Renegade Souls MC

Exclusive first chapter – Intimately Faithful Novella

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It happened on a Thursday, when his life circled back to the very beginning of everything.

Pastor Danny Murphy, of those Murphy’s, originally from the green shores of Galway, Ireland, would remember distinctly it being Thursday after choir practice, if he were asked later on. He’d just finished picking up all the hymn books from the pews when the double doors flew open, as if a great gust of wind had aided the motion from God himself.

He was tired, wanting a beer and his bed but the church was always open if folks were in need.

The cold blew in right after and wrapped around his neck.

What with the snow inches thick on the ground in and around Armado Springs, Colorado, and no signs of it changing any time soon. The weather was terrible and biting every second of the day unless he kept the heating turned to a balmy 70 degrees.

His housekeeper was going to tan his arse when she saw the power bill.

Danny was a little afraid of Cora when she got in one of her snits, which was most every day. Aye, she had a temper, she did.

But the woman could bake like no one’s business and he was a slave to her honied flapjacks.

The blown doors brought in the bitter cold freeze and a person swathed in so much coat it was difficult to discern who or what it was under there.

Only that he knew it was someone looking for refuge from the cold and the Baptist Gospel church was open to all, no matter the time of day or season.

So, he left the stack of song books on the front pew and watched the person struggle to close the ancient wood.

Danny didn’t shudder for the mistreatment of such old, antique historical pieces.

He loved his church, his first and hopefully his for a long time to come, but he loved his community more, and if one was needing help or shelter, he could overlook scratches on doors.

Taking the time to put away his very worn and very well loved fifteen-year-old black Fender guitar in its case, he kept an eye out for his new guest as they slowly made their way down the aisle. Shrouded in white puffy material and a knitted hat pulled low and a scarf wrapped high, only the sway-gait of the person alerted him to the possibility that it was a woman beneath the cloak of clothing.

“Hello.” He smiled in greeting.

Sounds of his home back in Galway threaded through his voice. Sometimes he was told he’d picked up Americanisms from his friends, but it only took one rowdy night of pints of Guinness and manic bouts of darts down at Brannon’s pub to have the Irish flowing through him once more, as if he’d never left the green shores years ago.

You can take the man from Galway, as his da says, but you can’t take the Galway from the man. Aye, to be true.

He would always be the alley-rat from back home, no matter how far he went.

Silver rings glinting on his fingers when he brushed his too-long mop of light brown hair from his eyes, he saw a set of crystal emerald eyes follow his hand, pausing as if she was startled to see him. He smiled again to reassure she was safe here.

“Cold out, aye? I can offer you a hot tea. Me mother says I make the best tea in Ireland, but I’m thinking she’s a bit biased. Nevertheless, it will warm you up.”

He heard a muffled hello. The small lump shuffled forward, and Danny finally got a decent look at his guest. From the threadbare tennis shoes, one missing a lace, to the coat with several rips in both sleeves. Lord above, she’d been out in weather like this, dressed like that?

He felt a lurch of sympathy in his chest.

Moving over to the trolley that Cora always left off to the side with a tea urn, cups, plates and a barrel of homemade shortbread, her own family secret recipe he was determined to wrangle out of her one of these days. He poured a tea and dumped in three sugars, not that the woman was in shock, or that he knew of yet, it was just instinct.

“Is there something I can be helping you with?” He asked over his shoulder, hearing a zipper, he popped open the barrel and fisted four biscuits, placing them on a plate.

Of late he’d felt a sense of—he didn’t want to label it detachment, but aye, that was how he felt most mornings when he pulled himself out of bed and went on his typical 7-mile run. Then saw to the day to day running of his church, before he did his daily visits to those most in need in and around his community.

Danny loved his work, but most days—for the past months, and worse still over the holidays, he felt disconnected from everyone and everything. Going through the motions, oh, his faith ever strong, there was no doubt in that. His friends would say he needed to get laid, his mother would assume he longed for a wife and kiddies hanging off his belt loops.

Being a man about to turn thirty and a man of God no less, came with its own troubles and temptations.

He loved his work and would always offer a helping hand as he was offered many moons ago when his heart was black and full of hate. He had a cousin once who came to these shores before Danny. Connor’s life ended long before his time because he got in with a wrong motorcycle club.

Only with the divine grace of God intervening for Danny, did it thankfully put him on the right path.

The right path for him.

Some would ask what gave him the wisdom to counsel his community as he did for such a young age. No one knew his past, and probably wouldn’t ever hear the tales of a time when Danny Murphy of the infamous Murphy’s of Galway, answered only to his mistress; drugs.

It was the same disconnect in his breastbone he felt from those dark days of trying as hard as he could to die and failing each time.

Even as he smiled, carrying over the tea and snack, he wondered was God of a mind with a new path for the pastor? He knew one thing, he always listened when God spoke to him.

Aye, he wasn’t so daft these days.

The red scarf un-wound from her neck. At least the women felt comfortable enough to take a seat for a while. If she needed a bed, he was sure to find her one, he was well acquainted with the local shelters and no one should be desperate enough to sleep in the snow.

Next, off came the oversized hat and Danny froze where he stood.

The blood stopped circulating inside his veins.

And the shock of what he was seeing—who he was seeing, caused a mass riot within his lungs.

If the devil himself had appeared and started to do the Irish jig he couldn’t have been more surprised at the cascade of blood-red hair that tumbled out of the hat.

Corkscrew red curls fell in rivers over slim shoulders as a face emerged.

A face of freckles dusting over her nose like cinnamon sugar.

He knew the numbers of freckles.

He’d counted them many times. Kissed them a million times and sought them in crowds for years.

Moss green eyes met Danny’s.

Sure, the ground underneath him was rocking because for the first time in a long time, Danny felt unsteady in his own body. He stalled his steps, the cup swaying in his hand. A look of nerves on the woman’s face, she too was stuck in place, but she wrestled with the zipper of her coat, her teeth chattering together to show how cold she was.

“Aoife…” his voice scratched, sure he was dreaming and not standing in front of the girl he’d loved at six. And then at twelve. And at eighteen and every year in between.

The girl who had broken his soul apart at twenty-two.

Memories like a kaleidoscope swept through his vision, he didn’t have one childhood memory that didn’t involve Aoife. The girl he’d loved before he knew what it was to love a person as deeply as he had.

He’d loved her so deeply as a little boy, he’d wanted to be her everything.

Protector and best friend until she only loved him.

Knees just about buckled out from under him.

Aoife here in his church.

What was God doing to him?

The first girl he’d kissed.

The girl he’d climbed trees with and jumped over streams for because she wanted him to capture her a frog. The same girl he hid from her brothers and protected her from her drunk father. The same little girl who would sneak into his house and to sleep in his bed when she was scared of thunderstorms.

The girl who took all his firsts and gave him hers.

The girl he’d worshipped and fucked and lost all in the same year.

And the same woman who had walked away from him and married someone else.

The thump of his disbelief matched that of his heartbeat.

Shaking the fog from his brain, he was a pastor first, a man second.

Oh, she was lovely as ever, he thought.

Her freckles told stories only he would understand.

Though her lips were pulled straight now, he remembered when there was nothing but smiles and whispers of love and temptation on them.

Play with me, Danny-boy.

Touch me, Danny-boy.

I love you forever, and a day, Danny-boy.

She was neither tall nor short. He used to call her height perfect that fit directly under his chin when she curled into his ribs. With a slight build and tempting curves attached to her hip bones. There was not an inch of her body he didn’t know intimately. Once upon a time ago.

Still an artist’s dream come to life as she ever was. With her bow lips and almond shaped eyes and a bone structure he recognized from memory.

“I’ve come a long way, Danny-boy.” She spoke finally.

Sounds of home in her husky tone put heat in his belly.

The love he’d long since locked away started to peek through the cracks in his heart.

Danny cast a look at the ceiling, inhaling rapidly as a dying man would, in his mind he asked; “Lord, how could you do this to me now?” He was sure he could hear laughing.

Her coat unzipped all the way to her thighs, and the mysterious woman he’d first thought was on the thick side, was not at all. Aoife was slender as always.

What bulked out her coat was the baby wrapped around her chest.

A sleeping bairn no bigger than a sack of potatoes that she kissed on the top of its head, and then those bright green jeweled eyes that could once bring him to his knees and make him beg, turned on him.

Razor sharp. Wary. Shocked. Frightened.

Yeah, he noticed that one the most because it hit him square in the chest.

Danny hadn’t moved an inch.

His gaze going from Aoife to the bairn.

“I’m so glad you’re here. I seem to find meself in a bit of a bother, so I do. Can you help me, Danny-boy?”

And that was how Danny Murphy, of the infamous Murphy’s, knew that God was setting him on a new—unknown path once again.

One that would test his faith and loyalty and put him back in a place where his heart ruled … and shite alive, he didn’t have the first sodding clue how to feel when faced with the girl that not only got away but ran far…and took his soul with her.

Copyright © 2017 – 2019 V. Theia. All rights reserved.

