,” she said smiling.

I released my bag, moving to hug her. Her embrace was warm and comforting when I inhaled her.

“You come back sooner. Not later. Understand?”

I nodded, hugging her tight. “Definitely.”

“I mean it, Ru.” Her voice was firm and I nodded again.

“I promise.”

“Remember what I told you. Take care of you too,” she said gently in my ear.

I felt tears welling in my eyes when I nodded again. “I will.”

Kennedy and Pepper exchanged their good-byes and then we were pushing through the front door less than two minutes later. The air was crisp, the sky still dark because even the sun couldn’t be bothered to make an appearance yet. The van was parked at the curb, engine humming quietly, billows of smoke exiting from the rear exhaust pipe because of the temperature.

My eyes immediately landed on Bam at the rear of the van, standing next to Travis as they hoisted Kennedy’s bags into the back. He was wearing a navy blue thermal and a pair of gray sweats and he looked so good, I almost tripped on the steps leading down to the sidewalk. I exhaled, catching myself, and dragged my carry-on behind me, the wheels extra loud on the concrete because it was so early and still outside. Bam looked up at me then, his gaze connecting with mine. He smiled a little, and my stomach tightened. I looked away.

“Y’all can go on and get in. The heat’s on, so it’s warm,” Travis told us, his eyes on Kennedy, who was standing at the curb shivering as they loaded the bags.

“Right on,” I said, starting toward the doors.

“Cupcake.”

It was Bam’s deep voice calling me. I hesitated for a second before turning and looking at him. A half-grin was on his face when he jerked his head, beckoning me to him. I chewed on the inside of my lip, staring at him while I debated. He chuckled.

“C’mere, Cassandra.”

Reluctantly, I made my way to the back of the van.

“I got the rest,” Bam dismissed Travis, his voice early morning gruff, which was insanely arousing.

“Aight.” Travis smiled at me before loping around to the driver’s side.

I stood there toeing the gravel and stuffed my hands into the oversized hoodie I’d decided I was stealing and taking back home with me because it was so comfortable.

“After careful thought and consideration, I’ve decided that last night was a mistake,” I declared in a rush before he could speak. Better to just get it out there so that my entire trip wouldn’t be ruined with weird awkwardness.

Bam grinned at my announcement, hoisting Kennedy’s second bag into the back, biceps flexing.

“You did, huh?”

“Yes.”

“I called you after you left.” He looked over at me as he effortlessly picked up my heavy shoulder bag.

“I turned my phone off. What were you gonna say?”

“That I hope you don’t think last night was a mistake.” He smirked and grabbed my other bag, arranging it in the back so that it fit with the others.

“I prolly shouldn’tve let things go that far.”

His eyes had turned serious when he turned to face me, shutting the back doors. I stayed quiet, mostly because it was difficult to speak when Bam was looking at me the way he was.

“Me askin’ you to come over wasn’t about that. I just wanted your company.”

His gaze was zeroed in on mine, his chocolate eyes tired but full of heat.

“But I’m not gonna front. Our chemistry is unreal, Cass. I got carried away.”

I drew in a breath at his admission. Bam didn’t talk like a boy. He tucked his hands into his sweat pockets, his eyes never leaving my face.

“It’s not just on you. I’m the one who got carried away.”

“And now you’re shook.”

His tone was matter-of-fact. I looked down at the oil stained gravel, shaking my head in denial.

“I’m not ‘shook.’ I just think we need to chill.” I looked up at him again. “Don’t you?”

“No.”

I tilted my head to the side. “So you’re sayin’ you wanna be my rebound? Because that’s what it would be.” I exhaled, staring at the ground again. “I don’t have the head space, or the emotional capacity or fortitude to deal with… anything.”

“Emotional fortitude?”

When I looked up again, he was biting on the inside of his lip, holding back a smile.

“Don’t make fun of me. I’m trying to be real here.”

“I’m sorry.” Only he didn’t look sorry at all because he was still grinning. “You’re just super cute.”

He squinted at me like he was trying to figure out how it was possible, or where I came from, and grabbed the bottom hem of my hoodie, pulling me closer slowly, like he was giving me a chance to pull away if I wanted to. I didn’t.

“You have too many women,” I accused tilting my head up to meet his eyes, ignoring the way my heart was racing standing so close to him. He smelled like soap and detergent, and man. “Not that I care. I’m not here for this anyway. I just wanted—” I stopped and shook my head, sighing, looking across the street at Pepper’s neighbor’s house, shivering a little in the cold.

“You just wanted what?”

