Cover Reveal: Dark Room by Heidi McLaughlin and L.P. Dover

Title: Dark Room: A Society X Novel
Authors: Heidi McLaughlin & L.P. Dover
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Cover Designer: Letitia Hasser at Romantic Book Affairs
Published: January 23, 2016 
*~* STANDALONE NOVEL *~*

The rules of Society X are simple . . . break them and you’re out. 
Rule #1 – No names
It doesn’t matter if you want to know, it’s forbidden.
Rule #2 – No exchanging numbers
It doesn’t matter if you want to call, it’s forbidden.
Rule #3 – Everything is to remain strictly anonymous.
It doesn’t matter if you want to tell, it’s forbidden.
The Dark Room is the only place you can live out your fantasies and no one will ever know it’s you. 
For Parker, what started out as a business transaction has turned into an addiction. 
For Mia, it’s been a chance to discover who she truly is.
What happens in the dark will have you begging for more . . .


Dark Room is hot, provocative, and scintillating. But it’s also so much more than only sex. There’s a love story at its core – one that’s filled with twists and turns. And just when you think you have it all figured out Dover and McLaughlin take you down a different path. Fast paced,emotionally charged, and beyond hot Dark Room will leave you satisfied in all the right ways… –Melissa Collins, NYT & USA Today Best Selling author of The Love Series

Sexy, sexy, sexy! You’re going to love playing in the dark! –M. Never author of the bestselling Decadence After Dark Series 


This book hit the spot in oh-so-many ways! Dark Room is a fun, sexy, twisty read that I devoured. It’s a sweet romance set in a sinful spot – the perfect read! –Adriana Locke, USA Today Best Selling author of Sacrifice

Seamless collaboration. Sexy, mysterious, empowering. The Dark Room is like Fight Club…only with sex. -Mandi Beck author of the Caged Love series

Heidi is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author.
Originally from the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in picturesque Vermont, with her husband and two daughters. Also renting space in their home is an over-hyper Beagle/Jack Russell, Buttercup and a Highland West/Mini Schnauzer, JiLL and her brother, Racicot.
When she’s isn’t writing one of the many stories planned for release, you’ll find her sitting court-side during either daughter’s basketball games.
Heidi’s first novel, Forever My Girl, will be in theaters on October 27, 2017, starring Alex Roe and Jessica Rothe.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author L. P. Dover is a southern belle living in North Carolina with her husband and two beautiful girls. Before she began her literary journey she worked in periodontics, enjoying the wonderment of dental surgeries.

She loves to write, but she also loves to play tennis, go on mountain hikes and white water rafting, and has a passion for singing. Her two youngest fans expect a concert each and every night before bedtime, usually Christmas carols.
Dover has written countless novels, including her Forever Fae series, the Second Chances series, the Gloves Off series, the Armed & Dangerous series, the Royal Shifters series, and her standalone novel Love, Lies, and Deception. Her favorite genre to read and write is romantic suspense, but if she got to choose a setting in which to live, it would be with her faeries in the Land of the Fae.

HOSTED BY:

New Release: Unfinished Business by Carina Adams

Title: Unfinished Business
Series: Bastards of Boston Novel 
Author: Carina Adams
Genre: MC Romance
Release Date: July 26, 2017

 

“5 Stars! Rocker and Cris slayed me! Totally shreaded my heart at times and then their snark had me snorting and laughing away my tears.” – Angela from Goodreads


“This book was PHENOMENAL!!! I could not put it down…” – Carrie from Goodreads


“I am speechless and my heart hurts. What an amazing story…” – Colleen from Goodreads

The Bastards of Boston live in a world most don’t understand. They follow their own rules, only accountable to each other, the innocents they protect, and the people they couldn’t save.

As president of the Bastards MC, Robert Doyle is the man behind it all. It’s his responsibility to keep his club safe, to be the smartest man in the room, and be ten steps ahead of everyone. He’d give everything he had, and sell his soul to the devil, to protect the ones he loves. 

Until Rocker comes face-to-face with the pain he thought he’d buried. Old wounds are ripped open. Revenge consumes him. Once again he’s the teenager desperate to avenge his daughter’s murder and nothing else matters.

