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.

 

 

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.

A Chance at a $15 Amazon CG #mgtab

I want to know what books you’d like to read next! I just finished the draft of Fierce-Cade (the 4th book in the Fierce Five Series) and will start the draft of Fierce-Ella soon. Fierce-Aiden was released and you can purchase it on Amazon.

But in the meantime, I’m trying to plan out where to go next. Many of you have sent me emails, comments, and reviews that you’d like to see more of the All Series and the Lake Placid Series along with the Fierce Five. Don’t worry, I do plan on adding to those other series as well.

So where does the Amazon gift card come into play? Hop over to my FB page by clicking on the picture below. Just comment : All Series, Lake Placid, or Fierce Five. On Friday the 18th, I’ll randomly draw and name for the gift card. Pretty easy and then I can get an idea of what you, as my readers, would like to see more of.

All Series

Fierce- Aiden Chapter Two #mgtab

Aiden(1)

Here is the last teaser I’m going to provide for Fierce- Aiden. You can catch up on the Prologue and Chapter One.

More Nervous

Nic Moretti cupped her hands on the frosted window of Fierce’s big wooden door, then peeked inside. The lights were on, but the door was locked tighter than the gates of heaven trying to keep out the devil.

She tapped on the glass and waited, not wanting to be late for the interview. As it was, she was shocked she’d been called in for one. She hadn’t even known about the opening at Fierce, and probably never would have if a regular hadn’t come into the cafe she worked at and asked to speak with the person who’d made her lunch.

Seemed that regular was the mother of the owners of Fierce. Jolene Fierce had introduced herself last week after Nic was asked by the owner to go talk with a customer. Here Nic was all nervous something was wrong, only to be praised left and right. “I’ve been coming to this cafe for years, and I’ve never tasted bread and pasta as wonderful as the past few months. I just had to see who the master was behind it.”

Jolene had seemed sweet and made Nic’s day, but once her boss walked away, Jolene pulled out her card and said, “I hope you don’t think I’m too forward, but I’d like to see if you’re interested in applying to work at my son’s restaurant.”

Nic had looked around quickly, hoping no one was listening to their conversation. She’d only been working at the cafe for about six months, and even then, moved from pastries to some specialty dishes. As much as it wasn’t the life she envisioned, she really couldn’t blow this job. “I don’t know. I like it here and I haven’t been employed that long.”

“Please,” Jolene had said, and slid the card forward. “Just think about it.”

Nic nodded her head, picked the card up, and walked away before looking at it. Once she did, she knew she had no choice but to at least submit her resume.

Fierce was the hottest place around. Not just the brewery, but the pub and restaurant as well. Two different types of fare out of the main building. The pub had more casual, laid-back everyday food with a flare of the unexpected, with the Fierce brew making its way into most dishes.

The restaurant in the back had the same options available as the pub, but a broader menu. A more elaborate one. Not even a set menu, but one that changed weekly with only a few items that remained constant.

Nic had never realized that before, but one day she heard another coworker talking about the meal they’d eaten at the restaurant and how it was completely different than the last time they’d been there. She’d asked what was different and was told, “They change the menu each week. You can get the pub menu back there if you want, or you can get a meal as if you were traveling to a different part of the world.”

“Meaning they have different cuisines?” she asked, not really following. It wasn’t like she had an abundance of time or money to go out to eat often.

“Yeah. I guess. But they change their menu. No reservations, either. You go and maybe you get an all-Italian supplemental menu to choose from that night, or maybe French, Indian, or German. It could be anything.”

“And people like that?” Nic had asked.

“Are you kidding me? That’s the best part of it. It keeps people going back all the time, trying to land on their favorite. There’s no rhyme or reason to it either. Well, they post the style of cuisine on all their social media outlets on Sunday for the following week, but that’s it. No other notice than that.”

Nic had shrugged and thought that was nuts, but since Fierce was so popular, it had to work. During her research for this interview, she found that Aiden Fierce was the recipient of a James Beard Award at just twenty-five years old. He obviously knew what he was doing.

That Jolene Fierce thought she was worthy of an interview was kind of laughable.

Aiden had attended the Culinary Institute of America. He’d interned at the Food Network, then spent a few years traveling all over the world honing his skill. She’d worked beside her grandmother and aunts, cooking and baking since she was a child. Now she worked in a cafe making a little over minimum wage. It just didn’t seem like this was possible.

“I’m so sorry,” an employee said as she opened the door quickly. “I completely forgot that Aiden had an interview scheduled and didn’t unlock the front door. I hope you haven’t been waiting long.”

“No. Just a minute or so,” Nic said, looking at the mass of wild black curly hair that was pulled back from the employee’s face.

“I’m Aimee, by the way.” She held her hand out and Nic shook it quickly. “I’m the day manager at the bar. Come on in and have a seat. You’re a little early. I think Aiden is out back, but he’ll pop his head in when he’s ready.”

Nic looked at her watch. She still had ten minutes to spare. “Thanks.” She pulled a chair out and sat at a table out of the way.

