Tuesday, September 17, 2019

VIKINGS CRUSADE Book Six by SKY PURINGTON




Viking’s Crusade
Viking Ancestors: Rise of the Dragon
Book Six
Sky Purington

Genre: Time Travel Shifter Romance

Date of Publication: September 17th, 2019

ASIN: B07TDN7BZG

Number of pages: 253 pages
Word Count: 72K

Cover Artist: Tara West

Tagline: An alpha Viking dragon shifter and his fated mate struggle to save humanity in a riveting, passionate tale of courage, sacrifice, and perseverance.

Book Description:

Determined to help her sisters navigate an unraveling prophecy, Ava sets aside the sins of her past and heads to Winter Harbor only to discover she and her fated mate are the key to everything. The missing piece in an ancient vendetta that launches them on a revealing journey. A quest through time that heals old wounds and brings them closer together yet fuels the ruthless monster eager to claim her.

Pursued by their powerful enemy, Viking Soren Sigdir and Ava make their way back to what they left behind in another life. Not just a risky plot against their foe but the deep love they sacrificed so that other dragons might mate. Yet war still rages, threatening humanity. Rising up once more, they must face the darkness of dragonkind's home world and relive the crusade they once led if they hope to succeed.

Will they finally see through the Great Serpent's vendetta and win the war? Or will they have to forfeit love again to prevent their nemesis from unleashing his wrath on Midgard? Find out in Viking's Crusade, the action-packed epic conclusion of Viking Ancestors: Rise of the Dragon.


Steamy Excerpt 

“My cousin has always been fond of sex, and much to her parent’s chagrin makes sure everyone knows it,” Soren said. “But she means no harm. To her, intimacy is one of the better parts of life and should be shared often.” He glanced at Ava. “I tend to agree.”
“I’m sure you do.” She shrugged. “I tend to think there are more important things to focus on in life. Sure, sex is okay, but it’s not that big a deal.”
“Then you have not been with the right partner,” he said, as blunt as his cousin.
“You don’t know that.” She shook her head, hardly believing she was having this conversation. “Besides, a person can have good sex then manage without it. It’s called self-control.”
He led her into a cozy nook beneath a pine with a moss covered trunk. The intimate area had a cave of sorts carved into a monstrous rock on one side. Pine branches hung to the ground on the other. Like all places in the Realm, soft verdant grass grew where it shouldn’t. Not that she was complaining as she sat and looked up.
“I used to enjoy sitting beneath the trees at my home in Lake Placid,” she mentioned, steering the conversation away from intimacy. “Then I went off to college and never got around to sitting under one again.”
He lit a fire and sat beside her. “It is peaceful, yes?”
“It really is,” she murmured. “Funny, maybe a small part of me was trying to bring that sense of peace to the rest of the world.”
“By the sounds of it, you did.”
“Here and there.” Not when it mattered most, though.
“I would like to it see someday,” he said softly. “Your life…what you accomplished.”
“You mean, look through my mind’s eye.” She tensed at the thought. It was one thing catching her thoughts, but to let him all the way in would mean him seeing first-hand the atrocities she had caused. “Maybe eventually.”
“When you are ready,” he agreed. “Though it might happen against your will as it has for some of our kin.”
“I know.” She met his eyes. “I guess I just want to put it off for as long as possible.” She shook her head, realizing it was for more reasons than one. “Not just for me but for you.”
“You are afraid of the way I will look at you. That it will damage the way my dragon looks at yours, the connection they are so desperate for.” He shook his head. “But it will not, Ava. It cannot.”
“You don’t know that.”
“I do, though. As I said before, my dragon can only lend yours comfort and protect it,” he said softly. “Letting me and my dragon in will not push us away but pull us closer. It will allow us to soak up some of your pain…to help you find self-forgiveness.”
“How can you know that when you’ve never had a mate?”
“Because I have had a mate.” He brushed the back of his knuckles along her jaw. “You.” He searched her eyes. “Surely, you feel the growing connection. The intense bond.”
“You know I do,” she whispered because she couldn’t quite find her voice. “Only our growing connection isn’t giving me a sense of confidence. Instead, I feel like I’m drawing closer to unbearable pain.” While she meant to keep it to herself, her inner dragon prompted her tongue along. “I keep getting this nagging feeling I’m going to lose you now that I’ve found you.”
“You cannot let that stand in your way,” he said gently. “Instead, you have to trust it, allow the connection. In that, you will find peace.”
“How do you know?”
“Because I already feel it.” His fingers trailed down the side of her neck, causing a fresh spike of heat. “While yes, there is great risk, there is also certainty that this is eternal. That the connection we made on M├║spellsheimr is ours for all time.” He tilted her chin until their eyes were aligned. “Our dragons will always find their way back to each other, Ava. So even if you lose me in this life, there will be another. I will return to you.”
He certainly had a way with words, didn’t he? But they were true words said from his heart. She could see it in his eyes. Sense it in his soul. More than that, she could feel it in his tender touch.
When his lips brushed hers, then he started to pull away, she stopped him.
“No.” She kissed him again, wanting intimacy.
Needing it.
She straddled his lap, cupped his cheeks, and kept kissing him. Maybe if she stayed in control physically, she could emotionally as well.
That, she realized the moment she felt his rock-hard dick between her thighs and her dragon roared to the surface, was definitely wishful thinking. It wasn’t just the contact down there but the passion of his kiss that had her emotions all over the place. That made her want to sob with pleasure.
In fact, a tear actually trickled down her cheek.
While she intended to brush it away, that became the last thing on her mind when he growled into her mouth, grabbed her ass and ground against her. Their kisses intensified, and fierce lust coursed through her.
She began trembling with overwhelming need.
She had never felt this way, even in heat. Never so blindingly desperate to have a man inside her. But then, it had been a long time. Yet this went beyond not getting laid. Her vision hazed red, and she clutched at his jerkin, frustrated he still wore it.
This was something else entirely.

