Friday, February 28, 2014

Cup of Sugar by Karla Doyle

Release Date: February 28, 2014
Genre: Hot Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 55,537
Series: Close to Home, Book 1


Nia has one rule—don’t date neighbors. Simple, except the guy next door is single, handsome, and not inclined to close his blinds while naked. When her car dies, Conn takes “being neighborly” to a new level by offering a ride to her long-distance destination. Nia has resisted his looks and charm for months. Surely she can handle a
few hours in his truck…

For months, Conn has blatantly put himself on display, hoping his pretty blonde neighbor would tire of secretly watching and come knock on his door for a cup of sugar—or more. No such luck—until an unusual opportunity arises. After a six-hour drive turns into a sweet-and-sexy weekend, Conn wants more than neighborly status with Nia. To get it, he must convince her to break the rule protecting her heart—by putting his
on the line.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20626922-cup-of-sugar?bf=1000&from_search=true



Nia leaned forward, as close as possible to the windshield, watching Conn inside the motel office. He and a short, older man who was likely the owner had shared a brief conversation. That made sense. Rather than return to the truck, though, Conn pulled his wallet from his jeans. Handed the man a card, then signed something.

That could only mean one thing. She scanned the front of the small building. Four doors, one of which led to the office. Maybe there were more around the back. Plus, this place was in the middle of nowhere—to the best of her knowledge, anyway—so there ought to be plenty of vacant units. Nothing to worry about.

“Hey.” Conn closed the truck door and brushed the snow from his hair. “What do you want first, the good news or the bad?”

“Always lead with the bad, it makes the good look that much better.”

“All right. Apparently, we’ve gone southeast, rather than north, adding about an hour to our drive—in good weather.”

“Which we don’t have.”

“Not at the moment. In fact, the motel owner said they’re predicting another six inches to come overnight.”

She couldn’t help it, a giggle bubbled up and slipped through her lips. “Sorry. It just struck me as, um…” Another giggle escaped, and Conn’s eyebrows rose. 


“Another six inches to come overnight…under other circumstances, a girl would be excited to hear that prediction.” Oh god, had she really said that? To the one man she absolutely could not have sex with, while they were parked in front of a motel? Shit, shit, shit.

The damage was done. Conn’s mouth curved into a lethally sexy smile. “Guess I know another interesting fact about you now.”

Heat flared in her cheeks. “And what’s that?”

“You have a dirty mind.”

Whether she confirmed or denied, she’d be in trouble.

Conn didn’t put her through the embarrassment of answering. The torture of leaning across the console area, invading her space with his manly scent and intoxicating pheromones—that he did. He was so close. Close enough to kiss her. Or tickle her ear with his warm breath as he said, “Personally, I predict seven to eight solid inches tonight.”

Oh. Dear. God.

He eased back, grinning as he killed the engine. “The good news is, we chanced upon the only motel in a hundred-kilometer radius before we ran out of gas or landed in a ditch. And it had a vacancy.”

“A vacancy?”

“Yeah, one room left.” As if cued, the red “Vacancy” sign in the office window flickered to black. He held up a plastic fob with a single key dangling from its ring. “And
it’s all ours.”

She forced a smile while donning her coat. Sharing a motel room with Conn was definitely not good news.




Cup of Sugar is a sweet, fun, quick read by Karla Doyle. The synopsis intrigued me and I wanted to get to know these characters better. I am so glad I did because this book left me with the warm fuzzy feeling you get after reading a book like this. I love when a book does that.

Nia is your typical shy, yet sweet girl. She has been hurt in the past and because of that she makes a rule that she never intends to break; don't date the neighbor. I loved getting to know all about Nia and how Karla slowly revealed secrets of her past that helped explain why she is the way she is. 

Conn is Nia's neighbor. He has tried for a year to get her to pay attention to him and has failed miserably. New Year's Eve he gets his lucky break. Nia's car won't start and she needs to get to her family's house, six hours away. Conn being the sweetheart that he is, offers to take her. Conn is nothing like I pictured him to be.  I thought he was going to be this stuck up, better than thou guy who was a man whore. Nope, not even close. He is super sweet, he does all the little things that you want a man to do and he is persistent in what he wants. When he sees something he wants he doesn't stop until he has it, or in this case, her. 