“You don’t have to sit way over there,” Aimee said. “Come on over and sit at the bar. Normally interviewees do and then start peppering me with questions.”

Nic stood up and moved closer, not wanting to be rude. “Is it okay to do that?”

“What, ask me questions? Sure, go right ahead.”

“I read there is a new supplemental menu for the restaurant weekly. Are there sous chefs for each specialty for the week? Chefs with their own recipes?”

“That’s a really good question,” Aimee said, smiling. “Most of the time I’m asked what Aiden is like. If he is really strict, words of advice to say, or anything that could give them an edge during the interview.”

Nic flushed. It never occurred to her to ask that, and was glad she didn’t by the look on Aimee’s face. “I guess I’m just focused on the food.”

Aimee smiled and patted her hand, in reassurance, she hoped. “As far as I know, all the recipes ultimately come from Aiden. He takes his employees’ input for sure, but he is the one who puts it all together. There are some chefs back there that specialize in a specific cuisine, but everyone has to be well rounded too.”

That was good to know and something to store away if it came up. Best not to talk too much about her Italian roots.

“Aimee.” She turned to see someone walking in the room. “Oh sorry, I didn’t know you were with someone.”

“Hey, Ella. This is Aiden’s first interview today. I’m so sorry, I didn’t even ask your name. So rude of me. I have to say I was just so excited to see a woman that everything flew out of my head.”

“Nic Moretti. No worries. There are no other women in the restaurant?” What was she getting herself into? Yes, it was a male-dominated field, but normally there were a few women around.

“Of course there are. I’m Ella Fierce.” She stuck her hand out. “Sorry about Aimee. She’s surrounded by the Fierce men and still isn’t used to being part of the family now, so she gets giddy when she sees another woman. She forgets I’m right upstairs too. But then again, I’m used to this.”

Nic’s head was bouncing back and forth as she tried to figure out the inside joke the two of them were smiling about, but was afraid to ask.

Aimee grinned. “I’m newly engaged to Brody. Brody Fierce. He runs the bar.”

“How many siblings are there?” Nic asked. Maybe she should have studied more about the business as a whole.

Ella laughed at her. “Do you know anything about our business?”

“The restaurant. I mean, I know about the brewery too,” Nic stumbled, wishing she hadn’t said anything. Her face was turning red; she knew it was. “I researched the restaurant and Aiden. That’s the position I’m applying for and felt it was best to focus on that for now.”

“She’s already asking actual questions about the menu,” Aimee said. “Not personal ones about Aiden.”

“Nice,” Ella said. “Keep thinking that way and you’ll do fine. Don’t let him intimidate you either.”

“Are you two trying to make me more nervous than I already am?” Nic asked. Seriously! She already didn’t think she had a shot after reading his intimidating biography posted on their website.

“Not at all. Just giving you some advice. Aiden is pretty harmless. Don’t believe everything you hear about him,” Aimee said.

“He’s very passionate about his food and the restaurant,” Ella said. “Nothing more than that. Moretti? I remember my mother used to bring me to this little Italian-owned shop as a kid. Best cannoli I’ve ever had, with chocolate shavings rather than chips in the filling. They had all these homemade pastas there and fresh bread daily that was to die for.”

“That was my grandparents’ shop.” She felt the same tinge of guilt at those words today that she did a year ago.

“Was?” Ella asked.

“It burned down over a year ago.” Nic would never forgive herself for it. Her grandparents—her whole family—entrusted the legacy of Moretti’s in her hands. And she’d failed them.

“They didn’t rebuild?” Ella asked. “What a shame.”

“Not enough insurance money for it,” Nic said simply.

There was no reason to say how money was tight and how her grandparents had taken several loans out to keep the business afloat. Or that they’d never increased the coverage on the policy in over twenty years. Once all debt had been paid, there was barely enough for her grandparents to live out the rest of their lives without scraping by with their social security alone now.

Before either of them could ask her another question, Aiden Fierce appeared in the doorway between the bar and what she assumed was the restaurant. The picture of him on their website didn’t do him justice. “Sorry to interrupt, but I’ve got an interview scheduled right now, if you want to let me know when he gets here.”

Ella and Aimee both burst out laughing. “She’s right here,” Ella said.

“Sorry,” Aiden said, grinning at her, not looking the least bit embarrassed over his faux pas. “I just assumed a guy by the name, my mistake. I’m Aiden Fierce.”

He walked forward and held his hand out to her. His overly large hand that definitely held more than a pen in his lifetime, attached to an equally tall, spectacular body. Strong and toned, and not one of a man that made his living around food, or at least consuming huge amounts of it. If she felt a spark when their hands touched, she wasn’t admitting it.

“Nic Moretti. Nicolette Moretti, but only my grandmother is allowed to call me that,” she said. When he grinned at her, she wished she’d kept her mouth quiet on that last part. She always babbled when she was nervous, and hoped she could find some control now. But darn it all, she didn’t think he’d be even more handsome in person.

