Fierce-Mason…Chapter One #mgtab

Mason_3

If you haven’t read the Prologue yet, now is your time to catch up on it.

Rubbed Off

Thirteen Years Later

“Damn, bro, I’ve never seen you in action before. Even Brody would be scared.”

Mason turned and saw Aiden had walked into his home gym. The music was playing and he hadn’t realized he wasn’t alone. All his siblings had keys to each other’s houses. His parents’ too.

He picked up a towel and wiped his forehead. He wasn’t used to anyone seeing him while he worked out. He’d purposely done it when he knew no one would be around, dragging his butt out of bed while telling himself he hated every minute of it but knowing, as his mother told him so many years ago, the illusion was what worked. She was right.

And in order to maintain it, he had to stick to the routine. All those years ago, and even now, he thought of it like homework for a class. That allowed him to excel like he did in school.

“I doubt it,” Mason said, grabbing a drink and fighting the urge to put his shirt on, covering his sweaty chest and arms. He normally hid under clothing. He wasn’t as muscular as Brody by any means—no one was—but he was built. His body was by far the leanest of the group, probably the strongest, but no one said much about it when he was shirtless…which he very rarely was for that reason. No use tempting fate with conversations he’d rather not have.

All this training had improved his confidence. Or maybe it just improved his overall façade. He still never fought anyone. Years of classes and training and the most he’d ever done was some hand to hand with instructors for lessons. It was monitored and no one got hurt. No one actually fought. Just the way he liked it.

“So why are you going at it so hard right now?” Aiden asked, walking over to the mini fridge Mason kept in the room and getting his own bottle of water.

“Just my daily workout. No special reason.” No one needed to know it was dreaded as much as one of his mother’s lectures.

“Well then, thanks for making the rest of us look like pikers. When Nic sees you at the pool I’ll never hear the end of it.”

Mason laughed. Nic was Aiden’s fiancée of just a few weeks. Aiden had proposed on Christmas morning in front of the whole family. That was two of them engaged now. Brody had been first in the fall. His brothers seemed to be dropping like dominoes right now.

“She only has eyes for you. She’d have nothing in common with me other than you and I are brothers.”

“You supply the brew for our food in the kitchen,” Aiden said, laughing.

“There is that. What brings you by? Why aren’t you at work right now? Or at home in bed with Nic. Got to be something wrong with you.”

Aiden laughed. “Nic went in early. Her grandmother is there with some other staff and they’re showing them how to bake the bread for the restaurant.”

Nic’s grandparents used to own an Italian bakery, but it burned down years ago. Now Nic worked in the kitchen with Aiden, more like filling in. She was in charge of some of the changes going on, but basically she was now photographing everything for all of Fierce’s branches for marketing purposes. When she wasn’t doing that, she was teaching others in the kitchen her grandparents’ recipes for Italian pastries and bread.

“And you had nothing else better to do, after probably getting home at midnight, than to come here at seven in the morning?” Mason asked.

“Since when don’t you want to see me?” Aiden asked.

The two of them were the closest of the group. Quintuplets. And though they were all close, he and Aiden seemed to have the strongest bond. Which was funny because Aiden was the most confident of the group, Mason the least. The least confident in life in general. In school or work, Mason had more than all of them together.

None of Aiden’s had rubbed off on Mason in the past when maybe it should have though. He supposed that was why his parents put them in the same room. Maybe they should have put him in with Cade. At least Cade was good at running his mouth and Mason could have used a bit of that back then. Some smooth talking might have saved him a black eye a time or two. Or maybe one less time shoved against lockers.

“Let me just go grab a quick shower. You can go make us some breakfast and we can talk over what’s coming up on tap next and what I’m brewing for the spring and summer.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Aiden said, walking into Mason’s kitchen.

It wasn’t anything like the kitchen Aiden was used to, but Mason liked his house in the country away from everyone. He had a lot of lawn that he barely had the time to mow, but found he enjoyed it when he could. If he couldn’t, he’d call in a service. But the two acres gave him time to sit on a tractor and think of his end of the business.

The five of them all had their own specialty and they all ran it well.

Brody ran the bar. He was the loudest and the most personable. The most at ease in a group of people.

Aiden could cook like a dream. The things he thought of only made Mason’s head spin.

Cade, he was the family lawyer and in control of all the marketing and branding.

Ella ran everything and anything the rest of them didn’t want to do. All the behind the scenes work with money and paperwork.

Then there was Mason. It was all on him at times…or so it seemed.

He ran the brewery. The biggest moneymaker of the business and the newest part of it.

Four of them went away to college with dreams and plans to expand the family business and it was all falling into place. The most substantial addition was the brewery. The largest cost and biggest risk. His parents believed in him and they made it happen. Now it was the largest percentage of income with the most on the line.

His brews weren’t just sold in the bar but also bottled and shipped all over the East Coast. With any luck, they’d make their way out West at some point too. But right now he had his hands full just managing it as it was.

When he was done with his shower, he opened his door to the smell of bacon, eggs, and coffee. He didn’t even know he had bacon in his house.

“Where did that come from?” he asked Aiden, as two omelets were slid on plates, next to a huge mound of bacon.