He calls me his angel, but the halo I wear caught fire a long time ago. There is no line I won’t cross, no law I won’t break. I’ll do whatever it takes to save him. If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, I’ll happily burn.

When past and present collide, we’re in for one hell of a bumpy ride.


Unfinished Business © Carina Adams
Unedited and Subject to Change
I felt my eyes widen as I got my first good look. In my mind, she was still just a girl, short and straight, all gangly arms and awkward movements that come with being a young teen. Somewhere over the last few years, she’d grown up.
I hesitated, stunned. This woman was nothing but trouble; tall, athletic, and beautiful enough to make even me notice her. Her dark hair was longer than it had ever been, her face had thinned, making her cheekbones seem sharp, and her lips look puffy. For a split second, I stared into her artic blue eyes, completely blown away. If I hadn’t known better, I would’ve sworn there was relief in those depths.
Something I’d thought I’d lost stirred in my gut.
“Don’t touch me!” she sneered, trying to get free as I caught her and gripped her shoulders tightly. When she couldn’t break the hold, she glanced over my shoulder, her panic clear. “Where’s Matty?”
“Not here.”
“Let go!” She shoved at me again. “I need Matt, not you.”
“You’re in my clubhouse, little girl,” I growled, pushing away anything but the irritation that my stress-free night had gone to shit so quickly. “If you didn’t want to see me, you should have stayed in that cushy little apartment I pay out the ass for.”
Blue eyes narrowed as she tipped her head back and looked at me. Seeing my shiner, she raised an eyebrow, her nose wrinkled in disgust. “Someone finally gave you the beating you deserved? Sorry I wasn’t here for that.”
The strong scent of alcohol on her breath made me clench my fists. She winced as my fingers dug into her flesh, and it took every ounce of self-restraint I had to loosen my grip. I took a deep breath and tried to control my rage. “You’ve been drinking.” It wasn’t a question.
Her eyes narrowed in crystal-clear hatred as she jerked her head back. “Go to hell.”
“Already been there, Brat. Fought my way out. Explain to me why you’re here.”
“I told Tonka Truck,” —she sent Tank’s back a seething look—”I’m here for Matty. I meant it.” Her hands planted themselves on my chest. “Get the fuck away from me before I start to scream and these guys”—she leaned her head toward the table—”give you another black eye.”
I laughed humorlessly at that.
The stupid little girl was fucking clueless. She could scream all she wanted and not one of the brothers here would step in to help her. She wasn’t at some college frat party where a good Samaritan was waiting to rescue the pretty damsel in distress. Tank and I were the closest things in this room, and if we were the ones causing the scene, everyone else would sit back, drink and watch the show.
“Let’s go!” I snapped.
Cris shook her head. “I’m not leaving. Not without—”
“Now!” I yelled, cutting off her words.
Her jaw set. “Fuck off. I’m not leaving.”
Five years ago I’d had enough of her attitude and manipulation to last a lifetime—I definitely wasn’t ready to deal with it again. I refused to cause an even bigger scene with the drama queen in front of me, to risk the chance that someone would figure out she was worth something. Her brother could deal with her shit. I was done.
If Matt had been here, I would’ve stepped aside and let him handle her. Since he was home studying, she was my responsibility. Fucking bullshit best friend code. But I knew he’d do it for me.
So, I did the only thing I could. I grabbed her, threw her over my shoulder, and strode out of the clubhouse.
When fists started pounding into my lower back, and she started demanding I put her down, my hand itched with the need to spank the jean-covered ass on my shoulder. As we made our way outside, I hoped the anger and hatred coursing through my veins was clear on my face. If any patched member stepped in, I’d have no place to argue—I wasn’t their equal yet; I was still a guest in their club.
A few brothers nodded my way, amusement clear, as I headed for the door, but no one tried to stop me. Thank Jesus. I wasn’t sure what I would’ve done if they had. Probably something dangerous to my health and definitely something stupid.
Once the brat realized that she couldn’t fight her way down, she did the only thing an immature child like her would—she tried to pants me. I knew when she was quiet for a moment too long that she was up to something. I thought she was going to give it one final push and try to break free, but when her hands moved to my back pockets and she gave the denim one solid shove , I almost laughed.
Instead, I yanked on my waistband, barely keeping it around my hips, and gave her thigh a warning squeeze with my free hand. The whole city could see my blue Fruit of the Looms, and I still wouldn’t put her down until I’d safely deposited her ass in my truck.
When she gave them another push, I snapped. “Cut the shit, Cris.”
“Fuck off.”
Such a polite and sweet little girl my best friend’s baby sister was.
An avid reader who loves epic and unconventional romance, Carina has an unhealthy obsession with Jason Statham, loves the sounds of Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson, is the crazy friend your mom warned you about, and believes one day she will go through the stones to meet Jamie Fraser. 