 

 

Fierce- Aiden Chapter One! #mgtab

Aiden(1)

If you haven’t had a chance to read the prologue of Fierce-Aiden yet, you can check it out here!

I won’t keep you waiting for chapter one though!

High Expectations

Twelve Years Later

“Really, Shawn?” Aiden snarled. He wasn’t known to lose his temper in the kitchen, or in life in general. Not unless it was major…and this to him was sort of major. His kitchen and his staff were everything, but he still only curled his lip rather than shouting.

Something had to hit Aiden hard for him to slip up and show even that much emotion, though. Normally his staff knew his passion was mixed in with high expectations and they performed to his level, never wanting to receive anything other than his praise.

Yes, he was cocky, and he didn’t care. He’d worked hard for it. He earned it.

But now, right now, there was no controlling his frustration that someone was letting him down. That someone wasn’t living up to his standards, or at least his requirements.

“I’m sorry, Aiden. I love it here. You know I do.” Shawn held Aiden’s brown-eyed stare. He’d taught them all to look him in the eye. He didn’t care if they were right, wrong, scared, or nervous, eye contact was always the best way to show confidence—forced or not. But even with the eye contact, Shawn was shuffling his feet around.

“You aren’t even giving me any notice,” Aiden said, the heat rising up his neck. Shawn was good. One of his better line cooks. Fast, efficient, and driven to learn as much as he could. He’d had high hopes of moving Shawn from the pub to the restaurant soon. This loss was going to hurt bad, but worse yet were the shifts he had to fill on such short notice.

“I’m giving you three days,” Shawn said, quieter now.

“Again, really? Two weeks minimum is what I’ve always required. You know that.”

Shawn took a deep breath. “I know. I know we make more here than anywhere else and there are requirements and expectations. But I don’t have a choice.”

Aiden sighed and tried to gather himself. He walked forward and shut his office door, even though there wasn’t anyone else around in the kitchen this early, then turned and said, “Have a seat and tell me about this choice you don’t have.”

Shawn sat in the chair opposite Aiden’s desk, where he planted himself after he’d shut the door. A glance at his computer didn’t help his mood any—where he was planning this weekend’s specials and had hoped to get Shawn’s input when he came in. That was out of the question now.

“You know Lauren is home on leave. She has to go back on Sunday.”

Lauren was Shawn’s girlfriend, who served in the Army. A nice girl, from the few times Aiden had seen her around.

“Yeah. I gave you last week off to be with her too. That was a last-minute request I accommodated.”

“And I really appreciated it. Lauren did too. But we were talking…and we don’t want to be away from each other again.” Shawn inhaled a huge breath, looking like his chest was going to explode, then rushed out with, “We’re getting married on Saturday and I’m leaving with her.”

Aiden stopped the roll from escaping his eyes…barely. Love. That’s what this was about? Talk about bat-shit crazy. “How long have you two been dating?”

“A year,” Shawn said. “But I’ve known her a long time. We went to school together.”

“How old are you?” Aiden asked, not thinking Shawn was even close to twenty-five.

“Twenty-two,” Shawn said, lifting his whisker-free face higher.

“You’re a baby,” Aiden said before he could stop himself.

“I’m really sorry, Aiden, but I’ve got to do this. I’ve got to follow my heart. Haven’t you ever just wanted to do that?”

Aiden ground his teeth. “It’s not about me. It’s about you. It’s about Fierce. Look, I’m sorry if I overreacted. I’m sorry if you think I’m not happy for you. It’s sudden, but I get it. I just wish I had more notice.”

“I know, I know. I was afraid to tell you. I look up to you so much and I really didn’t want to let you down. But I need to do this.”

Aiden grudgingly stood up and reached his hand out to Shawn’s. He could see there was no use wasting his breath trying to convince Shawn otherwise. “I wish you luck. I really do. If you need anything, let me know.”

“Do you mean that?” Shawn asked, a little wide-eyed.

“Yeah.” Aiden pulled his business card out of a drawer, then flipped it over and wrote on the back of it. “My cell is on the back. If you need help finding a job, or a reference, let me know where you end up living. I know a lot of people and I’ll do what I can for you.”

Shawn took the card and then pumped Aiden’s hand fast and furious. “Can I have a hug?”

“No,” Aiden said, laughing. “Get out of here before I get angry. And Shawn,” he said when the door was opened, “good luck.”

“I don’t need luck. I’m in love.”

This time Aiden rolled his eyes. Love, yeah right. He’d take luck any day over that.

***

“What has you looking so grouchy?” his brother Brody asked him when he walked into the upstairs conference room an hour later for their weekly meeting. Aiden had come in early today hoping to get some work done, before Shawn showed up unannounced hours before his shift. Instead, Aiden spent the past thirty minutes looking through old resumes.

“I only want to say it once, so let’s wait until everyone gets here.”

The two of them sat there quietly for ten minutes, Brody grinning at him, like Brody always did when he knew something was bothering one of his brothers and was trying to get under their skin.