“I brought it with me. You never have anything here. I was shocked you even had eggs. Now you’ve got more since I’ll leave the rest.”

He didn’t spend a lot of time at home, and when he did, he didn’t waste it cooking. Most of the time he grabbed a cup of coffee and a protein bar and ran out the door in the morning. At some point during the day, he’d go around the corner to the restaurant and get a good-sized lunch. His only real meal for the day. Dinner was whatever he found in his house that didn’t require a lot of effort.

“I appreciate it,” he said, sitting down and picking up his coffee. Everything Aiden touched tasted better than he could ever imagine. He’d long since given up asking how it was done.

“So tell me the plans? What are you starting now?”

It was only January, but most beers took weeks to months or even years before they were ready to tap. He was planning spring and summer brews now and would be starting the process soon. “I haven’t officially settled on anything. I’ll definitely bring back a few of the summer brews from last year.”

“Jolene for sure,” Aiden said. “Brody said that was a big hit and I was able to use it in a lot of recipes.”

Fiercely Jolene was a beer named after his mother. Sweet on the first sip, then the tartness just slapped you in the face. He thought it was funny to name it after her, so did his siblings. His mother, not so much…though she wasn’t laughing when she saw the sales.

“First on the list. I’ll make more and have Cade push the marketing on it.”

“You know Mom is going to frown over it. Cade wants to use her as part of the promotion.”

“Really?” Mason asked, laughing. “Serves her right.”

Mason remembered all the times his mother started out all nice and sweet with the five of them and then when they least expected it, she went in for the kill, making them all feel about two inches tall. She had some wicked ways with her punishments too and knowing all the kids’ weaknesses.

“Speaking of Mom, I heard you have her finding staff for you? Why?”

Mason stopped shoveling food into his mouth. “She’s been bugging me lately. Not sure what is going on, but every time I turn around she’s in the brewery just following me around, asking a million questions.”

Aiden burst out laughing. “Has to be getting on your nerves since she knows how much you hate to talk.”

Mason snorted. He swore his mother got bored and just picked a kid to torment. He was wondering what he’d done wrong to be the chosen one now. “I tried being nice and telling her I was busy.”

“Being nice has never worked with her before.”

“It didn’t this time either. She started lecturing me that I needed more women in the brewery. I know that. We try to make it as equal as possible, but I can’t help it if no women apply.”

Aiden rolled his eyes. “I’ve heard it all before.”

“Then she went on and on that the brewery is getting so much attention that the least we could do was get a woman to do the tours. Mix it up a little. I told her she could find that person if she wanted it so bad.”

His mother just wouldn’t stop nagging him about it and he was starting to think he was being punished, only he couldn’t figure out what would have warranted it.

“You’re letting Mom do that? Find someone to give brewery tours when she can’t even remember the name of half the beers, let alone the ingredients to go in it? You think that’s wise?”

“This is Mom we’re talking about. She’d never let anyone set foot in the business that wasn’t qualified or if she didn’t look under every rock to find out what she could about them. I’m not worried and I’m surprised to hear you are.”

“True. Still, this is one part of the business she is really clueless about.”

“It’s just part-time and whoever she hires, I’ll walk through with the person. If they’ve got a good enough memory, it’s easy. It’s more a rehearsed speech than anything.”

“Good luck to you then,” Aiden said. “I’d rather hire my own staff.”

“And we all know how much you love doing that,” Mason said.

Aiden was the worst of them all when it came to interviewing. He ran every potential candidate through the paces as if he were a drill sergeant during basic training. He had high expectations and it was hard for him to find what he was looking for.

“Just the same. Have fun dealing with Mom during this process,” Aiden said.

“How bad could it be?”

Fierce-Mason Prologue #mgtab

Mason_3

It’s time to start giving you a little look into Mason! Less than a week until the release!

Prologue

Mason Fierce looked around at the sterile white walls of the clinic taking inventory of every ache and pain in his body.

This was so embarrassing. Frustrating. Demoralizing.

This never happened back home, at least to this extent. Pushes, shoves, and petty words… those were easily hidden from others. But here at college, it was much worse.

He knew the answer why. He’d known all along, but just never wanted to consider that possibility.

It was because of his brothers.

No one messed with Brody or Cade. Even with Aiden. They may all look alike, all be around the same size, with the exception of Brody, who’d always been an inch taller at six foot two and covered with more muscles.

Mason was actually the same height as Brody, but he always hunched just a little bit. Always been the quiet one of the group. The smart one. The one that stayed in the shadows. He’d leave his brothers to all the action, thank you very much.

Even Ella walked with more confidence than him. The lone girl of the Fierce Five. Everyone was fierce. Everyone but him, it seemed.

Without his brothers in the picture at college, people weren’t so afraid to do more than push.

“Looks like you’ve got one hell of a shiner there.”

He turned his head and watched his mother walk into the room. What the hell was she doing here? Just what he needed. No one messed with her.

Pathetic, his mother was more confident than him, it seemed, when she strode in like she was ready to knock the biggest person out of her way with the flick of her fingertip.

“You didn’t think the clinic would call me when you ended up in here?” she asked, smirking at him. He’d only been in here for three hours. They must have called his mother the moment he entered, or she broke some records on the drive over.

