Tuesday, October 2, 2018

RECENT RELEASE - URBAN FANTASY - The Devil to Pay (Shayne Davies, #1) by Jackie May

The Devil to Pay
Shayne Davies, #1
by Jackie May
Publication date: September 18th 2018
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy



BLURB

When it comes to talented new recruits at the Federal Underworld Agency, Nora Jacobs is only half the story…

The Devil to Pay is the first book in Jackie May’s companion series to Nora Jacobs, set in the same urban fantasy Detroit, sharing several supporting characters (hello, Nick Gorgeous), but with a new main character, Shayne Davies. This series can be enjoyed on its own, but readers of the Nora Jacobs books will be more familiar with the world and its characters.

As a fox shifter, Shayne Davies gets no respect in an underworld run by the fearsome and powerful—werewolves and vampires, sorcerers, demons, and mythical faerie creatures. Even at home, Shayne is still treated like the brat of the pack. Her mom constantly nags; her intended (but unwanted) mate ensures plenty of awkward silences, and Shayne is even expected to act submissive to the pack’s future alpha…a six year old.

Yeah. Time for Plan B.

All Shayne wants is to prove that she’s got what it takes to run with the big dogs, which is why she is constantly hounding Nick Gorgeous to make her an agent at the “Double D”, the Detroit Division of the FUA. That’s an easy “No” for Gorgeous, who keeps a strict “No Shayne Davies” policy. Well, never say never. When mysterious underworld criminals steal a load of bomb materials, the FUA picks up a messy case nobody wants to touch. It’s bad enough that a demon horde is involved, but now the annoying FBI has sent out an agent to babysit the investigation. To make matters worse, the notoriously uncooperative master vampire Henry Stadther has control over what may be the only key to breaking the case: a handsome human detective.

The whole thing’s a hopeless disaster.