It was a frenzied craze of need that snapped any control she might have had left in half.

About the Author


Sky Purington is the bestselling author of over forty novels and novellas. A New Englander born and bred who recently moved to Virginia, Purington married her hero, has an amazing son who inspires her daily and two ultra-lovable shepherd husky mixes. Passionate for variety, Sky's vivid imagination spans several romance genres including historical, time travel, paranormal, and fantasy. Expect steamy stories teeming with protective alpha heroes and strong-minded heroines.


Purington loves to hear from readers and can be contacted at Sky@SkyPurington. Interested in keeping up with Sky’s latest news and releases? Either visit Sky’s website, www.SkyPurington.com, subscribe to her quarterly newsletter or sign up for personalized text message alerts. Simply text 'skypurington' (no quotes, one word, all lowercase) to 74121 or visit Sky’s Sign-up Page. Texts will ONLY be sent when there is a new book release. Readers can easily opt out at any time.

Website:   www.skypurington.com





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a Rafflecopter giveaway

EVERYDAY ENCHANTMENTS with MARIA DeBLASSIE


Everyday Enchantments
Musings on Ordinary Magic and Daily Conjurings
Maria DeBlassie

Publisher: Moon Books

Release Date: October 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-78535-923-1

Taglines: True magic is in the everyday.

Book Description:

Winner of the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award in the New Age Category for 2018

Finalist for the Body Mind Spirit Book Awards in the New Age Category for 2018

Official Selection for the New Apple Book Award for the New Age/Mind-Body-Spirit Category for 2018

Finalist for the National Indie Excellence Award in the Body Mind Spirit Category for 2018

Spellbinding meditations on conjuring your own bliss.

Everyday Enchantments is a love letter to the magic of everyday life, the sweet moments and the profound that we often overlook in our hurry to get from one place to the next. What if we had the power to unplug from our daily hustle and bustle and conjure a more profound way of living rooted in natural mysticism?
         
We do. All it takes is the whispered wish for more everyday enchantment breathed onto a dandelion head. This collection of essays reminds us to escape into the ordinary, find beauty in a simple cup of tea or rereading a beloved novel—and joyfully let our world turn upside down when synchronicity strikes in the form of wrong turns down forgotten lanes and unexpected midnight conversations with the moon. 

This book is a study in what it means to live deliciously, joyfully, and magically. And it’s an invitation to conjure your own bliss—-because let’s face it: we could all use a little more magic in our lives. 


