Sneak Peek: The First Score by Amie Knight

There was something about that first score, and not just on the football field.

The First Score, an all-new steamy and emotional new adult romance from Amie Knight is coming May 28th, and we have the FIRST peek!

Sneak Peek: 

“Thanks so much for taking her home, Hazel.” Ollie nudged me to get my attention and I turned to look at him, not having much choice in the matter now. I couldn’t be rude. It was a mistake. The green of his eyes was deeper today, less brown. I knew it was the jersey. It was always that way. A bead of sweat slid down the side of his face and he ran a hand through his hair like he always did. I knew it was a habit of his, just like I knew so many other things about him.

         “You owe me.” I tried lightening the mood like I had with Scarlett. I nudged his shoulder but only came into contact with a pad.    

         Dragging his bottom lip into his mouth, he raked his teeth over the fullness and his eyes heated. He leaned his face close to mine. “You name it and it’s yours, brat.”

         My face flamed and my mouth watered. Lord, he was a terrible flirt and by terrible I meant amazing. I swallowed the saliva pooling in my mouth and stepped back.

         “Cut it out, Olls. Quit giving her a hard time. She came all this way so your ass would have a way home tonight.” Scarlett attempted to save me.

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I loved all of life’s firsts, which was why I’d been saving mine for one girl, my older sister’s best friend—Hazel Jones.

She was tough and sarcastic with walls around her heart as tall as a football stadium, but I knew she was the one for me.

Desperate times called for desperate measures and I’d have done anything to make her mine. 

Like create a fake online persona. 

Lie about my age.

Pretend I wasn’t some naive virgin. 

And catfish the hell out of the love of my life.

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Sneak Peek: The Hunter (Boston Belles #1) by L.J. Shen

The Hunter, an all-new must-read standalone contemporary romance from USA Today bestselling author L.J. Shen is coming May 11th and we have your FIRST look!

“Sailor Brennan?” the man—not boy—asked flatly, his eyes raking me head to toe like I was a call girl he’d just opened his door for and discovered was not up to his standards.

I felt my body stiffening in defense and shook my head, ridding myself of the weird hold his looks had on me.

“Yeah.” I reared my head back so I could take more of him in, and also because I couldn’t tell if the need to head-butt him would arise. This guy was a complete stranger, after all. “Can I help you?”

“I’m Hunter Fitzpatrick.” He pointed at himself, his smirk a perfect, well-practiced half-moon with the right amount of teeth-to-dimple ratio.

I blinked at him, waiting for further explanation. “And…?” I frowned when it became obvious his statement was also meant to serve as some sort of clarification.

His eyes inched wider in surprise, but he soon arranged his features back into a flaccid expression and cleared his throat.

“Can we talk somewhere?”

“We are talking somewhere.” I took my AirPods out, dropping them into my front pocket. “Right here. And if you don’t tell me what it’s about, I’m afraid I’ll have to turn around, get into my car, and drive away.”

“I’m afraid I’ll have to block your way out of here, if you do that.” He dragged his fingers through his tresses, each golden hair submitting to the movement, like a gust of wind swiping a wheat field.

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Boston’s debauched elite is going up in flames, and it’s the Fitzpatrick family that set it on fire. 


I didn’t mean to star in a sex tape, okay?

It was just one of those unexplainable things. Like Stonehenge, Police Academy 2, and morning glory clouds.

It just happened.

Now my ball-busting father is sentencing me to six months of celibacy, sobriety, and morbid boredom under the roof of Boston’s nerdiest girl alive, Sailor Brennan.

The virginal archer is supposed to babysit my ass while I learn to take my place in Royal Pipelines, my family’s oil company.

Little does she know, that’s not the only pipe I’ll be laying…


I didn’t want this gig, okay?

But the deal was too sweet to walk away from.

I needed the public endorsement; Hunter needed a nanny.

Besides, what’s six months in the grand scheme of things?

It’s not like I’m in danger of falling in love with the appallingly gorgeous, charismatic gazillionaire who happens to be one of Boston’s most eligible bachelors.

