Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Becoming A Vincent: The Wild Ones - C.M. Owens - Release Blitz


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Becoming A Vincent, Book 1 in a brand new series, The Wild Ones from C.M. Owens is now live !!!

#NewRelease #TheWildOnes #CMOwens #BookSmackedAuthor
#BecauseBeards #CantTameAWildOne




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When you live in a place where “turbo speed” internet is a slight step above dial-up, men carry on nine-year beard-growing challenges out of stubborn pride, and your brothers do things like nail all your panties to the outside of your cabin just for funsies, you tend to be a little crazy. You can call it a "locational" hazard, if you will.
That’s Tomahawk for you.
We rank people based on just how crazy they are. And the four craziest families in town are called the Wild Ones.
I’m on the bottom tier of those, so technically I’m not as crazy as the other Wild Ones. In fact, if it wasn’t for my brothers and their endless antics, I wouldn’t be considered a Wild One at all. Ahem. Sure. We’ll go with that.
Anyway, I have a best friend who endures it all with me. Benson Nolans is my one, constant favorite person.
Without him, I’d probably go really crazy, and not the fun kind. It’d be ridiculous, after three years of a flawless friendship, to mess that all up by falling for him.
I mean, even if we did get a little too close one night, it’d be reckless endangerment. Even if we did suddenly feel the chemistry that’s always been there and stop toeing the line, it’d be a foolish risk to take.
It’d be stupid to start hoping a really fun, but completely irrational, night with zero inhibitions might accidentally happen.
Really stupid…
Right?
*NO cliffhanger
*Stand-alone book
*Sexual Content
*Adult language
*Completely, 100% crazy









Check out Chapter 1 Here

 





USA Today Bestselling Author of the Sterling Shore Series, Property of Drex, and Deadly Beauties.

C.M. Owens always loves a good laugh, and lives and breathes the emotions of the characters she becomes attached to. Though she came from a family of musicians, she has zero abilities with instruments; she sounds like a strangled cat when she sings; and her dancing is downright embarrassing. Just ask anyone who knows her. Her creativity rests solely in the written word. Her family is grateful that she gave up her quest to become a famous singer.




Lost Love - Kelly Elliott - Release Blitz









Moving back home to my parents’ cattle ranch in Texas was the last thing I thought I’d be doing.

But, here I stand … in front of my high school girlfriend. A beautiful, confident woman has replaced the young girl I once knew and loved. Hell. I’m still in love with her.

Yep. Paxton Monroe was my first love and the one girl in town who now hated my guts. So much so, Paxton swore her revenge on me if it took her until the day she died. The last words she spoke to me were a vow to cut my dick off and shove it down my throat.

The fight between my heart, my head, and last, but certainly not least, my dick starts tonight. Because all I can think about is how I want to be buried so deep inside Paxton she won’t remember how I broke her heart, or how I left her when she needed me the most.

But who will win? My heart is too broken to listen to my head. And my dick, yeah it’s not listening to anything or anyone. Not until it gets what it wants and what it wants is Paxton Monroe.