Amazon      Moon Books



Excerpt:

ENCHANTMENT: A spell wrapped in a noun. Three syllables. One state of being.
To live with Enchantment is to see beyond the brick and mortar that make up your home and into the magic infused within its frame. It is made up of stories and dried bay leaves and dreams whispered into the heads of dandelions. Of bare feet on carpeted floors and the smell of burning sage. Crystals—amethyst, citrine, amazonite, smoky quartz—layers of your day-to-day and search for that elusive energy that winds its way up your spine and winding in and around your books; all the better to magnify their magic. It is to peel back the outward into your life. Let the snake at your base wriggle free of its coil to climb up to your shoulder blades and across your open back. There is no room for tightly stacked discs here, just the taste of joy when the sun licks your skin.
You might find it at the bottom of an empty teacup. Your future written in soggy leaves, or in the whisper of trees, their leaves rustling and murmuring secrets only they can understand. Sometimes they are kind enough to translate for you—if you listen long enough. If you shower their roots with distilled love songs and feed them the black earth from your compost. It’s there, too, when you run your tongue along the grooves and ridges of a well-loved sentence. It’s everywhere. Even in the spaces you think have lost hope, like the junk drawer where you keep your faded dreams, stray screws, and half-forgotten heartbreaks along with wine corks and a few rubber bands. They’re not lost, just resting like seeds in the earth before they are ready to break open.
That is the first syllable.
The second is to learn from Enchantment, to listen to Coyote's call when he plays his tricks. Coyote loves his tricks. And you should too. What delicious messages wrapped in matted fur and a lolling tongue! All he wants is for you to take that leap of faith when only you can see the soft earth on the other side of the cliff. Don’t you know that you have wings? They are just rusty from disuse. Just listen to Coyote’s long-winded stories (he does so admire himself) and watch the flick of his tail. All he asks is for you to trust him, even if he can’t be trusted; his les- son is real, hard as onyx in your palm, ephemeral as the desert rain that you feel in your bones when all you see is a cloudless sky. No weatherman can ever map the storms and sunshine work- ing their way across your body.
Coyote has no room for logic, just the reason in his unreason.
Just those perfect coincidences set in motion by the padding of his paws. You are raw power, he says, a spark of the universe set in motion. And you must trust this power that is you, that is the earth, that is the beating of your heart. A rhythmic tattoo forever pounding out your path, however many times you try to stray from it. All Enchantment asks is that you absorb the wisdom of the moon and the stars, and the prophesying of the seeds burrowed deep in the dirt. Coyote is there to make sure you listen, even when the rest of the world prefers your ears stopped with cotton and your heart beating as slow as melting snow in winter.
And the third syllable? To conjure. Here you weave your spell with vowels and consonants and beeswax candles. You seal them with pure starlight and a handful of chamomile. Then you burn away the dry brush and the brittle ideas that don’t hold up against the moonlight. There is no room here for literal…things or the people who think them. Not if you want to create. Not if you want to believe that the most important part of your everyday occurs in the moments others can too easily overlook. (Seldom can you find a person strong enough to brave the stillness or wade into the bottomless waters of imagination.) You make your life here, in the infinite potential of seconds and minutes and hours unfurling into vines and roots. Because when you are looking for everyday enchantment, it finds you. Always. And if you let it, it will settle inside your skin and feed your soul with dreams grown ripe under the sun’s caress. It drops you deep down into the rich earth and forgotten caves buried between heartbeats—places that many are too afraid to venture inside. For how can you absorb the marvelous, if you do not recognize it reflected in yourself, feel it settle in your bones like so much calcium?
That's Enchantment.
A three-syllable spell wrapped in a noun, planted in the earth and nourished with moon- light. Let the roots stretch to the underworld and the leaves unfurl toward the heavens. Walk across the star-kissed bridge made of hollyhock seeds and strong will. There is your passage into the unseen universe.


About the Author:



Maria DeBlassie, Ph.D. is a native New Mexican mestiza blogger, award-winning writer, and educator living in the Land of Enchantment. Her first book, Everyday Enchantments, published through Moon Books, will be released in October of 2018. Her blogging life started as a year-long journey to write her back into happy, healthy, and whole through daily posts about life’s simple pleasures, everyday magic, and radical self-care. That year-long experiment turned into a lifestyle, a book, and her ongoing blog, Enchantment Learning & Living. She is forever looking for magic in her life and somehow always finding more than she thought was there. Find out more about Maria and conjuring everyday magic at www.mariadeblassie.com. And don’t forget to follow her on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter for regular inspiration on magical living.

