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First pages

Prologue

My mother had lost her heart a long time ago. My father learned that the hard way and now I was certain my cousin was going to as well.

As I stood in the hallway leading to her office I found myself hoping that Darron was right and that his own story would touch her. I hoped but I was very doubtful.

“Darron,” I stared at his reflection in the mirror he was using to straighten his tie. “please don’t do this. I have a bad feeling.”

Darron scoffed as he tasseled his mahogany brown hair with his fingers.

“It’s going to be fine Micah. She’s been in love before. She’ll understand my request.”

“No, she won’t.” I moved to stand beside the mirror. “We both know there’s only one way out of the family business. She’s not going to let you go any other way.”

“Micah,” He straightened and stood the same height as me. The smile he wore was full of hope and optimism. But no fear. He truly believed that Carol was going to let him walk away. “I have to do this. I can’t bring Lauren into our world. I can’t let her see the monster I was brought up to be. I love her and I want a normal life with her.”

“Mom’s not going to listen to a damn thing you say and you know it. She’s going to put a bullet in your head.”

My words didn’t faze him.

“Lauren’s worth the risk Micah. One day you’ll meet a woman who will make you understand why I’m doing this.”

The hell I would. There isn’t a woman alive that would push me to suicide.

The sound of her office door opening pulled my attention away from him. I took in a deep breath and straightened when I saw my older brother, Zane, step out. If there was anyone more intimidating than my brother I hadn’t met him yet. Zane stood at 6’ 7” and weighed in at 250 pounds of solid muscle and ruthlessness. Above his right eye was a deep scar that he still wants to kill me over. The only reason he didn’t the day I gave it to him was because my mother interfered. She was so proud of me for injuring my brother. Talk about dysfunctional.

“Mother is ready to see you now Darron.” He announced in his hard, emotionless tone.

When I turned back to my cousin I could’ve swore he was going to burst with excitement.

“Wish me luck Cousin.” He said with a firm slap to my shoulder.

Luck? He’s going to need more than luck. He was going to need a damn miracle.

Once Darron disappeared into her office Zane stepped into the doorway. He looked at me with a grin and a devious glint in his eyes as he closed the door.

My worry was so heavy that I collapsed against the pale blue wall. I knew I should’ve left but I just couldn’t. Instead I dropped my head, closed my eyes, and silently prayed.

When an all to familiar pop shattered the silence around me I damn near crumbled to my knees. I was right. There was no pleading with her. There was no compromising. There was only one way out and my cousin, my best friend, just found it.

The door opened and my head shot up. When my uncle appeared, my sadness was melted away by the rage that had consumed me. My blood ran scorching hot through my veins. My vison blurred and before I knew it I was running for him.

“You bastard!” Focused on nothing but him and how he needed to be laid next to his son I didn’t see my brother come out from behind him.

“He was your son!” I yelled just before Zane wrapped me up and pinned me face first against the wall.

“Calm down Micah.” He warned as I tried to break away.

“Fuck you Zane.” I spat at him, my cheek held firmly against the wall by his forearm. “Let me go or I’ll give you another scar.”

Zane leaned in.

“I want to see you try Boy.”

Ok. I slid my hands up the wall and with all the strength I possessed I shoved backwards. Zane apparently was not prepared for that because both of us tumbled to the floor. As quick as lightening I jackknifed to my feet and readied for his attack. One thing I had on my big brother was speed. I was ready before he was off his knees.

“Let’s go bitch.” I taunted as he rose to his feet.

A grin stretched his lips.

“You got it pussy.”

I planted my feet as he darted for me, ready for whatever he threw at me.

“Stop!” Rang out just before he threw the punch that I was ready to dodge.

Like a trained soldier, Zane instantly went straight as a board, hands at his side, and turned to our mother. I, on the other hand, didn’t let my defense down or take my eyes off my brother.

“Micah.” She said my name as she walked towards me but I still didn’t move.