Carina has been writing and creating characters for as long as she can remember, allowing her to fall in love with the next man of her dreams with every new story.

None of which are anything like boring Prince Charming.

Thankfully, fate stepped in and granted her the ultimate wish – a life full of men. Carina lives in a picturesque New England town with her husband, the man who ruined the thought of all others, and two amazing sons who always keep her on her toes.


HOSTED BY:

New Release: Heartbreak Highway: Where to From Here by Harper Whitmore 

Title: Heartbreak Highway: Where to From Here  – Box Set 2
Author: Harper Whitmore
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Release Date: July 13, 2017


 

As Missy stood on the pier at Huntington Beach, looking out over the ocean she never dreamed of seeing, and an uncertain future, she watched one of the two men she loved walk out of her life.
“Where to From Here?” was all she could think.
Would she live to love like Marshall and Eva, or was this the end of her Heartbreak Highway?

 

Romantic books, movies, music, and people who love life, feed my soul and inspire me to create the characters in my books that I’d love to meet in my life. And when I’m not writing, I like to hit the gym, the beach, and travel to the many beautiful places that are in an abundance in this wonderful world we live.

 


HOSTED BY:

New Release: Claiming Her Innocence by Vivian Wood

 
 

 

Title: Claiming Her Innocence 
Author: Vivian Wood 
Genre: Romance

 

 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
From Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestseller Vivian Wood
 
He’s gonna make sure he’s her first.
 
Ryan Scott is big, bad, and he has a body made for sin. When he leaves the SEALs and heads home to D.C., the first person he wants to see is his best friend, Poppy Baker. Just to be around her, of course… nothing funny. Their friendship isn’t like that.
 
Except… one look at the beautiful blonde and he starts to question how he never thought of her as more than just a friend before. Ryan likes to imagine how it could be more. It doesn’t hurt anyone if it’s just in his head.
 
When Poppy starts to give him that look — the seductive eyes, the pouty lips, the head cocked just so — he can’t help but imagine bending her over and taking her right there. How her eyes would close, her breasts would bounce, and the noises she would make…
 
Ryan has to get his act together, because that’s his best friend he’s thinking about. They have a long history together and he can’t lose her friendship. He won’t risk it.
 
But once Ryan has a taste of Poppy, she’s all he can think about. She’s a walking, talking fantasy… and she’s only a hair breadth away… One wrong move could take what he values most.
 

 

 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 

Vivian likes to write about troubled, deeply flawed alpha males and the fiery, kick-ass women who bring them to their knees.


Vivian’s lasting motto in romance is a quote from a favorite song: “Soulmates never die.”


Be sure to follow Vivian through her Vivian’s Vixens mailing list or Facebook group to keep up with all the awesome giveaways, author videos, ARC opportunities, and more!


 
 
 

 

 

Release Day Blitz – A Losing Battle by Annie Stone

 

 

 

 

Hunter has left home to join the Marine Corps, leaving Mackenzie behind, confused and unsure about her feelings. She loves Carter, she really, really does, but could there be a spark between her and Hunter, as well?

Mackenzie does the only thing she can in the circumstances: she buries her conflicting emotions in her work. But when she sees Hunter again, she knows the time for a decision has come.

Little does she know, time is running out for the both of them.

 

 

 

I’m a contemporary romance writer, who likes her men tattooed, her women independent and her coffee strong.

My stories are all about love, but some are of the romantic kind, some of the sad kind and others of the very steamy kind. So if you can stand drama, foul language and sex, you came to the right place.

Love, Annie

 

Author Links

 

 

New Release: Bang ( Club Deep #3) by Penny Wylder

 

Title: Bang ( Club Deep #3) 
Author: Penny Wylder
Genre: Romance 
 
 
 
 
 
Club Deep is my new addiction.