So guess what, Shayne? You’re hired!
EXCERPT:
The pill is small, so I decide to be cool like people in movies and pop it in my mouth without a drink. When I swallow, the pill sticks to the back of my throat. It’s not big enough to block my air, but I’m full-on gagging and hacking when I see a guy in a white shirt and tie duck past my window, open the rear door, and let himself into the backseat.
“Hey,” I croak, “you’re just in time to pass me that soda at your feet.” Which doubles in heavily-accented snark-talk for Who and/or what the hell, random guy?
But he’s not bilingual, so he only searches at his feet and passes up to me a half-empty bottle of soda. After a drink, I cough out: “Sorry, I wasn’t ready just then to host a mugging. But I’m good now.”
“Um,” he says, unsure, “okay, I think I might have made a mistake.”
“It’s true, I’m not a hooker.” In the rearview I can see a pristine wedge of blonde hair above pleasing green eyes. But very concerned eyes. Haunted, even.
He says, “I thought you were trying to take me.”
“Again, not a hooker.”
“But there’s no room back here to take somebody. I can’t even sit down. Are these all your clothes?”
“It’s laundry day,” I lie. “And let me get this straight. You were afraid I might be here to take you away in my car, and so…you got into my car?”
“Yeah, but I was going to do this.” He jabs a gun into the back of my neck. His voice is shaking. “Now look to your left. See those guys?”
“Wait, you were going to do this, or you’re actually doing it now?”
“Just look!” He quickly adds, “Please.”
“Well, since you said please…”
“You see them?”
I do. Up ahead, just beyond the light of the blue street lamp, stand two tall figures, deep black silhouettes against a lighter black night. They appear to be facing us. Just watching. “Yeah, I see ’em.”
“Can you call them off?”
“Hey, remember that one time when you were saying you might have made a mistake about me?”
“I know, but now I figure maybe even vampires gotta have laundry day, right?”
I take another look at him in the mirror. He’s sweating. Eyes darting. His aggression is coming from fear, not anger. I know he’s human, because I can’t feel any underworld in him, and I definitely would feel something from this close.
“And now I figure,” he says, “that when I say vampire and you say nothing, that tells me that maybe I didn’t make a mistake.”
“Could be I’m just speechless because I think you’re a crazy person. Or I could be waiting for you to look at me in the rearview mirror…” His eyes go to mine in the mirror. “…so I can use my Dracula mind-control powers on you.”
He quickly turns away and digs the gun deeper into my neck. Ow. “You might be supernaturally fast, but can you dodge a bullet?”
Human. White shirt and tie. Knows about vampires… “You’re from Washington?”
“Washington state? Is that a vampire thing? Makes sense. Lots of rain there, not much sun.”
Okay, I’m going to shut up now. This guy’s either the world’s greatest bullshit artist, or he’s just a human who found out way too much, and those two shadows under the streetlight really are vampires, in which case they’ll either wipe his mind or kill him.
“I’m Detroit PD, Homicide,” he says. Not the bullshit artist, then. Nice knowing you, guy. “Two days ago I’m assigned to a hooker from Corktown, and there’s no—”
“When you say assigned, you mean she’s dead?”
“I mean, her body was found with her throat ripped out, only there’s no blood at the scene, because there’s no blood in her body. Like it’s been sucked out.”
“By vampires.”
He eases up on the gun. “Right? Is that what you think?”
“I’m saying that’s what you think.”
“I don’t think, I know. Just like I know you’re either a hooker or a vampire, and probably both.”
“Try neither, and definitely not a hooker.”
“Yeah, you said that already. Very first thing when I got in your car was ‘I’m not a hooker.’ It’s like, ‘Oh, is your name also Methinks?’”
“What?”
“Methinks, Methinks! It’s like a famous internet meme or whatever, and she protests too much about the thing that’s obviously true. I’m not a hooker, I’m not a hooker! Then why are you sitting out front of Dario Machlin’s apartment?”
“Dario? You’re here for Dario?”
“You tell me.” He pulls the gun away, and my shoulders can finally relax. After another glance at the shadow figures—yep, still there—he takes a breath, collecting himself. “Vampire or not—”
“Hooker or not.”
“—you have to know something. Last night you got into Underworld, which I’m pretty sure is a hangout for vampires. And you came home with Dario Machlin. You stayed all night.”
“What, so you’ve just been spying on us? Did you peek through his window at any time last night? Because you could have learned some things your girlfriend will appreciate.” I put the car into drive.
He flinches. “What are you doing?”
“I’m taking us around the block. Unless you want to have a chat with those guys?”
He sucks in a breath when he sees that the shadow figures are now on the move toward us. As they pass beneath the light of the street lamp, I recognize them, and yes, they are vamps, and yes, my night just got shot to hell.







Author Info
Jackie May is a pseudonym for a husband and wife writing team. Josh and Kelly live in Phoenix, Arizona with their four children and their cat, Mr. Darcy. Jackie May is their only daughter. (And she keeps asking for her cut of the profits since we’re using her name.)
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RECENT RELEASE - ANTHOLOGY - Daddy’s Demands: A Dirty Daddy Dom Anthology

Daddy’s Demands: A Dirty Daddy Dom Anthology 
Publication date: September 18th 2018
Genres: Adult, Romance
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These daddies don’t ask for obedience. They demand it.

Daddy’s Demands is a collection of decadently dirty daddy dom romances from some of the hottest authors in the genre. This deliciously naughty box set includes twenty-five brand-new, stand-alone novellas featuring steaming hot, irresistibly sexy adventures with the baddest daddies imaginable. Good girls be warned: your obedience will be demanded on September 18th.

Featured authors: Madison Faye, Renee Rose, Loki Renard, Maggie Ryan, Zoe Blake, Alta Hensley, Lee Savino, J.L. Beck, Jane Henry, Isabella Laase, Kelly Dawson, Sara Fields, Kara Kelley, Measha Stone, Amelia Smarts, Mary Wehr, Maddie Taylor, Meredith O’Reilly, Morganna Williams, Katherine Deane, Alexis Alvarez, Shelly Douglas, Sassa Daniels, Marlee Wray, and Rory Reynolds


Publisher’s Note: The stories featured in this collection all contain hot, dirty sex, sometimes involving ménage or reverse harem themes. Some include spankings, intense and humiliating punishments, and strong D/s themes. If such material offends you, please don’t buy this box set.
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Monday, October 1, 2018

RECENT RELEASE - NA ROMANCE - Through the Layers (Rumor Has It, #4) by R.H. Tucker

Through the Layers
Rumor Has It, #4
by R.H. Tucker
Publication date: September 17th 2018
Genres: New Adult, Romance

BLURB

Second chances are for suckers.