No. I will remain immune to Hunter Fitzpatrick’s charm.

Even at the cost of losing everything I have.

Even at the cost of burning down his kingdom.

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Excerpt Reveal: Seduction (The Secret Billionaire Asher Christmas Duet #1) by Z.L. Arkadie

Keep reading for a sneak peek at Seduction (The Secret Billionaire Asher Christmas Duet book 1) by Z.L. Arkadie!

But first, pre-order your copy for April 30th:


Dr. Penina Ross learns that the stranger she shared a brief connection with the other day is a new surgeon at the hospital where she works. And now everybody wants to know who he is, and from what part of Heaven, the hunky and enigmatic angel fell.

But Penina knows, if she’s smart, she’ll stay far away from Dr. Jake Sparrow—if that’s even his real name. She has a habit of attracting and falling for liars and cheaters, and that’s exactly who the secretive Dr. Sparrow feels like to her.

However, at times she catches him staring at her from across the room, and when he does, her heart races like the wind. He’s so seductive, so yummy, which is why Penina can no longer resist him. Then, one day she discovers what he’s been hiding, and his secret hits closer to home than she could ever imagine.

From Chapter One:
Dr. Penina Ross

A tall drink of water walked out onto the stoop.

My brow furrowed and released as my gaze locked in on him. The more I advanced, the harder it was to look away. I’d never seen the guy before. All tenants in the building worked at the hospital in some capacity, so I’d seen just about everyone before but never him. I was drawn to his strong posture the most. Truly confident men always turned me on. I watched as he shook a cigarette out of a package, put the stick in his mouth, and lit it.

Our eyes met. At first, his glance was fleeting, but then he did a double take. I was breathless as his eyes roamed my face. My cheeks felt hot, and I nervously shifted my bag from one shoulder to the other. Why is he watching me that way? I waited for his gaze to release me, but the closer I got, the tighter it held me. I couldn’t look away from him either.

As I closed the gap between us, his looks took my breath away. He was unusually handsome. I wasn’t well versed in male celebrities since I barely had time to watch TV and couldn’t remember the last time I’d seen a movie, but I was certain that if he were an actor, his pale-blue eyes and sharp features would’ve made him a sex symbol.

Then I finished walking up the three steps that led to the entrance.

“Hi,” I said past my tight throat.

My nervousness made my fingers jerky as I punched in my code. The guy still hadn’t responded, although he had finally taken his eyes off me. He took another draw on his cigarette then smashed it out on a nearby planter.

The lock buzzed. He still hadn’t replied to my greeting, and I wished I could take it back.

“What an ass,” I muttered as I opened the door, determined to avoid the opposite sex forever or perhaps at least until men became better at being nicer and not picking my friends to fuck.

“Hello,” he said faintly just before I closed the door behind me.

About Z.L. Arkadie

Z.L. has been writing romance full-time since 2011, which has allowed her to amass quite a catalog of romance novels. She loves what she does, and as she’s evolved, so have her stories. Now, she’s focused on writing brooding, boss billionaire heroes, and the smart, plucky heroines they can’t live without. She has always loved writing great, intense heroes that readers can’t help but fall in love with.

You can get in touch with her at

Find Z.L. Arkadie online!

Sneak Peek: The Kingmaker (All The King’s Men Duet #1) by Kennedy Ryan


“A dazzling, thought-provoking, layered romance that will keep you on the edge of your seat. A round of applause for one of the best books of 2019.”

— L.J. Shen, USA Today bestselling author

All The King’s Men Duet, an all-new powerful and emotional duet from RITA ® Award winning author Kennedy Ryan, is coming October 28th, and we have the first sneak peek!


Power. Passion. Betrayal.

RITA® Award-winning author Kennedy Ryan delivers the epic first installment of the All the King’s Men Duet.

Raised to rule, bred to lead and weaned on a diet of ruthless ambition. In a world of haves and have nots, my family has it all, and I want nothing to do with it.