He was in pain and there she was sending him that damn Fierce smirk that they all inherited. Only he hardly ever used it.  Why bother? It wasn’t as if he felt he could back it up, nor had he ever wanted to.

He happened to be the peaceful one of the group. Or as he’d been called one too many times by others when his brothers weren’t around: “a pussy.”

“What did they tell you?”

“That you’d been in a fight. Since I know you, I know you didn’t start it. You can’t stand to fight or fight back. I figured I’d better come in and see how much damage you incurred. Though you’re used to wrestling with your brothers, we know they took it easy on you when maybe they should have roughed you up a bit. One of you four had to be my gentle one and it happened to be you, Mason.”

He narrowed his eyes. So much for thinking he’d get sympathy; instead she was insulting him. He’d heard it enough in life about being the soft one, the kind one, the gentle one. It made him look more like a wuss than anything else.

He could be thankful his siblings never really used extremely insulting words to him. Oftentimes, he thought they were trying to toughen him up. He just didn’t want any part of being that way.

“Did you tell anyone?”

“Of course not, but you know they can feel when something is wrong. Aiden and Cade are probably busy right now partying in the dorms. Brody was working and stopped, then asked me if I’d heard from you. My guess is he felt something was off.”

Mason was the closest to Aiden and fully expected to hear from him. Not from Brody. But like his mother said, they were all probably doing something else. Brody was the only one that didn’t go to college, deciding to run the bar at the family business.

“What did you tell him?”

“I told Brody and your father that the school called and said you didn’t feel good. That it could be a nasty cold, but I was just going to come down and check. Since everyone knows how much of a helicopter mother I am, it wasn’t questioned. If Brody thought it was something else, he would have been here with me taking care of it.”

He wanted to snort at the nickname he’d given her so many years ago for always hovering over them all. “Thanks, Mom. I don’t need my brothers fighting my battles for me.”

She walked over and sat on the bed next to him, the jarring motion causing his aching ribs to intensify. That guy had one nasty club of a fist and he didn’t hesitate to lay it into Mason’s sides a few times.

“Mason, you four have always stuck together. It’s what family does. But I understand that it causes more problems than if you kept it all to yourself. Like with the dickhead Chuck all through school.”

“What are you talking about?” he asked nervously.

“Please, Mason. Every mother knows when their child has something going on in their life. Chuck bullied you for years. You took it and never said a word. I’m guessing because you knew Brody and Cade would be all over him like tape on lint.”

“Yeah,” he said. Then instead of being bullied for being the smart, quiet one, he’d be labeled the one that needed his brothers to take care of him.

“So what caused this today?” she asked.

“Nothing,” he said, glad she was moving out of the past and into the present.

“Your swollen eye says differently.” She reached her hand over and put it on his. “You didn’t want to do someone’s work for them?”

“No. It’s not that.” He’d had others hint that it would benefit him to do their work, but he’d walked away. Most left him alone and moved to another target. He might not have liked to fight, but he knew if he ignored it and didn’t give the satisfaction of being bothered, he’d usually be left alone.

“Then what?”

He turned his head and looked away from her, but she took ahold of his hand and held it. Something she hadn’t done in years. It was enough for him to say, “I’ve been tutoring someone. Guess her boyfriend took exception to the amount of time we’ve been spending together, even though it was only for schoolwork.”

“Maybe that girl didn’t think so?”

He snorted. “I’ve given her no reason to think otherwise. Her boyfriend is on the football team with a full scholarship. She likes having him on her arm. It’s all she ever talks about. Annoyingly so.” He was thinking back to all the times he’d have to tell her to just focus on the work, not her boyfriend, until they were done.

“Then maybe she likes to make him jealous or get a little extra loving from him? Some more attention that you’re saying she seems to crave.”

“Could be,” he said, shrugging. “You didn’t need to come here. I’ll be fine. I don’t want to press charges or anything. I’m not filing reports, whatever they told you.”

“I figured you wouldn’t. He’d lose his scholarship, probably be expelled too.”

“He’d just get all his buddies to say I started it, that it was self-defense. It’d only get worse, or I’d be the one expelled.”

She laughed. “You have so much to learn, Mason. Starting with this.”

She dropped a brochure on his lap. He picked it up and looked at it. “You want me to join a gym?”

“Nope,” she said, taking it out of his hand and turning it over. “I think you need to do this. If you aren’t going to fight back, then at least give the illusion that you can. Or make sure you can if you ever need to again. You’ve got the size; you just need to work on your confidence. This will help.”

“Boxing? You want me to learn to box?” Was she nuts? She’d just admitted he didn’t like to fight and she was dropping a brochure of the sport that epitomized fighting in his lap.

“Kickboxing too. Both of them. I just paid for a year’s membership. Once you’re healed, get your butt there.” She leaned over and kissed him on the forehead. “Trust me, Mason. No one will mess with you again.”

Fierce-Mason #mgtab

Mason_3

It’s the quiet ones you need to watch out for…proving who really is the fiercest of the five.

Mason Fierce was the smart one. The quiet one. The least fierce of the Fierce Five. He’s a force to reckon with running his own brewery and doing what he wants…the way he wants it. He’s still the smart one, still the quiet one, but he’s out to prove that brute strength isn’t what makes you fierce, but accepting who you are and embracing it makes you the fiercest of them all.