“To breathe…”

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ABOUT JACINTA HOWARD

A longtime journalist and lifelong music lover, Jacinta Howard lives in the Atlanta area. She is the author of new adult, women’s fiction, and contemporary romance, a USA TODAY HEA Must-Read Author and a two-time RONE Award nominee.

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Losing the Bid by Suzette Riddick

Parading in front of a room full of women is not Adrian Collins’ idea of a good time. The last thing he wants to do is fly to Chicago for a bachelor auction. But, how can he refuse to help the woman who nurtured him after his mother abandoned him when he was a toddler? Going back to the site of his deepest wounds is where he’ll meet his destiny, Daphne Turner. Adrian is disappointed when Daphne slips through his fingers after losing the bid to an old flame from his past.

Reeling from the death of her uncle, Daphne accepts her best friend’s offer to attend a fundraiser in the windy city. Good cause or not, the idea of spending hard-earned money on a date is ludicrous. That is, until she locks eyes with ruggedly-handsome bachelor number twelve. Unfortunately, the night doesn’t end as Daphne hoped. In the company of a sexy stranger to chase her blues away.

Fate intervenes when Adrian and Daphne’s paths intertwine. However, Adrian’s past threatens to rob them of a life of happiness. Will Daphne’s love be enough to heal his wounded soul?

Excerpt

Finally, the Motrin kicked in leaving a faint trace of pain behind. Ear buds in, Daphne tapped her foot to the beat of Jill Scott singing about life being golden. Turn around, she heard Uncle Hal’s voice whisper. Daphne’s foot stopped its movement. Eyes shifting to the left and then the right, she expected to see her uncle.

“Oh, my God. I’m going crazy,” she mumbled under her breath, hoping the woman in front of her didn’t hear her talking to herself. Turn around. This time the inner voice was more persistent.

Slowly, Daphne complied. The man responsible for her recent agony was less than fifteen feet away. Lord, she was trying not to stare. But how could she not? He was downright sexy with swagger for days. And that grin curving his full mouth made her remember what she’d been missing since her vow of celibacy three years ago. What would those lips feel like kissing every inch of her body? Daphne’s eyes were drawn to his hands and his feet. Ooh, have mercy. Heat flushed her insides as a naughty thought skipped across her mind. Why hadn’t she noticed those big feet the other night?

“We meet again,” came his smooth introduction into what Daphne hoped would be a conversation with them exchanging phone numbers as he stepped in line behind her.

A sultry smile played around Daphne lips. “I don’t recall us meeting.” She wouldn’t dare bring up the dreaded auction.

“My bad.” Adrian held out his hand. “Adrian Collins.”

Daphne hesitated before accepting the proffered hand. Because she felt in her spirit once their bodies made contact, there was no reversing whatever fate awaited her. Awaited them.

“Daphne Turner.” She tilted her head back to look up at him. “You’re a lot taller than I thought you would be.”

Adrian’s laugher sent quivers through her belly.

“And you look a lot shorter than you did Saturday night.”

Moving to close the gap in the line between her and the woman in front, Daphne glanced down at the sneakers covering her feet. “It was the heels.”

She shifted her gaze to the McDonald’s across the hall to hide her flushed cheeks. The memory of how his eyes caressed her bare legs made her inside tingle in the most delicious way.

Daphne held her breath when Adrian leaned forward, bringing his mouth mere inches from the shell of her ear. His breath was warm, stoking a flame in her when he whispered, “You have amazing legs. I damn near tripped over my feet staring at them.”

Was he a mind reader? Daphne wondered.

“Next in line.” The cashier called. Caught in a haze, Daphne hadn’t heard the twenty-something. How was she supposed to hear anything when this man was so close? If she turned her head in the slightest movement, their lips would touch. Sweet baby Jesus! 

 Her eyelids closed, and she inhaled deeply when he leaned even closer. His lips brushed her earlobe when he whispered, “It’s your turn to order.”

Daphne’s eyes fluttered open. Adrian’s teasing smile had a nerve to be as sexy as he was.

Embarrassed, she spun around to take her focus off Adrian. But that wasn’t any better because the cashier giggled. “Listen, if you don’t want him, I’ll gladly take him off your hands.”

“You and half the women in this airport,” Daphne jokingly replied under her breath before placing her order for a white-chocolate caramel latte with soy milk. Adrian covered her hand to stop her from going into her purse.

“I got it,” he told her before adding an order for a black coffee.