Lost Love is book one in the Cowboys and Angels Series


Amazon US  | Amazon US Paperback  |  Amazon UK |  Amazon AU |  Amazon CA | 

 iBooks US |  iBooks UK |  iBooks AU 

 Barnes and Noble |  Kobo









Slipping into the truck, she didn’t say a word.
The drive back to her house was silent. It took less than ten minutes, but it felt like a fucking eternity.
My heart was pounding as I pulled up and put the truck in park. Paxton sat with her hands folded in her lap. The weight of whatever she wanted to say was heavy in the truck. The only thing I knew to do was be patient. When it was clear she wasn’t about to, I opened my mouth to speak, but she beat me to it.
“Will you come in?”
Okay. That wasn’t what I thought she was going to say.
“Um.”
She closed her eyes and shook her head. “No. What I mean is, will you let me show you something.”
I wiggled my brows. Paxton let out a soft chuckle before reaching over and hitting me on the leg.
“That’s not what I meant.”
“Sure, I’d love to come in.”
I jumped out of the truck and jogged around to the passenger side where I reached my hand out and helped Paxton down. She smiled, and I led the way to her front door.
When we walked in, she tossed her keys into a small square bowl. My eyes about popped out of my head; it was the bowl I’d made her in eighth grade pottery class. I didn’t say anything as I continued to follow her. When she made her way over to the steps, I paused.
Paxton glared. “I don’t want to sleep with you, Steed. I only want to show you something.”
My ego took a serious hit, and I couldn’t help the look of disappointment on my face. Not because I realized I wasn’t going to have sex with Paxton, because trust me, I was fucking disappointed in that. But because she didn’t seem to want me. At all.
“Is it something naughty?” I teased while following her up the stairs.
“No,” she replied with a lighthearted laugh. I could tell she was a little tipsy with the way she was walking. I had to admit it was nice to have a bit of lighter banter between us.
“You feel okay, pumpkin?” I asked, watching her ass as she climbed the stairs.
“Yeah. I think I drank more than I thought I did. I feel a bit lightheaded.”
My breathing increased with the idea of being in Paxton’s bedroom. My dick was already thinking of what it wanted to do, and I adjusted myself. But the moment we walked into her room and she turned on the lights, I knew it was going to be a battle keeping my hard on at bay.
I scanned the master bedroom. It was done in different shades of gray. The touches of blue in the room made me smile. It was almost exactly how we’d talked about all those years ago.
Paxton sat down on the bench at the end of her bed and pulled her boots off. I stood there with my hands in my pocket still looking around the room.
“Um, Pax, is there a reason you brought me up to your bedroom or are you trying to make me fucking crazy?”
Her brows lifted and a small grin tugged at the corner of her mouth. “You’re going crazy being in here? Why?”
I stared at her like she was insane. “Do you want me to answer that honestly?”
She slowly nodded. “Always.”
My tongue ran over my lips, and I was suddenly parched. I needed water. My head was spinning.
Did I tell her the truth? What I was really thinking? Hoping?
Fuck it. What could it hurt?
“I’m going crazy because all I want to do is bury my cock inside you and stay there all night.”

















Kelly Elliott is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling contemporary romance author. Since finishing her bestselling Wanted series, Kelly continues to spread her wings while remaining true to her roots and giving readers stories rich with hot protective men, strong women and beautiful surroundings.

Her bestselling works include, Wanted, Broken, Without You, and Unconditional Love, to name just a few.

Kelly has been passionate about writing since she was fifteen. After years of filling journals with stories, she finally followed her dream and published her first novel, Wanted, in November of 2012.

Kelly lives in central Texas with her husband, daughter, and two pups. When she’s not writing, Kelly enjoys reading and spending time with her family. She is down to earth and very in touch with her readers, both on social media and at signings.

To find out more about Kelly and her books, you can find her through her website.



FACEBOOK | TWITTERGOODREADS | AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

On The Plus Side - Alison Bliss - Release Blitz & Review




Title: ON THE PLUS SIDE
Author: Alison Bliss
Series: A Perfect Fit, #2
On Sale: June 27, 2017
Publisher: Forever
Mass Market: $7.99 USD
eBook: $5.99 USD
Audio: $22.98

Big girls don't cry. They go after what they want.

Thanks to her bangin' curves, Valerie Carmichael has always turned heads-with the exception of seriously sexy Logan Mathis. Just Valerie's luck that the object of her lust-filled affection is also best friends with her overprotective brother. But Valerie's determined to get Logan's attention…even if it means telling a teeny little lie to get a job at his new bar.

Logan can't remember a time when Valerie didn't secretly fuel all his hottest fantasies. Now the curvaceous she-devil is working behind his bar, tempting him every damn night. It's only when he finds Valerie's naughty things-to-do list that Logan decides to break every rule in the book-by making each red-hot deed a reality.

No one warned them that they were going to fall this hard. And no one warned them that sometimes the smallest secrets can have the biggest consequences.