Jessica Corning has always loved science. She’s what many would call nerdy. Geeky, even. Never had a boyfriend, never even wanted one. She just wanted to focus on school and her hobbies. Her new love—beer. So a part-time job giving tours at Fierce Brewery is a dream come true for her. The last thing she expects is to find that maybe she wouldn’t mind having a guy in her life after all. If only her new boss would even notice her.

 

 

Intense Love…Chapter One #mgtab

Here is the last of my teasers for Intense Love! Catch up on the Prologue first. You can buy it now for just 99 cents! Or read it free on Kindle Unlimited.

INTENSELOVE(1)

Great Relationship

Ian Price opened the door to the waiting room and saw he was the only one there. Good. That was better than sitting with a bunch of strangers that were in need of Dr. Cameron Mason’s services.

He didn’t need them.

He was fine.

It was mandated. He’d get his release signed, and he’d wait until the investigation was done, then he’d return to normal. Return to work. As if nothing happened a few weeks ago.

No concussion. No partner that was home trying to recover and no dead teen haunting his dreams.

He’d be back to the way things were. He’d make sure of it.

There were magazines on the oak table in front of him. Time. Vanity Fair. Sports Illustrated. He didn’t pick up one of them.

He wasn’t here to stay. He didn’t want to get cozy with a read; he just wanted this over with.

Dr. Mason was probably some old balding fat man that was going to talk to him in a quiet voice, ask him about his inner feelings. If his parents ever raised their voices to him or swatted him on the ass. The answer would be yes. And he turned out just fine because of it. Matter of fact he and his parents had a mighty fine relationship to this day.

Another ten minutes went by while he looked around the quiet office. If the watercolors hanging and the flowers in the crystal vase were supposed to be calming, they weren’t cutting it. Not that he’d let anyone know he was anything but calm, cool and collected even in the Sahara Desert at midday.

Nerves of steel. That was him. Always.

The door he’d entered beeped, then opened and he glanced back, only to see the receptionist still standing there, annoyingly popping her cherry-scented gum like she’d been doing when he walked in the front door. Either she put a fresh piece in or that stuff had some extract in it because it made him want to gag thinking of sugary sweetness at a carnival.

“Dr. Mason will be just another minute. Is there anything I can get you before I leave for the day?”

The twenty-something was eying him more than he cared for. Not trying to figure out who he was. More like she was hungry. Looking for a mate. Or looking for a plaything. He wasn’t either.

He brushed off her flirting. He’d never see her again. He was going to have his one visit and be done. How hard would it be to get his release signed?

“I’m good,” he said, then watched as she wiggled her eyebrows at him one more time, grinned and left.

A minute, maybe two tops, and the office door opened and Dr. Mason came out.

No old fat balding man.

Not old. Not fat. Not a man.

A woman. A smoking hot one in a black pencil skirt hitting her knees, a white shirt buttoned to her neck and tucked in, but not hiding a thing from his imagination. Neither were the simple but still sexy black heels.

Dark straight hair falling over her shoulders, brown eyes assessing his, but not like her secretary. Unfortunately.

“Mr. Price?” she said, her voice cool and maybe a bit raspy. Nah, that was just in his imagination. She was holding her hand out and walking forward. “I’m Dr. Mason. Why don’t you come into my office?”

He shook her hand, brushing off the heat from contact, and followed her in, noting a leather couch on one wall and two chairs across from it. He sat down in one of the chairs. No way he was lying down. No reason.

She laughed, a low sound that shot more heat in places it had no business being.

“So why don’t you tell me why you’re here?” she asked.

“Don’t you know that?” Dr. Mason was contracted as the city’s head shrink.

“I do. I’m asking why you think you’re here.”

“So you can sign my release papers and send me back to work.” Might as well be honest. No use lying or prolonging anything. “I took all your tests the other day. I’m betting I did just fine on them.”

She pursed her lips. Full lips, minus any color or gloss. “I’ll do that in time. Until then, let’s just chat.”

Great. Chat. He hated chatting. Hated it even more when it was idle and that was all he was going to do. No mention of the test results, but he wasn’t worried.

“What do you want to know?” he asked.

She sat back in her chair, the pen she was holding now resting on her pad. “What would you like to tell me?”

“Not much,” he said, stretching his long legs out in front of him, then resting his hands on his belly.

She grinned at him, not easily put off. “How are you feeling?”

“I feel just fine,” he said.

“And your partner?”

“Mick is good. Lucky to be alive, but he’ll make it. He’ll make it to his retirement too.”

“Thanks to you,” she said. “How do you feel about the events that unfolded that day?”

Here we go. She wanted to talk about his feelings. “I feel just fine,” he repeated. “I did what needed to be done.”

She nodded, then picked up her pen and wrote something down. Wonderful. Just wonderful. She was taking notes now. “Aren’t you going to ask me about my childhood?”

“Do you want to talk about your childhood?” she asked, frowning at him.

What was wrong with him? He just didn’t want to talk about the night of the incident. Anything but. “Not really.”

“Then why did you bring it up?”