After their orders were taken and paid for, they moved to the side of the counter to wait. Although it was only a five-dollar beverage, Daphne was impressed that he offered to pay for it. The last guy she went out with insisted they go Dutch. Cheap bastard.

“Thanks for buying my latte.”

“My pleasure, pretty lady.”

Daphne blushed again. This man was splendid for her ego. When was the last time a man made her feel this good about herself?

“Full of compliments,” Daphne shyly murmured.

Adrian’s laugh was deep and sexy, causing her belly to quiver again. She wondered if he was teasing and playful in bed. Or was he intense and serious? Or was he gifted and possessed with the ability to switch between the two when the mood called for it?

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ABOUT SUZETTE RIDDICK

Suzette Riddick is a wife, mother, and nurse practitioner who enjoys writing about flawed characters on a quest for love. She is an Amazon Best-Selling Author and was a featured author in USA Today ~ Happy Ever After. A native of Philadelphia, PA, Suzette loves to travel, read, and is addicted to Chanel parfum.

To learn more about Suzette visit her website at http://www.suzetteriddick.com.

Know Your Place by Shelly Ellis

Success didn’t come easy for three best friends from the streets. And now dangerous choices and reckless desire will push their bond to lethal limits.

A stint at the Branch Avenue Boys’ Youth Institute taught Ricky, Derrick, and Jamal to unite when the going got tough. But fallout from their very different adult lives is making loyalty something they can’t afford–and igniting drama they never saw coming . . .


Arrested during a city-wide raid, Ricky must inform on D.C’s drug king pin, Dolla Dolla–and find the woman who loved and betrayed him. But revenge is a slippery slope that’s putting a target on his back . . .

Institute head Derrick hopes reuniting with his fiancée will keep his secret affair with a colleague in the past. Unfortunately, one of his students is hiding Dolla Dolla’s major stash–and Derrick’s attempt to do the right thing will have shattering consequences . . .


Jamal’s backroom deal with D.C.’s corrupt mayor is giving him everything he thought he wanted: money, power, and women. But murder and the unexpected return of the woman he’s always loved is getting him in way over his head. His attempts to manage the damage will put him and his friends at killer odds to be the last man standing . . .

Chapter 1

Derrick Miller stared down at the two open suitcases in front of him, closed his eyes for a few seconds, and slowly opened them again.

It was insane but, in the back of his mind, he had hoped they would disappear. Maybe the suitcases—one filled with multiple stacks of hundred-dollar bills bound neatly with multicolored rubber bands, the other stuffed with packs of white powder that was more than likely cocaine—were figments of his imagination, mini mirages right here at the Branch Avenue Boys’ Youth Institute dormitories.

But of course, they weren’t; the suitcases didn’t shimmer then disappear like a waterfall floating in the desert. They were still there with their lids yawning open, and what they contained was bared for all the world to see.

This was real, too real for Derrick’s liking.

“Come on, man! We gonna be late,” someone shouted in the hallway, shaking Derrick out of his stupor.

His eyes darted to the dormitory’s open door as two boys jogged by, probably on their way to their morning classes. Derrick’s eyes snapped back to the suitcases. He couldn’t leave them here. He certainly couldn’t let any of the boys at the Institute see them. He didn’t know whom they belonged to, but he suspected Cole, the student who was assigned to the bunk where he’d found the suitcases, knew who the owner was. He’d talk to Cole later, but his first mission was to find a place to hide these damn things.

Derrick quickly flipped both of the lids closed, zipping each of them with shaking hands. He grabbed the handles and yanked them off the bed. They landed on the linoleum floor with a thud. They had to weigh about a hundred pounds each.

Derrick gritted his teeth as he lifted the suitcases and lugged them to the door, one in each hand. He walked straight down the hall to the stairwell. A few students eyed him curiously. Several boys had a questioning look on their faces, probably wondering what the Institute’s director was doing, carrying luggage down the hall in the middle of the day like he was heading to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport fifteen miles up the road.

“Hey, Mr. Derrick!” one of the boys—dark skinned and stocky—called out as he held open the stainless steel door for him. His dark eyes dropped to the suitcases. “Damn, those look heavy! You need some h—”

“No!” Derrick barked between bursts of breath.

The boy’s ready smile disappeared.

“I mean . . . I mean, no. I-I got it. Th-thanks for asking though,” Derrick stuttered with a slight grimace.