                                           













Reviews and Endorsements
                                               
An insightful collection of short writings that make you look at the everyday in a whole new light. ~ Erin Elliot, The Sword of Lumina

To build everyday bridges between the magick and the mundane out of the long-sought and hard-won materials of will and wonder is the act of a true Priestess. In this book, DeBlassie offers rich glimpses of daily rituals, miniature spells in their own right that prompt the reader to look for the quiet divinity in their own lives, to see the subtle majesty in their day-to-day routines, and to question their perceived barriers between the modern and the mystical. ~ Danielle Dulsky, author of Woman Most Wild

Maria DeBlassie has crafted magic within the pages of her new book, Everyday Enchantments. Her eloquent words offer the ‘promise of soul replenishment’ as one traverses the journey of her -and their- metaphorical metamorphosis. Page after page, readers will experience the soothing balm of DeBlassie’s words as they encourage one to open her heart, her mind, her ear, her thoughts and her soul to the unique transpersonal book they hold in their hands. Just as DeBlassie mentions early on in Everyday Enchantments when writing of the unexpected delight of discovering a double yolk, her heartfelt writing is like ‘cradling…gold’ in one’s hands. Reading and absorbing the beauty of Maria DeBlassie’s Everyday Enchantments will have readers conjuring their own magical life. Her words will caress their soul and embrace their heart with inspiration and encouragement. Everyday Enchantments blends together poetic consciousness such as from Maya Angelou and Mary Oliver all while weaving in powerful and deep inner wisdom such as from Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Yet, Maria DeBlassie beautifully stands out given the uniqueness of Everyday Enchantments. It’s a must read and a must to be gently and lovingly held in a sacred place of honor in one’s personal library. DeBlassie’s Everyday Enchantments is like a heart song that every woman should feel. ~ Janelle Alex, Ph.D.,The Writer’s Shaman

Reading this enchanted collection is so much more than reading a book…it’s an unearthing of things half-remembered and bringing them into the light. Gorgeous and luminous…thank you, Maria, for unwinding this spell for your readers. ~ Laura Bickle, critically-acclaimed author of Nine of Stars, Bewitching Book Tours

An insightful collection of short writings that make you look at the everyday in a whole new light. Ponder how different life could be if you stop taking everything for granted and find joy in the simplicity of it all. ~ Erin Elliott, author of The Sword of Lumina series, The Editing Hall


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Tuesday, September 3, 2019

RELEASE DAY: CURSED BY FURIES by DIEDRA DRAKE






Well, here we are. I've always considered September the beginning of the calendar, rather than the third quarter. I guess it's that whole school thing that took over a lot of my early life.
Today we have author Dierdra Drake joining us for a brief chat.

SC: Tell me a little bit about your main character of this book.
DD: The main character in my story is Priscilla Forester, and she’s a 500’ish-year-old Elf who resides in modern Houston, Texas. I’m not giving a specific age because, as you find out in the story, there is some secretiveness around events that happened very early in her life.

In my world, all the Elves were cursed to live on this Earth plane of existence, the gates to the other realms shut to them as punishment. The curse is pretty intricate, but the short version is that they’re essentially what Humans would call Vampires, even though they find that word insulting. But Priscilla is more than just a regular cursed Elf, she’s called ‘twice cursed’ because she has some other abilities that I think people will enjoy reading about. Even beyond that, there’s far more to her, but that gets into things she isn’t even aware of yet.
The first book in the series is largely an introduction to the circumstances the Elves find themselves in, getting to know Priscilla and some of the other important characters, and also it is a lot about seeing her grow into the beginning of some acceptance about things she doesn’t like about herself.

SC: Do you believe in the paranormal and if so, do you have an experience you can share?
DD: I absolutely believe in the paranormal, and I’ve had many, many experiences with it. The earliest that I can recall is from an incident when I was about four years old. I awoke in the middle of the night screaming that my aunt was hurt and needed help. It turned out that at the same time, my aunt had just been in a car accident so bad they had to cut away the vehicle wall to get her out. Thankfully, she survived it with only minor injuries, but it was only the beginning of those kinds of experiences for me. I even spent some time working as a professional tarot reader in my early 20s.

SC: What titles are you working on now that you can tell us about?
DD: Books two and three are already written, so I can definitely disclose that those two are already in various stages of production with my publisher. Book two is called Well Deserved Wrath, and book three is called Memory of Betrayal.