“Don’t all shrinks want to dig into their patient’s past? See if maybe they were abused. If something set them off. I’ll tell you right now there’s nothing. My mother spanked me a few times, then cried harder than I did. My father yelled at me too, then I yelled back and we laughed about it then and still do now. I’ve got a great relationship with them and they’d tell you the same.”

“Did you practice that speech before you came here?”

He had, but he wouldn’t admit it. “It’s the truth.”

“I actually believe you.”

“So we’re good then. You can sign my release and I’ll be set once the investigation is done?”

“I was told the investigation could take up to another week or longer. They’ll have my full evaluation by then. No worries.”

He wanted to grind his teeth but decided that would probably be a mark against him. Something more she’d want to talk about.

“Well then, if we’re done today,” he said, moving to stand up.

“That’s fine. I was running late and have had a long day myself. We can walk out together if you’d like,” she said.

He wanted to say no, but that’d be rude and he was probably rude enough as it was. No reason to get her on his bad side. Not until she signed that stupid release. “You’re going to make me come back, aren’t you?”

She smiled at him. “Of course.”

He wanted to leave but didn’t. She walked behind her desk and typed a few things on her computer. “Since my secretary has left for the day, I’ll just schedule your next appointment. How about two days from now, same time? Last appointment of the day?”

“That’s fine,” he said. Not like he had much going on. The sooner he could get this over with the sooner he could move on.

“Well then, you can walk me to my car,” she said, grabbing her purse, walking out the door and flashing her keycard to open the inner waiting room to get to the receptionist area. She liked the security here and how she could lock herself and clients in from the front waiting room for privacy if needed.

***

Cam was trying not to laugh. Detective Price absolutely did not want to be in her office. It was not the first time she’d dealt with a stubborn officer. One that thought he was fine. That figured she’d just sign his release and he’d be done.

Sometimes she’d meet with them a few times, make her recommendation based on their work history and current mental state, and they’d be done. Others took longer.

She was thinking Ian’s would be pretty simple. He’d passed all his tests with flying colors. But no one got a release on one visit from her. Especially when they didn’t want to talk about what actually happened. So until he at least acknowledged more than his partner was lucky to be alive that night, he’d have to come back.

“Do you always leave alone?” he asked her when she turned to lock up the office door.

“Normally. My secretary never wants to stay a minute past five. Guess she has an active social life that is more important than work. Tonight it’s a softball league she’s in. Said she was the starting pitcher and had to get there early to warm up. Something along those lines.”

Good staff was hard to come by. Tiffany had been employed for a few months now. She did her job well when she was there and there wasn’t much more Cam could ask for at this point. It was better than the last three secretaries she’d had.

Ian snorted. “I got that impression.”

“Did she hit on you?” Cam asked, trying to hide her annoyance. She’d outgrown the days of rebelling against any authority by the time she was twenty. Tiffany was years behind, it seemed.

“Does it matter? I’m not interested either way.”

“It wouldn’t be the first time she’s hit on one of my patients. Most are either in situations like yourself, short-term looking for a release, court-appointed assessments for trial, or…high end.”

“Not a lot of privacy for high end in here.”

“Actually you’re wrong. Because there are so many businesses in this complex, it’s hard for anyone to know why someone would be entering unless they were followed to their destination.”

Which was exactly why she’d chosen this location. She was on the third floor with five other businesses. There were two floors above her too. Clients could easily find another reason why they were in the building if they wanted to and most did. Most doubled up on appointments and saw someone before or after her, covering their tracks.

“Whatever makes people feel good.”

She turned and looked at him in the elevator. Really looked at his features. Dark hair, dark eyes, a few days’ growth of beard. Not messy, not lazy, just…manly. It seemed to fit his personality.

“That is part of my job. To help people. To make them feel better.”

“Does everyone feel better when they leave your office?”

“Not always. Not everyone can be helped. I understand that. Do you?”

“What? Feel better? I thought our session was over with?” he said, lifting an eyebrow.

He was good. “It is. Just having a conversation.”

“Elevator conversation is normally things like ‘What do you think about this weather? Did you catch the game last night?’”

She liked his personality. Keeping just enough of himself back, but not so much that you wondered what was going on. A secret bad boy. Nothing wrong with that and though she was annoyed with Tiffany, she could appreciate the need to take a risk and see where she’d end up. “I can catch the weather on the news like most people. And I don’t have time for sports.”

He laughed at her. “Good point.”

They rode down in silence now, then headed out to the parking lot. “I’ll see you in a couple of days,” she said. He nodded and walked in the other direction. She turned toward her car. “Shit!”

He was back at her side fast. “Well now, Doctor, is that any way to talk?”

It was wrong, she knew it, but she couldn’t stop it. All of those years of control flew out the window just now. Right in front of her. Her brand new Mercedes that she’d had all of three weeks had two tires slit.

“Sorry. I think that warranted it,” she said with a nod toward the tires.

“Guess you don’t make everyone feel good after all.”

 

Intense Love…Prologue #mgtab

INTENSELOVE(1)

It’s that time again. A little teaser of my next novella in the Love Collection, Intense Love!

Prologue

“Are you sure this is the right place?” Ian asked his partner, Mick.