Brody, as the oldest—by all of five minutes over Aiden—was looked to as the leader. A title that Aiden was glad someone else in the family inherited. He had his hands full running the restaurant when he’d much rather just be in there cooking and not worrying about the little things…like staffing.

Mason and Ella walked in together, Cade rushing in at exactly ten like he always did. That was actually early for him.

“Now that we’re all here…” Ella started. Ella always started all the meetings. She ran the numbers end of the business, the personnel end from a higher level too…and what Aiden and his brothers always said behind Ella’s back was that she ran them too. “Anything we need to focus on today other than the normal around-the-room reporting?”

No one said anything and Aiden wasn’t going to either. It wasn’t that big of a deal for the group as a whole. His problem was solely his problem and responsibility.

“All right then,” Ella continued on. “Revenue is nice and steady in the bar, restaurant, and brewery. Here are the reports.” She passed them around the room. He’d look his over in more depth later today. Ella was always thorough and he wished he had an ounce of that trait outside of his culinary skills. “Cade, here is your budget for the upcoming events on the docket. Let me know if it’s too much or too little, and we’ll negotiate.”

Cade picked it up and looked it over, never batting an eye. At one point in time they all argued over whether Ella had the right to give them budgets, but then realized, she really did. She was the only one with her finger on every pulse and they trusted her judgment. Aiden knew he sure the hell didn’t want to deal with that, either.

“That’s all I’ve got for the moment. Who wants to go next?”

“I think Aiden should go next,” Brody said. “He’s sitting over there percolating like leftover chili on an already upset stomach.”

Aiden flipped a single digit at his brother, which only resulted in a laugh. After the year Brody had, Aiden was hard pressed to be annoyed over Brody’s little digs. He was just glad Brody was back to the brother he’d always known and loved.

“Fine,” Aiden said. “I didn’t have anything to report until Shawn showed up early this morning. He gave me his notice.”

“Ouch,” Mason said. Mason and he were the closest to each other in the group, and he knew he’d get sympathy from that end. “Now we know why your eye is twitching and you’re fidgeting in your chair. You know, if you ever let off a little steam then you wouldn’t look like you’re having a stroke when you’re annoyed.” So much for Mason always being in his corner.

“I’ll be happy to help place ads and sort through resumes for you, Aiden,” Ella said, obviously trying not to laugh.

“I’d appreciate that,” he said, ignoring them as a whole.

“You’ve got two weeks to find someone. People are knocking down the door to work with you,” Cade said. “Shouldn’t be too hard.”

Aiden snorted. “Nope. He’s done on Friday.”

“Why?” Ella said. “Two weeks—that’s what we expect.”

“Expecting and getting are two different things,” Brody said. “In this business, Aiden and I know what it’s like. It’s not the same as working in an office, Ella.”

Brody was the last person he’d expected to back him up. “Thanks.”

“No thanks needed, but now I know to keep away from you. If I thought you looked pissy before, it’s only going to get worse. Remember the last time he had to interview?” Brody asked everyone else in the room.

“I hid for those two weeks,” Cade said, “and relied on feedback. I think you all exaggerated, but I didn’t want to be around to find out if it was true.”

“Come on, guys,” Mason said. “He’s not that bad. He just has high expectations.”

“We all do,” Brody said, “but we don’t all snarl during the process. Of course, I appreciated all the food he was mass producing to work off steam.”

“Speak for yourself,” Ella said. “Last time he decided to work on his dessert creations. I’m still trying to lose those three pounds.”

Ella was skinny as a rail, and just teasing, but he’d done it on purpose knowing she had that weakness. His form of revenge on her back then for some reason or another that was eluding his memory.

“So says the guy who needed us to hire his new manager because he wouldn’t do it himself,” Aiden said back.

Brody went six months with an open day manager position until their mother stepped in and told the rest of them to get it taken care of while Brody and Cade were sent to their respective corners to lick their wounds after another fight.

“You don’t hear me complaining,” Brody said. “Best thing you guys did was find Aimee for me.”

Cade snorted. “You didn’t think so back then. I remember a day or so of ranting.”

“And some jealousy over her success in the bar,” Aiden pointed out.

“All a thing of the past,” Brody said, still sporting a big grin. Guess there was no getting under Brody’s skin today.

“He’s in love, guys,” Ella said. “Aimee was the best thing to happen to him. I’m just glad he finally realized he’s not the know-it-all he always thought he was.”

“Cute, Ella,” Brody said. “But since Aimee likes you so much, I’ll let it pass.”

Aiden watched the interaction between his siblings around the table. They always bickered and laughed, smiled and yelled. Emotions could run hot and cold between them all, but they always stood together and always would.

“Yeah, well,” Aiden said, “love is what got me in this mess with Shawn.”

“Is he leaving with Lauren?” Ella asked.

Aiden turned sharply. “How did you guess?”

“Because I pay attention to the staff in the building more than you. Lauren has been around often since she’s been on leave. Shawn talks about her all the time. I’m not really surprised by it and I’m shocked you are.”

“I don’t have time to think about my staff’s personal lives. I’ve got a restaurant to run.”