1Danny

From Manhattan

Exclusive First Chapter – Manhattan Secret

2 Fierro Sleeps to go!!

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Lachlan

Don’t hate the player, hate the game.
Don’t touch the forbidden.
Always do right.
Listen to your elders.
All great rules… if you’re into that stuff.
But the thing is; I’m Lachlan Fierro and rules are always meant to be broken.
I’ve never met a rule that I don’t love to twist.
Call me curious, but a locked door is just an invitation, if you ask me.
I don’t hurt. I’m a lover not a fighter but you better believe I’ll beat your ass down if you hurt my people.
I don’t steal. I have no need to.
And stealing is for the weak—the desperate, I’m neither of those things.
I’m curious.
And inquisitive.
I like to know why and how and better still… can I?
The answer is yes, I always can. I’ll find a way, that’s why.
All rules are meant to be bent to my liking … why else are they called rules?
Don’t do this. Don’t do that.
Fuck that, yes I will.
I’ll do it because it says I can’t.
That’s my problem, you see. I can never resist the forbidden.
Don’t push the big red button.
You can bet your life savings I’ll press that button and enjoy every second of the consequences.
Life is not worth living if there’s no risks involved.
I know the moment I see her, that she’s my biggest risk.
The sweetest, untouchable apple.
Forbidden.
Not for me.
Don’t touch, Lachlan.
But I want her.
Crave her.
There is no risk I won’t take, even if it means I lose everything.
If she loses everything.
There’s a lot to be said for doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. It’s a great analogy. If something isn’t working, then change it, do something different, do better.
Love comes with its own set of rules and risks.
I go in blind.
Because I’ve never met a rule I don’t want to manipulate under my hands.
And she’s worth it all.
She isn’t meant for me.
She is worth it.
Because forbidden never tasted so good before.

 

Lachlan3

 

 

From Manhattan

Exclusive first chapter – Manhattan Storm

Theo

I’ve been called a beast in person for my throwing arm. And for other reasons.

I’m not bragging, but in my two years playing football for Clemson University, I’ve been top of my game with only three losses, two of which I was injured, and my replacement took to the field.

Nothing has stopped me from going for my dreams. I’ve lived, breathed and sweated football in order to make the draft as early as I could.

Sure, I party just as hard, I’m no saint, but I’m the first in the training room. I’m the first to run sprints and the last to leave the gym. If my body isn’t burning then I’m not finished.

They hail me as the new king.

A legend in the making, said sports center every week. Theo Fierro, untouchable. Hand of God. With the throwing arm of a missile.

Football is hard, especially being a college athlete when the number one focus needs to be completely on the game.

It seems unreal now that it’s only two years ago I was on the fast track to being part of the NFL and three weeks before declaring an early draft where I was said to place in the top two, but in practice of all places, some jerkoff sacked me like I was doing his mom. One torn rotator cuff later, I was out for months.

Done. Finished. Career over before I’ve even started. Or very close to it.

Footballers are a cut above average.

The name of the game is to be aggressive by nature, we’re required to always be in top peak physical condition in order to endure that dominance.

Quitting is not in our playbook, nor is fear and as much as I’ve lived by those rules for as long as I could hold a football in one hand, there’s a part of me that wants to let the fear creep in. To take over me until I drown in it.

It’s possibly the first time in my football life that I’m going into tomorrow, and the days after that, with no career goal in mind and I’m terrified to admit defeat.

Six months of surgery and intense PT and though they say I can play to a degree; I know I won’t be the king again and no way in hell I want to do something unless I can be my best. After a few thousand test throws, it’s more than noticeable to me and my coaches I’m not up to my own standards.

I’ve always had a rivalry with Tommy Bianchi, don’t ask me why or how it started, I’d have to tap out on that. We just rubbed each other the wrong way my freshman year and since I lived in the dorms that first year, and he was on the same floor as me, we were constantly in each other’s space.

Those guys who are just full of ego and up their own asses? That’s Tommy.

I want to punch him. More so because I have a gut feeling he deliberately ruined any chance I have with the NFL.

The asshole always did want my spot on the team. He doesn’t hide the fact that he hates me being the starting QB. He also didn’t like being a red shirt for his first year, whereas I got all the games—but do I think he’d try to take me out deliberately? I’d bet my Ford Raptor on it. The smirk he gave the day it was announced I was injured and off the schedule was proof enough.

Unlucky for that loser, he still isn’t getting my position.

Small mercies, I suppose. I would hate seeing him in my number.

For anyone who follows football, I’m the name in the collegiate NCAA ranks. Watched by scouts from an early age, offered scholarships to four schools.

Again, it’s not bragging, just stating a fact.

I’m ending the year as a sophomore without a full proof plan of what’s coming next. Coaches and scouts still have their eyes on me. Agents still want to represent me. I’ve worked hard to get back to the position I’m in, but it’s undeniable to myself that I’m anything like the star I was six months ago.

Pain is my best friend, the kind you don’t want hanging around.

Try as I might to feel positive, to listen to my parents when they say I still have a lot going for my future.

I just can’t.

Anyone knows one bad college game can devastate, but an injury can finish you.

Football is all I want to do—it’s in my blood and my skin. Ever since I was a small kid messing around in the yard with my dad. All those years of going to flag football, then playing for a local youth team and then for my high school as the quarterback. Many scouts later led to my full scholarship at Clem.

My future is supposed to be in the NFL—though I fully intend to finish my sports science degree. I want to play, not treat injuries.

With a half empty bottle of beer in one hand and the other scratching through my short, blond hair, a heavy body lands on the sofa beside me.

Bringing me out of my self-induced boo-hoo party of one, I send a glance to my best bud, roommate and all-around pain in the ass, Roddick Fury. Or as we call him; Dakota. No big secret why. That’s where he’s from.

“While you’re over here sulking like a little bitch, king, did you notice the party around you or the come fuck me looks you’re getting?”

I’m too busy drowning in the fact I was All American pick for both freshman and my sophomore years and it’s a huge possibility that I won’t ever get further than this point in football. A has-been. I’m still better than most, but I want to be a rocket not a damn snail. I lift the arm I’m cursing and feel a twinge of pain as I take the bottle to my lips.

“Don’t let me stop you scooping up the fuck me eyes, bro.” I tell Dakota, who even now has his eyes scanning the room of over a hundred people squashed into the football frat house.

“And take your sloppy seconds? Fuck you, man.” He laughs.

There’s no sloppy anything. I doubt I’ve had any of the girls at tonight’s party, though I don’t bother to check.

It doesn’t stop them trying though.

Wherever I go, the cafeteria, hallways, in class and most often at parties, I have girls trying to pull me aside to get into their tiny panties. Trying to pull me into rooms to lock me down.

Coach, in my freshman year warned us all about screwing around too much. Not only because it ruins our focus if all we’re thinking about is getting our dicks wet. But with some girls, their aim is latching onto future sports stars in hopes of hitching their wagon to someone who will earn the big bucks.

I don’t like any girl enough to let that happen, so I don’t form lasting attachments.

Unlike our other friend Wilson, who no word of a lie, found love his first week of school and more shockingly, they’re still together.

It’s only now that Dakota points it out to me that I look around the room and see a lot of couples doing a variety of upright sex on the dancefloor, grinding and popping their bodies together.

The deep bass of the common room music is felt through my sneakers. I would usually be the life and soul of the party, but I feel nothing as I sit there watching the scenes go on—only half listening to my best friend and teammate give details I didn’t ask for, from his laundry room exploits with a girl last night.

My aggravation trumps any enjoyment for partying or his dirty story, so I take the bottle to my lips, drain it and toss it on the table beside me. I might not be playing much ball this season…but I keep to my one beer rule. I’ve seen too many idiots getting into situations they can’t handle, all because they’ve gone beyond their limits.

I like my life be controlled with all my faculties intact.

“You not gonna tap that?” Dakota nudges my shoulder, without realizing it’s the one with the shooting pain stabbing me. I wince but say nothing about it. “Little Red is eating you up with her dirty gaze, man.”

“Not interested, D. Have at her.” Sexist, but true. The guys here are interchangeable for most of the athlete chasers.

“Shake out of it, man. So what you can’t play as you once did, we all gotta stop sometime, right? I don’t plan to play once I finish school.”

I know this. He wants to be his own entrepreneurial boss with plans to move to New York once we graduate. My party animal, manwhore friend has his head surprisingly screwed on right. He even interned with my dad in a few of his nightclubs last summer while I spent the summer training my ass off. And for what? Nothing, it seems now.

I’m a born football player. Without that I don’t know who I am.

Sick of my own whining, I send my gaze across the room, through bodies until I reach the redhead blatantly staring at me, a little smile touching her lips, deliberately making her hip bone jut out of her miniscule short shorts. Her legs go on for miles and I vaguely remember seeing her around.

As hot as she is—and the girl is all kinds of sexy, my dick remains calm inside my shorts. He and I are two depressed morons.

So as not to encourage her before she sashays over and climbs into my lap, I look away and haul myself up. “I’m gonna head out for something to eat, bro.”

“You can’t. It’s early.”

“I’m not in the mood for a party. I’ll bring you a pizza back.” Because food is mentioned and Dakota is a pig, he relents and lets me leave. Even before I’ve made it halfway across the floor he has the redheaded girl in his lap, attached to his mouth.

Whatever dark feelings I harbor, all it takes is the smell of oregano and a lot of cheese and my brain empties, my belly growling as I prowl inside the pizza restaurant that’s a few blocks away from where I live.

I like Nemo’s Pizzeria over anywhere else in this town and I’ve tried them all. South Carolina is my mom’s home state. We’ve always visited every summer, so I’m not new to the small college town. It didn’t stop me being homesick in those first few months, though. Man, that shit got so bad I almost booked a plane ticket home, ready to toss in the towel and admit I was a giant pussy for needing his mom and dad.