Valerie Carmichael needed a drink. A strong one. Because it was the only way she envisioned herself getting through the night.
An elbow nudged into her side, bringing her thoughts back to the crowded bar. “I can’t see anything through all of these people,” Brett said, scanning the room with his eyes. “Come on, let’s go to the other side so I can get a better view.”
Sighing, Valerie trudged behind him without a word.
When Brett had asked her to attend the grand opening of Bottoms Up, a new bar in their hometown of Granite, Texas, she’d hesitated to say yes. Sure, she was curious what the inside of the recently remodeled bar looked like and had no doubt the place would be jam-packed with handsome, available men. But it was still the last place on earth she wanted to be.
She knew better than to hang out in bars with her older and only—thank God—brother. Every time she’d done so in the past, the nights had always ended the same way. Brett would spend the entire evening hovering over her like a rabid pit bull, daring any single guy with a glint in his eye to look her way. Because Valerie turned heads. She always had.
Oh, she wasn’t silly enough to believe she looked like some gorgeous supermodel with a lean, trim figure or anything. She definitely didn’t. But she had a pretty face, banging plus-size curves, and a lively personality. And that was good enough for her. Valerie was just…Valerie. And damn proud of it.
Across the room, Sam and Leah emerged from the dense crowd, with a beer bottle for him and a glass of water for her. Apparently, Leah was still on that damn diet and counting calories so she would fit into her wedding dress. Though why she didn’t just buy the dress in a larger size was beyond Valerie.
Leah blinked at the sight of her. “Val? What are you doing here? You said you weren’t coming.”
Valerie shrugged. “I changed my mind.”
Are you feeling okay?”
Yeah, sure. Why?”
When you said you didn’t want to go out, I assumed you were sick. You never turn down a night out.” Leah placed her palm lightly against Valerie’s forehead. “You sure you don’t have the flu or something?”
Valerie laughed and pushed her friend’s hand away. “Oh, stop it. I just didn’t feel like getting dressed up. I’m getting tired of the whole bar scene.”
Then Valerie’s heart stopped, along with her lips. Oh God.
Brett stood there talking to a tall, dark-haired man who had one thumb hooked in the front pocket of his jeans while he leaned comfortably against the wall with his right shoulder. She couldn’t see the other guy’s face, but she didn’t need to. Valerie recognized all six feet, two inches of him. Logan Mathis.








4 Stars 

On The Plus Side, is the second title in the Perfect Fit series, that features a curvy heroine.  This story is a contemporary romance and revolves around a forbidden romance with a brother's best friend trope.  Although this title can be read as a standalone, the characters from Size Matters, appear in within the story line, and their story also continues. 

Val is a completely captivating and endearing heroine, and for me I can totally relate to having a few extra curves.  I love that she is curvy, sassy, sweet, smart and vivacious.  The fact that she is so confident and comfortable in her own skin really appeals to me as a reader, I tend to have enough of my own insecurities, so don't want to read about a character obsessing over their size.  In no way is Val fixated by her size, instead she flaunts what she has and uses what it to her advantage. 

Logan is handsome, caring, loyal, hard working, sexy, driven and determined to do the right thing.  He's torn in a few different directions when it comes to loyalty, friendship and family. I quite liked that he had his own vulnerabilities even though he is a sexy, and appealing alpha character. 

Val and Logan's story is sweet, and sexy and at times it is incredibly steamy! The sexual tension between this pair is off the charts.  I loved the banter between this duo, it is fun and flirty and quite often full of humor and sexual innuendo.  On more than one occasion I found myself laughing out loud. 

For me I found the ending to be a tad rushed and a little on the predictable side.  I wasn't sold on the first book Size Matters, as some of the heroine's personality traits frustrated me, but I really enjoyed this title and will be eagerly awaiting the next title in this series.  I would recommend On The Plus Size, to anyone who enjoys a contemporary romance with a touch of humor, a curvy heroine, or a brother's best friend trope.






SIZE MATTERS, #1
ON THE PLUS SIDE, #2
MORE TO LOVE, #3






Alison Bliss grew up in Small Town, Texas, but currently resides in the Midwest with her husband and two sons. With so much testosterone in her home, it's no wonder she writes "girl books." She believes the best way to know if someone is your soul mate is by canoeing with them because if you both make it back alive, it's obviously meant to be. Alison pens the type of books she loves to read most: fun, steamy love stories with heart, heat, laughter, and usually a cowboy or two. As she calls it, "Romance...with a sense of humor."


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Roaming Wild - Tracey Devlyn - Blog Tour







She's loved him forever...

The last thing traveling nurse Evie Steele expects to find aboard the RV housing her mobile health clinic is her brother’s best friend. As always, Deke’s close proximity stirs her forbidden desires and long-suppressed dreams. But his sudden reappearance in her life and curious interest in her patients makes Evie wonder what he’s hiding.

…but now his secrets could destroy them both.