However, I can also tell you that I started writing another book in the 2 year gap which takes place between book 1 and book 2. Depending on how quickly I finish that book, it may actually bump the rest up by one… but there are production timelines and things that could get in the way. If not, then it will probably come out after book 2 as an in-between book.

 

SC: That's wonderful news for your readers. Thank you for spending some time with us. Now let's look at your book.


Cursed By Furies
A Tale of Vikings, Elves, and Gods
The Cursed Elves


Book One

Diedra Drake      

                        
Genre: Mythic Fantasy Romance

Publisher: Apache Creek Publishing

Date of Publication: September 03, 2019

ISBN: 9781088922415
ASIN: B07WD29D3P

Number of pages: 402
Word Count: 107,500

Cover Artist: Apache Creek Publishing

Tagline: What if the myths were all real?

Book Description:

1000 years ago the Elves nearly destroyed their species through war. As punishment, their ancestors cursed them and trapped them on the Earthly plane.

Priscilla Forester is a 500-year-old Cursed Elf, with abilities far different from most. She knows there is some secret about her origins, but has given up thinking she will ever discover the truth.

However, Fate was only waiting for the right moment to reveal its secrets. As Priscilla and her lovers battle against warring Elf Houses, her true nature begins to emerge, and it is more than anyone had bargained for.

EXCERPT 1 (598 words)

Mitchell parked in the lot, careful to stay out of the immediate line of sight while Raymond filled up his tank.
He replaced the pump nozzle before entering the store to get his chips and pay for the gas. Another car pulled up, and the driver also went inside. A few more minutes passed, and Mitchell started to grow concerned.
Raymond didn’t normally dawdle, and there weren’t so many cars around that there should be a big line. Maybe the clerk was having problems with his register or…
A shot rang out. Then another.
Mitchell’s heart sank and fear surged through him as he nearly tore the door off getting out of the car. He was inside the store in a blink and took stock of the situation in seconds. Raymond lay on the floor bleeding from his side, the red pool growing quickly. The clerk's body hung slumped over the register counter, blood pouring out from his chest.
The shooter’s eyes darted back and forth between the two victims, his breathing chaotic as he rubbed his fingers through his hair and pressed his palms to his temples. His eyes wide as he stared at the bodies and the blood. He didn't immediately realize anyone else was standing there. When he finally noticed Mitchell, it was but a moment before the shooter’s neck was broken and he collapsed next to where his gun had fallen.
Mitchell dashed to the automotive aisle and returned with a pack of terry cloth rags and duct tape. He ripped open Raymond’s shirt, tore one of the cotton rags out of the bundle, and started mercilessly packing the wound. Raymond screamed in agony for a few seconds, then his body became limp as he lost consciousness.
“Sorry Ray, it’s better this way," Mitchell mumbled as an apology.
He put his fingers underneath the bleeding side of Raymond’s body and felt around looking for an exit wound. Sure enough, the bullet had gone entirely through. With one hand Mitchell shifted Raymond onto his side, then shoved another piece of rag into the exit wound. When he rolled him back over, he noticed the fabric on the front was completely saturated and blood was pouring out of the injury again.
“Dammit. Something’s bleeding inside." He took a shaky breath. “Shit!”
He wiped off as much blood as he could to dry the skin, folded a piece of cloth like a bandage, and duct taped it over the opening in his flesh. He repeated the process on the back.
Mitchell looked around and realized he needed to lock down the scene. He stood and flipped the sign on the front entrance to 'Closed,' then hit the nearby light switches so the interior went dark.
He returned to Raymond, lifted him effortlessly, and carefully carried him outside to where he’d left his vehicle in the parking lot. He managed to open the passenger door and put him in the seat, then reclined it back to keep his body at an angle. As he was about to close him in, he noted the seat belt. With a last-minute idea, Mitchell ripped it from the wall of the car and started sliding it under Raymond.
Raymond regained consciousness for a moment, took one look at Mitchell, and began yelling in terror while pulling away.

Mitchell sighed as he realized his fangs had been out because of all the blood and stress. Another mistake. His superiors were going to kill him. He tightened the belt over the wound like a tourniquet, and the sudden pain made Raymond pass out again.

About the Author:

Diedra Drake is a life-long student of mythology and history, with a particular interest in the ways that different cultures tell the same stories using name variations. She is competent in classical Latin, and enjoys reading the classics – particularly Homer, Plutarch, and Shakespeare. For relaxation, Diedra loves to crack open a new historical romance novel or binge a new series on streaming. After a couple of decades being a business owner in the technology industry, she decided to explore her other interests through the creation of a mythic fantasy romance world. She lives in Central Texas with her family, which includes a small cat colony and a couple of dogs, and tries to ensure she gets a daily serving of ice cream for continual inspiration.