Conn and Nia make amazing sparks. They are H O T together. The only problem is, even though they are together, they aren't. Seeing the progression in their "relationship" was what made this book that much better. There was hardly any angst which I enjoyed. Don't get me wrong, I love a book that is full of angst, so much so that it drives me crazy. I also love a book that has little to know angst and I can just savor it and enjoy it and not stress while reading it. 

I can't forget about a major part of this book, Zeus. Oh how I wish I had a dog like Zeus. He was always the perfect distraction and his timing was impeccable. 

I recommend this book is you want something that is sweet, funny, and will leave you with a smile on your face and warm fuzzies in your stomach. I can't wait for the next book in this series.











Karla grew up in a small town on the shore of Lake Erie. She trained and worked in the fashion industry, designing and making everything from swimwear to dog collars for most of her adult life. Karla has since traded her needle and thread for a word processor, and now spends her time writing sexy romances. When she's not writing, she loves spending time with family, friends
and her pets, as well as reading and hitting the gym.





Release Day Launch: Avoiding Amy Jackson by N.A.


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Available 2/28/14

Meet Amy Jackson. An outspoken, raunchy, in-your-face, loudly inappropriate ER Nurse who makes a career out of indulging.

One-night stands have always been her thing.

Commitment and relationships are two words that are not in her vocabulary.

Amy doesn't have dreams of soul mates and white picket fences. She adamantly refuses to even consider the idea of getting married and starting a family. She’s also obstinate in allowing a certain physician to get on her good side…

James Williams. A cocky, smug, too-damn-good-looking orthopedic surgeon who has his sights set on the very feisty Amy Jackson. He is more than intrigued and ready to do whatever it takes…

“I want this woman. I’m the type of guy who will fight for what he wants until he gets it. I will take my time with Amy. I won’t rush her. I will continue to slowly slide myself into her life until she realizes that I belong there. And then…I won’t let her go.”




I raise both of my hands up in the air. “All right, I’m out of here before you two start going at it in front of us.” I head for the door and stride into the hallway. I make it halfway to my room before strong arms pull my body back into a masculine, warm chest. The scent of James clings to my nostrils, and I can’t help the shaky breath that escapes my throat.

Peppermint and cedar and clean laundry.

“So that’s how it is? You’re just going to leave me with those two?” James whispers into my ear. Pieces of my dark locks blow away from my face.

“You got it, and I’m finding a hell of a lot of enjoyment out of it, too.” I close my eyes and fight the urge to turn into his embrace and kiss the daylights out of him.

James runs his fingers up and down my arms, creating a path of chill bumps. “It’s been two months. How long are you going to hold that night against me?”
 
I swallow against the dryness in my mouth, trying to gain some semblance of a hold on the sexual frustration that’s coursing through my veins. “Forever.

James laughs into my hair and rubs his nose back and forth against my neck. “You can keep making these weak threats, but I’m just going to tell you one thing. They aren’t scaring me into giving up. I’ll keep trying, doll. I’ll keep trying until you can’t resist me and my persistent charm”

Persistent charm? Pffft.

I step away from his embrace and turn to face him, his green eyes filled with heat, intensity, and an overpowering amount of raw, sexual pull. I take a much-needed breath. I need to force air into my lungs and gain at least an iota of defiance and pride. “I never make weak threats, Dr. Limp Dick.” 

Dr. Limp Dick?” The jerk smiles at me—fucking smiles at me—and it feels like a slap across the face. The nickname has zero effect on him. It doesn’t put a dent in that ego-filled suit he seems to don with an impressive amount of confidence.

“Yes, Dr. Limp Dick. I think that name suits you well. Extremely well. Don’t you agree?”

“The fact that you even took the time to come up with that tells me one thing…” He pauses, obviously waiting for my stubborn pride to chime in.

“What exactly does it tell you?” I spat out, my irritation rising to new heights.

“That you’ve been thinking about me. A lot. Don’t worry, baby. I’ve been thinking about you too.” He leans in close, too close, and it feels like all of the oxygen has been sucked out of the room.