The boy nodded just as Derrick disappeared into the stairwell and made the slow trek down the stairs to the floor below. With each step, the suitcases felt heavier and heavier. Sweat erupted on his forehead and rolled down the bridge of his nose. The short bursts of breath came out faster, making a faint whistle between his clenched teeth. The tendons and muscles in his arms started to jitter. His heart was beating fast from the stress and the strain. When he finally pushed the steel door open and reached his office, he didn’t lower the suitcases to the floor as much as hurl them.

He shut his office door behind him, locked it, and looked around frantically for a place to hide the suitcases. The office didn’t have a storage closet and the suitcases certainly wouldn’t fit in any of his cabinets or shelves. The only spot where they could possibly fit was a corner beside his file cabinet. He shoved them both into the dusty, dark space.

By now, not only was his brow sweaty, but pools of sweat had also formed under his armpits. His palms were slick with it. Sweat even dripped down his back and the crack of his ass.

When Derrick finally finished shoving the suitcases into the hiding space, he dragged across the floor a potted fiddle-leaf fig tree his fiancée, Melissa, had given him for his birthday to add a little softness to his sterile office. He set it in front of the suitcases. He then stood back and surveyed his handiwork.

It was a questionable hiding job—the plant barely provided any coverage—but it would have to do for now.

He flopped back into his rolling chair and let out a slow, long exhale. It took another ten minutes for his heart to finally return to its normal pace, for his hands to stop shaking.

How the hell did those things even get here?

How had the boys managed to smuggle something so heavy and massive into the dorms, right under the noses of the instructors and security guards? When had they done it? It must have been recently because the suitcases certainly would have been noticed during their weekly inspections of the boys’ bunks and lockers. Had someone else brought them?

Cole knows all the answers, he thought, staring at the fig tree. And that boy better tell me the damn truth!

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About Shelly Ellis

Shelly Ellis is a NAACP Image Award-nominated women’s fiction/romance author and creator of the Gibbons Gold Digger and Chesterton Scandal series. Her fiction writing career began when she became one of four finalists in a First-Time Writers Contest when she was 19 years old. The prize was a publishing contract and having her first short-story romance appear in an anthology. She has since published several novels and was a finalist for 2015 NAACP Image Award in the Literary Fiction Category, a three-time finalist for the African American Literary Award in the romance category (2012, 2016, and 2017), and a finalist for the 2015 RT Reviewers’ Choice Award in Multicultural Romance category.

She is married and lives in Prince George’s County, Maryland with her husband and their daughter. Visit her at her web site http://www.shellyellisbooks.com.

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Rhyme & Reason by Nia Forrester

“Maybe friendship is all that’s realistic for us right now.”

With those words, Zora ended their long-distance relationship, shattering Deuce’s vision of a life with the only woman he’s ever loved. But after months of silence, he thought he was over it. He’d moved on, hadn’t he? And as far as he knew, she might have done the same. Now Zora is back from California, and he’s thrown into an immediate tailspin. Nothing’s changed.

She’s the one, the only, his rhyme, and his reason …

But this ain’t no college romance. There are serious, grown-folks’ obstacles standing in the way, and the other woman in his life isn’t even the half of it.

And sometimes growing up might mean moving on …

Over a few short summer weeks, Deuce and Zora will have to decide whether the great love they shared in the past, is enough of a foundation to build a future.

EXCERPT:

“Hey. Could you FaceTime me?”

“What?” she asked, thrown by the unexpected turn of the conversation.

“FaceTime. You still have an iPhone, right?”

“Yeah …” She let the word drag.

“So, I want to see you while I talk to you.”

“That’s not safe. You’re driving,” she said.

But she was already considering it, inventorying herself. The headscarf, the puffy eyes, the ratty old tank top stretched-out and hanging low at the neck and armholes. But he had seen her at her worst, and at her best. It wouldn’t matter to him whether she was in full makeup or had none on at all; whether she was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, or had sleep-swollen, puffy eyes.

“It’s on a holder thing, on the dashboard. I’ll be hands-free.”

“But you’ll be looking away from the road,” she protested.

Still, it excited her a little, and pleased her more than a little that he wanted to see her. For the first few weeks when she was in California, if she called, he would decline the calls, and FaceTime her instead.

You’re so pushy, she’d complained half-heartedly. What if I was sitting on the toilet or something?

I’ve seen you sitting on the toilet, he’d answered, matter-of-factly. Many times.

“I promise I’ll only glance away from the road,” he said now. “I feel like I understand what you mean better when I can see your face.”

“Fine,” Zora said sighing. “I’ll call you back in a minute.”

She took her breakfast sandwich with her out to the living room and arranged her phone, propping it against some of her textbooks. Sitting opposite it, she tested the camera to make sure that when she was seated, it didn’t train itself up the leg of her shorts.