Special agent Deke Conrad is in big trouble. Not only does he have a thing for his friend’s little sister, but what should be a routine mission is turning into a tour of temptation and survival. He fooled himself into thinking he could keep the beautiful and dynamic Evie in the dark while he used the cover of her Med Mobile to track down a merciless wildlife trafficker. But he didn't anticipate the lure of her scent or the warmth of her smile…or the string of dead bodies littering their path.

When Evie winds up in his enemy’s crosshairs, Deke must unleash every weapon in his arsenal to save her, including his heart. But will he be too late?





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4 Stars 

Roaming Wild is a romantic suspense and the sixth title in the Steele Ridge series, although it can easily be read as a stand alone. 

Roaming Wild is Evie Steele and Deke Conrad's story, a friends to lovers trope.  Evie is an endearing character, intelligent, strong, decisive, feisty and brave.  Whilst Deke is your typical sexy alpha.  He is honest, caring, capable, strong and very protective. I really enjoyed the banter between this pair, that ranges from fun, flirty and humorous to intense, authoritative and compelling. 

This story has a great blend of romance, intrigue ans suspense.  Although my first time reading anything written by Tracey Devlyn, it will not be my last.  I throughout enjoyed this title, it was a fast paced read, well written and told from multiple points of view.  The story was full of twists and turns, and elements of action, danger and drama that kept me enthralled.  