Anger courses through my bloodstream, my heart pounds loudly in my chest. Thump. Thump. Thump. My pulse sounds magnified inside of my ears. How can one man find a way to make me so infuriated? I hear a loud smack echo in the hallway and realize that my fury has now pushed me over the edge. I just smacked James clear across the face; a faint red handprint remains on his cheek. He lifts his hand and lightly rubs his jaw before grinning back at me.

“Beautiful and feisty. Now I’m really never going to give up,” he adds, completely unaffected.

“You’re such an asshole!” I shriek back at him before turning on my heels, stomping towards my bedroom, and slamming my door shut. I lean up against the wall and sigh loudly in frustration, my fists clenched tightly to my sides. What a prick! I mean, who in the hell does he think he is?! My breath is fast and hard, and my chest heaves up and down violently. I see my reflection in the mirror across from my door and can’t ignore the prominent outline of my nipples visible through my shirt.

God dammit!





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What people are saying about The Infamous Ellen James by NA Alcorn
"In N.A. Alcorn’s debut romantic comedy, be ready with an extra pair of undies because you’re most definitely going to pee your pants from excess laughter." ~Natalee, Read This ~ Hear That

 "Five Big-Bold-Hysterical-Triple-Plow-PLEASE-Trent-Hamilton-Loving Stars!" Tessa Tevan

"HOLY SHIT!!! YOU HAVE TO READ THIS ONE! I HAVE NEVER LAUGHED SOOOOO HARD " Jess, A is for Alpha B is for Books

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N.A. Alcorn is a wife, mother, labor and delivery nurse, writer, and blogger. She lives in Cincinnati with her husband and three-year-old son, Sid. In her spare time she enjoys reading, writing, running, and having inappropriate conversations with her blog besties. She also has a serious addiction to music and her all-time favorite band is Incubus. Her ability to eat an ungodly amount of Reese’s Cups in a fifteen minute time frame would quite literally blow your mind.

Email: livelovelaughandread@yahoo.com

Seeing Stars by J. Sterling







Walker Rhodes is a hot singing sensation who never settles down, spends too much money gambling and gets in trouble on the daily- at least if you believe all the tabloids.

Madison Myers is a hard working talent agent assistant thrust into the spotlight one day after Walker pulls her on stage during one of his concerts. She tries to stay away from him, but he keeps chasing her.

She is strong in her resolve and he is relentless in his pursuit.

The question is... WHY?!?!

Tabloid Headline Reads: Walker Rhodes pulls woman on stage during LA concert and serenades her with stars in his eyes and we watched as the sparks flew! But just who is this mystery woman who has stolen Walker's heart? And will she be the one to finally tie down our favorite womanizing gambler?

Our readers poll: 80% say no way!

The other 20% wish they were her!

Read more inside...



Walker sat on one of the stage steps, his chin in his hand as he spoke to the screaming crowd. “I need a volunteer for this next part.” His head raised slowly, his eyes scanning the crowd.

Keri jumped up and down like a crazy person, waving her arms and screaming his name. I laughed at her antics and sat perfectly still, not wanting to bring any more unwanted attention to myself.

Another tap on my shoulder caused my irritation to bubble as I turned to what was sure to be that annoying overly made-up stupid girl again.

It wasn’t.

I came face-to-face with a giant of a man wearing all black and holding a walkie-talkie. Intimidated, I took a half step back and looked around for Keri.

“Come with me.” His tone implied a demand, not a request, and I suddenly wondered what I’d done wrong.

Who the hell was this guy? He’s not the boss of me. He’s not going to tell me to come with him and think I’ll just obey. I frowned and said quickly, “Uh. No, thanks.”

He flashed his VIP backstage pass in my face as if it were the only credential he needed. “Miss. It’s part of the show. Can you come with me, please? You’ll be onstage with Mr. Rhodes.”

Oh.

Well, shit.

I guess he could be the boss of me, after all.

I shot Keri a surprised look before I was quickly hauled off in the direction of an almost completely darkened backstage area. We walked through a black curtain before we were hit with lights and blaring music.

“I’m going to bring you onstage.”

“And then what?” I asked, suddenly nervous. Not to be around Walker Rhodes, but nervous at the thought of standing in front of thousands of screaming people with cell phones ready to record my every move.

I started to tremble. Afraid my legs wouldn’t hold me up any longer, I begged the security guy to help me out there. He smiled at me and gave me a little shove.