It took one call to my dad to calm my shit down. And though I go home for holidays and when I had my surgery, I now love the freedom.

I think maybe I need a weekend home with my crazy family. With a meeting with my advisor tomorrow to discuss the likelihood of my doing my bachelors and master’s degree at the same time, I figure I’ll wait until I have some answers before I hop a plane.

I’m about to be extremely happy for not staying at the party longer in just a few seconds while I wait for my triple pepperoni and cheese pie. Because as I stand at the counter, I hear the sweetest, huskiest voice coming from behind me.

“Hey, can I get by?”

Five simple words and my whole lower belly clenches and in my haste to turn around my elbow connects to a smaller, softer body and I hear her cry of pain, then I see the flair of a pissed off angry woman in her eyes.

I’m mute.

Total meltdown is happening in my body.

Because I’ve just accidentally elbowed my future wife.

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ManStorm4.jpg

Renegade Souls MC

Resurfaced Passion – First Chapter Exclusive

Title: Resurfaced Passion
Series: Book 6 – Renegade Souls MC Romance Saga Series.
Genre: MC Romance
Trope: A love that would never quit.

Universal Link: mybook.to/ResurfacedPassion
Goodreads TBR: http://bit.ly/2DaOuw1ResurfacedPassionGR


“I’d totally date me,” she muttered to herself with little confidence in what she was saying, whittling the corner of her left thumb nail with her teeth in a show of frenetic energy rushing through her veins. Online dating was just not her friend, but she was soldiering on.

She dealt with people on the daily, so she was impervious to nerves.

Unless it was something personal.

Paige Simmons was a baker who liked to watch bad TV, scream at every football game, wear odd colored tights and very high heels and sing badly along with the radio, even if she was in public. She loved anything cheesy and if she saw a puppy, she would 100% get down on her knees and baby-talk to the good boy.

She was also prone to dyeing her hair different shades of pink for no reason other than she felt every woman should dance to her own tune and not follow the masses.

She wasn’t a feminist as such. She liked bras. Bras kept her ample boobs in check and pointing in the right direction, thank you. But she’d always felt as though women could choose to do whatever they wanted. And if that meant marching in rallies, chaining themselves to railings and getting arrested for the greater good, then so be it. It also meant she could dye her hair whatever color she wanted on a Saturday night, while she ate her weight in cheese puffs and not care if the older generation looked at her strangely.

Taking a big gulp of the too sweet lemonade sitting near her right hand, the fizz all but evaporated, she gave another cursory glance to the laptop screen; her own image glaring back at her.

Was she really going to put herself out there, on a dating website of all places? Seriously, had it come to this? Was twenty-seven considered too young to be called a dating disaster?

Lonely. Gah, what a nasty word that was.

That was the word circling her overburdening thoughts over a glass of wine last night, so much so it motivated Paige to open the laptop and start the process of making an account.

Now she was looking at the photo she’d used on her bio and was having doubts in epic proportion. It was supposed to be a little bit of fun, but this didn’t feel like fun at all. Not with her tummy on a spin cycle of nerves.

She hovered the mouse arrow over the delete account button a dozen times at least.

Going over her bio again, she mentally tore it apart. Did men want to know her life goals?

God, she didn’t know.

Maybe she should be honest. Wants a connection and maybe some sex.

She sucked at this dating shit and knowing what men wanted was like learning a foreign language in three minutes.

Hells fire, she couldn’t even get the man she wanted to be interested in her, apart from the weird way they danced around each other, so what chance did she have with a complete stranger?

Hunched over the laptop she hit publish.

There. Her profile was live. Watch those swipes roll in.

With a harried noise, she slammed the lid shut.

She wasn’t bad looking. She had a slim figure and received compliments on her toned legs, even if they were on her small 5’4 frame. She loved her waist long hair and her tight bottom and sometimes she liked her boobs, they weren’t pointing towards her knees yet, so that was a boob bonus.

Just a little clumsy at times and a bit forgetful… ha, now that was funny. But overall she wouldn’t say she was a bad choice to date.

Finding a mate to love and cuddle and do all those mundane, wonderful things, she saw couples doing every day. She was envious of the hand holding, laughing at private jokes together and just knowing someone was there.

She ached for that.

And she’d wanted it with just one man for such a long time, but he’d shown little indication that he wanted anything more than a weird friendship with her.

She couldn’t wait around forever.

Even if her heart said to wait a while longer.

A few more months. A day. A week. A year or two.

Men were slow. All women knew this. Unless they were guided by the hand and taken to their emotional destination, men hardly arrived at all.

But the truth was; Paige wasn’t all that brave.

Where affairs of the heart and sex were concerned she wasn’t bold in the slightest and couldn’t… she would absolutely die of awkwardness if she had to ask a guy out on a date.

Why would Reaper want a plain Jane like her? Whose only discernible talent was identifying every Krispy Kreme donut just from lick alone, when she’d witnessed the kind of vivacious, extrovert, gorgeous women who partied with the bikers.

That was the kind of woman she wanted to grow up to be. One with body sociability and didn’t cringe about asking for an orgasm or five.

Great. With her confidence dipping, she left her place on the couch and decided to do something productive with the rest of the night.

Sure, it was 11:27 pm on a Saturday night, but who doesn’t pull out a tart pan to make a banana crème pie at nearly midnight? It was a new recipe she’d been tweaking for weeks now and was sure this was the one to put in the diner this coming week. Though she was technically just a waitress doing managerial duties, the moment the boss found out she baked, and baked well, he convinced her into making all the pies, on account of the diner cook being great with eggs and hash but terrible with pastry. Then it advanced to breakfast muffins when the pies were a big hit and now it was most all of the desserts on the menu.

She enjoyed it. But she was living for the day she had her own cake shop.

It was a pipe dream, but girls needed a dream or two.

Reaper and cakes. Her two dreams.

One her passion, the other her weakness.

Only one was obtainable. She smiled to herself pulling out ingredients from her pantry and wondered what the unattainable dream was up to right now.

 

* * *

 

Brex Mahoney was the biggest piece of piss walking.

And Reaper, in his thirty-one years of life so far had known at least five dozen.

He hated dealing with the city mayor. He was a braggart and a big mouth, and a goddamn fucking bore to listen to.

Business was business, he kept telling himself as he climbed down off his vintage Harley Davidson and pulled off his leather gloves to shove in his pocket, so he needed to make these next thirty minutes go as fast as humanly possible.

He’d always been the one to deal with Brex, ever since he joined ranks with the Renegade Souls and Rider—his Prez, offered him the patch as Negotiator. It wasn’t a true MC title and pretty fucking funny among the boys, knowing how little Reaper did talk. However, what skills Reaper possessed was the patience of a saint. He could deal with slime balls like Brex, and even the Mexicans on occasion and not lose his cool and slice them in two.

It was why, from day one, Rider sent him out to Brex and many other difficult people they did business with, for the fact there was only a slim chance Reaper would go kamikaze on their asses.

Only one reason would push his buttons and send him into a killing rage and lucky for all concerned, as he took measured steps in his thick soled boots and approached the nondescript building, she was nowhere near here.

Of course, the mayor of the city wouldn’t meet one of the notorious lawbreaking bikers who ran most of their city, in his public office at city hall. That would be too dangerous for the man who wore a devious mask.

How that charlatan kept getting re-elected was anyone’s guess.

He strode through the door, smelled coffee and felt his belly protest that he hadn’t eaten yet. He’d woken late, and that always put him in a bad mood because it meant he had to skip going to the diner and head directly from his two-bedroom apartment and go to the RSMC compound to see what was needed of him today.

If he wasn’t running these kinds of errands, then he worked in the auto shop.

It was the purpose of why he’d put the feelers out to Rider Marinos years back when he arrived in Colorado and needed a job to keep his mind sane. Since he’d worked in his dad’s auto-garage back home in New Zealand from the age of seven, he had the skills to back up his application. What Reaper didn’t know about engines wasn’t worth knowing. He could single handed strip down a wreck of a car and rebuild it into a fucking masterpiece.

Red Light was the only other man Reaper knew who could do the same kind of work. Rider, for a long time had wanted the pair to open up a build shop for the club. Making one of a kind bikes. Because Red Light was a Nomad and preferred the open road, that idea never took flight.

Working in the auto shop kept him mentally ticking over.

Kept his brain occupied when he wanted to descend into misery.

His negotiator skills had been handy for Rider over the years. There was that one lawyer fool who ripped off his clients, hid the evidence in a Souls safe box and became difficult when it came time to paying his bills. A few select words from Reaper had the man handing over the cash without so much as a protest.

“Is he here?” Reaper asked Joseph, the mayor’s aid and right-hand co-conspirator in all things shady. He was a fair-haired kid, all of twenty-three and cocky as one of the Trump’s. He’d need to be, to hold down that kind of high-powered job, so Reaper didn’t hold it against the guy when Joseph smirked and nodded his head towards the open office on the left.

The four-story building was all but empty. He didn’t know what it had once been, only that this was the place he met Brex every few weeks, depending on what the old man needed from the Souls.

“Reaper, son. How’s it going?” The balding man with his overly large gut greeted him like they were old friends. He always got a weird vibe from the way the old man raked his eyes up and down Reaper’s 6’2 frame.

Reaper wasn’t surly by nature; he just didn’t suffer fools lightly and didn’t like two-faced fuckers who would smile at the same time as sticking in the knife.

He’d known a few of those in his time and recognized it clearly with Brex’s demeanor. The man was a snake in the grass. But while he had money to burn, the RS would happily take it from him.