My path takes me far from home and paints me as the black sheep. At odds with my father, I’m determined to build my own empire. I have rules, but Lennix Hunter is the exception to every one of them. From the moment we meet, something sparks between us. But my family stole from hers and my father is the man she hates most. I lied to have her, and would do anything to keep her. Though she tries to hate me, too, the inexorable pull between us will not be denied.

And neither will I.

Sneak Peek from The Kingmaker

A fat raindrop plops on my nose, sliding down the bridge, followed by another and then a wet succession.

“Aw, hell.” I pull my jacket up on my elbows to provide some shelter for the two of us, but the rain trebles, more coming down and faster.

“We still have four blocks before my place,” I say. “Sorry, but the weather is unpredictable this time of year.”

Rain has already started molding the thin dress to her body, faithfully hugging every swell and curve. A hard shiver runs through her and her teeth chatter.

“Come on.” I grab her hand and duck into an alleyway. An overhang provides a tiny patch of dry ground and shelter. “We may be able to wait it out. These showers sprout up and pass over like they never happened.”

We’re sandwiched between two buildings and there is barely any light, but the moonlight finds her, sculpting shadows beneath her cheekbones and etching dark crescents of her lowered lashes. The rain has smeared her mascara, and water-slicked hair flattens to her head. She should look bedraggled, but she manages to be the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen.

I bend, tentative at first, even after last night. Even after making love to her again this morning when I chased her up the stairs. I approach slowly, giving her the chance to refuse, but she doesn’t. She meets me, eyes open, lips eager, hands bunched in my wet hair. It’s a freshwater kiss, made of rain and passion.

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Releasing October 28th


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Excerpt Reveal: All Grown Up by Vi Keeland

Excited about Vi Keeland’s upcoming release, All Grown Up?

Check out this SNEAK PEEK

Eve’s face flashed on the screen, and I swiped to answer.

“Give me all the details.”

I shook my head repeatedly, even though she couldn’t see me. “It was horrible.”

“What happened? What did the bastard do to you? I’ll cut his balls off.”

Eve’s response made me smile for the first time since I’d laid eyes on my date. “No. It wasn’t that kind of horrible. He was a perfect gentleman.”


“Very sweet and funny, too.”

“Sounds awful,” she said sarcastically.

“And gorgeous.”

“The balls on him.”

“That’s not the worst part.”

“Let’s see…he’s young, gorgeous, sweet, and funny. What could be worse than that? He’s hung like a horse?”

“I wouldn’t know. And you know why I don’t know that?”

“Because you’re an uptight prude who hasn’t been laid in years?”

“That might be true. But the larger problem is that he is one of Ryan’s friends.”

Eve cackled. “That’s not a problem, that’s fantastic! Bang his brains out and send him to play golf with your ex. Let him eat his heart out when he realizes what he lost.”

“Ummm…Eve, I wasn’t talking about my ex, Ryan. I was talking about my son.”

“I’ll be over in twenty minutes.”


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Please note: There will not be an Amazon ebook pre-order, but it will be available on Amazon on release day.


Vi Keeland

Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author. With millions of books sold, her titles have appeared in over a hundred Bestseller lists and are currently translated in two-dozen languages. She resides in New York with her husband and their three children where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.

Sneak Peek of The Naked Truth by Vi Keeland

The Naked Truth Sneak Peek teaser





The Naked Truth Excerpt Reveal Banner

“May I get you something to drink while you wait for the rest of your party?” the waiter asked.

I would normally wait to see what the client did and follow his lead on alcohol. But tonight was not the norm.

I rubbed at my stiff neck. “I’ll take a vodka cranberry, please.”

I hoped it would help calm my nerves and release some of the tension in my jaw before I gave myself a full-blown headache. Taking out my phone, I started to scroll through emails to distract myself while waiting for my drink and dinner companion.

My head whipped up at the sound of Gray’s voice behind me. “Sorry I’m late.”

My heart unexpectedly fluttered, and I fought against the feeling of excitement. “Are you really? Because I get the sense you don’t have any manners after the way you interrupted me a million times today.”

He completely ignored my attitude as he took the seat across from me. “Traffic is a bitch getting downtown at this time. Next time we’ll have dinner at my place.”

“There won’t be a next time.”