If you combine my dry spell in the dating world with a cute guy name dropping a place I’ve never heard of, you’ll discover all the pieces that led to me wandering into a wild place like Club Deep.
It blows my mind that a perverted world like this exists.
It’s even crazier that… after spending some time here… I kind of love it.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the cute guy I met—Hudson—is one of the owners. He gives me a tour; it isn’t a very professional one… but I don’t mind one bit.
What I do mind is how interested he is in my real life. If gets to know me outside the club, he’ll discover how different I am when I’m not being tied to a wall, shivering in ecstasy.
I’m… boring.
Ask my family, they’ll agree—and they never agree with me.
The only good thing in my life is Hudson and Club Deep. If he sees the real me… I’ll lose everything.
So I have to keep my distance. I have to separate my dirty fun from my drab life.
And I think I can do it.
Until Hudson knocks on my front door and changes everything.

Don’t miss out! Bang also contains an EXCLUSIVE bonus novella, the Billionaire’s Revenge!
Bang is part of the Club Deep series– all standalone novellas, all set in the filthiest, most taboo place around. Feeling daring? Then come on in… P.S. Like my other books, these contain NO cheating, tons of heart throbbing heat, and the best kind of happily ever afters around.
 
 
 
 

 

 
Penny Wylder writes just that– wild romances. Happily Ever Afters are always better when they’re a little dirty, so if you’re looking for a page turner that will make you feel naughty in all the right places, jump right in and leave your panties at the door!

 

 
 
 

 

 

 
 
 
 

New Release: Railroaded: Part 1 by TR Bell 


Title: Railroaded: Part 1
Author: T.R. Bell
Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance
Release Date: July 18, 2017 

Chicago, a sprawling and diverse city known for its rich history. It compels intrigue, mystery, and unthinkable possibilities.

Damon Bowers, a self-righteous bachelor, who has it all-money, power, friends, and good looks. After losing a bet between his buddies, they plan the ultimate debt for him.

Can he fulfill the obligation?

Nicki Matthews, an independent, young, attractive intern with a heart of gold who aspires to help others. Her friends take her for an early birthday dinner, when she’s abruptly thrown into this unimaginable act of Damon Bowers.

Two worlds collide on a single moment changing lives forever, but can they avoid the pitfalls of what lies ahead?

Living in the bustle of the Windy City, I have at my disposal the scenery for inspiration. Though born and raised in the very heart of this great country, Kansas City will always be my home. 
I’m on this great adventure to open your hidden desires. I’ve read many wonderful novels that continue to inspire me each and every day. 
If you cannot find me typing diligently at my laptop, then you’ll see me roaming the streets of Chicago. Who knows, I may be the person strutting behind you.

 

HOSTED BY:

New Release: Hard Love by Joanne Schwhem

Title: Unexpected Love
Series: Love Stings Series
Author: Evan Grace
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: July 18, 2017
Publisher: Limitless Publishing
It was supposed to be a one-time thing. Just one night. No attachments, no strings, and no expectations. Little did Chloe know it would change her life forever.

In hindsight, that night with Joe never should have happened. But it did.

He was one mistake she never should have made. But she did.

Now Chloe is in way too deep, stuck in a very complicated situation which seems impossible to get out of.

Too bad she can’t change the past. If she could do it all over again, she wouldn’t be so reckless, so weak. She wouldn’t succumb to temptation so easily…

Or would she?
“For some reason this book just got to me on such a deeper level than some in awhile. I will tell you to read Evan Grace’s book!!! Every single one of them.”(Tina Morgan from Sassy Southern Book Blog)
“The author made me fall in love with Joe & Chloe so many times over. Even if I wanted to throw my kindle at Joe a time or two.” (Diane Plourde with TDC Book Reviews)
“This author knows how to bring me to my knees. Have some tissues (or wine or chocolate) handy to get through some of the devastating sad parts, you’ll be so glad you stuck it out.” (Violin vixen from Violin Vixen Reviews)
“I have every book in The Love Stings Series by Evan Grace and book 4 is now my favourite.” (Sharon Jones from Evan Grace Review Team)

 

A Midwesterner and self-proclaimed nerd, Evan has been an avid reader most of her life, but five years ago got bit by the writing bug, and it quickly became her addiction, passion and therapy. When the voices in her head give it a rest, she can always be found with her e-reader in her hand. Some of her favorites include, Shayla Black, Jaci Burton, Madeline Sheehan and Jamie Mcguire. Evan finds a lot of her inspiration in music, so if you see her wearing her headphones you know she means business and is in the zone.