Brody and Ella laughed, Cade snorted, and Mason just looked at him sympathetically.

No one knew why he felt the way he did about love and couples and personal relationships. All they knew was that he couldn’t be bothered. There was no place for it in his restaurant and no time for it in his life. Not that he’d have it in him to even try at this point.

“Anything else to report?” Ella asked him. “If not, we’ll move on before you get even testier with your personal views of people having a life outside of work.”

He wasn’t testy and didn’t know why she said that, but if he argued it’d be more fuel, so he bit his tongue no matter how much he wanted to defend himself.

He had a life outside of work. Well, he could have one if he wanted to. But he didn’t and he was fine with that.

Another fifteen minutes went by while Mason talked about his new fall brews in the works and Cade talked about future promotions which Aiden was only half listening at best.

It was wrong, he knew; he should pay more attention. The five of them ran everything at Fierce now and had for the past five years. They’d turned their parents’ pub into a company that had its branding recognized all over the United States, thanks to Mason’s brewery that popped up six years ago, and Cade’s and Ella’s skills setting up distribution.

His parents retained ownership long enough for the brewery to get up and running, and the restaurant in back to be expanded, then overhauled. Brody ran the bar, just like he had after high school—the only one of them not to go on to college. Ella became a CPA, Cade, a lawyer, and then they were well on their way to making Fierce what they’d dreamed of.

His life was exactly where he’d always thought it’d be.

He wasn’t testy. Not at all.

 

Fierce- Aiden Prologue #mgtab

Aiden(1)

 

What many of you have been waiting for…teasers for Fierce- Aiden!! Isn’t he just smoking hot?!

Prologue

The alarm clock buzzed loudly throughout the room, sounding like a bullhorn going off, though the volume was only set at two.

Aiden Fierce pried his tired eyes open, slapped around until he found the right button, then looked at the flashing red numbers lighting up the room: 3:00 a.m.

He was driven.

He was determined.

He was nuts.

None of his other classmates were getting up at the crack of butt-ugly dawn. And he’d bet none of his professors were either.

But he was in Long Island at the Culinary Institute of America and he was taking advantage of this opportunity.

It didn’t matter that it was demoralizing he wasn’t the head of his class like he felt he should be. That he wasn’t a standout here like back home. Or that he had so much more to learn than he’d ever imagined.

All that mattered was that he was going to prove himself. He wasn’t going to be looked at like the Southern boy whose parents owned and operated a pub. A guy who’d never make more of himself than frying up burgers and wings.

Nope. He and his siblings—the Fierce Five as they were dubbed—were going to transform the pub their parents had started into the hot spot of Charlotte. They were going to put Fierce on the map. And it was going to start with him. The food.

Just because things weren’t going as smoothly as he’d thought—hoped—didn’t mean he was going to let his family down. Just meant he had to work harder.

The five of them had made this plan. They all picked a path that suited their skill levels and personalities, and they were ready to do their part. They were going to give their parents the retirement they deserved.

Did he miss his three brothers and his sister? Absolutely. Like his soul was ripped from his body. In some ways, it felt exactly like that.

Quintuplets. Never separated at all. Now they were all on their own, though he was the farthest away. They talked when their schedules allowed, but it wasn’t enough. It never could be. It was as if his heart was missing a few beats almost daily.

But it’d only been a few months and it would get better, his mother assured him. She’d never been wrong before and he hoped she wasn’t this time.

He pushed the thoughts of family aside and crawled out of bed, then made his way to the shower. Time to get to work.

He didn’t need the money. He needed the experience. He felt he was behind the eight ball and he wasn’t going to continue to let that happen. Instead, he’d sought out the best he could find in New York and bartered free labor for mentoring. So far he was on his second place. A local bakery. They started baking at three every morning, but told him to be in at four. Lucky him for the extra hour of sleep.

At the end of his three-hour shift, he went back to his room and crashed face down on the bed, thrilled his classes wouldn’t start for another two hours.

When he finally made it to class—fifteen minutes early and not even the first one there, but at least not the last—he took his seat and waited for the instructor to arrive. Finals were being handed back early. Last day of class and then they were on their way for the holiday break.

He’d prepared and recreated his dish so many times he could do it in his sleep. Since he’d been dreaming of it for weeks, he practically had. He was banking on an A.

He had this.

He was going to move into that top spot before his first full year was over. He knew it!

When his paper was placed in front of him on the desk, all he saw was a note to go to the back page. He looked around the room and saw everyone’s grades were on the front.

Flipping to the back he didn’t see a grade but another note. One that said, “Forged/Copy, see me after class.”

He started to sweat. No way this was happening. His recipe was original. Everything was. No one had access to it. No one.

Now what? He couldn’t fail this class. He couldn’t fail period. But worse yet, with the strict rules on cheating, he could be expelled.

What would he tell his family? He couldn’t let them down.

He couldn’t be the one to crush the dreams of making Fierce what it was destined to be.

 

 

Fierce- Aiden

Aiden(1)

Fierce—The Restaurant—where there is more than food heating up the kitchen.