Micah’s heard that expression before. With his first year of college in the books, catching his girlfriend cheating on him—again—he learns that lesson firsthand. The girl he thought could’ve been his high school sweetheart, turns out to be nothing more than a liar, completely destroying his trust.

No one has ever called Veronica fat. Thick? Okay. Curvy? Sure. However, they’ve never come right out and told her she’s overweight. Not unless you count the kids in third grade who called her roly-poly. Grade school or freshman year of college, it doesn’t matter. Guys usually go for the tall, thin girls. Girls like Micah’s ex.

Despite their hang-ups, and their pasts, Micah and Veronica find something in each other that quells their concerns. But when old faces return, and unsettling truths are revealed, will either of them be able to work through the layers and find one another again?

Through the Layers is a standalone YA/NA romance in the Rumor Has It series.
EXCERPT:
I knock again and pull out my phone. Maybe I should call him.
The door swings open and Micah stands there, dripping wet, holding a towel around his waist. “Hey, you’re early.”
“I … I …” I’m trying to form words, but my brain has gone to pudding. I can feel it, all squishy, sloshing around inside of my skull. He opens the door wider to let me in, but I just stand there, admiring—gawking—at the water dripping down his chest. The beads of water trail over his muscles, down his stomach, to somewhere underneath the towel.
“You gonna stay out there all night?”
My eyes shoot back up, and he’s smiling. “Would you like to come inside or did you want to get to business out there?” My mouth drops, and he laughs.
Finally realizing he’s teasing me, I find some kind of strength to not stare at him, and go inside.
“Just give me a second to dry off.”
I stop and stand behind the sofa. Usually, I’d feel comfortable enough to go to the kitchen and grab something to drink, or just lounge around on their couch, or even head straight into his bedroom and turn on the TV and start to watch something. Now, I’m stuck.
What should I do? Does he expect me to do something or say something? Should we have something to drink first? I know they usually have some alcohol in the apartment, maybe he wants to relax first. Should I change already? Why is it they make it look so much easier in the movies and on TV when it comes to this sort of stuff?
“What are you doing?” Micah asks, coming back out of the bathroom. He’s got on a pair of shorts and a shirt that fits him snuggly, but I can’t erase—nor do I want to—the mental image of him opening the door in nothing but a towel.
“Um …” I look around, unsure how to answer.
He gives me a hug and kisses the top of my head, before walking to the kitchen. “Happy birthday. I ordered a pizza. I would’ve gone all out, but you said you just wanted a chill night. Is that okay?”
“Mm-hm.” I nod.
Turning around, he stares at me still standing there. “Are you okay?”
Get it together, V. This was your idea!










Author Info
RH Tucker lives in Southern California and writes character-driven stories with people who have real heart. At least, he tries to. He also consumes too much caffeine, eats too much pizza, and firmly believes Rocky Road is the best flavor of ice cream.
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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

RECENT RELEASE w/EXCERPT- The Sheikh’s Royal Seduction by Leslie North

The Sheikh’s Royal Seduction
by Leslie North
Publication date: September 13th 2018
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance




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An exotic prince, a sharp-tongued vet, a passion neither can ignore…

Desperate to save his favorite lioness, Sala, from a deadly disease, Prince Zatar summons exotic wildlife veterinarian Alex Seaton to the palace. But when a stunning woman clad in western clothing arrives at the palace, he’s convinced there must be a mistake. The sharp-tongued, defiant woman couldn’t possibly be skilled enough to save Sala. However, as she works to heal his beloved pet, a dark passion simmers between them. To take her to his bed would be scandalous, but how can he resist such sweet temptation?