HOSTED BY:

Chapter Reveal – A Losing Battle by Annie Stone

 

 

Hunter has left home to join the Marine Corps, leaving Mackenzie behind, confused and unsure about her feelings. She loves Carter, she really, really does, but could there be a spark between her and Hunter, as well?

Mackenzie does the only thing she can in the circumstances: she buries her conflicting emotions in her work. But when she sees Hunter again, she knows the time for a decision has come.

Little does she know, time is running out for the both of them.
Coming July 24th

 

 

 
Hunter

When we get out off the bus at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, we’re told to step onto the yellow footprints, our first formation for close-order drill. They used the bus ride to give us a first impression of our new life as Marines. To sum it up: nothing here is even remotely gentle or pleasant.
We’re allowed to call home and inform our next of kin that we’ve arrived safely. But, obviously, I don’t. I can’t risk Mac picking up. Hearing her voice would kill me. What if she sounded sad? I’d be on my way home in an instant—but that would make me a deserter. And what if she sounded happy? My heart would turn to dust.
After people have made their calls, we’re given uniforms and a “high and tight”—that hot Marine-style haircut. I already wear my hair short, but after they’re done, I’m practically bald.
That first day, we have to fill in forms, then we get some vaccines and undergo medical examinations. And then? They give us our first weapon.
For three days, we’re up and running without any sleep whatsoever. After that, we have to take the IST—the initial strength test—to see whether we’re fit to be Marines.
First, we’re required to do sit-ups—at least forty-five in two minutes. I’m glad I’m in good shape, thanks to football—and Shane. While it’s happening, I don’t really have time to see how the others do, but I do notice some of them giving up. So far, I haven’t really talked to anyone. But after three days without sleep, expecting anyone to get anything done is pretty much a miracle.
Next, we do pull-ups. We have to do three, which seems laughable. I can do way more, but no need to show them. After that, we have to complete a one-and-a-half mile run in less than thirteen and a half minutes. Not a problem. Even when groggy and sleep deprived. But this is how they separate the wheat from the chaff. I would be embarrassed to be failing already, but some of these guys really do not measure up to what’s expected of a Marine.
I’ve never been so exhausted in my life. You know when you’re dead tired, but then you keep going and get beyond that point? No? I don’t either. I’d fall asleep standing up if they’d let me. But there isn’t a quiet minute to be had. The only good thing about all this? There’s no time to think.
I reach my limits on “Black Friday.” We meet our drill instructor, who yells at us and intimidates us, pushing our psychological limits. Shane told me about this—including the fact that they make the initial stage of boot camp as confusing and disorienting as possible to let us know that civilian life is over for us, and life as a Marine is something completely different.
But it’s tough. In my family, there’s never been a lot of yelling. Dad probably yelled at me for the first time in five years just last week. And suddenly there’s this guy yelling directly into your ear, not giving you an ounce of the respect you’re used to, the respect your father always said you deserved. Your initial impulse is not to stand there and take it. Growing up in liberal California has made it difficult to take that kind of abuse. But I do anyway. I know they want total obedience so that we can function in extreme situations, and this is what I want.
But that was only the Receiving Phase.
As soon as we enter Phase One, I’ll want to go back to the first part of our training—or to any other part of my life, for that matter. Phase One will take four weeks, and they’ll break us down psychologically, trying to expel every last ounce of civilian behavior from our bones. Because we are no longer civilians. We are Marine recruits. Everything we’ve done in our lives thus far is wrong and bad for us if we want to be proper soldiers.
Strict discipline, endless training, and the same routines over and over again—these are the building blocks of our first few weeks. Training is easy for me. Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but I knew it was going to be bad. I’ve been preparing myself for this, which makes it easier. I can take it. But what I really hate is all the stuff they do to rob us of our individuality. Your entire life people have been telling you to choose your own path and stop being like a sheep following the herd, and suddenly it’s the exact opposite they want from you.