“Micah Scott Winters, if you don’t look at me right now I’m going to lose my temper.”

“Lose it.” I dared her, still focused and ready. She’d just had my best friend killed. Wasn’t much more she could do to hurt me.

She stepped in front of me and before I knew it she slapped me across the face so hard my head whipped to the side.

With her index finger and thumb she grabbed my chin and forced me to look into her stunning blue eyes. My mother was definitely a looker. Hair that hung well past her shoulders in a chocolate cascade. Eyes that could mesmerize any man that looked into them. Slender, sun kissed, face complete with high cheek bones, pert nose, and full lips. She had the body of a dancer, lean and trim. Every time I looked at her I understood why my dad said it was love at first sight. Any man with taste would’ve fallen at her feet.

“When I tell you to look at me you do it. Do you understand?”

When I didn’t answer, she tightened her grip. I winced at the sting of her nails digging into my skin.

“Do you?” She asked again with a hard shake of my head.

“No!” I gripped her wrist and jerked her hand away from me. Then I took a couple of steps back. “No Mother. I don’t understand. I don’t understand why you had to kill him.” Then my eyes shot to my uncle. “Your only son David. Why didn’t you help him? Why didn’t you try to save him?”

“Because no one leaves the family Micah.”

My attention shot to the young woman standing next to my uncle. My younger sister, Madeline. Like my mother, she was amazingly beautiful with her long dark hair that now was pulled back in a tight ponytail, blue eyes that had the same mesmerizing effect as Mother’s, same facial structure and lean build. Looking at her was just like looking at pictures of my mother when she was her age.

“He just wanted a normal life Maddi. That’s it.”

“And that’s something I couldn’t let him have Micah.” My mother spoke up. “He knows all that we do. All that he’s done. I couldn’t just let him walk out of here knowing all he did.”

“You know what?” I had had enough. “Fuck all of you.”

I turned and started for the elevator. There was no dealing with these people. There was no reasoning with them. And worse than that, there was no escaping them. This was my life. My nightmare.

“Do you want me to go after him?” I heard my bitch brother ask.

Yeah Fucker. Come after me. I dare you.

“No.” My heartless mother answered. “Let him cool off and I’ll deal with him later.”

Deal with me? I entered the elevator and hit the button. Yeah, you can deal with me Bitch and you’ll find yourself right next to Darron.

I didn’t turn around until the elevator doors slid shut.

They killed him. Darron. My closest friend… My only friend was gone.

The thoughts and memories ran through my mind as I left the 20-story building and walked. I just walked and walked, hoping that maybe I could escape. Escape his death. Escape my family. Escape my life. I walked until my legs could barely move anymore and yet I knew I hadn’t escaped anything.

Exhausted and defeated I looked around to see that I was at a park about four miles from the building. Children ran and laughed, so carefree and completely oblivious to the evils that lurked in the world. I envied them as I walked past the playground. My childhood consisted of guns and fighting. I couldn’t recall one moment when I was able to slide down a slide or see how high I could swing.

Beyond the playground was a large pond. A walking track and several benches circled the body of water. I made my way to the first bench I spotted, stopping for a moment to allow a female jogger to pass.

As I sat I blocked out the world around me and stared out over the water.

What would it feel like to be free from all the pain? Free from all the violence? Free from all the fear?

I spotted a man and small boy off to my left. The man was teaching the boy how to skip rocks across the water and I found myself wondering what it would feel like to have a child of my own. To smile at him as the man was smiling at the boy. To feel the pride the man must be feeling as he congratulated the boy on skipping the rock. I’d always wondered what kind of father I would be but that is something I will never know. I vowed a long time ago that I would never bring a child into my world. I would never subject an innocent creation of mine to the life I’ve had to live.

“It’s peaceful out here.”

The familiar voice startled me but I wasn’t going to let him see that.

“What do you want?” I asked, only holding my temper back enough not to draw any attention.

My uncle lowered onto the bench.