Gray’s mouth curved into a smug smile as he snagged my gaze. “Sure there will. There’ll be plenty of next times. And eventually you’ll stop pretending you don’t enjoy my company.”

I hated that my body reacted to him. Right from the very start, we’d had a crazy chemistry between us that was difficult to dull.

I sighed. “What are you doing, Gray? Why did you come to my firm?”

He lifted the cloth napkin in front of him and laid it across his lap. “Isn’t that obvious? I need new legal representation.”

“At my firm? And you’d prefer that representation come from an associate instead of my boss’s boss—the head of our securities division? Or even from Pittman, who would gladly hold your hand and provide you whatever legal advice you need from his fifty-plus years of experience?”

“Loyalty is important to me. I want someone I can trust with my business.”

“And you’ve decided that’s me? An associate with five years experience who just got off probation with the Bar Association for violating attorney-client privilege?”

The waiter arrived with my drink. “Here you go, ma’am.” He turned to Gray. “May I get you something to drink? Or would you like to wait until the last of your party joins you this evening?”

“It’s just the two of us. I’ll have a Macallan, neat, please.”

“Coming right up.” The waiter walked around to the other side of the table and started to remove the third place setting.

I put my hand out, stopping him. “We actually do have another party coming, so you can leave that.”

“Very well.” He nodded.

Gray waited until the waiter was out of earshot. “I didn’t invite anyone else to dinner.”

I sipped my drink and offered a saccharine-sweet fake smile. “I did. Figured an important client like you should have more than one attorney to answer his questions.”

Just as I set down my glass, I saw the other man I was waiting for enter the restaurant. He scanned the room, looking for me, so I held up my hand and waved.

“Perfect timing. There’s Oliver now.”

Gray glanced at the man heading toward us and back to me. Instead of being pissed off, the jerk was amused. “That’s cute. You invited a chaperone because you don’t trust yourself with me.”

We hope you enjoyed this sneak peek of THE NAKED TRUTH.

The Naked Truth by Vi Keeland


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Excerpt Reveal: Mister Tonight by Kendall Ryan





From New York Times bestselling author Kendall Ryan comes a standalone romance about a swoony single dad and the new neighbor he falls for.

Last night was the most embarrassing night of my life.

I was THAT girl.

You know, the highly intoxicated chick celebrating her thirtieth with her two best friends—the ones who are happily married. And the more I drank, the more I wanted to do something reckless to celebrate.

By reckless, I meant the sexy and alluring man dressed in a business suit standing near the bar. You know his type—tall, dark, and handsome. I was sure he was out of my league, but I’d had just enough alcohol that things like that no longer seemed to matter. I’m not fat, mind you, but you can tell I like French fries, so there’s that.

He took me home and I enjoyed the hottest birthday sex of my life, well until it came to a screeching, and rather unwelcome halt.

There’s nothing quite like being interrupted mid-ride with a little voice asking:

“What are you doing to my daddy?”

Just kill me now…… or so I thought.

Come to find out the man I rode like a bull at the rodeo is my new landlord.






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Casual flings didn’t tend to handle the whole single-dad thing well. Single moms, on the other hand, fucking loved it. The idea of a man devoted to his kid had them panting for days. But casual, no-strings hookups? To them, me being a dad screamed one of two things: I was either an irresponsible asshole who couldn’t properly wrap it up, or I was a total commitment addict trying to lure them in with my adorable four-year-old child in need of a new mama. Either way, it usually didn’t go over well. But so far, Kate was handling it fine.

Then she crossed the room toward me, and a single thought pervaded my brain.

Fuck, she’s sexy.

All those curves and her throaty laugh, coupled with her confidence? I was a total sucker for a confident woman who knew what she wanted.

“Happy birthday,” I whispered, placing my hands on her waist and drawing her in close.

Just because this would most likely be a one-time thing didn’t mean I wanted to rush through it. Quite the opposite, actually. I wanted to savor and enjoy every minute of this. Starting with the perfect kiss.

“It’s almost midnight,” she murmured, her lips just inches from mine.