July 31
Steele Ridge, Western North Carolina

Deke pushed through the door of Blues, Brews, and Books—or, as the locals liked to say, Triple B. It was good to be back in Steele Ridge, which had formerly been named Canyon Ridge. His family had moved here right before he entered the fourth grade and stayed through his junior year before returning to their hometown of Rockton.
For him, Steele Ridge would always be his true home. He’d made lifelong friends here, and it was the place where he’d become a man.
His eyes took a moment to adjust before settling on the lone figure stationed at the bar. Zigzagging his way around islands of low and high tables, he slapped his friend’s broad shoulder. “Hello, shit for brains.”
Rather than be startled by such an abrupt greeting, Britt Steele angled his lumberjack body around and held out his hand. “You’re late.” He shook Deke’s hand before bellying up to the bar again. “Some of us have to return to work, you know.”
Deke slid onto the barstool kiddie corner to his friend’s. “Can’t even work up an ounce of sympathy.” He nodded to the bartender, Grady. “My last vacation was over a year ago. I’m going to enjoy every second of the next fourteen days.”
Britt eyed the sling cradling his arm. “What happened? Keyboard attack you?”
Deke did his damnedest not to lie to those he cared about. As far as his friends and family knew, he worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of External Affairs, traveling all over the Southeast Region in search of his next story. Or he could be found cooped up at the Asheville field office banging out articles for the Service’s quarterly newsletter. All true—but not the whole truth.
You have no idea how threatening the office environment can be.”
And I hope I never do. How are you healing?”
The dull, throbbing pain in his shoulder served as a constant reminder of how quickly a mission could go wrong, even with hours of careful planning. Matteo had gotten the worst of it, though. SONR’s engineer had spent three days in the hospital after the surgeon had dug the arrow out of his leg. The damned thing had gone so deep that the tip had embedded in bone.
Clenching his jaw, Deke flexed his fingers and lifted his elbow until the action caused an involuntary wince. Better than yesterday, but he wouldn’t be playing basketball anytime soon.
Getting there.”
What do you have planned, besides lunch with a friend you’ve blown off for months?”
Not a damn thing.”
You’re going to stare at your apartment walls for the next two weeks?”
Maybe. If the mood strikes.”
Don’t see it. I’ve never known you to be idle, in over twenty-five years.”
I’m hoping to sleep away the first two days.” Deke rubbed his tired eyes. “I’ll see where things go from there.”
Tough assignment?”
He chose his words carefully. “They get more complicated every time.”
Complicated how? Don’t you just go into an area, interview people, take some pictures and then write up an article?”
I wish it were that simple.”
What can I get you?” Grady asked.
Surprise me.” He glanced at Britt. “You order food yet?”
Yeah. Hope you’re in the mood for a burger.”
Do you order for Randi?”
Not a chance,” a new voice said.
Randi Shepherd cuddled against Britt’s side and kissed him. Although she kept it short, Deke could feel the power of their intimacy from two feet away. A pang of envy clutched his chest, and he shifted his attention to Grady’s nimble hands. What he wouldn’t give to have a woman love him as Randi loves Britt. It was a notion that had filtered through his thoughts a lot lately.
He knows better.” Randi wrapped Deke in a warm hug. “Seems like forever since we saw you last. You gonna hang around Steele Ridge for a while?”
I’d planned to. Mind if I rent the loft above the bar for a few days?”
Of course. I’ll have someone run up there to see if it’s habitable.”
Thought you didn’t have a plan,” Britt said.
My plan is not to have a plan.”
Randi laughed. “Let me go check on your food.”
He watched his friend’s gaze follow Randi from the room. “How’s domestic life treating you?”
Bit of an adjustment at first, but we’ve settled into a groove now.”
A good one?”
The best.”
How’s the Center?”
Thanks to a hefty investment from Britt’s younger brother, he was running a Wildlife Research Center on the outskirts of town.
I hired a botanist to study the red wolves’ habitat and the surrounding conservation area.”
Is that trepidation or skepticism I hear in your voice?”
Fear.” Britt lifted a beer mug to his lips. “She’s my cousin.”
He searched his memory for another conservationist in the Steele family. “Not Riley.”
Ding, ding, ding.”
The Kingston menace?”
Britt smiled.
What the hell were you thinking? She used to plant shit bombs in our sleeping bags.”
She just got back from a research expedition in Costa Rica and needed a job. The Center needed a botanist, so everyone’s happy.”
Can’t wait to see how long that lasts.”
A gust of air signaled the arrival of a newcomer to Triple B. Even before Deke turned, a buzz of awareness sprinted down his spine. Only one person had ever had that effect on him.
The last person who should.
Evie Steele.
Even though he’d known her since she’d toddled around on chubby legs, he’d first noticed her crystal blue eyes, silken black hair, and long, long legs right after she turned sixteen. He’d come upon her sunbathing in a gut-socking white bikini. The sight had stopped him cold. Then the heat had come. Scorching, blood-searing heat.