Aiden Fierce is the cockiest of the Fierce Five, and with reason. He has culinary talent like no one has ever seen. Skill that many work their whole lives to achieve and can’t even skim the surface. But with cockiness comes trouble. Comes expectations so high that they threaten to crumble down the mountain before he can reach his peak.

Nic Moretti knows about family pressure. She knows about trying to hold it all together and what it means to fail. Guilt—that’s what failure feels like. The charred smell that remained after her family business burned to the ground. A sense of loyalty and responsibility is the only thing she can focus on, pushing all her own dreams aside until…Aiden Fierce enters her life. 

Chi si volta, e chi si gira, sempre a casa va finire. –Italian saying.
Translation: No matter where you go or turn, you will always end up at home.

Available on Amazon!

Fierce- Brody…Chapter One

If you haven’t read the prologue for Fierce-Brody yet, hurry up, because here is chapter one!

brodyks

Doesn’t Know

Aimee Reed walked into Fierce on Monday at ten. She was here to meet Ella Fierce, one of the three Fierce siblings who’d interviewed her last week. At the time, she didn’t know they were quintuplets, but after some research on her new employers she’d found a backstory on their business.

Fierce, started by Gavin and Jolene Fierce thirty-five years ago, had grown from a small pub-style restaurant to one of the hottest spots in Charlotte.

Brody ran the bar and ran it well. It was named one of the top five hot spots for two years running.

Aiden, the head chef, had culinary skills straight from abroad that made people’s mouths salivate when they walked in the door.

Mason, the chemist, ran the brewery that popped up four years ago around the corner from the pub.

Cade handled all the marketing and branding for the company that’d grown by leaps and bounds in the last five years.

And Ella ran everything and everyone else, it seemed.

Their parents—well, it was said that when the kids turned twenty-five, they handed the keys over and decided to enjoy their retirement. Good for them.

“Aimee,” Ella said, extending her hand out. “It’s good to see you again. Let’s get your paperwork started and I’ll walk you around. For the next two days, I’m going to have you shadow Mason in the brewery, studying the brews and what their makeup is, then spend a day with Aiden in the kitchen. It’s best to know the menu well so you can make suggestions for those at the bar during the day.”

“I noticed that most of the menu I saw online had your beer in it.”

“It does. Aiden is a whiz in the kitchen. Every time I blink, he has a new special featuring Mason’s latest experiment. The two of them have gotten extremely close in the last few years and their work complements each other well.”

“Ratings are very high for Fierce.”

Aimee was still stunned she got the job. Waitresses, bartenders, and sous chefs battled for a spot here. Yet she got offered the job and wasn’t sure why. Not a great way to exhibit confidence, she mentally scolded herself. But sometimes who you knew was better than what you knew…and there was no way she was going to blow this.

“They are,” Ella said, nodding, sending Aimee a glance that clearly stated she should feel lucky to have gotten the job. The Fierce Five, as they were referred to in everything Aimee had read, were a cocky group of five siblings running the show in downtown Charlotte. They didn’t just set the bar for their competitors, they blew it up with dynamite.

Aimee followed Ella through the closed bar, past the formal seating of the restaurant, into the kitchen where prep work was underway for the lunch shift, and up a set of stairs to the offices. Several offices, mainly looking empty at the moment.

She took a seat at the conference table where she’d interviewed just a short five days ago. In front of her were a laptop and a few sheets of paper.

“Let’s get started on the boring part, and then we can move on to the fun stuff. Mason knows we’re coming.”

“When will I start working with Brody?”

Aimee thought it was odd that the person who was going to be her immediate supervisor not only wasn’t there to meet her, but his name hadn’t been mentioned.

Ella laughed lightly, a sound that didn’t match the look in her eyes. “We’re going to try to push that off until Wednesday. Maybe Thursday, if we’re lucky.”

“Ah, okay.”

Ella reached a hand over and patted hers, then grinned. “You see. He doesn’t know about you yet.”

***

“You did what when I was gone?” Brody shouted at his siblings Wednesday morning during their weekly meeting.

“You should have filled that position six months ago when Felix left and you know it,” Ella said.

Brody looked around the room at everyone. No one was making eye contact with him right now and that just burned his ass even more.

“I had it covered,” he argued. “We don’t need another manager at the bar. I run the bar.” He turned to Aiden. “You run the restaurant, so you hire your own staff, right?”

“Yeah,” Aiden mumbled.

Next, Brody turned to Mason. “Do you hire your own staff in the brewery?”

Mason looked at Ella, then back to him. “Of course.”

“I won’t bother to ask you, Cade. It’s just you and your assistant. But we know you hire for yourself. So the question is, why wasn’t I given the same courtesy?”

“Take it up with Mom,” Ella said boldly, then crossed her arms, smirking the way Brody hated. The same smirk she sent him and his brothers when they were younger and they knew they’d never win. The same smirk he and his brothers learned to master—a trait of their mom’s.

“Shit,” he mumbled.