Grabbing her sandwich and taking the first bite, she initiated the video-call. Deuce picked up right away, and there he was. Wearing a white t-shirt, his face was a little scruffy, like he hadn’t cleaned up the edges of his goatee. He looked sexy as hell, like he had just rolled out of bed.

Glancing away from the road for a moment, he flashed her a grin and Zora smiled back, unable to help herself.

“Still got that same old scarf, huh?” he said.

“It’s been broken-in,” she said, laughing. “It’s irreplaceable. You wouldn’t understand.”

“Oh, I understand,” he said, shaking his head. “That scarf is like an old friend of mine.”

“More like an old nemesis,” she said remembering how he always tugged it off her head before they had sex.

“So, before I asked you to FaceTime, what were you about to say?”

“I can’t remember,” she lied.

“I think I know,” he said.

“Then tell me. What was I about to say?”

“You were about to dump me again. You were about to say that you don’t think it’s a good idea that we talk. That I shouldn’t call you.”

He glanced at the camera, and Zora looked down, because he was right. It was an impulse, understandable as far as she was concerned, to distance herself as far as possible from a source of pain. And if Deuce had a girlfriend, that was what staying in touch with him would be. Possibly more painful than not being in touch over the past several months had been.

Instead of responding, she reached for her breakfast sandwich and took another bite, chewing slowly to buy herself time.

“That’s it, right? I was about to get cut?”

Zora kept chewing. Even through a camera lens it was difficult to look directly at him.

“You don’t think that might be …”

“A good idea? No,” he said before she was finished.

He looked at her for what felt like a few moments too long, and Zora almost had to tell him to keep his eye on the road.

“How ‘bout we just talk about … law school?” he suggested.

“You want to hear about law school?” she said, skeptically.

“Yeah. If you can listen to me talk about music, I can listen to you talk about law school. You made the Dean’s List, didn’t you?”

“Actually, I didn’t,” she said.

Deuce glanced at the camera. He looked surprised.

“How come?”

Zora shrugged. “Distracted, I guess. I made good enough grades to transfer, so … that was the most important thing.”

“Why were you distracted? And why didn’t you tell me when you decided to transfer?”

“A lot was going on.”

“Like you breakin’ up with me? A lot like that?”

“Deuce.”

“Okay,” he said. “I promise I won’t talk about that. Just so long as you promise me something …”

“What’s that?” she asked, cautious.

“That you won’t cut me off again. That no matter what happens, we’ll keep talkin’. No matter what.”

***

About Nia Forrester

Nia Forrester lives and writes in Philadelphia, PA where, by day, she is an attorney working on public policy and by night, she crafts woman-centered fiction that examines the complexities of life, love and the human condition.

She welcomes feedback and email from her readers at authorniaforrester@gmail.com or tweets @NiaForrester.

Subscribe to her newsletter for exclusive shorts, giveaways and news of upcoming releases at: https://bit.ly/2X3yLGW

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Til I Overflow by B. Love

She tried to fill him with love and drowned in the overflow.

It was ironic. Poetic Justice, maybe? Whatever the case, Rakeem Owens escaped the streets, and at his retirement party, his home was raided, and he was arrested for a crime he didn’t commit. After spending seven years in prison, he is given the opportunity of early release with two major stipulations – probation and volunteer work to give back to the community the Judge believed he took so much from. With no hesitation, Rakeem agrees, but when he finds out that he’ll be serving under Maliah Dixon… jail seems to be a better option.

It was karma. Fate, maybe? Whatever the case, Maliah Dixon is thrilled when she finds out Rakeem will be volunteering with her organization. She started it with her best friend before he went to jail, and it has been her main priority ever since. It was during a visit to see her best friend that she first set eyes on Rakeem, and now that he’s a free man, Maliah was sure there was nothing that would stand in the way of making Rakeem her man.

Rakeem’s heart has been closed and guarded for years, and it will take more than a pretty face and nice frame to soften him toward any woman. But Maliah is determined to not only fill him with her love but be cleansed in the overflow. There is one problem with both water and love, though. Both were soft enough to cleanse and give life yet hard enough to drown and destroy anyone or anything who stand in their way.

***

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ABOUT B. LOVE

Voted AAMBC’s 2018 Romance author of the year, Master storyteller, B. Love, is the unparalleled self-love teacher. As the powerhouse for modern-day womanhood, she pens contagious content that encourages readers to internalize admiration and intimacy. She allows her most powerful vessel to guide her stories, wholly.