“I know it’s hard for you to believe but I love my son.” He started. “If I had known his plan I would’ve done something to stop him. I would’ve convinced him to run.”

“Bullshit. You could’ve convinced her not to do it. She listens to you.”

“Not anymore.” He admitted. “I found that out when I tried to save your father.” When I turned to him he said, “And before you argue I did try to save him.”

Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. I don’t know. I was only 15 when David escorted him out of the building and I never saw him again.

“What do you want David?” He had to want something. Otherwise he would’ve waited until I came back to speak to me.

He shifted as if uncomfortable. “She’s ordered me to find Darron’s girl and take care of her.”

What? “Why?”

“Because she thinks Darron may have disclosed information that she shouldn’t know.”

“Not possible.” I shook my head. “If he loved her enough to face Carol he wouldn’t have been stupid enough to disclose anything that would get her hurt.”

“I tried to tell her that but she wouldn’t listen.” He turned to face me. “That woman is not my sister anymore. Hell, I don’t even think she’s human anymore.”

Agreed. “Why are you telling me all this?”

With a deep intake of air, he turned back to the water.

“Because I want you to run and take her with you.”

“What?” I couldn’t have heard him right.

He turned back to me, his expression blank but his eyes held deep sadness.

“I want you to leave Micah and take Lauren. I’ve already got someone working on all the necessary paperwork needed to change your identity and in your car, you will find plenty of money to keep you comfortable. I couldn’t save my boy,” His voice cracked with emotion. “but I can save you. I want you to leave and never look back. I’ll make sure she can never find you or Lauren.”

“How?”

He cut his eyes at me with a low grin. “I’m a master at making people disappear Micah. Trust me. She won’t even look for you.”

Was he going to fake my death or something?

I wanted to say no. I wanted to forget we’d ever had this conversation. But then I saw the man with the boy out of the corner of my eye. The man had his son resting on his shoulder. The two laughed as the man bounced around and made funny noises.

I wanted that. I wanted the chance that Darron died for. Love. Happiness. Normalcy. But most of all I just wanted to live.

“Ok. So how do we do this?”

 

Chapter 1

6 months later…

 

Skylar

 

"Damn!" I snapped as I fumbled the white coffee mug.

My nervousness was so overwhelming that even the simplest of tasks became a challenge. I struggled to button my dark purple shirt. I stumbled while I was putting on my black slacks and almost fell into my closet. I poked myself in the eye with my eyeliner, twice. I even had to apply my lipstick three times because the first two times it came out uneven.

I was a nervous wreck. So, nervous in fact that I was afraid to walk around in my favorite black heels for fear that I would either break my ankle or just fall flat on my face. Instead I slipped on my dark purple flats.

"Calm down Sweetheart." My dad came to my side and took the mug from me. “It’s just a job interview.” He stated as he began to fill it with coffee.

It wasn’t just a job interview. Not to me it wasn’t. It was the beginning of my life… And my ticket out of this house and away from my crazy ass mother.

“Did I thank you for getting me this interview?”

As a General Contractor, my dad knew several architects. It was only yesterday when he found out that Jon Mars, the architect he’d been working on the high school remodel with, was looking for a new assistant. When my father mentioned that I was fresh out of college Mr. Mars wanted to meet me.

“Yes.” A smile stretched his weather worn face as he handed me my cup. “About a thousand times.”

“Well,” I took my cup. “make it a thousand and one.”

After I took a much-needed sip I followed my dad to the dining room and lowered into one of the four cheery wood chairs. I sat my cup down for fear I would dump it down the front of my shirt and took a glance at my watch.

Wow. I still had almost an hour before I had to meet Mr. Mars. I didn’t realize I’d gotten ready so fast. Excitement. That was the only reason I could come up with for my punctuality. Normally I was either late or right on time, a problem I didn’t realize I had until I started driving myself to school my junior year.

Excited. Yes, I was. Extremely. So, excited that I’ve already started looking for apartments and calculating how much money I would need each month to pay the bills.