He and Mick had been partners for three years now, since Ian was promoted to detective. Mick was closing in on retirement and the two of them had a nice working relationship. One where Mick let Ian do the bulk of the work in the guise of “training.”

It was all fine with Ian though. He’d rather be reliant only on himself. Mick was a good guy. A good detective. One just counting down his days. Three hundred and twenty-three to be exact.

“Zippy said this is where he got his last batch.”

Zippy was Mick’s informant. Nicknamed that because he always had a Ziploc bag of something on him. Usually drugs, but sometimes food. He had a fascination with the little blue plastic handle sliding back and forth.

“He’s not usually wrong,” Ian said back. Zippy might be high half the time, but he knew where to get his stash when he needed it.

Ian closed in on the door at the end of the hall of the condemned building. Condemned buildings should be empty, but instead were full of drugs, users, and their sellers taking up residence.

He and Mick were looking for a dude named Fast for questioning about a murder that happened last week. Not only did Fast get users the goods in a speedy fashion, but he managed to slip away before anyone could find him.

There were low voices coming through the door. A man and a woman. A little pleading and a lot of begging. He was thinking someone might be short on funds and was trying to barter her way for a quick fix.

The door was slightly ajar, so Ian pushed it open with his foot, his gun drawn. Mick’s too. No use taking any chances in a place like this. There were no expectations Fast would come with them peacefully, if he was even here.

They were making their way into the rundown nasty rat-infested living room. Furniture was overturned, holes with coils sticking out. There was a stench in here that would cling to his clothes even after a washing, he was positive.

The voices in the back were getting louder and it seemed to be just the two of them…no one else around, which was surprising. Normally in places like this, users could be seen passed out or shooting up everywhere you turned. That should have given him the first indication something wasn’t right.

Instead, he followed Mick’s lead this time down another hall. They were just outside the room the voices were coming from when he heard a creak behind him, turned, and took a blow to the head, sending him down and out.

When he came to a few seconds later his vision was blurred, but he saw Mick down next to him, blood pooling everywhere and a young woman over him with a bloody knife bringing it down again. He lifted his arm and fired, then blacked out.

Intense Love #mgtab

INTENSELOVE(1)

A detective on the mend. A psychiatrist being tormented. Can their pretend relationship uncover who’s behind the threats?

Dr. Cameron Mason went into private practice so she could help the victims. She spends a lot of her time putting the accusers away. It’s what she thrives at. What she wants. What’s right. Until someone didn’t think it was so right and decided to silence her from ever helping others again.

After killing a teenager hopped up on heroin—that happened to be stabbing his partner—Detective Ian Price is mandated to get released by the city shrink. He wants to get in, get his release and get out. Until he sees she’s being victimized herself. Now he must go undercover in his most dangerous assignment yet. The threat isn’t just for his safety or his sanity, but also his heart.

Beach Love…Chapter One #mgtab

Beach Love(1)

My last teaser of Beach Love until it’s released. If you haven’t read the prologue you can catch up on that first.

There’s the first chapter.

Exactly Who

Melissa Mahoney grabbed her folder and her keys, then made her way to her first showing of the day. She hadn’t even met, let alone talked to her new client. All communication had been done via email.

He wanted a beachfront property on Kent Island. Most houses were on the water, but not all had sandy beaches. The bulk had banks of rocks and you entered the water climbing down the rocks or off your personal dock. The sandy beach would be the tough part, but he had a healthy budget and was paying cash. Normally she’d ask for proof ahead of time, but didn’t need to when he sent her a letter from his attorney verifying his funds.

She had two properties to show him today. One didn’t have a beach but had access to one two houses down, on top of his own large dock. The other had a beach, but was under budget and a major fixer upper. He never specified either way about potential renovations, so she’d get more of a feel of what he was looking for today.

She was just walking up the front walkway of the Stevensville property ten minutes before the appointment when she heard the roar of a motorcycle coming down the road. Her father had a Harley when she was a kid and she could spot one by its sound a mile away.

When the Harley Road King pulled next to her BMW she tried to hide her shock. She wasn’t sure what to expect from her client today, but it wasn’t this. Most didn’t show up for a house showing on a bike, much less a brand new custom ride like that. She’d always been a sucker for a bike. Part of being daddy’s little girl.

He was clearly tall by the length of his legs. Nice muscular ones under his jeans. Not to mention the defined biceps peeking out of his T-shirt. When was the last time she noticed that on a client? Never!

She stood there and watched him shut the bike off, stand up and then turn his back—letting her admire that part of his body too—while he took his helmet off and hung it on the handlebars. Then he turned and looked at her. She wasn’t sure her jaw ever hung open like this before. Now he could probably toss grapes in the opening.

No way. It couldn’t be. Not him. Not the man that had hit on her at her best friend Sheldon’s wedding just last month. Just down the road from this house, no less.

She had to be dreaming. She’d never gotten his last name though. Just knew him as Connor and a friend of Sheldon’s husband, Dr. Erik McMann.

Connor strode up the walkway toward her, his cocky grin matching the mischievous look in his light blue eyes telling her he knew exactly who he was meeting with today.

She’d been attracted to him at the wedding. She’d been tempted too. But she didn’t do one-night stands and once she knew what was really on his agenda, she walked away.