Placing one hand on her cheek, I guided her mouth to mine, sealing my lips over hers in a slow, soft kiss.

She responded perfectly, opening her mouth in a silent invitation for my tongue to slide against hers. My hands found those curves wrapped under that black fuck-me dress I’d been admiring, and God, she felt even better under my palms than I could have imagined. Soft and warm and so inviting.

I pressed one more slow kiss to her lips and pulled back to study her reaction. I rarely did this kind of thing. Having her here was surreal . . . and really fucking turning me on, knowing what was probably about to happen.

“Can I get you something to drink?” I asked, slipping my hand around her waist. If she’d changed her mind or wanted to slow things down, I wanted her to know that was fine too.

“I can think of other things I’d rather be doing with my mouth,” she replied, her voice low and sultry as she ran her fingertips over my chest.

God, I love a woman who knows what she wants.






A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of more than two dozen titles, Kendall Ryan has sold over 1.5 million books and her books have been translated into several languages in countries around the world. She’s a traditionally published author with Simon & Schuster and Harper Collins UK, as well as an independently published author. Since she first began self-publishing in 2012, she’s appeared at #1 on Barnes & Noble and iBooks charts around the world. Her books have also appeared on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists more than three dozen times. Ryan has been featured in such publications as USA Today, Newsweek, and InTouch Magazine.

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Cover Reveal | Excerpt Reveal | Sneak Peek: Crazy Sexy Love (A Dirty Dicks Novel) by K.L. Grayson

Title: Crazy Sexy Love
A Dirty Dicks Novel
Author: K.L. Grayson
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Cover Design: Kari March Designs
Release Date: March 21, 2018
Three-time world champion bull rider Rhett Allen has never been afraid to get his hands dirty. Hard work, sweat, and determination have gotten him where he is today—and that’s holed up in a hospital room, wondering how he let that damn bull buck him off. He’s also wondering why he thought it was a good idea to let his twin brother talk him into returning home to heal.
Rhett has a million reasons to come home to Heaven, Texas, and only one reason to stay away. That reason comes in the form of a sweet and feisty girl who stole his heart long before he ever thought to give it away. The only problem…that girl has turned into a stunning woman.
Monroe Gallagher is downright sexy with more curves than he has notches in his bed post. It’s been six years since he’s seen her, six years since he’s felt any form of peace, and six years since she gripped his heart in her delicate little hands and squeezed the life out of it. The longer he’s in Heaven, the more he starts to realize that the heart she took from him—the one she crushed into a million pieces—she also never gave back.

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$2.99 for a limited time


Early Reviews

KL Grayson’s writing is intoxicating. She effortlessly sweeps you away into a world of love, humor and tenderness. I love her!” – New York Times Bestselling Author, Kristen Proby

KL Grayson delivers with an emotional second chance romance with laugh out loud poignant moments to capture every type of reader.” – New York Times Bestselling Author, Heidi McLaughlin
Crazy Sexy Love is KL Grayson’s best work to date. Plan to fall helplessly in love with this swoony cowboy and his first love. 10 + stars!” – Rebecca Shea, USA Today Bestselling Author