Thanks, you dick.

Next thing I knew, I was standing onstage, my face mere inches from Walker’s. Walker no-human-being-should-be-anywhere-near-this-gorgeous-in-real-life Rhodes.



I got fired from my last job.

It's true.

I know you're sitting there thinking, "Jenn, how could anyone in their right mind fire someone as amazing and awesome as you are???" And I'd love to give you a good reason, but the truth is... being This! Awesome! is clearly very scary to other less awesome people. :)

So I said screw them and started writing my first book. And you know what I realized? Writing books that mean something to me is a million times better than working my ass off for someone who doesn't really care about anything other than the bottom line.

My soul feels more satisfied.

My heart, more full.

So thank you for reading, loving and recommending the stories I write.

I think you're awesome- and not only am I not scared of other awesome people, I want them on my team!

Click HERE to read a post where I talk about how you all have changed my life. :)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20494896-seeing-stars?from_search=true










*Please note that SEEING STARS will also be available at the following retailers - Smashwords, Kobo, IBooks, B&N - no pre-order available at time of cover reveal.*


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Indulging in Irelyn Blog Tour






NFL quarterback, Zolt Hamil was America’s heartthrob until a career ending injury changed his life. Years later, he’s picked up the pieces and carved out a new path for himself. But the mental and physical scars of that day have left him moody and reclusive, and his only relief is indulging in pleasure and pain with his many one night stands. Though many of women have tried, Zolt refuses to care about any of them. Only one woman has his heart; a hallucination of a young, sable-eyed, blonde beauty whom he conjured that painful day on the football field.
On the first day at his new job at a law firm in Scottsdale, Arizona, Zolt comes face to face with his hallucination, Irelyn Wilkes. Their fateful connection, and explosive passion for each other pulls them together, and this time, Zolt refuses to let her slip from his life.
But Irelyn has her own demons to fight, and her controlling boyfriend is one of them. He doesn't take kindly to other people playing with his toys, and he’ll stop at nothing to keep her by his side. 
Can Irelyn and Zolt defy the odds and find a way to be together? Or, will the events set in motion years ago keep them apart forever?
New Adult. Recommended for eighteen and above due to adult content, language, and sexual situations.

