“So we meet again,” he said, his deep voice carrying a ton of humor in it.

She could play it cool. She’d mastered the cool face years ago. It was what made her one of the top realtors in Queen Anne and Anne Arundel counties. She read people well, sought out what they wanted and made sure she found it for them at the best possible price. “I didn’t realize it was you that contacted me.”

He put his hand on his chest—his overly large hand. Her treacherous body was warming up, reminding her how it felt to have that hand holding hers. “I’m hurt.”

His charming smile told her otherwise. “I find that hard to believe.” She held her hand out to his, pretending that she didn’t feel the same spark she’d felt when he held her in his arms and danced with her a month ago. When her heart raced and she found she was more attracted to him than what was healthy for her peace of mind.

But he’d made his point clear on what he was looking for and no amount of smooth talking ever let her fall for a one-night stand. She wanted the real thing. She wanted something that lasted a lifetime or at least had the potential for it. And Connor Landers wasn’t that.

He laughed at her comment and she was glad to know she hadn’t offended him. Though from her short interaction with him before, she guessed his feelings never got hurt. “So show me this house. It doesn’t look to me like it has a beach out back.”

“It doesn’t,” she said. “But I’m sure you noticed the beach only two houses over that you passed. Every house in the development has rights to multiple beaches.”

“But I want my own personal beach. I’m greedy that way.”

She figured he’d be that way. “Then let me show the house and you can let me know what you like or dislike for future reference.”

“I’ve got nothing but time on my hands today. So show me what you’ve got.”

She turned back toward the house wondering if she should be thinking about the double meaning he clearly threw her way.

***

Connor was holding back his laugh. He loved surprising people and had a feeling Melissa Mahoney hadn’t put his email inquiry together with the guy who had tried to convince her to spend the night with him at Erik’s wedding. If she had, she probably would have said she wasn’t interested in working with him, just like she’d turned him down flat that night.

He wasn’t used to that, to being told he couldn’t have what he wanted. At least not in the past several years. When he was younger he got what he wanted all the time too. Until he was put in his place and told he had to earn it. So he did.

Then he found other ways to get what he wanted. He found other ways to get the need for adventure and attention out of his system without causing pain or embarrassment to others. Everyone he was with knew what they were getting with him. He was upfront and honest at all times.

He watched Melissa walking in front of him, her curvy body in her slim skirt, fitted top and kick ass killer heels. She was on the short side, made more significant by his six foot one height. He’d bet he was close to a foot taller than her. He’d always been drawn toward tall and thin, but something about Melissa put all those other women he’d been with in the past out of his mind.

She showed him around the two-story house, one that wasn’t to his liking at all, and he made a point of informing her of that. She didn’t get ruffled, didn’t do anything more than jot down notes and ask more specific questions.

Keeping it businesslike. Damn.

“Well,” she said, “I do have another house to show you. It does have its own personal beach, but the house is in need of a lot of work.”

That wasn’t what he wanted at all, but he wasn’t ready to end his day with her. Might as well keep his options open just in case. “Sure. Let’s see what it has to offer.”

“You can follow me there, then.”

He climbed on his bike and waited for her to pull out of the driveway, then followed her through the same development.

He shut his bike off and got out to follow her to the back of the house they just stopped at. “We can look at the beach first since that seems to be your top criteria.”

“Sounds good.” Anything to get more of a view of her walk. His hands were itching to touch her again, but he wouldn’t be that bold.

“So what do you do for a living?” she asked.

“I’m a doctor.”

She stopped and turned. “Really? None of your paperwork indicated that.”

Again, he surprised her. He wasn’t sure why she seemed so shocked though. “I don’t need to announce my profession.”

“Very true. So what kind of doctor?”

“Neurology. University of Maryland, but my office is out of Annapolis.”

“Are you looking for a second home or to move here permanently?”

A second home had been his original thought, but now he wasn’t sure. “I haven’t decided at the moment. I guess it depends on how good you are.”

She blushed and he knew she got his meaning.

 

 

Beach Love…Prologue #mgtab

Beach Love(1)

It’s that time again. Here is a sneak peek of Beach Love.  It’s just 99 cents!

Prologue

Connor looked around the white sterile room. No windows, no color, no one but him sitting there with a cold sweat running down his back.

He wasn’t sure why he was nervous; it wasn’t his first visit here. Probably wouldn’t be his last.

Twenty minutes had passed, he figured. He didn’t have his phone to look at. That had been taken from him when they escorted him into the building. He didn’t even get his one phone call to make. Something was different this time and he wasn’t sure what, but had a feeling he might not like it.

When he heard feet coming down the hall, he expected an officer to open the door and then be followed in by his father.

He was only half right. An officer opened the door. He wasn’t followed in by his father, but rather his grandfather. Not good.

Andrew Landers nodded to the officer to leave the room and then walked over to where Connor was sitting, staring into eyes the same color as his. Ice blue. His grandfather’s stare was cold. Connor’s not so much with the fear currently filling them.

“What are you doing here?” Connor asked. “Where’s Dad?”

“Your parents are at some gala or another one of those frivolous things your mother drags him to.”

Nothing new there. His parents were never home and couldn’t be bothered with their own child.