“That’s right,” Cade said, regaining his voice. “It was Mom’s idea.”

“Do you want a matching shiner?” Brody snarled.

Ella stood up. “Enough. Do you both need another timeout?”

“We aren’t five, Ella,” Cade said, snapping back. Good. Someone else was losing their temper, Brody thought.

“Then don’t act it,” she said.

“How many barf bags did you fill on Dad’s boat?” Brody asked Cade.

“Screw you,” Cade said, standing up.

“That’s enough,” Aiden said, in the same voice that controlled his kitchen—like a nun holding a ruler above your knuckles just waiting for a chance to snap it down. “The order came from Mom. That’s the end of it, Brody. The same order that decided you got a solo timeout and Cade got to go fishing.”

Brody snorted. His mother knew everyone’s weakness and she played it well. Brody hated being alone, hated any type of solitude. That was why he did so well managing the bar. He could talk to strangers day in and day out. The louder the better. Cade had the weakest stomach of them all and could never stand the smell of fish, let alone being on their father’s boat deep-sea fishing.

“So you all knew about this?” Brody asked, looking around.

His eyes landed on Aiden, then Mason, seeing the guilt and the looks that the two of them were sending each other. There was a time his brothers didn’t keep secrets from him. A time they banded together against any foe.

“I found out on Monday when I got back,” Cade said. “So don’t get pissy with me. It was done when I was gone.”

That didn’t make him feel any better since that was two days ago. “So when does he start?”

“She,” Ella said. “Her name is Aimee Reed and she started on Monday.”

From bad to worse. The person was already working and he’d never seen her. Where the hell was she?

“How is that possible?” Was he really losing his mind and his focus like his family thought?

Ella took her seat again. “Aimee and I met early Monday before you came in and we did her paperwork. She spent Monday with Mason in the brewery. Yesterday, she spent the day with Aiden in the kitchen.”

“And today?” he asked. “Am I going to get to meet this person that you thought should be my day manager? Or do I need to get permission from Mom first?”

“Cut the sarcasm,” Aiden said. “And don’t be a jerk to Aimee. She knows her stuff and you need the help.”

He didn’t need his siblings telling him how to run his end of the business. “I’ll determine what she knows and doesn’t know.”

“What bug crawled up your butt?” Mason asked.

Of his brothers, Mason was the quietest, Aiden the most talented, Cade the most outgoing, and he was the loudest. That Cade was keeping his lips sealed meant he was trying not to get on anyone’s bad side.

“I don’t know,” Brody said. “Maybe it’s the fact you’ve all been on my case for months. I took my punishment like Cade, but came back to find that you all thought I couldn’t do my job. That you all think I need some kind of a babysitter.”

“No one needs a babysitter,” Ella said softly.

“That’s funny coming from the person who seems to be making all the decisions right now.”

Ella laughed. “I’ve always been the one to make the final decisions. You guys all have your branches and you just run with it and never worry about the messes you create or the work it takes to make things happen behind the scenes. That has always fallen on me.”

“You love it,” Cade said.

“Believe what you want,” Ella said calmly. “But in this case, I’m cleaning up the mess you’ve made, Brody.”

“There’s no mess. The bar’s revenue has increased steadily at ten percent for the last six months. Explain that mess to me.”

Ella sighed. “Yes, the bar is profitable. Yes, Cade is bringing in more attractions and live music to help that. Yes, Mason is making more brews to help sell at the bar. And yes, Aiden’s food is sought after, also helping the bar. See, you all need to work together to make it work the best. The problem is, you aren’t working with anyone, Brody.”

It hurt to hear Ella say that. That he wasn’t being a team player. He’d always been the leader of the group and now he was being told he couldn’t lead anymore. That part of his identity was being stripped away.

He wanted to shout at Ella, at everyone, but he didn’t. The last time he started shouting, fists went flying and he found himself spending a week in a hotel room alone. This time he tried to find some restraint, the one thing he had the least of among all his siblings. Being a hothead went hand in hand with being the loudest and the biggest.

“So you think hiring me a new day manager is going to allow me to play nice with everyone?”

Aiden laughed. “You’ve never played nice with us, so we don’t expect it now. We just want to get back to working as a team.”

He wanted to grind his teeth. “I’ve always worked as part of the team.”

“Brody,” Mason said. “You haven’t been the same for a good year now and you know it. The last six months, you’ve been downright ornery. More than normal.”

Again, they weren’t telling him anything he hadn’t known or felt deep inside.

Cade stood up and walked toward him, then stopped and seemed to hesitate. Very unlike Cade to hesitate over anything. “We’ve given you time to get over what happened a year ago. Rather than get better, you’re getting worse. What can we do to help?”

He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “There’s nothing to do. It’s in the past and it’s over with. I’ve moved on. Everyone else should, too.”

“If this is moving on,” Aiden said, “then we’re in trouble.”

 

Fierce – Brody…Prologue

The first in The Fierce Five Series will be live next week. Brody. Though the covers on these books are branded a little differently, it’s still the same style of books I write. Family dynamics mixed with hot romance and a little twist in the way of meddling parents.