When she’d glanced at him over her bare shoulder and thrown out her sweet Evie smile, he could only stare at the way the triangle of white material molded her firm ass. She’d twisted around, and his attention had torn from her rounded bottom to mouthwatering breasts that would fit his hand perfectly.
Somewhere between fifteen and sixteen, his Squirt had…developed. And he’d stirred. For her. Evie. The girl who, up to that point, had been like a sister to him. Guilt had consumed him.
For years afterwards, he’d done everything he could to avoid her.
Avoidance hadn’t stopped his thoughts. His vivid dreams. His comparing every woman he looked at to Evie’s perfection.
Evie Steele had squirmed her way into every conscious thought and desire he possessed. No amount of cursing, women, or distance had managed to shake her hold.
At one point, when she’d cleared high school, he’d considered braving Britt’s big brother wrath and asking her out. But she’d plunged into college and nursing school at the same time he’d been invited to join a newly formed black ops unit with the Service.
Now, four years later, their journeys were still worlds apart. With a degree under her belt, Evie would be starting a career. Whereas kids, family, and settling down had begun visiting his thoughts, as of late.
Britt had found soul-searing happiness with Randi. She smoothed his edges, cared for him in a way no one else ever had. And he’d almost lost the love of his life to a greed-driven trophy hunter.
The power of that kind of love struck fear in Deke’s heart and warmed it, at the same time. Problem was, he didn’t have a wife, fiancée, or even a girlfriend. Not one viable candidate.
His gaze locked on Evie’s across the bar, and the pressure on his chest intensified, became crushing. Time had passed, and his lecherous guilt had faded. They were both adults now. If not for the twelve years separating their ages, Evie might have been the one.
But he could never ask her to put her career on hold to be with him and start a family. What if she did and then couldn’t stomach the demands of his career? She would’ve given up so much, for what?
Heartbreak.
Resentment.
Anger.
Hate.
He swallowed back his longing and returned to his beer, allowing the familiar mask to drop in place.
Forcing away the memory of last year’s stolen kiss.
* * *
Evie Steele spotted her brother the moment she entered Triple B. Over two hundred pounds of muscle and shaggy blond hair was hard to miss, even in this lunch crowd.
Her big brother held her attention for about a half a second before her Deke radar blared.
There he was. Every bit as tall as Britt, but with the sleek, muscled planes of a leopard rather than the thick sturdiness of a tiger. Deke’s coloring was even darker, deeper. As if he’d spent all the hours of his days outside. Curly ebony hair shaved close at the sides and back and tamed at the top by a hint of hair product.
What she wouldn’t do to see that beautiful mane grow wild, to run her fingers through his thick curls. To feel their softness whisper against her bare breast. Evie shook off the erotic fantasy before she made a fool of herself in front of the good residents of Steele Ridge.
Instead, she braced herself for their reunion. At the moment, she was quite unhappy with him. But Deke Conrad could charm the cantankerous out of any farmer and he had every woman in town holding their breath for one of his lopsided grins to float their way.
Deke was a dangerous man.
Especially to her. She’d crushed on him since before she’d known what the word meant. Then her young girl’s worship transformed into something deeper, hotter, more stirring than a simple attraction. She ached to draw imaginary lines over his broad, bare back, to trace her lips down the center of his glistening chest, to inhale his musky, masculine scent as her tongue explored his most intimate parts.
Gah! She had to stop with the naked, entwined images.
The big lug refused to see her as a beddable woman. Scratch that. He’d noticed. She’d caught him looking at her behind a time or two. The most memorable moment, the time that had given her the most hope, was when she’d been sitting in front of the picture window in her mom’s front room.
At that time of the day, silhouettes from inside the house reflected onto the glass, giving her fair warning should any of her brothers try to sneak up from behind. But her brothers hadn’t filled the picture window that day. Deke had.
He’d stopped by to pick up Britt for some outing or other and spotted her reading. He hadn’t announced his presence. He’d just stood there, watching her.
Even now, years later, her flesh heated, her breasted tightened, her center dampened at the memory. All for a guy who couldn’t get beyond the fact that she was his best friend’s little sister.
Sometimes she’d like to flick his ears. Knock the fog from his eyes. Last year, at the groundbreaking ceremony for Britt’s wildlife research center, she’d thought he’d set aside the ridiculous barrier he’d erected and decided to see where their mutual attraction led. But the next morning, the scaredy-cat had disappeared.
For eleven months, eight days, and…never mind. It was a long frickin’ time.
His dark gaze honed in on her across the bar. A spin top tore across her chest, then idled on her stomach, burrowing deep. She slapped the damn thing away.
Who disappeared after a first kiss? Caveman Conrad, that’s who. When he’d vanished without a word of goodbye, he’d lost his chance with her. Not that he was rolling any dice in that direction, but if he were, he’d hit snake eyes. Too many loved ones had ditched her over the years. She wasn’t about to get tangled up with a guy who couldn’t see past her last name to the woman she’d become.