Alexis Seaton is all too aware of the practiced seduction of royalty. As a renowned animal healer, she’s spent time in countless luxurious gardens with some of the most exotic big cats in the world. To maintain her professional status, she must resist the prince’s sultry, searching eyes and sensual promises. Only a fool would give up her life’s passion for one night in the arms of a man who would forget her by morning. But under Zatar’s watchful gaze, her resolve shifts like the sands of Arabia, and even she may not be able to resist the sheikh’s royal seduction forever…
EXCERPT:
Timak unlocked the gate and ushered her inside. Alex stepped carefully, feeling a somber air inside this enclosure. Zatar stirred as they approached, his eyes shrinking to slits.
Alex’s mouth fell open as she took him in. Gorgeous was an understatement. The man was made from magazine models, it seemed; piercing hazel eyes under dark brows and luscious black hair. He scrambled to grab his keffiyah and place it on top of his head, then rolled smoothly to his feet.
“Who are you?” His husky voice cut through the air, shaking her from the reverie. She blinked a few times, glancing back at Timak.
“I’m Alexis.” She offered a hand, smiling tightly as he approached. “The veterinarian.”
Zatar stopped a few feet away, his manly presence sinking into her. Broad shouldered and with a certain quality that made her feel like she was meeting a longtime favorite celebrity. Butterflies erupted against her will. He frowned down at her hand.
“There’s been a mistake. We called for a male doctor.”
She blinked, lowering her hand. “Um, no. There’s no mistake. I’m Alex. Alex Seaton.”
His eyes narrowed as he took her in, his jaw working back and forth. She’d worked with enough rich guys to know they preferred things to go their way. And if he’d been under the illusion that she was a man this whole time… She didn’t want to test his adaptability. Royals were notoriously rigid.
“This is nonsense.” He huffed, turning his back on her. “Timak, where’s the real vet?”
Alex’s eyes widened as though he’d slapped her. “Excuse me?”
“Sir, this is the real vet,” Timak said timidly from outside the enclosure. Maybe he’d stayed out there for this reason. Knowing his employer would throw a royal-grade hissy fit about the mistaken gender identity.
“Mr. Balizar,” Alex began.
Prince Zatar,” Zatar snapped. “Your highness, to be accurate.”
She cleared her throat. “Your highness.” Yep. He was a pretty baby, just like all the rest of the golden-spoon rich guys. Wasting all those good looks on immaturity. She drew a deep breath, drawing on her well-stocked reserve of patience. “I am a highly qualified veterinarian, and your people called me.”
He scoffed, flinging his hand in the air.
Her nostrils flared. Her patience was officially worn out. “Okay then. I’ll just excuse myself, since you clearly don’t want my help.”
She headed back toward the enclosure gates, where a stricken Timak stood clutching the bars. She had just reached the gate when a hand grabbed her shoulder, spinning her around.
Zatar stood behind her, chest heaving, his hazel eyes full of torment. “Wait.”



Author Info
Leslie North is the pen name for a critically-acclaimed author of women's contemporary romance and fiction. The anonymity gives her the perfect opportunity to paint with her full artistic palette, especially in the romance and erotic fantasy genres. 
The truth of the matter is she loves her fictional persona, Leslie North, more than her normal, day-to-day persona! Her bestselling books focus on strong characters and particularly women who aren't afraid to challenge an alpha male. Inspired after years of travel, her stories are set all over the world, from the tough streets of Russia to the beautiful beaches of the middle east. 
Leslie fell in love with romance when she first picked up a scrappy, dog-eared romance book from her local library. She began writing soon after and the rest, as they say, was history. She now lives in a cozy cottage on the British coast and enjoys taking long walks with her two Dalmatians, George and Fergie. 
She LOVES reader feedback, and if you have any comments, don't hesitate to contact her via e-mail: leslie@leslienorthbooks.com.
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Thursday, September 20, 2018

BOOK BLITZ w/GIVEAWAY - Your Echo (Sherbrooke Station, #2) by Katia Rose

Your Echo
Sherbrooke Station, #2
by Katia Rose
Publication date: September 12th 2018
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Contemporary, Romance


BLURB

How do you teach a rock star how to meditate?