Brody_2

I thought I’d give you a little taste for a few days, starting with the Prologue.

Brody swung his bare, size thirteen feet over the side of the bed, lifted his arms above his head and turned to the right, then left. The accompaniment of snap, crackle, pop filled the room.

Naked and feeling gloriously free, he walked into the bathroom for a quick shower. With his head much clearer, he wiped the steam off the mirror and eyed the slight red mark on his temple from the ridiculously low showerhead.

The foreign two-day-old growth of beard staring back at him managed to look neat enough for him to keep. Why not, he thought. Being uncomfortable was the least of his problems right now.

Grabbing his phone, wallet, and key card, he walked out of the hotel room in search of some food.

In the elevator, he finally looked at his phone and noted the time. Guess it was going to be lunch, so he headed toward the bar.

“What can I get you?” the bartender asked. She was well past her prime, trying hard to hide it and failing miserably.

A quick glance at what was on tap had him changing his mind from his normal drink of choice. But when his eyes landed on the stock of liquor reflecting against the mirrored wall, he resigned himself to the cheap stuff. “Vodka and tonic.”

“Coming right up,” she said, her voice a bit raspy, her eyes sending more his way than he wanted to acknowledge. “You want some food with that, sugar?”

“Sure,” he said as he watched her pull a stained sheet of paper out that he supposed passed as a menu.

“What are you in the mood for?” she asked, placing the drink down in front of him. A cheap glass that wasn’t cleaned to his taste either, but not dirty. Spending as much time as he did in a bar, he took note of everything that wasn’t up to his standards.

“A burger and fries,” he said, finding that the least offensive thing at the moment.

When the greasy concoction was slid in front of him, he wished he was back home and could just walk into the kitchen and get his brother Aiden’s specialty fish tacos, made with a slaw marinated in one of his brother Mason’s summer IPAs. As pissed off as he was at everyone right now, he couldn’t get them out of his head.

After washing down the last of his fries with his drink, he threw cash on the bar and walked out to the ocean breeze awaiting him.

Spring on the Outer Banks was busy, and the beach was filling up rapidly with tourists and kids, blankets and umbrellas.

Toeing his shoes off, he picked them up and carried them as he made the lone walk along the shore. Breathing in the salty air mixed with the sweet smell of artificial coconut cleared his head. Doing all the things his siblings told him to do. Too bad he didn’t agree with them.

An hour later, covered in sweat, he undressed and climbed in the shower once again, trying to cool off.

The ringing of his phone had him cursing as he hit his head on the showerhead for a second time stepping out of the tub.

With a towel wrapped around his waist and water dripping on the sterile white bath mat, he pressed the answer button and heard his sister Ella’s voice echoing off the walls on speaker.

“Did I wake you?” she asked.

“No, I was in the shower,” he said, grabbing another towel and running it over his short dark hair and neck.

“So you did just get up? Good, you need some sleep.”

“I’ve been up for hours,” he said, his tone grouchier than normal. “Just got back from a walk on the beach.”

“Even better.” When he snorted, she laughed. “Brody, we’re worried about you. You’re working too hard and too long. This was for your own good.”

“Whatever,” he said, still not happy about being here.

“You’re the only person on the face of this earth who complains about being told to take a week off. What’s wrong with you?”

“When was the last vacation you had?” he asked. “That any of you had?”

“Not the point,” she answered, her voice light but firm. “We aren’t biting each other’s heads off like you.”

“I’m always like that,” he said.

“Not this bad and you know it.”

Sometimes the truth did hurt. “I’m coming home tonight. I can’t stay here another day. I don’t know what to do with myself.”

“We figured you’d say that, so I was elected to make this call. If you step foot in Charlotte before Sunday afternoon, you can’t come to the bar, the restaurant, or the brewery.”

His jaw tightened. “Who’s going to stop me?”

“The staff have instructions to block you from entering. Without you firing them, too. I’ll change the locks if I have to, Brody.”

“What the hell, Ella? Is this some kind of a joke?” He whipped the towel off and started to briskly wipe the steam off the mirror. He needed to do something other than stand here, shell-shocked. How could his family betray him this way?

“Nope. Orders from Mom. Take it up with her if you want.”

His shoulders dropped. Yeah, that wasn’t going to happen. Ella and his mom were outnumbered, five testosterone-bearing behemoths in the house to two estrogen-toting pipsqueaks. Somehow, though, estrogen always seemed to win in the Fierce household.

“See you Sunday,” he said, wondering what the hell he was going to do with himself for the next three days.

“We love you, Brody. Even Cade, but next time you need to keep your fists to yourself. You’d been warned before.”

Brody cracked the barest of grins. “How’s his eye?”

“Not as bruised as his ego.”

“Where was he sent to cool off?” Brody asked.

“He’s fishing with Dad for two more days. Consider yourself lucky you got a solo timeout. He’s getting the lecture.”

Lucky, sure. There was no luck in being the leader of the Fierce Five.