He offered a hand and they shook briefly.

“Can’t complain.” He parked his ass on a table and folded his arms, the leather of his thin jacket creaking, while Brex squeezed his bigger bulk into a leather backed chair. The office space they were in boasted zero windows and was no more than eight feet wide, so he figured they were doing the transaction in a broom closet.

“What do you need?”

“Straight to business. I like that, son.” He chuckled nasally. His watch dog stood outside the door but didn’t step inside.

“Actually nothing. I’m here to close my account, so to speak.”

Reaper arched his brow under his skull cap. Say what now? For as long as he’d been with the Renegade Souls, and it was coming up on five years now, this rat in the garbage paid over the odds to hide all his dirty deeds and secrets in one of the Souls underground bunkers, midway up the mountains.

Impenetrable. Untraceable. And safe from prying eyes and law enforcement, more to the point. Especially those who would bury the mayor for discovering the dodgy deals he was involved in with other politicians. Not to mention the prostitutes he paid into the tens of thousands each year and not from his own pocket.

It was genius when you think about it. No one would ever suspect the upstanding mayor of ever having anything to do with the biker club, not when his officials tried hard to have them closed down.

Anyone in the outlaw lifestyle would see Brex for his true self. The mayor was shady as fuck and slimy with it. Reaper wouldn’t trust the guy as far as he could launch him over a fence.

But he’d take his money.

“Is there a reason behind this sudden switch?”

He smirked. “Let’s just say I was given a better offer of protection.”

With no concrete reason why, the Russians came to mind rapidly.

His gut instinct said it was Grigori trying to undercut, undermine and generally be a pain in the dick for Rider. The bratva underboss didn’t know when to quit or realize he’d been shown leniency to leave on his own two feet and not in a body bag.

Reaper shrugged. He could care less. It was one less fuckwit to deal with. He unzipped his jacket and brought out the padded brown envelope. Held it in mid-air just out of reach.

He waited until Brex brought out his own envelope from inside his blazer and handed it to Reaper.

He wasn’t dumb. He counted that shit first. It was all there. Ten grand on the dot.

“This settles up, correct?”

“Yup.” He tossed over the contents of Brex’s lock box as requested.

Reaper turned on his boots and headed for the door.

“Seems the tides are changing, son.”

Swerving his head he could have told the fat oaf he was not his son and then punched him in the throat. But Reaper was a calm man.

Most of the time.

He stayed silent and waited.

Assholes always had to have the last word.

“With who runs things around here, I mean. Times a changing. It’s no longer the Souls.”

“And it’s not you either, old man. Go back to city hall and push a pen.”

Or go on a fucking diet before your blood pressure kills you.

He strode out, staring at his weasel sidekick who backed up out of Reaper’s way.

All roads definitely pointed to the Russian mafia and Rider was gonna be pissed if Grigori was making new connections instead of getting his ass back to wherever he came from.

The bratva had a US base in Chicago until they’d turned up in Colorado.

Things were not looking good. Firstly, Grigori teamed up with Rider’s dick-for-brains uncle, the former club Prez, who pitched one helluva tantrum when Rider replaced him. And now the man who held the legal rights to the city, was possibly working with Grigori too.

Shit always did attract shit.

As bad as it could get for the club, who had been nothing but welcoming to Reaper in all these years…he still only had one priority; and it was the girl with the pink hair and lavender shaded eyes.

The girl who smiled at everyone.

The girl who baked at 4 am and drove a crappy car and sang out of tune and cried at sappy movies.

The girl who loved animals but wouldn’t get a pet for herself.

The girl who tied his guts into physical knots.

His Achilles heel.

If Paige was the magnet, then Reaper was the metal.

There was no circumstance he could ever think of that would sway him from being drawn to her. Putting her first no matter what, even when she didn’t know it. That extraordinary pull he felt day and night just to be near her grew more monstrous with every ticking second, until he felt the jealous and possessiveness rush through his blood for anyone else who got the chance to spend a minute in her company.

He was seriously fucking screwed.

Damned if he did. Crazy if he didn’t.

That fact alone had kept him breathing.

He didn’t know what he was waiting for anymore. Only that he couldn’t not wait.

He swung his leg over the bike and started it up just like he had thousands of times before. With two destinations in mind, for once he wouldn’t head to the diner first.

Rider had always been good to him and he owed the guy. He’d go to the club first and fill him in.

He then needed to put his eyes on Paige, to remind himself she existed, and she was smiling, and she was okay.

All other shit after that could wait.

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Uncategorized

Naughty Irish Liar – First Chapter Exclusive

Title: NAUGHTY IRISH LIAR
Series: Naughty Irish Series (author collaboration)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Trope: Second chance for a first time love with a gorgeous, Irish a$$hole.
Release Date: March 15, 2019.
𝐂𝐎𝐌𝐏𝐋𝐄𝐓𝐄 𝐒𝐓𝐀𝐍𝐃𝐀𝐋𝐎𝐍𝐄 𝐑𝐎𝐌𝐀𝐍𝐂𝐄.

 


 

Catie

Some people called me an heiress brat. A socialite of Manhattan with nothing between my skull but hot air and the latest fashion trend. They said I was more acrylic nails than SATs.

I’m none of those things.

I’d say I was decisive. I know what I want, and I work my yoga-built bottom off to get it because if I didn’t, how else would I achieve anything? And while I might technically be my daddy’s heir, I don’t take his money for granted, nor am I living on his allowance anymore.

I’ve decided what I want…wanted for a long time and no matter what, I’m going to make it happen.

But I think my social status has more to do with my family name, being a Clemonte.

You see, I’m Catherine Hope Clemonte.

And I have no idea why we’re categorized as though our name is some big scandal when we’re talked about.

I promise we’re not, far from it.

Daddy is rich beyond belief because he earned it the hard way, there was no inheritance for him, he worked constantly, having grown up poor. He got into property development in the early eighties and now the Clemonte Hotels are all over the world. Celebs and the rich flock to stay there. Movies use them for locations. We hold prestigious events that earn their spot in the society pages of Manhattan. He married mom who instantly became his world, and then they had me. I was ridiculously spoiled with love. They’re those embarrassing type of parents who were incessantly in love with each other and had no bones about showing it even if their mortified teenage daughter had friends over at the house.

I suppose being the only child of the fifth richest man in American might explain why I’m called a brat. It’s what people expect. Us millennials have a reputation.

Who cares? I care a little, I guess.

I’m twenty-two, I don’t need that kind of label this early in my life. Can’t they call me a genius? (Sadly, I’m not. I’m in the last year of college and I’ll be lucky to get my business management degree) or a trendsetting influencer? (But I only have a few hundred Instagram followers, so it wouldn’t seem likely to happen. Plus, I only post pictures of toast and the odd stray cat)

Oh, god. My nerves are so rife I could exorcist-puke along with my rampant thoughts going nuts.

I’ve paced outside so long that a passing saloon car actually stopped and asked how much I was charging.

I hustled closer to the bar entryway, caught how loud it was inside and almost changed my mind about going in at all. I could always choose to do this another day, I reasoned with a croak of nerves tickling my throat.

Did I want to do this with an audience?

I swallowed and ran a anxious hand over my long red hair.

I was not risking humiliation and complete rejection just for scraps, I reminded myself. This was an all-in situation.

I wanted it all. I wanted what my heart had hurt over for five years.

My story wasn’t all that unique. Girl too young fell for the older guy. Guy crushes girl’s hope. Girl longs for guy ever since. It’s what every Lifetime movie is built on.

I was too young back then.

Now I’m not.

The door swung open and three guys ambled out talking to one another, giving me a cursory glance before they headed down the street. I hastily stepped aside and peeked in before the door swung closed again.

I knew already what MacNam’s looked like even before I’d stepped inside because I Googled it so often that if the FBI were to look at my search history on my hard drive it would appear that I was up to some no-good shit.

I couldn’t help myself. I had issues, okay. He’d become my sexy, delicious hobby and when I was obsessed with something I was all or nothing. I didn’t have gray areas.

But he hadn’t made my secret hobby easy that was for damn sure when I discovered he didn’t have one social media account.

And believe it, me and my second-best friend wine did extensive cyber stalking one weekend.

What kind of psychopath doesn’t have Snapchat?

I wanted to believe I was so adult chasing after what I wanted—who I wanted, but let the evidence show I was the coward loitering on the streets of Manhattan just after 9 pm gathering my composure to walk inside and lay claim to a man who would probably take one look at me and then look away. There wasn’t even any guarantees he’d remember me.

For two years after he’d crushed my teen heart I swore blind I hated that man for hurting me the way he did. The cruel things he’d said still rattled around my head dousing me in doubts.

Just because I was grown enough to understand his rejection to my adolescent emotions, it didn’t mean he was forgiven for the shitty delivery. The way the bastard sliced down the middle of me in his sharp Irish brogue like a thousand paper cuts could still send bile into my throat.

He could have let me down gently, but that wasn’t who he was.

I’d hurt him too by lying first…deliberately. The bank of lust that had burned through his beautiful eyes died in those few seconds of realization…my lie ended us before we were anything.

Tonight was about checking if the fires were still there in his eyes when he saw me. It was now or never, I’d told my bestie earlier that same week, when I put my plan into action.