The number one question on Stéphanie’s mind sounds like the start of a bad joke, and life would be a whole lot easier if she actually knew the punch line.

Her meditation coach job description said nothing about private lessons for the most infamous lead singer in Montreal, but somehow Stéphanie still finds herself sitting cross-legged on a yoga mat, right next to a pierced and tattooed music legend who’d rather be anywhere else.

Meditation classes are Ace’s final chance to convince his record label that the last bender he went on really was his last. The demons that have sent him to the bottom of countless bottles might not give a damn about ‘soothing rhythmic chanting,’ but it’s either this or game over for his career.

He’s not what she wants. She’s not what he’s looking for. Yet somewhere amidst all the incense fumes, the lines between student and teacher get blurred.

Even as their deep breathing exercises become nights filled with panting and gasps, Stéphanie can’t ignore the darkness that never quite leaves Ace’s eyes. It’s a darkness she knows far too well, and if she’s not careful, the cost of helping Ace find his way might just be losing herself.

Your Echo is part of the Sherbrooke Station Quartet, a series of steamy rock star standalones from author Katia Rose.
SNEAK PEEK:
And that’s how I end up singing ‘I’m On Fire’ in a Montreal KTV bar, stone cold sober, while people whip out their smart phones and I try not to think about all the places this video is going to end up. I just stare at Stéphanie from the raised platform that serves as a stage, watching her watch me as the rest of the crowd cheers. At first I’m only fucking around, adding an extra rasp to the words and playing up the sexuality in the lyrics to the point that it’s funny, but something changes the further I get into the song. The slow build of the synth—the tension that rises and rises but never quite breaks—catches up with me, and by the time I get to the long, wavering howls at the end, I can see Stéphanie’s chest heaving even harder than mine.









Author Info
Katia Rose is not much of a Pina Colada person, but she does like getting caught in the rain. She prefers her romance served steamy with a side of smart, and is a sucker for quirky characters. A habit of jetting off to distant countries means she’s rarely in one place for very long, but she calls the frigid northland that is Canada home.

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Monday, September 17, 2018

BLITZ - PARANORMAL - Demons Will Be Demons (The Realm, #1) by AE Jones

Demons Will Be Demons
The Realm, #1
by AE Jones 
Publication Date: September 17th 2018 
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Paranormal



BLURB
When missions go awry… 

Misha Sokolov is one frustrated demon. While his professional life with the Bureau of Supernatural Relations is rewarding, his romantic prospects are the pits. His teammates Kyle and Jean Luc have found their mates (with his help, he might add). Is it too much to ask for his own happily-ever-after? 

When Misha finally meets an amazing demon female who could be THE ONE, Fate conspires against him. With the escalating tensions between the earth and realm demons, and his newest case involving supernatural seven-year-old twin boys, he’s too busy for romance. 

Callie, a human female, can’t seem to convince her half-demon sons that using their powers in front of humans is a bad thing. And the more time Misha spends with her, the more he realizes she’s keeping secrets. When those secrets jeopardize both her and her sons, Misha will stop at nothing to keep them safe. Because instead of conspiring against him, Fate may have put a spunky, green-eyed woman and her incorrigible sons in his path for a reason.


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About A.E. Jones

Paranormal romance and urban fantasy author AE Jones writes about all variation of supernatural—their angst and their humor. After all, life is about both…whether you sport fangs or not. AE’s Mind Sweeper series is based in Cleveland and centers on a woman with the ability to erase memories. Her newest series is about a group of paranormal wedding planners. AE has won several awards including RWA’s Golden Heart ® Award and the Booksellers Best Award. Her book Mind Sweeper was also a RWA RITA® finalist for both Best First Book and Best Paranormal Romance. AE lives in Ohio surrounded by her eclectic family and friends who in no way resemble any characters in her books. Honest. Now her two cats are another story altogether.
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BOOK BLITZ w/EXCERPT - COZY MYSTERY -Cutie Pies and Deadly Lies by Addison Moore

Cutie Pies and Deadly Lies
by Addison Moore
Publication date: September 13th 2018
Genres: Adult, Mystery, Romance


HILARIOUS cozy mystery from the New York Times bestselling author Addison Moore


BLURB
My name is Lottie Lemon and I see dead people.