“You getting on the bull?” Linc asks.
I look at Rhett, unsure who his buddy is talking to. I point to myself. “Me?”
“Yeah.” Linc laughs. “Cheryl is pretty easy. She won’t hurt you too bad.”
“Who is Cheryl?”
“The mechanical bull,” Linc answers, pointing to the opposite side of the bar.
Sure enough, there’s a large doorway, leading into another room.
“If you’re getting on, I suggest you do it before you eat your dinner.”
“She’s not getting on,” Rhett says, stealing a bite of my cake.
I had no intention of getting on Cheryl, but the way Rhett brushed it off makes me want to.
“You don’t think I can handle it?”
Rhett’s eyebrows lift. “I didn’t say that.”
“You were thinking it.”
“Uh-oh,” Linc mumbles.
“That’s not what I was thinking.”
“You dismissed the idea awful quickly.”
I smile as Rhett studies me, daring him to tell me I can’t do it.
“Fine.” Dropping his fork on the plate, he leans back in his seat. “Do it.”
“I will.” I take another bite of cheesecake and set Rhett’s fork on the opposite side of the table, where he can’t reach it.
“Hey, I want another bite.”
“Sorry, I don’t share my cake with people who don’t believe in my riding abilities.”
“Oh, I believe in your riding abilities, sweetheart,” he says, his voice dropping low.
My cheeks heat, and Linc shows Rhett a knowing smile.
“Move.” I scoot toward Rhett, shoving him out of the booth.
Linc tosses his napkin on the table. “This is going to be great.”
“Mo, come on,” Rhett chides. “You don’t have to do this. I don’t want you to get hurt, sweetheart.”
I whirl on him. “Well, now maybe you know how I feel. Only when you get on a bull, your life is in danger. Mine, not so much.”
His hand locks on my elbow as I try to walk away. “Okay, point made—although it’s entirely different. You shouldn’t risk getting hurt. You have your dad to take care of. He needs you to come home in one piece.”
“And I need you to come home in one piece. It isn’t just you anymore, Rhett. I’m your who, remember? We’re a we now, and one of these days you’re going to have to accept that. I feel like you’re waiting for me to walk away or do something to mess this up, but that’s not going to happen. I’m in this for the long haul, whether you get back on a bull or not.”
“Wait a minute, I’m lost. She’s your who?” Linc says.
“I’ll explain later,” Rhett mumbles.
I turn around and walk toward the back room. Sure as shit, there’s Cheryl, a big, black mechanical bull sitting in the middle of the room. She’s surround by ropes, and the floor beneath her is covered in mats. Several tables sit off to the side, a few of them occupied.
I march up to the man with the Broken Boot shirt on. “I want to ride Cheryl.”
“You do, huh?”
Rhett and Linc step up behind me, and Rhett reaches around me to shake the guy’s hand.
“Hey, Jimmy.”
“Hey, Rhett. How are ya? How’s the shoulder?”
“It’s good. I’ll be heading back to work soon. Just have to wrap up a few loose ends.”
I’m guessing those loose ends are me.
“This your girl?” Jimmy asks.
“Yeah.” Rhett smiles fondly at me.
“You okay with her getting on Cheryl?”
“Not at all, but I don’t have much of a say.”
“Do we ever? Damn stubborn women do whatever they want,” Jimmy says, nodding toward Cheryl.
“I could say the same about men.” I look up at Rhett, a hand on my jutted hip.
Jimmy lets out a laugh. “I like you, sugar. Follow me.”

Author Bio
K.L. Grayson resides in a small town outside of St. Louis, MO.  She is entertained daily by her extraordinary husband, who will forever inspire every good quality she writes in a man.  Her entire life rests in the palms of six dirty little hands, and when the day is over and those pint-sized cherubs have been washed and tucked into bed, you can find her typing away furiously on her computer. She has a love for alpha-males, brownies, reading, tattoos, sunglasses, and happy endings…and not particularly in that order.


Sneak Peek: Montana Rescue (Sleeper SEALs Book 6) by Elle James


November 7, 2017

One week early!!!

Available for Preorder!

Amazon | Amazon UK | Nook |Kobo | IBooks | GooglePlay

Montana Rescue is part of the BROTHERHOOD PROTECTORS Series. It is also in the “Sleeper SEAL” connected series. Each book can be read as a stand-alone. They do not have cliffhanger endings.

The Sleeper SEALs are former U.S. Navy SEALs recruited by a new CIA counter-terror division to handle solo dark ops missions to combat terrorism on U.S. soil

Plagued by survivor’s guilt and a bad knee, SEAL “Mad Dog” Maddox left the Navy and buried himself in a mountain cabin in Colorado where the only creatures he hunts now are those he puts on his table. Slowly going out of his mind with boredom, he’s on the verge of throwing himself off a cliff when an old friend, his former commander gives him a reason to live. His mission: Team with special CIA operative and assassin to reveal a terrorist on home soil.