Sunday, September 1, 2019

SUPERNATURAL SUNDAY: FUND-RAISER FOR THE HISTORIC HANEY HOUSE, MAPLE RIDGE

Part of Cornerstone Supernatural's raison-d'etre is to help historical societies with their fund-raising efforts.  With this in mind, we're looking forward to helping the Haney House in Maple Ridge, BC raise some funds for their historical home. Tickets are limited as it is a small venue, so call early.
HANEY HOUSE FUND-RAISER



Tuesday, August 27, 2019

BINDING CIRCUMSTANCE by KELLEY GRIFFIN



Binding Circumstance
Kelley Griffin

Genre: Romantic Suspense/ Romantic Thriller

Publisher: Champagne Book Group

Date of Publication: July 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-897445-98-3
ASIN: B07V3ZBFFD

Number of pages: 209
Word Count: 79,236

Cover Artist: OliviaProDesign

Book Description:

To save the life of the man she loves, she’ll have to risk her own.

Costume designer, Leslie Carroll has mastered the art of flying under the radar. She’s had to, or risk being found by the psychopath who almost killed her.

When she literally falls into Hollywood heartthrob Charlie Erickson’s dressing room on her first day of employment, their mutual attraction is instant and undeniable. Despite his star status, Charlie is a sweet southern boy at heart, and for the first time in a long time, Leslie begins to think she has a chance at happiness.

When her harrowing past catches up to her and targets Charlie, will she run to save herself, or face her monster to save the man who is her future?