Okay, so I rarely see dead people, mostly I see creatures of the dearly departed variety, aka dead pets. And for some reason those sweet, fluffy albeit paranormal cuties always seem to act as a not-so-great harbinger of deadly things to come for their previous owner. So when I saw that sweet orange tabby twirling around my landlord’s ankles, I figured Merilee was in for trouble. Personally, I was hoping for a skinned knee—what I got was a top spot in an open homicide investigation. Throw in a hot judge and an ornery detective that oozes testosterone and that pretty much sums up my life right about now. Have I mentioned how cute that detective is?

Lottie Lemon has a bakery to tend to, a budding romance with perhaps one too many suitors and she has the supernatural ability to see dead pets—which are always harbingers for ominous things to come. Throw in the occasional ghost of the human variety, a string of murders and her insatiable thirst for justice and you’ll have more chaos than you know what to do with.

Living in the small town of Honey Hollow can be murder.

From the NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY bestselling author, Addison Moore—Cosmopolitan Magazine calls Addison’s books, “…easy, frothy fun!”
EXCERPT:
I see dead people.
Okay, so I don’t see dead people—at least not on the regular—I see dead pets. Yes, pets. At first, I had no idea what these hologram-like beasts were up to until after an unfortunate run of something akin to trial and error that I concluded each dead pet was some sort of a harbinger for its previous owner, a very, very bad omen if you will. Sometimes I see them floating around willy-nilly in a crowd and it’s hard to decipher exactly who the bad luck is coming for. But on occasion, I see them attached firmly to the side of whoever the incoming disaster is set to strike. I’m not sure why this is my lot in life. In fact, my lot in life hasn’t been so stellar in general. My birth mother thought it was a brilliant idea to leave me on the floor of a firehouse, and that’s where a brave and thankfully curious firefighter spotted me, waddled up and squirming. It just so happens that I was adopted by that sweet man, Joseph Lemon, and his wife, Miranda, and gifted a book-loving big sister, Lainey, currently Honey Hollow’s lead librarian, as well as a feisty and shenanigan-prone younger sister, Meg, who is also known as Madge the Badge on the Las Vegas female wrestling circuit. And being that Las Vegas and all of its glittery wrestling venues are a good distance from Honey Hollow, Vermont, we don’t see her very often.
But back to that strange gift of mine, or curse as it more often than not feels like—I have zero clue where it came from or why, or even the major significance of it. A part of me has always believed that something alarmingly supernatural occurred around the time of my birth, and that’s exactly why my birth mama decided she so desperately needed to offload a seven-pound chunk of bad luck.
The very first time I put the furry-dearly-departed and outright chaos together was when I was seven and I saw the flicker of a barely-there turtle swimming next to Otis Fisher’s ear. Later that day, Otis fell from a tree and broke his arm. At the time, I wasn’t too sorry about it either. That boy had a mad hankering for pulling on my pigtails. And as fate would have it, the boy who lived to tease me, one day admitted to having a mad crush on yours truly. And post that amorous admission we dated on and off for about three years. If I thought that boy was annoying in elementary school, he outdid himself in high school. In fact, Otis—or Bear as he’s affectionately known around these parts for having once chased off a black bear before it could invade and devour an entire herd of innocent tourists who were on a leaf peeping tour—is one of the reasons I left Honey Hollow to begin. No sooner did my high school diploma cool off than I hightailed it to New York—Columbia University to be exact—where I’ve had the displeasure to ogle other people’s dead pets.