She was annoyed with how often I turned down actual dates because I was hung up on something that never was. And that was one of many reasons I was standing outside his Irish pub freezing my butt off at the end of January. Snow laid crisp on the ground just days ago but thankfully had thawed somewhat. Even still, I was wearing my favorite lucky pair of white skinny jeans, pink leather buckle booties and underneath a fitted V-neck butt-length pink woollen coat, was just a plain white tee.

I was a red-haired woman over the age of fourteen who liked pink, m-kay. I didn’t need to explain my fashion choices.

My pulse skittered like a scared cat as I pulled open the door, a shift of warmth from inside coasted over my frozen cheeks.

I’d rehearsed this through every variable of conversation that could occur. Even the downright painful where he kicked me out on my ass for daring to walk into his domain. Even before he’d made a penny he’d had an ego. It was all part of his arrogant appeal, I suppose.

I had no confusion that he’d be anything less than lord of his fortress once I walked through the golden doors.

Face the man, tempt the ego. Or so the plan goes.

The pub was on a whole entire block. The real high-end section of Times Square. Beautiful red brick with tiny flood lights around the trim of the building, looking like an expensive palace. Everyone knew about MacNam’s.

Inside was just as extravagant and inviting with gold and browns everywhere, wooden tables and chairs, with gilded trim adding to the luxurious vibe. It was unlike any Irish pub I’d ever seen before and I felt the pinch of happiness for what he’d achieved for himself in such a short time.

My eyes took it all in. Nerves still jittering.

Along one wall was a full-length bar lit up and mirrored, every high-backed stool taken. On the other side were tables full of customers, I’d thought for a second I’d find a seat, catch my bearings and then casually ask the bartender if the boss was in tonight.

My thoughts got no further than that, they came to a stuttered halt. I wasn’t even afforded a second to peek up the staircase in the middle of the room to the second level because a pair of eyes so blue appeared in my vision and stole my breath.

Hope grew, and sprang like weeds seeing the surprise etched on a face I’d never stopped thinking about.

Not for a second.

Oh, I’d tried.

I’d hated him at times.

We’d been nothing much at all and still he’d exerted all this power over my poor aching body for the longest time.

Asshole.

My smile melted off my face when his warm eyes turned cold…slit to moody darkness and then he scowled.

Nerves goose-bumped across my skin as I forced my feet to move.

There was nothing funny about the irregular way my heart thumped out of order from within my ribcage. Every step I took closer it became a heavier sound in my ears.

Thump.

Thump.

Thump.

No amount of mental rehearsal could have prepared me for how agonisingly real his enigmatic blue eyes felt on me. Sharpe and laser-like.

They were shiver inducing and trained on me, like a hunter would hold a gun.

Deadly and aware of my every step.

Those eyes punctured through me and didn’t waver, not for a second. Not even when a guy came up on his right-hand side and spoke closely to his ear. I watched his mouth move, bringing out words from those lush—vicious lips and still his gaze didn’t leave mine.

There shouldn’t be any reason for the way my insides jumbled up together, tying each organ to my racing heart—but you see, I was looking at the asshole I naïvely fell in love with five years ago…so I was a little out of my comfort zone.

Five long years I’d waited to look him in the eye as an equal—as a badass woman and let him know I was here for him.

Ronan MacNamara.

My everything.

My agony.

The man who had ruined me for any potential boyfriend ever working out.

The main reason I was a virgin, because no one measured up to the flamed feelings he brought out in me.

Oh, yeah, I hated him as much as I loved him, because for a long time I’d wanted to move on from the memory of Ronan. To lose him in a sea of other pretty faces, and yet he always came back. He’d permanently ruled over my heart when I’d tried to remove all trace of him.

What do you need to know about Ronan MacNamara?

He’s a tall boy. Six feet two to be exact. I know this because in my fawning crush back when I first met him, I’d asked all the important questions; age, height and favorite color. (green)

An origin to Dublin he now lived and owned three Irish bars around New York, MacNam’s was synonymous to all things Ireland and success. I couldn’t click on a lifestyle blog without seeing a glowing review for one of his pubs.

He’s not overly muscular. His body is long and ropey strong. He carried himself arrogant and confident, like he was always sure where he was going, and people best just get the fuck out of his way. Clothes always looked perfect on him. Even now in dark-wash jeans with a studded belt, a sweater rolled up his forearms, along with the scuffed worn boots he made my heart skip several beats. That was before I reached his stubbled face, full kissable lips. His haircut had changed from the last time I’d laid eyes on him. Now it was that modern nineteen forties cut, shaved around the sides and swept off to left on top. God almighty, he’d grown even sexier in the interim. His face was ridiculously handsome.

Ronan was a big deal. And not just to my former pubescent heart.

I just didn’t know him all that well. Not the person he was inside, I didn’t know about his thoughts or ambitions, or even his family. Only as far as my long-ago infatuation went and that was mostly softcore daydreams and spying on him through blinds when he came by my house.

But what I knew of him now?

He was a liar.

A sexy, gorgeous, no good Irish liar.

And that’s not me tarring a whole nation with the same brush. I love everything Irish, especially potatoes and Riverdance.

I just know the man I love to be a liar is all, and I firmly believe a woman deeply in love can call her man all the names under the sun if she wants to.

The flapping birds in my belly didn’t give me a respite when I forced my feet to keep moving. Fixated on the turbulent tummy motion just to save my mind from going to dark places that involved his lips and mine.

The expectation now that it was here in front of me tasted weird on my tongue.

Not unfamiliar, but new and dangerous and a tiny bit terrifying.

With no clue how the next few minutes would go, I knew only that I’d come this far and nothing short of a natural disaster was making me turn around.

My stomach was flipping and flopping and generally being a damn nuisance.

Looking at Ronan from across his pub while crowds of people milled around us, his killer blue eyes all over me like gold on a leprechaun, I shuddered inside and willed time to stand still so I could just go on staring at him.

You get nowhere in life if you didn’t take chances, my dad would say. Me chasing down a man? I’m guessing daddy didn’t mean for me to interpret it that way.

No amount of scowling asshole was going to stop me.

Through my nerves I pasted a smile on my face and angled my body through the crowd, closing the gap between us, feeling every bit of the electric energy rushing through my bloodstream.

A girl came from behind, almost sent me flying as she rushed by knocking my shoulder hard enough that it hurt. I saw Ronan’s eyes narrow further, but he wasn’t looking at me this time, his eyes were on the road rage girl who was squealing his name.

“Baby! I missed you!” She declared and launched herself at his chest.

While my own chest deflated of all its air and left me with a weird crash and burn sensation.

The Irish asshole had a girlfriend?

I froze. Hardly blinking. My insides tumbling.

A spoke had well and truly been thrown in my wheels.

My eyes narrowed looking at the cosy scene.

Rude. I thought. How fucking rude. Didn’t he know he was supposed to wait for me to grow up? Hello, here I was fully grown.

I stood there like a deer caught in twin blue headlights. Ronan glaring at me over the shoulder of the blonde woman clinging to him.

Dammit, if I’d known there was going to be a traffic jam of women for his attention I might have gotten my butt inside the pub an hour ago, instead of loitering outside like a creeper.

Heat stole over my nose freckles.

Not because I was embarrassed or disheartened.

Because as I went on looking at Ronan, he was looking nowhere else but directly at me with that scowl and lust.

I saw lust clear as day all over his face and bursting out of his broody eyes while his girlfriend? Lover? Piece of the moment? Tried to climb him like a coconut tree.

 

Ronan.jpg

 

 

From Manhattan

EXCLUSIVE – Chapter One Manhattan Sugar

RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 13.
( you get Gray for a special price ) 
Add Sugar to September’s Most Anticipated Reads: https://bit.ly/2LbKb5G
—————————————–
#AlphaholeFreeZone #NotSoSugarDaddy #DoYouHaveASweetTooth
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One tequila. Two tequila. Three tequila; floor.

Woe is me. I’d turned to liquor to lighten my mood.

Only, I think they switched booze on me, because it stopped working an hour ago.

I’m not one of those women who dwell on the crappy hands they’ve been dealt in life. Abandoned by a father. Depressed, emotionally catatonic mother and a dead brother thrown into the cement mixer to top the crap sundae.

They’re events that have shaped me, sure.

But I don’t let those negatives define me.

And other lies I tell myself.

Of course, I do.

But like any sexually-confident, in control of her own destiny woman of New York I could shove my head in the dirt and pretend everything is fine even when the room around me was blazing fire and I couldn’t see the exits.

I could ignore the emotional downpour and ignore the quicksand around me that was trying to drag me under.

I hated the feeling of inadequacy.

Nine days out of ten I could be the sassy, outspoken fun-loving woman I portrayed to the world. Sure, it was all a farce. But still…

India Josephine Rivera, twenty-six, and the youngest Chief Creative Officer in Marina Finch advertising agency.

That’s who I am.

I’m the type who played as hard as I worked and never … ever allowed the dominoes of the past get me down.

But, fuck me. Life was horrifically unfair sometimes.

That tenth day sometimes snuck up on me like a freight train without its headlights and every shitty hand I’ve ever been dealt weighed heavier until each breath became a chore under the crushing suffering.

Each breath I wondered why I kept working my lungs.

Sometimes it just felt as though every step of life was a different chapter of goodbye.

Let’s just say that’s why I was drunk in a bar on a Tuesday night, pouring my despairs into shot glasses of tequila and into the ears of a very patient Irish bartender.

It’s also why I did something foolish.

But then what drunk woman ever said; hey, this was a wonderful idea and I don’t have regrets at all.