From the moment I walked back into my parents’ house I’d been planning my escape. My dad was cool but my mother… Well, she was a different story all together.

Intrusive, overbearing, meddlesome, nosey, bat shit crazy… That’s just a few words to describe her.

“Honey!”

Speak of the devil.

I glanced over to see my mother appear from the darkness of the hallway, fully dressed in a pair of jeans and a light pink blouse, her dark auburn waves pulled back into a tight ponytail.

“Did you hear that Joan put her house up for sale?”

Just barely 6 am and she already had gossip. Like I said, nosey.

“Joan across the street?” My father asked, completely baffled. Unlike my mother my father hardly knew anything that didn’t happen at work or in his own home.

“Of course.” She looked at him like he should’ve known who she was talking about.

“Bummer.” He said and went back to reading his newspaper.

So many times, I’d told him that newspapers were out dated and internet was the way to go but he just scoffed and said, ‘Nothing is better than a newspaper.’ I personally believe that the reason he won’t convert is because he has no clue how to pull up a website but that’s my little secret.

“Yeah, bummer.” She said as she made her a cup of coffee. “Apparently, she found out that Mark, her husband,” She clarified for my father. “has been having an affair with one of the ladies he works with. She told me last night that he had signed the house over to her but she didn’t want the damn thing. She was going to take the money from the sale and buy her a condo somewhere tropical.”

“Good for her.” My father replied from behind his newspaper. Mom didn’t catch on but I knew Dad hadn’t heard a damn thing she said.

“I hope no crazy people move in.” She joined us at the table.

Crazier than you? Not possible.

“I’m sure it will be fine Dear.” He assured her from behind his paper.

The room was silent but only for a moment.

“Oh Sky.” My mother perked up as she lowered her cup to the table. “There’s something I’ve been wanting to talk to you about.”

Oh, this can’t be good.

“Yesterday,” She continued. “I ran into Darlene; you know that runs the bakery.”

“Yes Mom. I know who Darlene is.” Jeez I haven’t been gone that long.

“Yes, well, she was telling me that her niece, Margo, met a really nice man on one of those on-line dating sites.”

Nope, time to go.

“Oh,” I gave my watch a quick glance. I still had about 45 minutes but there was no way in hell I was having this conversation right now… No, make that ever. “will you look at the time. I gotta go.” I quickly pushed to my feet, grabbed my coffee cup, and rushed to the kitchen.

“But I wanted to tell you that you should consider on-line dating.”

Not no, but hell no!

“We can talk about it later Mom.” I lied as I grabbed my keys and wallet off the counter.

After a kiss to her cheek and one to my dad’s head I darted out the door, thankful to be away from that conversation.

On-line dating. I rolled my eyes as I walked to my car. The woman must be trippin’. Does she have any idea what kind of crazies I have the chance of encountering on-line? Knowing my luck, I’d end up chatting with a stalker or a psychopathic killer.

Yep, that would so be me.