Chapter One: Shadow-Self
Zolt
I ran my hand along her naked arm as I moved toward the bindings that had her securely
fastened to my wrought iron, four-poster bed. She’d been tethered there for over thirty minutes, and
now that the sex was over, I imagined her arms and legs were probably beginning to ache as the
adrenaline left her body.
Miss No-Name Brunette rubbed her arms and legs after I released her. I didn’t need or want
to know her name. I’d never see her again so what was the point.
She watched me gather my clothes, and her eyes roaming appreciatively over my body.
“So, John, when can I see you again? You’re amazing.” She licked her plump lips as her eyes
traveled over my naked body, stopping when she noticed the nasty scars on my left shin. Small gray
eyes darted to mine, and I saw the pity setting in. Pity was a deal breaker for me.
“We can’t,” I said and threw her clothes on the bed.
“Why?” Her bottom lip jutted out in disappointment. “Didn’t you enjoy yourself? You
seemed to be having a great time.”
“It was fine, uh—”
“Nancy. My name is Nancy.”
I shrugged. “Right. Nancy. I don’t do repeat performances. Ever.”
“But—”
“Don’t take it personally. It’s just the way things are.”
Her eyes narrowed, and she scowled at me. Then, she climbed off the bed and pulled on her
clothes. “I don’t understand. Are you married or something?”
“Nope. Not married or anything else that concerns you. I’m just not interested. Tonight was
great. Really. I enjoyed the shit out of myself. Fucking you was exactly what I needed. Thanks.”
“How am I supposed to get home? I left my car at the club,” she whined.
“There’s a cab waiting to take you anywhere you want. I’ve already paid the fare.” I shrugged
again. This was the bothersome part of operating this way. They always wanted to see me again, and
my answer was always no.
“I should have known when you wouldn’t kiss me there was something wrong with you. I
bet your name isn’t even John. Do you even live here?” Whatever-her-name yanked on her shoes,
and then stood with her arms crossed over her chest.
“No, I don’t live here. And, darlin’, my name is whatever you want it to be.”
“Asshole.”
“Come on, now. We both had fun.” I flashed her my megawatt smile. “I’m pretty sure you
came at least three times. It’s all good, and now, it’s all over.”
I walked to her side and gently took her arm, guiding her to the door.
“But I let you restrain me!” She stamped her foot as I opened the front door.
“You did and wasn’t it fun? Maybe you can find a man that will be as adventurous. Now, off
you go, Sally. Bye, bye.”
“Nancy!” she shouted as I closed the door on her. I could still hear grumbling as she walked
away.
“Ugh.” Leaning against the door, I let out a long sigh. It would be a while before I could go
back to that club. Too bad it ended the same every time. But I understood why. Women saw me as a
catch. I knew I was attractive. It wasn’t conceit, either. It was a fact of life that all men of the Hamil
family were hot.
My first year in the NFL, I was on the cover of Sports Illustrated as the Sexiest Man in
Football. That cover, and the other endorsements I had, made me a nice amount of cash, so I was
totally good with being an object of desire. Since they didn’t really know me, they didn’t know that I
was nowhere as attractive on the inside.
I went back to the bedroom, washed and put the toys away, locking the drawer. Then, I
stripped the bed, piling the sheets on the floor for the maid service to take care of.
I left, not knowing when I'd come back. Could be the following day. Could be two weeks
from now. But tonight, I’d been out of fucking control—chomping at the bit to blow off some
steam. In fact, I still hummed with energy.
Fuck!
My shadow-self pressed in on me for days. When I got like this, only one thing helped:
acting out. So, I’d gone to the club in search of the first remotely available Nancy, Sally, or whoever,
that didn’t revolt me. Nancy had been an easy mark. I hadn’t been there ten minutes before I’d
bought her a drink, and we were out the door, heading to the apartment I kept specifically for this
purpose. I was always happy when I found a woman willing to dabble in a little bondage. I wasn’t
heavily into the BDSM scene, but knew how to wield pain for the ultimate pleasure.
If I stopped and thought about it, I’d be forced to acknowledged just how screwed up my
life had become. So I didn't. I didn't think about all the nameless women I had fucked in the last six
years, and how I hadn't been in a relationship since the injury. These exchanges served a purpose.
Beyond that? Well, there was nothing beyond that.
But that didn’t mean I had become so jaded I’d forgotten how to get a woman off. I enjoyed
women. Loved the soft curves of their body, and loved making them come. There was nothing
hotter than watching a woman writhe and squirm as I fucked her closer to orgasm. The sound of her
screaming what she thought was my name was music to my ears, but that was as far as it went.
The reality was, I was a mess, and I didn't want that advertised.
Actually, I was far worse than just a mess; I was fucking broken.
Sometimes, I wondered if I was even capable of having a normal relationship. Truth was, I
waited for someone that didn't exist. A woman my pain-wracked brain conjured that day on the
football field. To make matters worse, she wasn’t even of age. She was a young woman, maybe
fifteen or sixteen, with the most beautiful sable-brown eyes and blonde hair I’d ever seen. Her face