   Amazon         Champagne Books          Kobo      

     BN         Author Website


EXCERPT
When Leslie emerged, her anger remained, although most of it was aimed at herself. She’d let Christine’s words get under her skin. Truth was, she had become mousy. In high school, she’d been headstrong, bold, and daring. Then in college, thanks to unwise decisions, unspeakable things happened. Because of those things, she’d become paranoid and cautious. If she was being honest, more than a little mousy.
That was the next item on her bucket list to change.
As she walked back toward the line, the drone of machines had lessened.
Frank’s skinny arms flailed around. He looked like a chicken fighting a snake. He spoke to a man, but because of the crowd gathered, the back of his head was the only visible body part. Angela too, appeared wild-eyed and pointing in her direction. Coffee churned in Leslie’s stomach. The crowd turned to stare as she trotted up.
Mr. Miller stood like ice. His eyes narrowed. A hush came over the crowd of extras. Folding his arms, he glared.
Great. What now?
She swallowed hard. Mr. Miller cleared his throat and grinned like a cat. Slowly, as if he had nowhere to be, he sauntered toward his prey, ready to pounce. “Miss Carroll,” he said, steepling his fingers, “how pleasant of you to join us. Did you have a relaxing break?”
She opened her mouth to explain. He held one finger in the air to silence her, then circled like a shark claiming its lunch. “Did you get autographs from anyone famous? Is that why you’re here, dear—to attract an actor? I hired you to do a job, not to fraternize with the famed.”
The thirty or so extras gaped with delight as the torture unfolded. Frank’s face was lined with pretend sympathy yet smug, while Angela’s seemed more humbled. Blood drained slowly from Leslie’s face, and her fists balled. Damn. Her only crime was not finding the bathroom. It wasn’t as if she sought out the crazy.
Mr. Miller circled one last time. He strutted a few feet from her, head cocked sideways. A faint smile drifted across his lips. Enjoying his assault, he resumed, “Miss Carroll, please share with the group precisely where you went for an hour and what you were doing?”
She opened her mouth to speak, but everything she wanted to say, sounded crazy. Then it hit her. Leslie cleared her throat and forced a smile. “Mr. Miller, I’d love to tell you where I’ve been, but, you see, I signed a non-disclosure agreement. I’m sure you’ll understand, the actors I ran into would appreciate my discretion.”
He reeled. Anger rolled off his skin like fog. His nostrils flared as he stomped back toward her. His face was inches from hers. “I had such high hopes for you, Miss Carroll. You came with such recommendation. Now I know you are not a team player, but someone who enjoys the spotlight. I’m afraid, I am going to have to ask you—”
Gasps from the crowd rang out before he finished. She knew. Knew someone walked up and stood behind her. Normal range, but again, too close for her.
“Mr. Miller?” Charlie’s familiar voice boomed.
Her back straightened as if someone poked her. Perhaps it was her imagination, but the warmth from his body radiated through the back of her thin shirt. Or she was having a hot flash twenty years too early.
His signature cologne, designed by someone else but stamped with his name, filled the air. A body-awakening musk mixed with a fresh rain. She shuddered. Instinct caused her to whirl around and step to the side, gaining a foot of distance between them. As she did, their eyes locked. Another chill racked her body. If she was lucky, he didn’t notice.
One quick look at Charlie’s head cocked to the side and the question in his eyes—he’d noticed.
Mr. Miller’s demeanor and voice changed, as if someone flipped a switch on his back. “Mr. Erickson, what a pleasure! To what do we owe this visit? Oh, I remember, you were to be measured today, weren’t you? Let me get my top assistant, Dana, and we will get that underway right now.”
He brushed past Leslie, shooting daggers, when Charlie stopped him.
“Mr. Miller, I’ve already been fitted by this young lady here.” He moved toward her, holding out an arm like an invitation for a side hug.
Great. He was a hugger. When she mirrored his movement, only backward, she crossed her arms and shot him an apologetic nod. Questions arose again in his eyes. But this time, a sign of understanding accompanied it.
Charlie shoved his hands into his pockets and examined her yet spoke to Mr. Miller. “She saved me time and embarrassment today.” Charlie’s gaze darted from the gawking crowd to Mr. Miller’s aggressive stance. Then he added, “I hope she was being commended for her efforts, rather than reprimanded.”
Charlie slid a long look at Mr. Miller.
Frank gaped, star struck, while Angela’s stare switched from the famous actor to Leslie and back.
Charlie turned toward her. “I didn’t realize—wait, did you say today is your first day?” He shook Mr. Miller’s hand. “Nice catch. She’s an excellent hire.”
Mr. Miller stammered, “Why…thank you, Mr. Erickson. That is generous of you. So Leslie measured you already?” Confusion laced his voice.
“Leslie,” Charlie repeated her name.
His slow, smooth voice rumbled with a touch of his southern drawl. Nothing could stop the flaming in her cheeks. Heat spread all the way to her ears. She wanted to disappear under the concrete floor. Her mind logged and registered all the exits. An old survival habit she couldn’t break.
Fidgeting, she moved a baby-step farther out of his reach. He’d already made her shudder and his mind-numbing scent mixed with his unwavering stare had her terrified he’d touch her, and yet wanting him to at the same time.
Yes, she was aware a costume professional by design must touch people. But it wasn’t her touching others that bothered her. It was not having control of someone else touching her. As long as other people stayed in their bubble, she was fine. But somehow, Charlie seemed unaware of the bubble rule.
“Yes, Leslie did an amazing job of putting up with my shenanigans.” He turned toward Mr. Miller. “Could I have a private word?”