At least that’s what she told herself. One come hither-glance from those iridescent eyes, and all her hard lines would go limp like a spaghetti noodle. No getting around it. She was a hot mess when it came to her feelings for Deke Conrad. “Evie-girl, what are you up to today?” asked a woman with a thick salt-and-pepper braid resting over one shoulder.
Here to pester my brother before I set off for another MedTour. Speaking of which, how’s your knee? Still painful when you bend it?”
Nah. Those exercises you gave me did the trick.”
Happy to hear it. Have a nice afternoon, Mrs. Grossman.”
As she wove her way to the bar, several diners gave her quick waves, big smiles, and warm hellos. She mustered a half-hearted acknowledgment. She didn’t stop to chat like normal. She couldn’t. No words could get past her air-locked throat.
Deke was in her midst.
Damn the man!
Hey, Squirt,” Deke said when she neared.
The nickname was like a palm to the forehead. Blunt. Hard. Crushing.
She met his gaze. Held it long enough to determine whether or not he remembered their kiss. Those ice-blue eyes held the same warm friendship they always had. No longing. No passion. No glimmer of hope. “Hey, Deke.”
Britt turned around on his barstool, and she hugged him before sitting on his opposite side.
What? No squeeze for me?”
Somehow she produced her most mischievous smile. “I don’t hug strangers.”
Ouch. It hasn’t been that long.”
Guess that depends on your perspective.”
Britt eyed the two of them, big brother suspicion creasing the area between his brows.
Time for a subject change.
Thanks for the lunch invite,” she said. “I’m glad we could get together before I head out.”
Need anything?” Britt asked.
I’m good, thanks.” She nudged her shoulder against his. “I have a job now, you know.”
I know.”
She let the issue alone. Britt would always look out for his younger brothers and sisters. No matter their age or economic status. Heck, Jonah was a billionaire and Britt still tried to buy his lunch.
Taking a trip?” Deke asked.
Yep.”
He waited for her to explain. She didn’t. She was that annoyed with him.
Here you go.” Kris McKay slid plates in front of Britt and Deke. “Can I get you boys anything else?”
Not in front of the kid,” Deke said, winking at Kris.
What in the world are you talking about, Deke Conrad?” Kris asked, throwing a conspiratorial grin her way. “Evie’s my age.”
Deke glanced between Kris and Evie.
That way lies trouble, my friend,” Britt said, biting into his burger.
Evie raised a brow in Deke’s direction, waiting.
He grabbed the ketchup bottle and squirted a blob next to his steak-cut fries.
Noticing his sling, pressure squeezed her chest. “What happened to your arm?”
Hunting accident.” He popped a ketchup-coated fry in his mouth. “I’ll be rid of it in a couple weeks.”
How’d it happen?”
A second of inattention.”
She wanted far more detail, but his expression closed like an iron gate protecting the castle.
Want something to eat?” Britt asked, forcing her attention away from Deke’s injury.
I’ve been thinking about Randi’s bruschetta all the way here.”
What about your meal?”
That will be my meal.”
Smiling, Kris said, “I’ll put your order in.”
Britt scooted his plate over to her. “Have some fries.”
Afraid I’ll waste away?”
No chance of that.”
She smacked his shoulder. “Rude.”
Do you have a job lined up now that you’re done with college?” Deke asked.
I’m not done yet.”
He glanced a Britt. “Didn’t you tell me she graduated?”
She did. Evie’s starting a Master’s degree.”
Master’s.” Deke’s flat tone drew her gaze. His expression remained neutral, but his eyes…his eyes revealed…loss.
Her throat closed at the small tell of his feelings. Why loss? Why wouldn’t he be happy for her?
Breaking eye contact, he lifted his beer bottle to his lips. “Is that why you’re taking a trip? A little me time before classes start up?”
No me time.” She stared at the tray of quartered limes and lemons. A strange hollowness filled the area where her heart used to be. Why couldn’t she figure him out? Why did he persist in ignoring this thing between them? Why did she let him?
The bartender set a glass of ice water in front of her.
Thanks, Grady.”
MedTour,” Britt said.
Evie sipped her drink, wishing her brother would’ve let the subject drop.
MedTour?”
She’s going to travel around the mountains in an RV, patching up patients who don’t have health care or reliable transportation.”
By yourself?”
I’ll be working under the direction of a Nurse Practitioner. Lisa Frye. She went to school with you and Britt.”
I remember her. She’s an old friend.”
The softening around Deke’s mouth and eyes lanced her insides. She reached for her water again. “Then you’ve heard of her MedTours.”
I knew she went to different towns to offer up her services, but I didn’t realize it was so structured. Definitely didn’t know about the RV.”
One serving of Randi’s bruschetta.” Kris set a rectangular dish in front of her. “Let me know if you need anything else.”
Thanks, this should be more than enough.” Evie picked up a piece of toasted bread piled high with tiny cubed tomatoes, herbs, onions, garlic, and balsamic vinegar. She bit into the mound, and the mixture of flavors burst into her mouth. She closed her eyes, chewing slowly, appreciatively. Enjoying something besides yogurt and Ramen noodles, for a change.
Good?”