Since age 12, Love has been spreading self-awareness, care, and appreciation. For close to three years, Love has authored over 75 publications centered around heart-piercing, reverence-worthy romance. Her novels not only entertain but challenge the audience to explore love. With a keen eye for passion, desire and dynamism she includes heuristic methods in her beautifully curated accounts of life.

B. Love’s entire persona is spearheaded by her incredible infatuation with the power of love. Contained within each novel, is an edification created for the glorification of self. Her pen bleeds for the souls who need just an inkling of empowerment. Each story is written with the intent to enlighten, engross and enkindle the passion in whoever picks up her book.

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The Southern Seduction Series by S. Taylor

HONEYDEW (BOOK ONE) & I’M YOURS (BOOK TWO) BY S. TAYLOR

Stand-Alone: yes
Series: Southern Seduction
Publication Date:  February 7, 2019
Publisher: Garden Avenue Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Heat Level: Erotic
Tropes: Insta-love (Honeydew and I’m Yours), Blackmailed into marriage (Honeydew)

Honeydew
ISBN: 978-1-940636-78-8 (Ebook edition)
ISBN: 978-1-940636-80-1 (Paperback edition)

I’m Yours
ISBN: 978-1-940636-75-7 (Ebook edition)
ISBN: 978-1-940636-79-5 (Paperback edition)

Release Blitz: February 21, 2019


Southern Seduction series by S. Taylor

Honeydew

Clarisse Jordan is a young single mother, who after the death of her fiancé, poured blood, sweat, and tears into her business, Honeydew Café, to provide for her children. A catering gig for successful and super sexy Dylan Price is the opportunity of a lifetime. But she quickly learns that Mr. Price is interested in more than her Southern cuisine. He has his sights set on her.

Dylan has been in love with Clarisse for years and would do anything to have her—even if it means forcing her into marriage. Lucky for him, the instant chemistry between them is hotter than a mid-summer day beneath the Georgia sun.

Yet Dylan is not completely honest with Clarisse, and when she learns the painful truth, will their love affair end? Or will they be able to find their way back to each other?

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Read an Excerpt

It’s only been a few years since I buried the love of my life. I hear the word marriage and it pulls me from my thoughts of Frost, and I pay close attention.

“I think that’ll be enough time to plan, wouldn’t you agree?”

“To what?”

“Clarisse, were you not listening to me this whole time?”

I shake my head, not caring that I give myself away. Shit, this whole situation is new for me. It’s not every day a girl gets a blackmail or a proposal—I need time to process.

“I said, we’ll marry at the end of the month. That gives enough time to plan.”

“What?!”

“If I knew I could get away with it, I’d marry you with the hour. I think four weeks is reasonable, and I’m not pushing the date out longer,” he says with finality.

I don’t even protest, really. What would be the point? He continues, noting his mother will arrive next week—maybe sooner—to help with the planning.

“You’ve already told her?” My eyes, I know, are wide as saucers.

“Of course not, but I know Delta Price, and when I tell her we’re getting married, she’ll be on the first thing smoking.”

“Are you going to tell her I was with Frost?”

His handsome features soften, and my heartbeats start to quicken with worry of what she’ll think of me, jumping from one friend to the other. Even if they lost touch, Dylan and Frost shared a bond of friendship. He must know what I’m thinking. “She already knows of you and the twins. She was at the funeral.”

“Oh,” I whisper.

“We won’t have time right after the wedding for a honeymoon. I have some business to wrap up in New York, so we’ll go there instead, me, you, and the kids. I’ll take you on a proper honeymoon after I finish my business.”

“What if my business won’t allow me the time off to travel to New York or wherever else?” I press my lips and raise an eyebrow, challenging him.

He only smiles and continues laying out the details.

“Honeydew will be our primary residence. I’ve always loved the place and having a family to share in my joy is what I want.”

“I sure hope it stays that way, because I am building a business, let’s not forget.” I can’t hold my tongue on this matter, and have no problem reminding him at every turn. The only reason I’m allowing him to force my hand is to keep my business and my kids’ home. I’m giving up my freedom, but not my independence.

“I want to kiss the fire right off those soft lips.” He licks his and smiles at me.

I’m equal parts pissed and equal parts aroused. Pissed, because he’s smiling as if I’m an adorable child throwing a fit, and aroused because…well that’s what Dylan Price does to me. I stand, needing to get away from him, because if I don’t, I will turn into a child throwing a fit.