I’m quick to push what I’ve affectionately dubbed the New York Disaster out of my mind as I take a step outside of my apartment. It’s a duplex, actually, and my landlords, the Simonson sisters, live upstairs. They’re the primary reason I’m headed out on this unforgivably crisp September morning wearing my Sunday best, even though it’s smack in the middle of the week, Wednesday. Usually, I’d be happily snug in my favorite jeans, sporting my comfiest sweatshirt with my hair in a ponytail, and on my way to the Honey Pot Diner where I’m currently employed as the chief baker, not that there’s anyone baking underneath me but, hey, I like the title. Instead, I’m stuffed in a pencil skirt, two sizes too small, and a blouse that looks as if I swiped it off a mannequin at Goodwill, partially because I did. Okay, so I don’t own many Sunday clothes per se, but only because the local church is all about casual attire. They’re far more concerned with keeping your soul free from the flames than they are about your accruements, but I digress. I’m not headed to work or any holy house in the great state of Vermont. I’m headed to court—small claims court to be exact—all the way over in Ashford County.
Just as I’m about to head to my beat-up old hatchback, I spot both the aforementioned Simonson sisters at the foot of the driveway squabbling amongst themselves about who knows what—most likely me. It is me they’re hauling to court after all, and over something completely ridiculous.
It just so happens that last summer at the county fair my blueberry buckle pie won the coveted blue ribbon in its division, and it seemed as if all of Ashford County were thrilled for me, at least all of the townsfolk here in Honey Hollow. But the Simonson sisters were decidedly not enthused in the least. Sometime between the taste test and the judging, someone edited my entry to read Simple Simonson Pie and crossed out the all-important part about the blueberry buckle. Regretfully, a riot of laughter ensued, mostly from the fine, and, might I add, intuitive folk here in Honey Hollow, but I swear on all that is holy that good time only lasted about three thrilling minutes before I made the correction. Although, to hear Mora Anne and Merilee tell it, the aftermath not only bruised their egos and reputation but managed to cause a retail apocalypse down at the shop they own and run. It turns out, The Busy Bee Craft Shop was short on patrons and dollar bills alike and had a difficult time paying its rent last month, so the only logical solution they could come up with was to sue me for every last red cent.
Both sisters are dressed head to toe in long velvet coats with ruffled shirts peeking out from underneath like a couple of throwbacks from some long-forgotten steampunk era. It’s eerie the way they choose to dress alike each and every day despite the fact they’ve been on the planet for twenty-six long years—and twenty-seven respectively. I know this because I happen to be the exact same age as Merilee. We’ve all grown up together, but the way they treat me you’d think they were my bitter and scorned elders.
Merilee snarls as if she were rabid. “Well, look who’s here? If it isn’t Honey Hollow’s favorite jester who will soon be performing live in court.” Those narrow slits she calls eyes light up like cauldrons. The sisters have always held a witchy appeal to me, what with their long, dark, stringy hair and bony, long fingers. The fact they look as if they suck on lemons day and night doesn’t exactly help their plight. “Are you ready to have your bank account turned inside out?”
I scoff at the thought. If they think this is the day they hit a financial jackpot, they’d better think again. Working shifts at the Honey Pot Diner doesn’t afford me much of a bank account. The only thing in my savings at the moment is enough to cover my rent and Pancake’s Fancy Beast cat food. I’ve had Pancake now for over a year, and he officially qualifies as the greatest love of my life.
I glance over to the living room window where he’s currently monitoring the situation while licking his paw. Pancake is a butter yellow Himalayan with a rusty-tipped tail and dart of a line running between his eyes. He is a precious little angel now that he’s no longer using my leather ottoman as a scratching post and chewing down all the cables and cords he could get his hungry little paws on. The entire apartment has been cat-proofed, and Pancake hasn’t forgiven me yet.
An icy breeze picks up and the row of liquid ambers and maples that lines the street shed the first smattering of red and gold fall leaves. I steal a moment to take in the glory of nature on full display around the two wicked witches determined to make my life a living hell. Our little corner of Vermont has a habit of turning into a golden and ruby wonderland this time of year, so much so that the leaf peeping keeps the tourists coming in strong right up until winter.