I said I was sassy, not that I was smart.

I don’t even know if he’ll come.

But isn’t that the point when being as drunk as my late granny Dillie every Christmas Eve? The give no fucks were in strong force. Not like during the daylight hours when my rational side wouldn’t have allowed me to text him, let alone ask for help.

I never, ever ask for help.

I’ve abided by this one rule my whole life.

Because you can’t rely on people. The moment you do they let you down.

Jaded? Oh, hell yeah, I am.

I’m also realistic.

Pessimistic with a slight allure towards optimism.

I’m a contradiction to myself.

I sloppily texted the guy I sort of had an insta-crush on a year ago. You know the kind of guy, you see them for that one brief second with their sweep of hero hair and piercing sex eyes and hard-pouty mouth, and your heart beats out from between your legs and all you can think of is carnal acts down on the floor like the farm animals do.

I wanted to fuck him is what I’m saying.

I’ve thought about him too much in the last year at odd times until my belly cramped like a pretzel. Him and his imperial eyebrows and steadfast gaze that felt like he was digging into my psyche and grabbing at all my secrets.

I’m not a sloppy drunk, nor do I cry a lot or ever.

But what I am when inebriated is emotional.

My emotions flood back under all my perfectly placed guards, crumbling like crackers and it’s like being attacked by mosquito’s.

The sting was awful.

I didn’t drink to excess for this very reason, as I teetered on my stool, elbow on the bar, hand under my chin while I watched the bartender making drinks for a lively bunch of women down the other end. He managed to pour five different drinks in a matter of a minute, also wiping the bar, taking cash, handing over the change and doing this at the same time as flirting.

Color me impressed.

“You’re good at that.” I told him when he came back my way. I was nursing a tequila, but the taste wasn’t as nice as the first sip, so I mostly was stirring the black straw through the liquid. At that point when my stomach was refusing more liquor it’s a sure sign to get my ass home.

But I couldn’t face it.

Couldn’t face the letter terminating my tenancy in one short month because the building in the meat packing district I lived in had suddenly sold to a developer who was turning them into whatthefuckever I didn’t care what. I was going to be homeless on top of losing my job—because telling my boss where she could stick her demoted position wasn’t my greatest idea on the day my life fell apart. So, I not only burnt my bridge when I tossed that match, I smoked it to the ground.

No home.

No job.

And it’s the anniversary of my baby brother’s death.

I should be drunker than I am to deal with this because shit comes in threes.

“Good at what?” The Irish lilt, softer than a warm pillowcase straight from the dryer drifted through my ears and any other time I would have flirted outrageously with the hot bartender.

He’s just my type. Handsome and forgettable.

And I mean the bang his brains out type, not boyfriend material.

I don’t even know if I have a type for that since I’ve never done long term. Shocking. Not. It’s assumed all women want marriage right from high school. I went in the opposite direction as fast as I could and never once looked back.

Not since my freshman year of college have I tried being in a relationship and even then, it was hardly anything memorable.

Plus, the bastard cheated on me with no less than three cheerleaders I was friends with. I hope he gave them herpes. I hope those cheerleaders are fat with six brats hanging off each sagging tit.

I bet they’re happy though.

Am I happy? Debatable.

Maybe the tequila held the answer. I blinked looking down in to the glass. Nope, no answers there.

But quick flings with guys like the hot bartender? I used to think I was awesome at those.

Love ‘em and leave ‘em. Two weeks max had been my record for seeing the same guy. Leaving me less satisfied than ever.

God. I’m truly pitiful.

It might be the booze talking, but I felt cheap.

What the fuck was wrong with me?

The monosyllabic drum pounding through my temples answered to only one name and its tequila. That rancid whore.

I’m never drinking again.

There comes a time in every wild party girl’s life that the jig is up, and you have to admit you’re not having fun and haven’t in a long fucking time.

For me it was about two years ago.

But it’s easier to pretend you’re the soul of the party scene with the big hair, ruby red lips and loud personality than it is to admit why you’re not happy.

I went through the motions because while I did I could forget the reality of what my life really presented.

And that wasn’t much of anything.

A job I didn’t really like but was surprisingly great at with excellent money I couldn’t walk away from.

A circle of friends I didn’t let get too close to me.

And relationships? What were those?

I’d forgotten how to truly connect with another person.

I belatedly realized hot Irish barman was waiting on my answer. I tracked my gaze up his loose gray shirt over a white tee and keep on going up the strong jawline and piercing green eyes before I took a second look at his mahogany colored hair, shaggy in style. Perfect for hands to grip onto if—

But I felt nothing for that pretty face and it’s no point in pretending just to use him as a distraction.

I smiled and motioned to the crowd. “Handling a lot of people.”

He inclined his head with a twitch of a charming smirk and nope, I felt nothing.

I stewed on my seat and wondered how long I’d stay before I eventually had to go home and face the shit-storm life just crapped into my lap.

Maybe another hour.

After all I had a good sulk going.

No point in wasting it.

And my heart hurt.

I didn’t want to be known for being the woman with a string of one-night stands on her rap sheet because she was afraid of emotional intimacy.

I’m a serial dater. I lapped up any crumb of attention and do you know why?

Here it is. Get ready for it; I’m lonely.

India’s always good for a fast screw. Yeah, I overheard that mess on my way out of the office.

Any other day when I wasn’t holding my emotions together with duct tape I would have ripped shitface Dominic’s balls off in front of his tiny, little cackling friends. Asshole.

Was he right? Is that what people think about me? Fuck them. They can’t sex shame me. I’m so done with men though.

In the same vein I didn’t want to only be defined by my crippling anxiety either.

The chaotic stretch of island we’re all packed into didn’t afford me much shelter or peace on a night like tonight. Long stored grief was attacking my heart one hard guilt riddled thump after another.

I sat grasping my unwanted drink, with hockey fans cheering around me.

It’s always been easy to get lost in the heart of Manhattan.

The city that never sleeps packed to the rafters of people and all their own wants and needs. I could have moved anywhere after college, the choices were limitless, but I ended up right back here not far from my parent’s house because why? I didn’t want mom on her own in the grief we were trapped in.

And then when dad of the year took off suddenly one day because his grief was worse than everyone else’s apparently, there was no way I could leave mom.

Now I was stuck.

She refused to move into the city with me and being in the suburbs of Staten Island I would have died a slow, boring jam making death.

So, I existed in two worlds.

Belonging in neither.

Pathetic, right?

I’m twenty-six with the burden of everyone else’s problems on my plate and no one had a clue.

How I wish I really was the party girl I’m known for.

Good old India. Always up for a good time. Partying until dawn. Doing crazy things and hooking up with faceless guys.

That’s me.

I’m a closeted mess.

And I hated being me.

Okay. I don’t hate all of me.

I’m never going to shame myself for liking sex.

I like sex and I’ve liked sex with a lot of different men and women.

Some better than others.

I’m accomplished. I can get shit done on very little notice.

I’m reliable as a fucking mountain donkey carrying a back full of bricks.

My legs never buckled out from underneath me.

But emotionally? Mess dot com.

Most days I’m a contradiction to myself.

From who I outwardly portray to the anxiety peppered woman I truly am inside.

I’m like the duck.

Elegant as hell gliding his shit on top of the water, not a feather ruffled at all, just enjoying the shit out of his day.

But beneath the water his little legs are working madly just to stay afloat.

I can feel it now. Even as my brain swam drunkenly around its own intoxicated pond and the memories of things I’d rather forget started knocking on the door.

The anxiety was there waiting for the best opportunity to fuck me up.

My palms sweated.

And my breathing became irregular.

All I needed now was the deathly heavy sensation in my chest to make my head dizzy and we have the trifecta of an impending anxiety attack.

Oh, joy.

I tried to concentrate on the big TVs up above the bar.

Distract and refocus.

I drank to drown the pain, but the pain had learned to swim.

There’s so much shit crowding on my plate it’s insufferable to know which to deal with first.

Obviously, it needs to be the job.

Or my apartment.

Without either of those things I’m royally screwed.

I need a job to afford an apartment and I need an apartment because I’m not strong enough to be a bridge troll. Where would all my shoes go?

Suddenly I’m a mouth breather.

In and out I chugged air as the swell of panic rose.

God. Not here. I came out tonight for this very reason, so I could be surrounded in people and noise and commotion.

I couldn’t go into full blown anxious meltdown in an Irish bar full of fucking strangers watching hockey.

I’d rather die.

And isn’t that my motto in life; I’d rather die than let another human being see me being human with real human emotions.

I’m a fucking wreck.

I’m a god damn robot is what I truly am.

I locked so much away a long time ago that my storage key rusted, and I can no longer access it even if I wanted to free it.

“You okay, darling?” The barman asked and when I looked up his green eyes were masked in concern.

I think I smiled and nodded. “Oh, yeah. Just tired.”

I’m great at lying.

I wouldn’t be able to sleep for love nor money.

And especially not when I have two fat problems to worry over.

God, how laughable is this? I probably have twenty thousand buck’s worth of shoes in my closet and I’m contemplating where I could afford to live in a months’ time.

Where will I work now? I’ve been in advertising since I graduated college. It wasn’t something I wanted to do. I fancied myself in hotel management, but the job landed in my lap and I thought why not. I could do it for a year or so. Fast forward these years later.

I hated the job, but I liked the routine and focus of it.

Knock me off my routine and the swell of my worry became like a fucking tsunami.