 

~~~

Micah

 

“Micah?”

My eyes narrowed on the screen of the laptop as a frustrated breath escaped my chest. How many times did I have to tell her?

“Mason. I’m Mason Summers and you are my sister, Miranda.”

“Sorry.” She said as she turned back to the window. I felt a twinge of guilt at her somber tone. This was hard on her, I understood. She’d been torn from her family and worse she’d lost the love of her life.

“I’m sorry Laruen.” I apologized. “We just need to get into our new roles. We can’t afford to screw up.”

She kept her focus on the world outside their 15th floor hotel room. I’d already admired the stunning view of the Gulf of Mexico this morning. So peaceful. So serene. And we were more than 2000 miles from the nightmare we ran from. This was where I wanted to be. This was where I wanted to start my new life.

“Are you sure this is where we should stop?”

I continued to scan through the local real estate site as I answered,

“Yes. We can’t run forever. And this place seems perfect. It’s not too big and not too small. And I know for a fact that Carol doesn’t have any connections anywhere around here. We should be safe.” Hopefully.

“Ok.” She replied on an unsure sigh. “I’m trusting you.”

Her words went straight to my heart. Before the night Darron was killed I’d never met her but she knew all about me. When I told her what was going on she didn’t hesitate to leave with me.

‘Darron trusted you and so I will too.’ She’d told me and I will do anything to keep from breaking that trust.

“Here. Come look.” I called to her when I spotted the reasonably priced 3 bedrooms, two bath home only about 50 miles from where we currently were.

She made her way from the window and took place behind me.

“Oh, that’s nice.” She said from over my shoulder as I clicked through the pictures.

“Yeah and the description states that it’s located in a quiet neighborhood.”

“People will say anything to sell something.” She laughed.

“Agreed but it’s worth checking out.”

I grabbed my phone from the table and dialed the number to the agent.

I didn’t wait long for a very pleasant female to answer. After scheduling a showing in an hour and a half I hung up and lifted my attention to Lauren.

“We’ve got an hour and a half. What do you say we go check out the area?”

“Can I drive?” Her green eyes lit up with hope that I was going to have to crush.

“Hell no.” I answered as I grabbed my keys. “No way I’m letting you drive my new baby.”

“Ugh.” She rolled her eyes. “What is it with men? It’s just a freaking car.”

As I laughed at her I wondered if this was what it was like to have a normal sibling. Maddi and I bickered a lot but usually knives ended up coming into play and one of us ended up seen Dr. Rob.

Ignoring her question that I really had no answer for I said,

“Come on.”

Then I walked out of the room.

Chapter 2

Skylar

 

“YYYEEESSSS!”

My excitement burst out of me the moment I was in my car.

“I got the job.” I sang as I bounced in my seat. “I got the job and I’m only weeks away from moving into my own apartment.”

I freaking owned that interview. When I arrived at the small, red brick building that housed the office of Mr. Mars (whom I’m not allowed to call ‘Mr. Mars’. He insists on ‘Jon’) he was waiting for me at the door.

In his younger days, I’m almost certain he was drop dead gorgeous because as an older man he was very handsome with his jet-black hair streaked with silver at the temples and his vibrant blue eyes.

“You must be Sky.” He said after I climbed out of my car. “You resemble your father a good bit.”

I laughed thinking, if you think I look like my dad you should see my brother.

After we shook hands he invited me into the building.

It was a small, simple office with taupe walls decorated with different framed designs of houses and buildings. The hardwood flooring was polished and didn’t have the slightest scratch. The furniture consisted of a small desk complete with computer, two worn wooden chairs placed in front of the desk, and a drafting table resting in the corner.

His office wasn’t as glamorous as I thought it was going to be but that didn’t sway me from wanting to work for him. I did my research.

Jon Mars was highly respected by his peers. ‘One of the best in the field.’ One man had said about him. ‘Jon possess a natural talent.’ Someone else had said. Those comments and many others made me even more excited, and nervous, about the position. To work with a man like that I was sure to make a name for myself in the field.

After we were seated he quietly studied my transcripts and portfolio of designs I had done in school.