was sweet, kind, and compassion filled. I realized how creepy this sounds. I wasn't a sick fuck who
preyed on young girls, and I had no idea why my mind created her. But all I knew was, if I ever
discovered she was real, I’d do anything to have her.
I rubbed my aching leg, and then climbed into my Viper. God, I loved this car. She was all
power and beauty, and driving her made me happy. I revved the engine and closed my eyes, loving
the purr, and sometimes roar of her V10.
Once on route 101, I opened her up, pushing her past the century mark on the speedometer.
It was crazy to be weaving in and out of traffic on the main freeway. I was asking to be pulled over,
but again, I didn't care. In fact, I pressed her harder and watched as the needle climbed to 110. The
concentration it took to control this machine exhilarated me. Still wound up and looking to banish
my shadow-self the only way I knew how, I pushed her just a little more. Why fucking for over an
hour didn’t do the trick, I had no idea. But if I didn’t burn this energy off before I got home, sleep
would be out of reach. It wouldn’t do to start a new job at one of the country’s most prestigious law
firms red-eyed and tired. Once home, I intended to take a long, hot shower, and then smoke a few
bowls. Hopefully, I’d emerge tired enough to sleep. For a while, maybe I’d find peace until the
nightmare returned that plunged me into my own personal hell.
A hell that I was used to. A hell that only she brought me out of.
The morning announced itself in its usual fashion. I jolted awake screaming, and drenched in
sweat—the images as clear as the day they happened.
“Fuck!” I yelled to the empty room.
Pushing myself back against the headboard, I rubbed my leg, trying to make the pain go
away. The image of her lovely face and those amazing sable-brown eyes chased the nightmare away,
but my body still buzzed with the memories.
I looked over at the bong and lighter on my bedside table and sighed. Just once, I wished I
didn’t have to numb myself to start the day.
Before giving in, I ran my hand over my damp collar-length hair, removing the waves
sticking to my moist neck. I used to keep it short for this very reason, but I liked the way it looked
longer.
As I always did, I picked up the bong and lit the bowl with the lighter. The glow of the
burning weed, and the sound of the bong gurgling as I took a hit immediately calmed me. I inhaled
deep and held the smoke in my burning lungs.
My long exhale sent a plume of smoke into the dawn-lit room. It floated for a second before
dissipating, leaving behind the tangy smell of burning weed.
With my eyes closed, I slowed my heart rate and rapid breathing. The high kicked in, and I
already felt the calm take over. I hated being so weak, and hated that what happened almost six years
ago continued to affect and define my days. I used to be the epitome of discipline. Not anymore.
If I could let go of the self-blame, then maybe the dreams would abate. But night after night,
I replayed the game and its never changing end.
At twenty-two, I had been one of the hottest quarterbacks in the NFL, playing for the
Arizona Cardinals. The year prior, we’d made it to the NFC Championships, losing by a field goal.
The next year, we were back in the same position, with the golden ticket to the Super Bowl
within our reach. The only thing standing in our way was the Philadelphia Eagles. I snarled as I
thought about that team. I always snarled at the thought of them.
Two minutes remained on the clock, and we were on the ten-yard line on third down. I
dropped into the pocket, searching the field for an open receiver. I danced this way and that as if my
movements might slow the clock. With no receiver available, I sucked in a breath and decided to go
for it. What I should have done was thrown it out of bounds and stopped the clock. That would
have been the smart move—the safe move. We had one more chance. I had to make it happen. The
year had to end in a run for the Super Bowl.
Running like a man on fire with the ball cradled against me as if I carried a newborn baby, I
headed for the end zone. But I wasn't a running back, that wasn't what I had been trained for.
Stupidly, I ran with my head down instead of up. As a result, I didn’t see the three-hundred pound
linebacker heading my way. I was the man with the ball, and I had left the protection of my
offensive line, which made me fair game.
The next thing I knew, I was laid out on the ground in extreme pain. When I looked down at
my left leg, I was surprised—and not—to see it angled in an unnatural position. I knew then that I
was well and truly fucked.
I tried to scream, but my voice failed me. Pain and the smell of the turf below me was all
there was.
The hit was dirty, straight up. Later, I found out a bounty of $5,000 had been issued for any
player that took out one of my knees. I hoped he got a bonus because he’d gone above and beyond
his mandate. Not only did I miss a season, my football career was over. Instead of taking out my
knee, his helmet, and the power behind it, hit my shin and shattered my tibia and fibula.
I remembered lying on the ground as the trainers and medical staff attended me. Chaos had
broken out around me. Players fought, and coaches and referees argued.
I needed to find peace from the commotion; needed to concentrate on something other than
the excruciating pain coming from my leg. I turned my head and found a pair of big, sable-brown