“Looks to be you have company.” The bartender informed. My brow puckered confused. Until his gaze drew mine to the door and there he was.

Oh, fuck, shit.

He’d come

My text.

Suddenly the distraction I’d been looking for was gazing right back at me and my heart began hammering in a disjointed tempo inside my breast bone.

God. I’d just about forgotten that damn text.

 

India: Hey, mister sugar daddy shoe man, do you remember me? It’s India. We met one time in a café and you wanted to take care of me like a dirty old man. I’m in need of a white knight if you have ten minutes. I’m at O’Dooley’s.

 

He’s doing nothing but standing in the doorway.

I knew of man-spreading on the subway.

Is stand-spreading a thing?

He’s got to be at least 6 feet and more inches.

I’m desperate to ask if anyone had a tape measure so we could know the exact number of how gorgeous he was. I’d forgotten how lovely and big he was.

I clipped my ravenous gaze over his form.

A brown leather jacket I could tell would be well worn and soft to the touch, distressed jeans encased to his long legs, a white V-neck T-shirt and his ensemble was finished perfectly with scuffed Timberlands.

He was so casually fuckable.

His chin had the kind of scruff that made a woman weak in the knees and then I moved up to his hair and my fingers itched to thread through the dark locks. It was styled but messy enough to indicate he probably didn’t have a 200 bucks cut from his personal stylist.

Five minutes ago, I was done with men and now I’m slurping back drool before it could drip from my gaping mouth and hungry-eating eyes.

And just like that those low, intimate muscles between my legs tightened up in a fast clutch, my nipples turned to spikes beneath the thin cotton. Inside my shoes, all ten of my toes curled under.

His gray eyes—and I knew they were gray because I’d stared at them constantly when he was opposite me that day at brunch. The color magnetic—already trained on me, he’d watched me peruse him from top to toe.

I wouldn’t be unnerved by him.

No matter how utterly, devastatingly gorgeous he was.

My head swam as the alcohol coursed through me. It was hard to discern between fantasy and reality and the bar narrowed down to one man standing in the doorway watching me. My pulse thump-thump-thumped.

That stare. Holy god. It’s what intense was invented for.

He moved then.

Glided like a fucking Roman warrior parting the crowd with just his lean frame to get to me.

My brain too dazzled in internet shopping mogul Gray Ellison and watching the mechanical way his body shifted in alignment to get him from A to B that I’m overwhelmed now for a whole new reason.

And it has to do with the throbbing between my legs.

My god, could he hear my vagina humming?

Has walking ever been considered sexy before? Maybe in a Henry Cavill movie. Not real life. Not in a bar and not walking towards me.

Sexual longing jangled my bell and now it wouldn’t shut up.

Why the hell did I text him again?

He hadn’t replied, and I’d sagged a breath of relief that maybe I’d gotten the wrong number, or he was involved with someone and ignored it.

Oh, shit. What if he’s married? A lot could happen in a year. He could have a kid even!

I’m too drunk to rationally work through the logistics of why he came and if he’s entangled with a gorgeous brunette with legs up to her perfectly threaded eyebrows.

I have great sculpted brows, thank you very much. I paid enough for them from a little Turkish lady who almost always ripped off my skin.

My walloping heart nearly knocked me from the stool when he got closer.

I wouldn’t mind working up a good steam with him.

And then. Oh shit, Gray Ellison smiled from one side of his mouth.

Perfect fucking pillow soft lips and I felt it happen.

The crash and the tumble of my insides.

My belly turned and flopped over. A dead fish of lust.

One devastating smile and I was gone.

Reflexively my fingers grabbed the bar.

“Hello, sweetheart. Your message was better late than never. I heard you’re in need of a rescue.” He said just like that. A deep timber scratching over my skin making me warm and dizzy. A great bear growl from soft, pink lips surrounded in day old facial hair and I’m toast.

Gray Ellison with ten short words tied my tongue in knots and caused my clit to pulse.

Why the hell did I text him again?


 

 

PREORDER: https://amzn.to/2LZD7gQ ( you get Gray for a special price )

 

Taboo Love Duet

Exclusive – Chapter One: It Was Always Love

Happy Easter!

V. xxx


 

No one said dying was ever easy.

Like, it would be helpful if there was a leaflet on it in the doctor’s office.

Maybe in the subway.

It feels a lot like what the dictionary says; on the point of death.

Oh, yeah. I know I’m being Kardashian level of dramatic but with a baby in my belly and my gay best friend the baby daddy, not to mention running away from home with barely a clean pair of undies to my name. And what with the sudden influx of all day sickness I think I have a right to a minute of dramatic outburst.

“Hey, mama. When you’re done puking in there, do you want to brave the outside world and go for some lunch?” Called out my good friend India through her bathroom door.

I was currently camped at her luxury loft apartment in Manhattan’s meatpacking district and had been for the last four days while I got my fricking act together.

It was a lot of act to rally.

I was not a runner nor a confronter, falling somewhere in between, but here I was; hiding out and avoiding all messages on my phone.

I was being a chicken shit.

Part of me longed to switch my phone on and read the wall of messages I knew were on there from Noah. To listen to the full machine of voicemails he’d left me in the last few days. That part of me is so strong and I buried my phone in the bottom of my purse otherwise I’d crumble and see him before I’m ready to.

Before I’ve protected my soul against the feeling I have when I’m around him.

If he’s gonna tell me he’s back with Tom, the almighty overlord of the dickdouche’s as I like to call him, I need to have all my supportive walls in tact to hear that.

It won’t be easy.

It’ll destroy me.

And I’m back to feeling like I’m dying.

Around the same time my heart was crushed, the morning sickness descended on me like an unwelcome uncle at the Christmas party. I puked so hard that first morning I was sure I had an infestation of tapeworm inside me.

It was not pleasant.

It only seemed to worsen when I breathe so that wasn’t all bad…

I balanced on the side of India’s bathtub, my belly roiling with a slight case of the sweats, part due to the sickness attacking my system and part nervous expectation of having to bow down to the porcelain god any time now.

I don’t think my knees could take much more of me hurling myself onto the floor like I was a line-backer.

I recalled the horror stories from momma and her friends who talked of their morning sickness as though it was a monster overtaking their bodies and lasting for months.

God. I can’t deal with my Noah-torn erratic emotions plus this at the same time, it’s too big for one Southern woman, though my Aunt Sadie would call me a literal pussy if I dared admit I was broken over a man.

She was a card carrying man-hater after my uncle Cade was found to be cheating for ten long years with a woman from our local church.

One must give, and I know it’ll be my emotions.

I’ve already given it too much time.

What have I lost, really? A few good times in bed.

It was more than good, a tiny, slutty voice interjected inside my mind.

Yeah. I sighed. It was more than good.

That saying; the best sex ever wasn’t invented for nothing.

With Noah it was so true.

He not only rocked my body in ways I’d never experienced before, but we connected on a level that surpassed friendship.

We fucked with a single-minded need to extinguish and reconstruct.

Or at least, I thought we had.

Enter dickdouche Tom, handsome as he was sarcastic, Noah’s super-model ex from stage left to blow apart my confidence and now I don’t know what to think anymore.

I thought Noah was the one man on earth who would neither lie nor hurt me and in one night he’d done both.

I’m a coward for hiding out in a friend’s apartment.

But who wouldn’t engage defense mechanisms in my shoes?

I saw him with Tom.

They were close and intimate.

I don’t need to be a Sheldon Cooper to add up that math equation.

I shook my head of thoughts of Noah and him and rose to my feet.

It’s been more than twenty-two minutes since I last threw up, and I prayed it’s the last for the day. I can get through today if I knew food would stay on the inside of me.

Fortifying my lungs, I avoided the mirror as I swept my chin length poker-straight brown hair up into a bun. It’s lost most of the teal that dusted my tips. I liked to dye the ends different shades just because.

Maybe my next color should be blood red as a fuck you, Tom, and your gorgeous brown face and model pouty lips.

Ugh, I hate that guy.

He cheated on Noah, he doesn’t get a second turn to fuck him over again and I hate Noah for even giving him a chance at breathing the same air as him.

Noah was not a pushover. He’s not a guy to mess with.

He’s the king of Manhattan nightlife for a reason and that reason is he doesn’t suffer fools lightly. So, why in the sweet hell he’d allow Tom back into his world is beyond me.

I think at this point it’s more than just me being involved intimately with my gay-best-friend. And it’s turned ugly.

Cheating.

A horrible, sickening word.

But it’s there.

It’s real.

It crawled over my skin every night when I tried to sleep.

Was it real? Were we real at all?

Should I have left the way I did without giving him a chance to explain what I’d seen?

Probably not and it’s not permanent. Just until I can slide into a pair of apathetic pants to hear the news Noah was rekindling his affair with dickdouche and probably moving up North to buy a puppy farm with him and they want me to be godmother.

Mother.

God.

I could almost forget the baby in my belly when I’m submerged in my own misery. What kind of future momma does that even make me? I’ll be that mom who forgets to pick the kid up from school. I can see it now.

Frowning at my reflection, dark circles made my eyes look sunken into my cheeks, hollowness looked back at me. I’ve probably lost a pound or two, through no fault of mine not eating. What I eat makes a return visit and I’m constantly hungry/nauseous. A merry-go-round of misery.

I’m going to have a baby. I repeated it several times in my head.