She opened her eyes to find Britt smiling down at her. She grinned back until she caught Deke staring at her mouth. She licked her bottom lip, hoping like hell she didn’t have basil stuck in her teeth.
His focus intensified, burned, until his gaze lifted to hers.
Blink. And the fire disappeared.
Deke cleared his throat. “How does this MedTour thing work? Are people scheduling appointments? Or do you make house calls?”
Evie released a painful breath, wishing she could blink away emotion as easily as he. “Every month the MedTour visits impoverished communities all over the Smokies.”
Residents come to expect you, then.”
Yes, Lisa has set up a regular route. Every once in a while she’ll veer off-course because of an emergency or something. But the whole thing runs like clockwork. Takes two weeks to complete the route, barring anything crazy coming up.”
Two weeks on tour, two weeks off?”
Yep.”
What towns are you hitting?”
I don’t recall the entire schedule, but I know Haden’s Hollow, Niles, and Creede are on the list.”
Creede?” His gaze sharpened on her. “Isn’t that close to Bamford?”
I have no idea.”
Just to the north of Bamford,” Britt interjected.
When are you headed out?” Deke asked.
Three days from now.”
Deke took several bites of his burger, throwing them all into a thoughtful silence. Then he asked, “Do you enjoy the work?”
She nodded. “After four years of nursing school, I’m glad to finally put what I’ve learned into practice. Everyone we treat is so grateful. It’s an amazing program.” She aimed another mound of bruschetta toward her mouth. “This is only my second tour. I live in fear I’ll screw something up and cause someone more harm than good.”
If you treat enough people, the odds are good that you’ll screw up something,” Britt said in his most pragmatic voice. “The important part is what you do afterwards.”
Are you trying to terrify me?”
No.” His eyebrows pushed together. “All I’m saying is when you mess up don’t dwell on the mistake. Figure out how to fix it and how not to do it again.”
Deke chuckled. “I think your sister needs a peppier talk. Something like, ‘You’re doing great. I’m proud of you.’”
Of course I’m proud of her. But no one’s perfect, especially not when starting a new job. Mistakes happen.”
It’s okay, Britt,” she said. “I knew what you meant.” Britt didn’t waste words, nor was he one for chitchat. For him to say as much as he had on the topic told her that he was as nervous about this new adventure as she.
I’m proud of her, too,” Deke said.
Startled by Deke’s quiet statement, Evie stared him.
Many people talk. They empathize with their neighbor about the poor in Appalachia, while enjoying lattes at the local coffee shop. But they don’t act. The poor have no impact on their daily lives, so their empathy wanes with the next weighty topic.” He lopsided smile appeared, the one that always, always melted her heart. “You’re a doer, Evie Steele. Always have been.”
Needles stung her nose and the backs of her eyes. Words of thanks clogged her throat, refusing to emerge for fear of their inadequacy.
He tossed his napkin onto the bar and drew a twenty-dollar bill from his wallet. “Gotta go.”
You just got here,” Britt said.
Just remembered I need to follow up on something for work.”
I thought you were taking some time off.”
I am. Or will be.” He shook Britt’s hand and hesitated a second before nodding to her. “See y’all later.”
Hey,” Britt called, angling around. “If you’re free this Sunday, give me a call. Found a new fishing spot with bluegills the size of your hand.”
Sounds like my kind a hole.”
She followed Deke’s departure until his dark head was no longer visible. A familiar ache of loss filled in her chest.
What was all that about?” Britt asked.
All what?”
The tension between the two of you was so thick I nearly suffocated.”
So melodramatic.”
I’m waiting.”
We’ve always teased each other.”
Exactly. Tease.” Britt rubbed a hand over his face and released a harsh breath. “Listen, I recognize when a man—”
There’s nothing going on between us. All I did was call him out on staying away for so long.”
He regarded her for several uncomfortable seconds, disbelief storming in his eyes. But he didn’t press her. Simply dipped a fry into his ketchup and handed it to her.
Gratitude made her smile. How could she tell her brother that the tension he sensed might have been sexual on her side, but avoidance on Deke’s? One humiliation per day was more than enough. Thank the sweet Lord she wouldn’t see Deke Conrad again anytime soon.



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USA Today bestselling author Tracey Devlyn wanted to be the next Dian Fossey and explore the wilds of Africa, but that was before she met chemistry and calculus and realized a business major, rather than a science degree, might be more up her alley.


Tracey writes contemporary and historical romantic suspense, historical mysteries, and mainstream thrillers. An Illinois native, Tracey spends her evenings harassing her once-in-a-lifetime husband and her weekends torturing her characters.

For more information on Tracey, including her Internet haunts, contest updates, and details on her upcoming novels, please visit her website at http://www.TraceyDevlyn.com. Want information about Tracey's new releases to be delivered to your email inbox? Consider signing up for her newsletter http://traceydevlyn.com/contact. Tracey can also be found at http://Instagram.com/TraceyDevlynhttp://Twitter.com/TraceyDevlyn or http://www.Facebook.com/AuthorTraceyDevlyn.