eyes, surrounded by golden-blonde hair, staring at me. She was beyond beautiful, and her eyes were
mesmerizing. I had conjured an angel.
In my hallucination, we shared an instant connection. When all around I saw pity and
remorse, in her eyes, I found solace and compassion—a kindred soul to my loss. The need to help,
and her inability not to, showed in the tears falling down her face, and the trembling of her full red
lips. My heart still clenched whenever I thought about it.
As conjurings go, I had created a whopper. When I thought back on it, I knew there was no
way she could be real. The average person wouldn’t have been allowed to get so close to an injured
player on the field. Hell, my girlfriend, who’d been sitting in the stands, wasn’t allowed on the field.
It still baffled the shit out of me that my mind had created such a vivid image.
I could still see her brushing tears from her eyes in my hallucination, and I remember her
taking a small step forward. I wanted her to come closer, to touch me. That was where the
hallucination ended, stopped by a new streak of pain that had traveled through my leg, sending me
into momentary blackness. When I opened my eyes, my blonde-haired beauty with soul-filled eyes
had disappeared. All I had left was the image of her that pulled me from my terror every morning. I
figured she’d probably be around twenty or twenty-one by now if she were real. I’d admit, that even
today, I looked for those eyes in every blonde I encountered.
Pathetic. Yeah. Too fucking pathetic.
I sighed and took two more hits off the bong. Maybe one too many, but at least now I felt
more balanced, controlled, and ready to start the day.
What the world saw now was a man who graduated from Harvard Law School, summa cum
laude, and worked for almost three years at a top law firm in Boston. Some of the country's top law
firms had courted me, and I had my pick of firms. But I decided to come back to Arizona, the place
where my life changed forever.
Gingerly, I climbed out of the bed and headed for the pool. I didn’t bother putting on swim
trunks; swimming naked was awesome. After a few stretches, I dove into the pool and swam laps for
an hour. Swimming kept me in shape, though not the shape of an NFL football player. Those days
were gone.
Finishing my laps, I headed for the shower, feeling excited, like something huge would
happen today. The last time I had this feeling, something huge happened all right. I looked at my leg
and scowled as sudsy water washed over my angry scars.
I dried off and walked into my closet, surveying the suits I had to choose from. I was
somewhat of a clotheshorse—always had been. Today, I picked a black Hugo Boss suit, white shirt,
and black, silk tie. In the mirror before me, I watched a professional, seemingly together man tie his
tie. It was a lie of course, but one I was used to.
Once dressed, I went to the kitchen and packed up a brownie in a plastic bag to take with
me. I'd gotten good at baking brownies. But these weren't just any chocolaty treats. These had a
kick. Cliché I know, but hey, whatever got me through the day. Whether I’d partake in it depended
on how the day went. Obviously, smoking at work wasn’t a good idea. But every now and then, the
pain became unbearable. If a handful of ibuprofen didn’t do the trick, the brownie would. I refused
to take pain meds. Those things did a number on my brain.
I put the brownies away, and all the paraphernalia of my coping mechanism, and locked
them in a cabinet in the pantry. I didn't need Hannah, my housekeeper, finding them. She probably
wouldn't care, but I did.
Thinking of Hannah made me laugh. I'd only met her twice, but we had developed an odd,
sometimes hilarious, texting relationship. I really liked her. Her cooking was amazing, and she kept
my home perfect.
Her work was about to increase, and I was thrilled. My brother was bringing my dog, Ben,
home to me. He had been with Brody in Colorado for the last two months while I got settled. I
couldn't wait to see both of them. Thinking about it made me giddy. I knew Ben would love it here.
There was plenty of room for him to run. Bernese Mountain dogs needed lots of exercise. I almost
didn’t get him because of that. Now, I couldn’t imagine my life without him. He got my ass outside
and stopped me from being such a hermit. If I thought about the fact that my best friend was a dog,
I would get bummed. But then again, fuck it! I loved my dog, and I had missed him terribly.
I doled out my handful of vitamins and four ibuprofen into my hand, and then popped them
into my mouth. From the fridge, I pulled out a bottle of OJ, taking large swigs from the bottle.
Let the day begin, I thought as I walked down the hall to the door. The sound of my designer
shoes on the travertine floors reminded me of the sound of cleats on concrete. It made me smile,
but the memory was bittersweet, and I pushed it aside. Behind bittersweet was pure malice, an
emotion I couldn't allow myself. Not today.
Grabbing the keys to my Viper, I headed out the door.
Watch out Arizona, Zolt Hamil was back.




Dawna Raver didn't always want to be a writer, but the voices in her head keep sending her stories, ranging from new adult, romantic fantasy and contemporary romance.
When she's not spending time in her fantasy world, Dawna loves football, reading, and pretending she's a top chef in the kitchen. Oh, and fawning over her dogs and husband, sometimes in that order.










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