Speaking of tourist traps, the Honey Hollow Apple Festival is coming up later this month, and I’ve been asked to supply the pies for the occasion. After my shift was over at the Honey Pot last night, I baked two dozen personal-sized caramel apple pies—cutie pies as I like to call them—and I need to deliver them straight to the orchard this afternoon because the owners requested a sample for their employees. My guess is they want to be sure my baking skills are up to snuff before they live to regret the decision come the day of the festival. But I guarantee they’ll far from regret it. In fact, the only thing they might regret is not ordering enough to keep up with demand. It took me weeks to perfect the right combination of caramel and spices, and I even threw in a handful of crushed walnuts into each tiny pie to give it a little crunch. But it’s that buttery caramel that steals the limelight from those golden delicious apples. It’s so smooth and creamy, my best friend Keelie and I spent an hour last night licking the bowls clean ourselves.
I can’t help but sigh over at the two beady-eyed siblings who relish my financial undoing. “I won’t be having my bank account turned in any direction this morning because there isn’t a judge on this planet who would side with—” I’m about to lay into the Simonson sisters with every colorful word in my lexicon when something akin to a flame flickers around Merilee’s ankle. For a brief and fleeting moment, I think it’s simply a stray leaf, but suddenly that flicker materializes into the clear outline of a long-lost, dearly departed orange tabby that I’m guessing once belonged to one of the shrews before me.
“Ha!” Mora Anne scoffs as she takes a step in close. “She can’t finish the sentence because she knows she’s guilty. Just admit it and whip out your checkbook. Save us all the trouble of driving to Ashford. We’re meeting with Darlene Grand this afternoon to secure a booth for the festival. We don’t have a lot of time to dilly-dally with you over a handful of change. Hand it over right now and we can all get on with our day.”
I take a moment to scowl at the surly sisters. Since when is three thousand eight hundred dollars a handful of change? And if it’s so darn piddly, why bother to sue me to begin with?
The ghostly cat twirls around Merilee’s left foot before pausing to look up at me, and I would bet my life that feisty feline just smiled. The pets I see are never skeletal or gruesomely decomposing but clear as vellum versions of themselves in their plush and fluffy prime. On the rare occasion, I do see a once-upon-a-person, but neither the pets nor the people breathe a single word to me. I’m guessing the lack of vocal cords has something to do with it. And, believe you me, I am more than grateful.
I’ve only confided my strange gift to one person, and she wasn’t family at that. Nell Sawyer is my best friend’s grandmother, and she might as well be mine. She’s been that kind to me. If my mother knew about my morbid third eye, she would tie me to a stake and light the flames just trying to usher the dark side out of me. And, well, considering the fact my mother has a way of spreading an errant word around town—you would think she were aspiring to be the biggest gossip Honey Hollow has ever seen—I’m not too sorry I’ve never broached the subject with her. But Nell seemed as understanding as she was intrigued, not one ounce of judgment spilled over from that woman. I’m not sure why I told Nell and not my sisters, or Keelie, Nell’s granddaughter and my BFF, but something about Nell’s sweet round face has the power to pull even the darkest secret from my soul.
“What’s the matter?” Merilee chides with a bony hand set over an equally bony hip. “Cat got your tongue?”
I glance down at the curious cute little kitty. “Yes, as a matter of fact, it does. I’m guessing luck is on my side today.”And not yours, I want to say. “I’ll see you ladies in court.” I bite down a smile as I give one last look to the tiny poltergeist licking its ghostly paws.
Who knows? Maybe Merilee will trip on the courthouse stairs—and if she does, I hope to see it.
Aw heck, maybe she’ll skin a knee.







Author Info
Addison Moore is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author who writes contemporary and paranormal romance. Her work has been featured in Cosmopolitan magazine. Previously she worked as a therapist on a locked psychiatric unit for nearly a decade. She resides on the West Coast with her husband, four wonderful children and two dogs where she eats too much chocolate and stays up way too late. When she's not writing, she's reading.

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