I know how it happened. Not the sex part, we did enough of that, but even though I was taking the pill I was also sick with vertigo for a few days and like a dumbass with no brain cells worth counting, I’m the idiot female who didn’t put two and five together and realized I might need a condom instead for a few days since I’d been sick and threw up like Jabba the hut on steroids.

If this was a friend of mine, I’d tell her she deserved the morning sickness for her stupidity. It’s contraception 101 and I fell for it for a good dick.

The best dick.

Ugh, no thinking of Noah’s monster dick. A dick so good it was a long club of perfectness.

I’m ruined for all future dicks. I know that. No other dick could live up to Noah and the pleasure he gave me.

Pulling open the bathroom door I almost collided with India who was standing there looking at me speculatively. The same green-eyed look she’d given me for the past few days when I turned up unexpectedly on her doorstep and asked for a room. 2018 years later I am Mary at the Inn. Jesus. I’m a hot mess.

“What are you doing loitering out here?” I asked. “Did you think I was going to OD on toothpaste?”

She smiled at me. That pitying smile.

I told Indie most of it. My pitiful story. And fortunately for me my friend was not judgemental in any way. She listened to me tell her I’d been having sex with a gay man and didn’t once laugh.

Maybe because at the time I was crying so hard she might have been more concerned for her cream colored sofa being stained in my tears and snot.

 

“What happened?” she’d asked when I turned up on her doorstep.

“Noah happened.”

“Don’t say you had an argument with prince moody! You guys never fight, you’re like the quintessential boring old couple who don’t fuck.”

“Plot twist.” I told her with a straight face. “We fucked.”

“WHAT! Get the hell out of here! Are we talking about Noah the gay?”

“His name is Noah Fierro, as well you know. Do I say India with the huge tits?”

She shrugged. “I wouldn’t mind. They are big D’s. Now can we get back to how you banged Manhattan’s sexiest queer, with what I imagine to be the best-looking dick this side of the Hudson? And don’t leave a detail out. Girth? Length? How long can he last?”

 

Even now she hadn’t rolled her eyes and told me how dumb I’ve been.

“You didn’t answer on the lunch front. I was giving you two more minutes in there and then chancing seeing you vomit to check on you.”

“No more puking, thank god. I need to Google again, this can’t be natural. I might have a unique case of sickness. Like Princess Kate, but worse.”

India snorted and handed me a glass of water. Water I can handle. It’s cool and I gulped it down in three. “You just want to bone a prince.”

I had a King. I think.

“So, Lunch?” She asked again, and she could tell by the grimace I couldn’t face going outside.

“I should go home and get out of your hair.”

“Shut your whore mouth.” She said in India’s sweet way. It brought a smile to my otherwise morose face as I plonked on her designer sofa dressed in simple pink sweats and ‘I love cheese more than I love you’ socks. “I told you already, you can stay as long as you want to. You and my god baby.”

She’d claimed godmother status and I can’t really argue with it since she took me in off the streets.

Not really. I’ve got a perfectly great apartment I love but it so happened to be Noah’s building as well so for the time being while I’m being a crappy, emotional human being I’m at the mercy of India’s generosity.

“Aren’t I cramping your style? You haven’t had any overnight guests since I’ve been here.” Indie chuckled as she pushed her feet into a pair of tan leather boots that are so gorgeous I feel the pull towards them. Maybe I’ll live after all if I’m coveting footwear. It’s the first signs of life.

Indie was a willowy blonde with boobs and looked amazing in whatever she wore, casual or formal, like she’d been styled by someone really paying attention to details.

She’s an Instagram model without ten filters.

She’s both intimidating and an allure to either sex.

She’s also a self-confessed bitch with a takes no bullshit attitude. She’s had to be working in advertising, it’s cutthroat trying to climb cooperate ladders, so she told me.

Her hazel gaze snapped to me and for a second, I thought she was going to vault over the glass coffee table and throttle me.

India took sex … or lack thereof very seriously.

She’d filled my brain with so many sexcapades over the years I’m well versed on every chapter of the Karma Sutra and a few she pasted in herself.

Issuing a sigh, she bent to tie the boots. “No worries on that front, your vagina is getting more action with a gorgeous queer dick than mine is from anyone. Oh, woe.” I blinked with surprise. “And while we’re on that subject, I’m still waiting for specifics. I’ve been patient, Sena, haven’t I? I didn’t beg for explicit down to the millimeter measurements and durability charts of just how your hubby worked that fantastic dick of his. Like, is he an animal or a gentle lover? And can he go all night? Does he prefer to give than take?” She winked and if I were in better spirits I might have laughed.

As it was I could hardly bring a grin let alone give her what she wanted because thinking of Noah in any fashion, especially naked was making me gravely ill.

I missed him more than I’d miss a lung.

He’s my person.

My everything.

I can’t function without a heavy dose of Noah frequently.

He’s my drug of choice.

My happy and my all.

And I feel like I’m mourning him.

“There’s nothing to tell.” I found the leg of my pants extremely interesting. Fingers picked at a non-existent thread. I heard Indie snort and she came to sit down by me.

She nudged my shoulder with hers. I sensed she’s going to use her sympathetic poor Sena voice on me before she does.

I didn’t want her to be nice.

I didn’t want anyone to be nice for all my foolish ways.

I just wanted to be alone, so I could puke and cry and get my life together because I’m going to be a fucking mother whether I planned for it or not and the past days I haven’t been able to give it the proper head space it deserved.

And again, I felt like shit for not being mother of the year.

If this was my momma she’d have a nursery painted and the baby registered in a pre-kindergarten plus a college fund set up all while baking a plum cobbler.

I wished I was my momma.

“Sweet girl, you can lie to yourself all you want but you don’t fool me. Now tell me how fucking spectacular the sex was then I can feel okay about telling you he’s called me four times already.”

My head snapped up with shock and I flinched as if I’d been smacked.

Every neuron in my brain woke up at once like we hadn’t been thinking about him this whole time.

I’m suddenly desperate for any mention of him. Such an idiot. But that was the cold, hard truth. Just because my heart was hurting didn’t make my love for him any less.

It’s not out of the realm he’d call her and, yet my heart rate picked up until it stirred my blood. Not quite queasy but my belly rolled a little.

It’s like the tiny fetus was reminding me hey, momma, I’m here.

“W-what did he say?”

“So, no queer-dick specifics then? Fine.” She huffed good naturedly. “But I’m coming back to this, Sena, don’t think I won’t.” I accepted that she will.

“He said, and I quote;” She lowered her voice into what I assumed was meant to represent Noah’s gruffness. Again, if I were in a better mood I would have laughed at the imitation. “It’s Noah. Have you seen Sena? I told him sure. Don’t fret, my little prom queen, I didn’t let him know you’re here, but I wasn’t going to lie for a simple question, now if he’d asked if you were currently puking in my bathroom I would have said I hadn’t clapped eyes on you in ten years. He was stoic as always, but I could tell he wanted to grill me like I was a Russian spy.” She gave me another shoulder nudge, this time I met her gaze.

I could tell she felt sorry for me.

Why wouldn’t she? I would in her place.

I was a fool believing foolish things.

“Why don’t you just answer one of his calls?”

“I will.” I lied.

“Tonight?” I shook my head and looked away.

“At least let him know you’re not dead in the gutter somewhere. Don’t be cruel that way to him, babe.” Something in her voice stabbed my belly and I instantly felt shitty when I suddenly remembered India lost her brother in college, he went missing for days. India said it had been a really bad time. I tried to reach and hold her hand, but she smiled and shrugged me off before grabbing her jacket. She wouldn’t thank me for sympathy or reminding her of her brother.

“Okay, I will.” Not sure if I meant it.

“All I’m saying is, you’re punishing the man for a crime he doesn’t know he’s committed yet. Whether it’s true or not, you ran with your tail tucked between your legs and it’s not like you, Sena.”

I frowned.

Doesn’t it fricking suck when someone tells you the ugly truth. Ugh. Spit in my pickle juice and call me Doris, Ugh. I hated when someone said what I clearly didn’t want to hear.

“The Sena I know wouldn’t stand for a sexy black man moving in on her friendship with Noah. No way no how. Get your fucking boy-toy back. I’m down for a street fight, but after bagels. I’ll bring you food, you’ll eat.”

She grabbed her purse and left me on her couch contemplating if I wanted to watch Wendy Williams today or The View. I DVRed both so I’m spoiled for choice while I sulked in my unhappiness.

I could do some work. I have clients waiting on me.

For more than thirty minutes I sat holding my phone. The moment I switched it on it went nuts. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping.

Every text message Noah sent appeared on the locked screen.

None mention Tom. All showed concerned and wanted to know where I was. Some ranged from how he’d kill me if I didn’t get in touch to; Please, baby. Pick up the phone. Tell me where you are, I’ll come.

Baby. Baby. The endearment mocked since he’s only ever used it a few times before during sex.

I had zero control over the speed in which my heart accelerated.

I was an idiot clinging to hope.

There’s a few messages from momma but I’d wisely told them I was under a deadline so not to expect to hear from me.

I soaked up his words like they’re fresh air. I couldn’t help myself.

He’s a drug and I haven’t had a fix in days. I absorbed them in, taking them through the eyes and savored with my whole body.

Love wasn’t a choice for me.

It’s not even a conscious decision.

It happened and now I’m caught in its web.

Please, baby. Pick up the phone. Tell me where you are, I’ll come.  

Before I could censor my feelings, I thumbed out a message in the long text thread I have with Noah.

 

SouthernBelle: I’m fine.

 

Worst lie in history.

————

 

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