“So Dad called you?” Connor couldn’t imagine that happening. He’d kind of figured he’d be sitting here for a few hours while his parents finished their night out. It wouldn’t be the first time they’d made him wait. He was used to it by now.

“Not likely. I’ve got friends in the department. My guess is they’re fed up with your parents doing nothing about your behavior and decided to go over their head hoping someone would put an end to it.”

Connor’s father was a high-priced defense attorney in Baltimore. He had no shortage of wealthy clients or friends on the force. His grandfather on the other end was a real estate mogul who had no shortage of people that would bow at his feet for attention while pushing anyone out of their way. His parents had been known to lead the pack shoving people aside.

“So now what?” Connor asked, knowing there was no way he was just going to be able to get up and walk out like when his father came and got him in the past.

“Now you listen to me,” his grandfather said, standing with his arms crossed opposite of where Connor was sitting. He knew better than to even consider looking away or standing up. Nor would his grandfather sit down.

“I was just driving down the road,” Connor said, trying to defend himself.

When his grandfather leaned his hands on the table and inched his face closer to Connor’s, he forced himself not to shrink back. “You were drag racing in that stupid Mustang GTO your mother bought you for your birthday six months ago. Drag racing is illegal. You’re sixteen. I could have them pull your license right now if I wanted.”

No kid wanted their new license taken away. His parents would never consider doing that, but his grandfather would have it done in a heartbeat.

“Is that what’s going to happen?” he asked, making sure his voice didn’t shake like the rest of him desperately wanted to do.

“Nope. You’re going to listen to me though. I know why you do what you do. I know you want your parents’ attention. You’ve been trying to get it your whole life. How’s that working out for you so far?”

Connor didn’t agree or deny it. It seemed he didn’t need to. So he continued to sit there staring at the only person who ever really paid much attention to him. Then he watched as his grandfather pulled something from inside of his suit jacket. It was after ten at night and his grandfather still showed up in a suit.

“What’s that?” Connor asked.

His grandfather unfolded the piece of paper and dropped it on the table. “Your trust fund.” Connor looked it over, astonished at the number staring back at him. “And this is a lighter.”

He snapped his head up fast, then watched as his grandfather picked the paper up, produced a flame and brought the paper close. “You wouldn’t,” he whispered, knowing his face resembled freshly fallen snow.

“This is your last chance, Connor,” he said when he closed the top, extinguishing the flame. “Don’t think I won’t. And don’t think your parents will give you one. They’re living off your father’s now since your mother spends more than what your father brings in. They’ll have no problem cutting you off at eighteen so they can spend less on you.”

Connor believed that. “What do I need to do?”

“Make me proud,” his grandfather said simply. Like that was something simple to even accomplish.

“How?”

“By making yourself proud first.” Then his grandfather left the room.

Connor didn’t know what he was supposed to do, so he sat there. Thirty minutes or more went by, easily, and an officer opened the door, looking shocked to see Connor at the table. “Still here?”

“Can I leave?”

The officer laughed. “I thought you left with your grandfather. I need this room now. Don’t worry. I’m sure I’ll see you again.”

Connor got up and walked out, telling himself it was time to make some decisions. Time to grow up.

Fierce- Mason #mgtab

Mason_3

It’s the quiet ones you need to watch out for…proving who really is the fiercest of the five.

Mason Fierce was the smart one. The quiet one. The least fierce of the Fierce Five. He’s a force to reckon with running his own brewery and doing what he wants…the way he wants it. He’s still the smart one, still the quiet one, but he’s out to prove that brute strength isn’t what makes you fierce, but accepting who you are and embracing it makes you the fiercest of them all.

Jessica Corning has always loved science. She’s what many would call nerdy. Geeky, even. Never had a boyfriend, never even wanted one. She just wanted to focus on school and her hobbies. Her new love—beer. So a part-time job giving tours at Fierce Brewery is a dream come true for her. The last thing she expects is to find that maybe she wouldn’t mind having a guy in her life after all. If only her new boss would even notice her.

First Comes Love #mgtab

Do you remember the first time you fell in love?

How about that smile you didn’t want to fill your face when you saw that special someone, fearing they’d think you were nuts? You know that one. The big toothy one with sparkles in your eyes because everything you see is surrounded by rainbows, puppies, and unicorns.

And let’s not forget the sweaty palms and racing heart. Butterflies swarming in the belly too. Been there and done that.

I was thirteen the first time I fell in love. Seven years later, I walked down the aisle with my high school sweetheart. We’ve been married twenty-four years now.

Whether you were a teen or in your twenties, maybe your thirties, forties, or even seventies, the first time you fell in love, it stays with you. That giddiness that makes you hop out of bed and rush to see that special someone.

That’s why I put together a collection of three of my favorite novels. They also happen to be the first book in each of my three series.

First Comes Love is out for a limited time for $4.99. That’s a big savings when each book sells for $2.99. And if you’ve got Kindle Unlimited, you can read it for free!

Included in this set are the stories of Ben Harper and Presley James of All or Nothing, Nick Buchanan and Mallory Denning of Second Chance and Brody Fierce and Aimee Reed of Fierce-Brody.

If you’re looking for the thrill of love, you’ll enjoy First Comes Love!