I don’t make it far before being spun around, and my mouth devoured by Dylan. He holds my face captive between strong hands. Dylan tastes amazing. His lips are fast becoming addictive. I soften into him against my will. I want to rage and fight, but how can I when he smells and tastes so delicious?

Soft pulls on my lips end an extremely heated exchange. “Your business will always be important. Don’t forget that.” He takes a few more pulls from my mouth. “Let me give you something else to never forget.”

I’m Yours

Peggy Jordan had long ago closed the door on her heart’s desires, accepting she would never have a loving husband and family of her own. Then a friend asks her to care for an orphaned little girl, and she meets the child’s last living relative. With him, her patience is tested, her desires are unleashed, and she gets the first taste of a life she’d always felt was out of reach.

Years ago, Trevor Duncan left Savannah and vowed never to return. He traveled to remote corners of the globe, helping people, and helping himself to countless women in emotionally-empty relationships. A phone call in the middle of the night changes his entire life. He has a niece who needs him, and when he meets the woman caring for her, he’s consumed with having her all to himself.

Their desire is strong. Their love is instant. But can they learn to trust each other and survive the road to happily-ever-after?

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I’m passing the broom in my kitchen, attempting to clean up as much of the flour from my homemade pie crusts and pizza dough as I can. It’s another pizza and movie Saturday, and Trevor hasn’t come over with Adeline yet. I check the time again and it’s almost noon.

Clarisse’s nanny will be here around two with the twins for the play date. Adeline has been so excited for this day all week. Before they took off last night, she promised to go to sleep fast so morning could come quicker.

When Trevor wasn’t at my door bright and early with Adeline and a cup of Starbucks coffee, my first thought was to text him. Instead of, Are you still coming? I texted, Missing my morning cup of Joe. I have yet to receive a reply.

After putting away the broom and dust pan, I walk over to the work desk in the corner of my kitchen and grab my cell from the charger. I pull up Trevor’s number, ready to call, when a hard knock to the front door startles me. I power walk to the front entry and open the heavy wood door. Adeline rushes in and hugs my legs so tight, as if she didn’t just leave me last night. Her hair is all over her head, and she’s wearing rubber boots with her night clothes.

She looks a hot mess. I hold her face in my hands and lift it so I can see her expression. “Is everything okay?’

“No,” Trevor answers.

“What happened?” I ask.

“Water pipe broke sometime in the middle of the night.” He’s holding a cup of Starbucks coffee. I’m guessing he saw my text. I smile and take the cup. “We woke to water everywhere this morning. I’m thankful it only reached the top of the baseboards. Hate to think what could have happened if it touched the wall plugs in that old house.”

My blood runs cold and I feel lightheaded at the thought. I recall when I first laid eyes on that old house, I questioned Trevor’s logic. Here he is with enough money to purchase three of my houses with no discomfort, and he settles on renting a small, old house.

“‘It’s my first home. We don’t need much, and it’s temporary,’” he had told me, and I realized Trevor was no typical rich asshole.

I hold Adeline tight and move from in front the door. I’m squeezing her, repeatedly kissing her cheek, grateful to see her face. When I think I’ve composed myself, I pull back and ask her to head upstairs so she can cleanup and dress before her play date. She runs up the stairs to her room, and I rush into Trevor’s waiting arms.

I’m holding him a little awkward because of my coffee cup, but Trevor has me completely engulfed in a strong embrace. “What are you going to do?”

He takes a breath before answering. “I reserved a room at a hotel in town.”

“Why?” I give him a confused look. “You know you can stay here. Adeline has gone through so many changes. Her room is familiar, and we have a routine.” I smile before adding, “The two of you are here over ninety percent of the day anyway.”

Trevor gives me a smile and I pray he agrees. I make one more attempt at getting my way, but this next statement is equally as true as the last. “I’m so happy you and Adeline are safe. To even give the smallest of my energy to the thoughts of what could have happened… I want to lock you both away so you’re safe forever. Right now I need you to say yes, Trevor.”

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ABOUT S. TAYLOR

S. TAYLOR discovered a love of storytelling at the age of twelve. She would entertain her cousins with exciting adventures and tales of young love, which changed over the years from telling tales at sleepovers to writing several short stories. For S. Taylor writing remained a hobby until 2009 when she decide to share this love with others. She writes love at first sight romance novels full of passion, erotic moments, and emotional conflicts with a satisfying happily ever after ending. She is a Texas native, wife, and busy mother of five daughters. She spends her free time mediating sibling arguments, relaxing with yoga, and discovering new and tasty vegan dishes she enjoys cooking for her family.