Raised by her father in the Crazy Mountains of Montana, Jolie Richards learned to fire guns before she learned to do her hair. When her father was killed by a careless hunter, Jolie joined the CIA to get as far away from Montana and the emptiness of a home without her father. Her skills as an expert marksman land her as an assassin. When she kills one of a pair of brothers radicalized into ISIS, she becomes the target. In order to flush out the ISIS threat, she sets herself up as bait, but takes him to familiar ground in the Crazy Mountains. Used to working alone, she finds she’s been assigned a partner. She just hopes he stays out of the way of her accomplishing her mission.

Together Mad Dog and Jolie team with the Brotherhood Protectors, a protection agency comprised of former military members, to expose their enemy before he can kill more innocents.


Chapter 1

Sleep was overrated. At least, that’s what Caleb “Mad Dog” Maddox told himself as he paced the front porch of the mountain cabin, staring up at the stars in the sky. No street or porch lights marred the inky expanse, allowing the stars to twinkle unchallenged in the heavens over his little slice of hell in the Colorado Rockies.

Not that Colorado was hell. It didn’t matter where Mad Dog landed. If it wasn’t back with his Navy SEAL unit, fighting the good fight, it was hell.

He sat on the porch steps and rubbed at his sore knee, cursing the doctors who’d medically retired him from active duty before he could rain fire and destruction on the people who’d shot down his SEAL team’s helicopter, ending his career and, more importantly, ending Frito’s life.

Frito, Juan Federico Hernandez, had been one of the newest SEALs on the team. The mission that ended it all was Frito’s fifth and final.

Mad Dog couldn’t complain too loudly about being kicked off the team when he was still alive and he didn’t have a family depending on him. Frito had left behind a young wife and a baby girl. And he’d left behind memories of his incredible capabilities, loyalty and friendship in Mad Dog’s mind. Most of all, he’d left behind the memory of his last minutes, before the life was crushed from his body.

They’d completed a secret mission in Syria, targeting a high-profile ISIS leader. Oh, they’d killed their target, decapitating the head of one of the ISIS snakes leading their followers to rape, pillage and burn—tactics they employed against the poor, defenseless people of Syria.

They’d made the hit and were on the helicopter during the extraction portion of the operation, when some bastard of an enemy fighter plugged them with an RPG. The round hit the tail of the helicopter, causing it to spiral toward the earth, flinging unsecured men out of the fuselage like so much confetti.

Mad Dog had twisted his hands into a nearby harness and held onto Frito, but the centrifugal force pulled the man out of his grip and flung him to the ground. Mad Dog lost his grip on the harness and slipped out as well, right before the helicopter landed. His fall was a mere seven or eight feet. Frito’s had been from ten or twelve. The height of the fall didn’t matter. The helicopter crashed down on top of Frito.

Whether he’d died in the fall or when the helicopter’s wheel planted fully on his chest, the man was dead. Nothing Mad Dog could do would bring him back.

What if he’d held on just a few seconds longer? What if he’d let Frito climb into the helicopter first? What if he’d found his friend Ronin sooner and gotten him on board quicker? Would that have given Frito time to get in, get harnessed and stay alive?

Questions like these served no purpose, but he lived with them every time he closed his eyes at night. Not one of the what-if scenarios running through Mad Dog’s mind changed the outcome.

Which led to more sleepless nights than he could count.

He’d come to Colorado after talking to his former teammate, Boomer. When Boomer had heard about Mad Dog’s situation, he’d offered him the use of a friend’s cabin in the Rocky Mountains.

The cabin’s owner, Joseph “Kujo” Kuntz, had landed a job with the same folks Boomer worked for, a company headed by former Navy SEAL, Hank Patterson. Mad Dog remembered Hank. He’d worked with Hank when he’d first been assigned to SEAL Team 10.

Hank had left the Navy to help his father on his ranch in Montana and ended up establishing a personal security group of former Special Ops guys.

Mad Dog didn’t dig too deeply into what kind of jobs Boomer and Kujo did or what their missions were. Frankly, he didn’t care. Nothing mattered anymore. His life was irrelevant. Being a SEAL had been everything to him. He’d gone from a punk kid on the streets of Houston to a respected member of an elite group of fighters. Now, he’d lost everything.