“You have quite an eye for detail, Sky.” He complimented. “Your work is impressive.”

“Thank you but I still have much to learn.”

With a smile, he closed the folder and leaned back in his chair, his blue eyes studying me.

“I have a big work load ahead of me. I was just hired a few days ago to work on a new subdivision up north and I’m currently working on the high school with your father. Are you ready for long days and possibly weekends?”

“Yes.” I answered immediately.

On a laugh he said,

“I like your enthusiasm Sky.”

Then he pushed up out of his chair.

“Meet me at the high school Monday morning, 7 am.”

Stunned and uncertain I asked,

“I have the job?”

Again, he laughed. “Sure do and I’m looking forward to working with you.”

I was amazed I was able to hold my excitement in until I got into my car.

“I got the job.” I continued to sing as I weaved through highway traffic. “I got the…”

I glanced over at my phone that interrupted my celebration.

Another wave of excitement rushed through me when I saw my best friend, Jennel Roberts’ smiling image on the screen.

“Hey Jen. Guess what?”

“What?” Her voice filled my ear. “And then you’re going to have to ‘guess what’.”

“Ok. I got a job.”

“No shit? With your dad’s friend?”

“Yep. I’m so excited.”

“I’m excited for you. So how long before you leave your mom’s?”

“A month, hopefully.”

“Cool. Now, guess what?”

“What?”

“I’m showing the house across the street from your parents’.”

“No shit?”

“No shit. And I want you to go with me. You’ve lived in that neighborhood all your life. I figured it may help if I had you with me to answer questions and shit.”

I had to think for a second, uncertain if there was anything else I needed to do. Unpacked: check. Job interview: check. Nope, nothing I could think of that needed my urgent attention.

“Sure. I’ll go with you.”

“Cool. I’m right around the corner from your house.”

“K, I’m pulling into the driveway now. See you in a minute.”

After I disconnected the call I grabbed my wallet and slid out of my car. I looked down the road as I closed the door and caught sight of Jen’s black SUV turning onto my road. I leaned against the door, folded my arms across my chest, and waited.

Once she was parked in the empty driveway of the house across the street I pushed off the car and made my way toward her.

Jennel was the type of girl all other girls envied, including me. Beautiful was an understatement. Tight, glossy ebony curls sprang from her head and rested in a perfect mess atop her head. Her skin was a perfect blend of caramel and mocha. Her green eyes were her best feature. Vibrant, full of life, extraordinary. All that mixed with round cheeks, button nose, full lips, and curves a woman would pay good money for made her the most stunning woman I’d ever seen.

“Hey girl.” I greeted her with a hug at the end of the driveway of the empty house.

“Hey.” She returned the greeting over my shoulder.

After I released her I noticed something. Her eyes didn’t seem as bright. Her demeanor didn’t seem as perky. Something wasn’t right.

“What’s wrong?”

“Oh.” She laughed. “I’m just tired. I had a long night.”

“Really? What happened?”

“Mat and I broke up last night.”

I snapped back as if she’d slapped me. “Are you serious? I thought he was the one.”

“Hardly.” She snorted.

“Tell me.”

“I’m just tired of his lack of romance.” She shrugged. “I mean I knew he wasn’t all ‘candy and roses’ when we started dating but a little romance would’ve been nice.” She paused at the steps leading to the porch. “Do you know what he said last night? He said ‘Hey Jen. I’m bored. Let’s go fuck.’”

I almost lost it right then. I could just imagine the look on her face when he’d said that and it was funny as hell.

“Are you laughing at me?” She gasped and I shook my head, fighting back my laughter with all the will power I possessed.

“You are! You are laughing at me.”

That was it. I couldn’t hold it in any longer.

“I’m sorry Jen. I was just imagining what you must have looked like when he said that.”

“You’re such a bitch.” She rolled her eyes as she started up the steps. “Anyway.” She continued. “I told him that we were done and to get out of my apartment. He just wasn’t right for me.”

Ok, now I had to be serious for a moment.

“It wasn’t that he wasn’t right for you Jen. Let’s just be honest. He isn’t Colin.”

When her shoulders slumped, I knew I had hit the nail on the head. Ever since we were kids she’s been in love with my older brother.

“Jen, why don’t you just tell him you want to screw his brains out every moment of every day for the rest of your life and get it over with?”

On a gasp, she whirled on me.

“Seriously Sky. Would you ever say that to a man you liked?”