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New Release: Baby It’s Cold Outside by Keke Renee

Baby it’s Cold Outside by Keke Renee
Published December 21, 2018 by 304 Publishing
A Christmas Short Erotic Story

Synopsis:
 
Lainey has a big Christmas surprise for her boyfriend, but before she can reveal her secret,
she’ll first have to see her way past several unwelcome obstacles.
 
Andre, a busy Mayoral candidate, wants nothing more than to spend Christmas Eve with the
woman he loves, but a freak snowstorm leaves him in a compromising position with his ex.
 
Between the blizzard, a mysterious photo, and growing suspensions that someone familiar
may be sabotaging the couple, it’s all Lainey and Andre can do to keep their heads on straight
and their hearts in the right place.
 
Can this couple overcome the obstacles in their way and find their way to a much deeper
connection?
Warning: Erotic Romance, Short Christmas Story with HFN.
 
 
Author Bio:
 
Chiquita is an Author and Entrepreneur. Born in Memphis, TN, and currently a Los Angeles CA native. Her background in film/tv has taught and shaped her passion for writing with her debut romance novel Antonio and Sabrina Struck In Love. Since its debut, fans have embraced the unconventional love story of Sabrina Washington and Antonio De Luca making Antonio and Sabrina Struck In Love an Amazon Best Seller on the charts in Italian Drama, African American Drama. More to come from 304 Publishing Company a brand new home for indie authors.
Also, follow her other Author page, Keke Renee, and catch her latest releases for Erotic, Dark, Paranormal Romance.
 
 

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The Winter Wedding by A.C. Arthur

The Winter Wedding

Blurb:

Premier event designer, Cheyna Dansfield, just landed the most talked about event of the year—the wedding of art mogul, Monica Lakefield and communications guru, Alexander Bennett. Hard work and dedication has brought Cheyna this far, now she refuses to let a gorgeous man and the risk of murder charges threaten her future.

Public relations dynamo, Logan Williams, was hired to create a family-friendly image for the Lakefield Galleries. The upcoming Lakefield/Bennett wedding could be a stellar media splash and add another feather to his professional cap—if he can keep his hands off the gorgeous and uptight wedding planner.

Logan and Cheyna attempt to keep their passionate affair a secret until the dead bodies turn up and Cheyna becomes the prime suspect.

***

0_0 So, somebody gets smoked during all this weddin’ plannin’? Yikes! And I thought this was a sweet, feel-good romance. Click it up!!!!

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Janine: His True Alpha by Chencia C. Higgins

Janine: His True Alpha

Two words: Black Shifters

Janine was raised to be a passive and obedient wolf shifter and to always put the will of The Elders before her own—a will that she never questioned until the one day she was instructed to become the mate of a man she didn’t love, and who didn’t love her. Fed up with rules and obligations, she left everything she knew behind and headed out west. She arrived in West Texas with the expectation of getting a fresh start as a new woman with no one to answer to but herself. What she didn’t expect was to discover secrets big enough to tilt her world and people she would be willing to kill for because of them.

Langston always knew he would be the next True Alpha of his pack, but when his father died, Langston’s premature promotion had him unsure about his path. With the weight of the pack on his shoulders and a thriving urban ranching community in West Texas to oversee, the last thing on Langston’s mind is finding a mate. Of course, trouble always finds you when you’re not looking for it and in blows a woman who shakes up his pack and knocks him off his feet. Her zeal amazes him and soon the pull between them is undeniable. Will succumbing to the desires of his wolf prove to be the right move or turn out to be fruitless?

Changing Stiles by Elaine Allen

Changing Stiles:

What if you slipped up and missed out on the love of your life and through some magnificent twist of fate your paths collide?

Ten years ago, their relationship ended abruptly but in the years since, neither have forgotten the love that sparked between them.Do you believe in everlasting love and second chances? Every love story has two sides, especially when it goes horribly wrong. Alieas Stiles writes love stories for a living yet struggles to pen her own happily-ever-after. One disastrous relationship after another leads her on a path of self-discovery. And that path has her reliving every misstep, wrong decision, miscommunication and just flat out lies that she believes left her alone. Carter Reed is no Prince Charming. He’s done with romance and any thoughts of everlasting love.

Two trips down lover’s lane have left him shattered and skeptical when it comes to matters of the heart. That is, until he reads something profound and life-changing that gives him hope that love isn’t a wasted emotion. A single wish, along with the healing effects of time, has both Alieas and Carter believing in love, and each other, once again.Ten years later, maybe there is a chance to get it right, a second time.