Who would have thought the punk-ass teen with a chip on his shoulder would have made something of his life? Granted, he might not have become a SEAL if he hadn’t nearly killed a man.

One of his old friends died of an overdose on some dirty heroine. Mad Dog had chased down the drug dealer and beat the shit out of him, nearly killing the guy.

The drug dealer got off with a light sentence, some community service or some other bullshit like that. But the judge had looked Mad Dog square in the eye and told him he had two choices—go to jail for assault and battery or join the military where he could put his fighting skills to better use.

Mad Dog chose to join the Navy rather than go to jail. But he had his father partly to thank for giving him the drive to succeed. When the judge had his final say, Mad Dog’s father snorted and said, “That kid won’t ever amount to much.”

Yeah, he hadn’t gotten along with his father. All the man did for him was provide a roof over his head and the occasional food to fill his belly. No love had been lost between them.

Mad Dog’s mother had left them when he was eight years old. She was probably tired of the verbal and physical abuse her husband heaped on her. Mad Dog didn’t blame her for leaving, but he hated her for not taking him with her.

With hate in his heart, no family to go home to and a desire to prove his father wrong, Mad Dog entered the military, worked his ass off and earned a spot in BUD/S training to become a SEAL.

It was during training that he’d learned some hard lessons about teamwork and looking out for your buddy. Out of pure cussedness, he’d suffered through the worst of the worst to become one of the best of the best.

Unfortunately, his father died halfway through Mad Dog’s BUD/S training. He’d never had the satisfaction of showing his father how wrong he was.

The man had died how Mad Dog always imagined he would—when his trailer caught fire. His father had been asleep in his ratty recliner with beer cans strewn across the floor. The police report stated they suspected alcohol was involved. No kidding. Frank Maddox was a horrible drunk.

He hadn’t felt much of anything upon the news of his father’s death. The cadre at BUD/S offered to let him go home for the funeral. Mad Dog said hell no. He had no love for the man whose only gift to him had been the gift of life. And he sure as hell wasn’t going to start the BUD/S training all over from scratch. No fucking way. He’d made it through Hell Week by then. No sane person went through Hell Week twice, if he could help it.

Upon graduation from BUD/S, he’d been assigned to a SEAL team. Not only had he proven his father wrong, he’d finally found people he could call his family. Through some pretty hairy missions, he’d bonded with his teammates.

He’d do anything for them, and they always had his back. They were the brothers he never had growing up, the family he’d always longed for.

Now he had none.

Sometimes, he wished he had been the one crushed beneath the helicopter instead of Frito.

The sun edged up over the horizon, spilling liquid gold across the mountains and warming the chill in the air. The beauty was not lost on Mad Dog. He’d always wanted to live in the mountains, away from the noise and smells of Houston, the traffic, hordes of people and the oil refineries. But he hadn’t pictured being alone in the mountains.

After joining SEAL Team 10, he’d started thinking about having a real family, like what Frito had. A good woman to share his life with, to be there when he came home. Why not? His buddies on the team had succumbed to love. Mad Dog had begun to believe it could happen to him.

Until his career ended with one rocket-propelled grenade hitting the helicopter he flew inside.

Mad Dog pushed to his feet and walked barefoot across the moss-covered ground to a rocky ledge not far from the cabin. He’d spent many days and nights standing there, contemplating what was left of his life. Today, he contemplated how long it would take for him to fall from the top of the cliff to the bottom two-hundred and fifty feet below.

He was tired. Tired of the boredom, tired of the guilt and tired of being alone. Every day was just like the last. With no purpose in his life, what was the use of living? No one relied on him to help out in a tight situation. His team continued on, without him. They didn’t need a SEAL with a bum leg. Once a SEAL, always a SEAL… Ha!

He stared down at the jagged boulders. Ending it here would prove what? That his father was right after all? That he’d never amount to much? That all the sweat, pain and hard work he’d put into becoming a SEAL hadn’t accomplished a fucking thing?

Mad Dog took one step, then another, toward the cliff’s edge.

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