Mr. Miller puffed up like a peacock. “Me? Well, of course, you can, Mr. Erickson.”
Chin raised a notch, he walked a few feet away from the crowd for their chat. When he returned, he waved his hand in dismissal of the crowd. Frank shrugged and turned. Angela actually smiled toward Leslie. She beamed back. They’d not be getting the better of her today.
Mr. Miller turned. His normal intimidating presence softened. “Miss Carroll, I owe you an apology. It was my understanding you’d gone missing.” He glared over at Frank and exhaled. “I should have considered the source. I had no idea you were recording measurements. Will you please accept my request for forgiveness?”
“Of course, sir.”
She offered her hand. Mr. Miller shook it as if it might bite him. Letting go, he raised one perfect eyebrow and added, “Interesting first day, wouldn’t you say?”
“Yes, sir.” She exhaled, deeply grateful to still have a job.
Straightening his suit jacket, he reverted to his more formal speech. “Mr. Erickson requested a private word with you as well. When you are finished, I would like for you to find Mrs. Godwin again and speak to her about your next assignment. That will be all, Miss Carroll.”
“Of course, sir.”
What does he want now? Leslie made her way from the crowd toward Charlie. He leaned against the edge of a drafting table. Strong arms were folded across his chest, his golden hair still messy, and his legs stretched out. He surveyed her as she came toward him, his eyes questioning, as if figuring out a puzzle. His I-told-you-so smile was enough to make anyone swoon, but she took a deep breath, squared her shoulders, and pressed her eyebrows together as she neared him.
He chuckled. Then in a low, sexy voice he said, “There she is. My elusive friend, Mousy—I mean Leslie.”
“Mr. Erickson.” She nodded.
“Charlie,” he stated, looking her dead in the eyes.
This was a strong-willed chess match she was determined to win. “Mr. Erickson—was there something you needed from me?”
“Not a fan, I take it?”
“Fan of what?”
“Me.”
She shrugged. “I guess so, why?”
He mimicked her shrug. “Just wondering. I know you’re not a fan of being touched.”
He’d nailed her in five seconds flat. Her hackles rose. “Did you need something?”
“You’re a mystery, that’s all. Most people in this town fight to stand next to an actor, name drop, snap pictures, you know the whole not-real fame thing.” He slid her a curious look. “But not you. It’s refreshing.”
She nodded, then raised her eyebrows as if to say, your point?
His smile faded, then rebounded as he mouthed the word “lunch.”
Her eyes narrowed. She cocked her head to the side as she placed both hands on her hips. “You expect me to fetch your lunch?”
He pushed off the table and took a cautious step toward her. Both hands raised in surrender, he looked hurt. “No, I want to take you to lunch. You know, for being discreet and not telling the world about the arrogant, pompous, windbag actor and his lunatic ex-girlfriend.”
She bit her lip. She wanted to full-out cackle. An unstoppable grin fought its way through. It radiated across her lips, erupting into giggles she had zero hope of controlling. He lowered his arms. His warm eyes danced with laughter along with her.
“I guess I should apologize for the pompous-windbag comment, eh?”
“No way,” he said. “Besides, it was cute.”
He examined her—too closely. The heat in his eyes caused warning bells to clang in her mind. Her laughter faded fast.
Clearing his throat, he continued, “Please let me take you to lunch. Come on, Slim, you gotta be hungry.” His boyish grin made her smile. “What do you say? They make a mean salad at the Canteen downstairs.”
Frank watched them with a mixture of respect and jealousy in his eyes. Perfect. Obviously, he was a fan of Charlie’s. Charlie didn’t notice. In fact, he didn’t seem to notice anything in the room but her. A few short years ago, she would’ve jumped at the chance to go to lunch with a famous actor.
Not now.
Shaking her head, she backed up. “Sorry. I just can’t. We’re slammed. Thanks anyway.” She turned on her heels toward the sea of human mannequins.
“Hey, wait.”
She turned back as he stepped close.
“I’m sorry you had to listen to all that—you know, before with Christine. She’s such a…” The struggle between being honest and being kind washed over his face. Charlie tilted his head up as if his answer hung in the rafters. He gave the impression he was searching for the vaguest, yet most correct word in the English language.
“Bitch?” Leslie offered, her lips curved upward.
“Yeah. That’s probably the best one.”
His wholesome laugh softened his jawline and lit up his eyes. She didn’t want to look away. He didn’t seem so intimidating or so famous anymore.
Charlie bent toward her. “Listen, can I buy you coffee and a salad to make it up to you? Please?”
She allowed no one except Nate and her father to touch her or be in her space. Charlie had weaseled his body closer to hers. Back inside her bubble. Breathe. Tiny beads of sweat trickled around her temple. He was only being polite, she reminded her brain.
“No thanks, I’m more of a peanut butter and jelly type of girl anyway.” Leslie backed away, winning and grinning. She spotted Dana waving from the other side of the room. “Mr. Erickson, I gotta go.” Walking away, she sensed a gaze on her rear. Something about him staring both excited and terrified her.
“Leslie?” he yelled.
She stopped in her tracks and turned, hating how it thrilled her when he called to her. Turning on his Hollywood charm, he declared, “It’s Charlie—and I will see you around.”



About the Author:

Kelley Griffin is an author, mom to five sons, wife to a marine and a teacher. Her romantic suspense debut, Binding Circumstance, is the story of a young Hollywood costume designer on the run from her college captor who literally falls into an A-list actor's dressing room and into his heart. That is, until her harrowing past catches up to her and targets him.

Look for Kelley's Kirin Lane series in the fall of 2019. You can check out her webpage at www.kelleygriffinauthor.com




https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/991389.Kelley_Griffin



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