“You know I wouldn’t and I know you wouldn’t but you really should tell him. You’re never going to be happy until you do.”

“I… I can’t. I’ve tried and I choke up every time.”

I already knew that.

“Ok, well, maybe you should just flirt with him and see what happens.”

She shook her head, curls bouncing across her forehead.

“I can’t flirt with Colin. What if he doesn’t show any interest? That would crush me.”

“Ok… Well then, just talk to him. Ask him about work. You know how he loves to talk about cop stuff. You’re going to have to do something. Talk to him, flirt with him, tell him, or get over him.”

“Ok.” She agreed on a sigh. “I’ll try…again”

“Awesome. He should be over for dinner tonight. You’re going to join us.”

I had a feeling she was about to make up an excuse or something but she didn’t get the chance. The sound of an engine pulled our attention to the driveway.

A sleek silver car came to a stop behind Jen’s SUV.

“Oh, that should be him.”

Jen made her way down the steps to greet her newest client but I stayed put. I’m just here to answer questions about the area. I didn’t want to get in her way.

Oh, my sweet Lord. My eyes widened and I felt my mouth drop open at the gorgeous specimen that appeared from the driver’s side of the car.

I gapped in brazen awe as he approached Jen. Jen stood 5’ 6” and wore 5” heels and he still towered her by at least a foot. His hair was a striking mixture of brown and gold spiked in a haphazard style. As he shook hands with her I admired the colorless tattooed sleeve that traveled up his muscular, sun touched arm and disappeared under the black tee that did nothing to hide the immaculate build underneath. Tribal? Egyptian? Hell, I didn’t know. All I knew was that it was hot as hell.

All in all, I certainly wouldn’t mind living across the street from this scrumptious piece of eye candy.

My gaze was shattered when I spotted the pretty red head stroll up to his side.

Already taken. Figures.

I hid my disappointment behind a smile as the trio approached.

“Sky.” Jen bounded to my side. “This is Mason Summers and his sister Miranda.” Then she looked at Mr. Summers. “Mason, Miranda, this is my best friend, Skylar Mace. She lives right across the street,” She pointed to my house with a manicured finger. “and has lived there all her life. I thought she’d be the perfect person to answer any questions about the neighborhood you may have.”

Sister? Well, hell yeah. Now I could ogle without pissing anyone off.

“Skylar.” Miranda held a delicate hand out. “It’s nice to meet you.”

I put on my best smile as I accepted her hand. “You too.”

All eyes turned to Mason and suddenly I felt a bit uncomfortable. He was an absolute masterpiece up close but the way those crystal blue eyes stared at me was a bit unnerving… and exhilarating.

“Mason?”

When his sister nudged him with her elbow he blinked.

“I’m sorry.” He gave his head a sharp shake. “I must have zoned out.” The smile that formed as he extended his hand was by far the sexiest thing I’d ever seen. “It’s nice to meet you Skylar.”

I felt the heat of the innocent touch surge all through me, settling into a warm pool in my gut. His hand was rough, calloused and yet his touch was tender. I couldn’t help but wonder what those hands would feel like against my skin. The thought sent a shockwave of desire rippling through me.

“You too Mason.”


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

B.D. Bond (Brandy Bond) grew up surrounded by the beauty of the Mississippi Gulf Coast and her love for the coast has kept her there. A hopeless romantic at heart Romance has become her passion although she has dabbled in a few other genres. In 2012, she self-published her first romance, Love’s Design, on KDP. In 2013, she released her second, Fates’ Destiny. When she is not writing she is living out her own HEA with her husband and four children.

Q. When did you decide to become a writer?
A.
When I was younger I would jot down short stories in a journal but I never considered writing a novel. That was until about 7 years ago when a story came to me and I just had to put pen to paper (so to speak). Every since then I've dedicated every spare moment my stories.
Q. Why do you write?
A.
Because I love it. Pure enjoyment, plain and simple. It relaxes me and allows me to escape from my world. Plus, I love to tell a good story.
Q. Where can readers find out more about you?
A.
On facebook, B.D. Bond and they can follow me on twitter @Brandybond79

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Crucible Station
There's only one way to escape the city.
Pulse
Who will rise when civilization falls?