We’re not supposed to be individuals. We’re supposed to be a team. And it makes sense. We need to be able to rely on each other. In combat, we can’t be successful if we’re not a cohesive unit, but it’s still tough. We’re only allowed to talk about ourselves in the third person, saying things like “This recruit understands” and stuff. Everything inside me rebels against it, but I know that’s part of it all.
At night, I lie awake trying not to think about Mac. She is my strength and my greatest weakness at the same time. I want to make her proud, show her what kind of a man I am. But thinking of her also opens up wounds inside me. It’s hard to love and not be loved back.
On the other hand, intense physical and mental exhaustion makes it impossible to give too much thought to anything. It may sound strange, but I embrace the rigidity. I don’t want to think about all the things that are going wrong in my life, and instead focus on surviving this. And it’s like the drill sergeants know it. They make sure that if they ever give us a free moment, all we want to do is sleep.
We learn about the history of the Marines, the rank structure, first aid. We study formations and uniforms. We learn how to handle our weapon, clean it, and always have it with us. We start our close-combat training. Without weapons, with repurposed weapons, and with our rifle, which is going to accompany us throughout boot camp.
We don’t talk much. Usually we’re half dead when they stop yelling in our ears. But the first friendships develop somehow. Killian Hastings is my bed neighbor. Cool guy. A natural-born soldier, a natural-born Marine. He passes every exam like he was made to do this. If he wasn’t cool, I would hate him. But he’s a team player, always thinking about others first. He is not a leader and never will be, but he is the glue you need to build a team.
Joey Montana is the second comrade I would call a friend. He’s a joker, always up for some banter. And let me tell you, I need it—especially in the third week when we start our swimming and water survival training. The pressure is getting worse. Because this is the first time they can kick us out of boot camp. Fail twice, and you can forget about being a Marine.
It’s enough to drives you to despair. But we don’t have time for that, either. We are not supposed to think, and our superiors take that idea seriously. And they’re really good at it.
Our training gets harder by the day. The stronger we get, the more they expect from us. The more our bodies get used to the strain, the tougher it gets. We’re made to repeat everything, in order to engrain it into our brains and make it muscle memory—so that we’re able to do every exercise in our sleep. It’s tiring. But nobody ever said boot camp was going to be easy.
It does help against heartbreak, though. The harder I work, the less I think of Mac, simply because my brain’s capacity is insufficient to deal with anything beyond survival.
And then there’s the part of Phase One I dread the most. The gas chamber. I don’t want to go in. But we have to. If we leave it, they send us back in. If we don’t obey, they kick us out of boot camp.
I’m standing there with my gas mask doing calisthenics when they tell us to take off our masks. I take it off and feel panic trying to conquer my insides. I can’t do this is the only thought in my head. I can’t do this, but I have no choice. I can’t give up because I wouldn’t know what else to do. I can’t go back home, back to that situation. That might make me a coward, but the thought of it just rips my heart out. Every time Dad kisses her, I want to grab her from his arms and punch him in the face because he’s kissing my girl. But I don’t think the caveman method would sit too well with him.
No, I need to stick to this. It’s all I have.
There comes the command to put our masks back on.
It’s over. My panic recedes.
The threat of Mac has saved me, even if I wish I could entertain more positive thoughts of her.
Before we go to bed, we get one hour of square-away time. It’s not every night, only when our DI says so. We have to make sure our gear is up to scratch, and while we’re not allowed to shower or sleep, we’re allowed to shave, which feels good. We’re also allowed to read and write letters. I keep getting letters from Carey, but I don’t read them, and I don’t write back. I just can’t. It makes me too sad. I feel horrible about leaving him. The only thing that makes me feel a little better is the idea that I’ve left him with Mac.
“Hey, man,” Joey says, sitting down beside me. “There’s this girl I like. She wrote to me, and I want to write back, but all I can think of is the fact that I want to stick my dick inside her.”
I smile.
“Something makes me think that wouldn’t be such a good idea,” he says. “Can you help me out?”
“It depends where you are in your relationship. Have you ever had your dick inside her?” I ask.
He smiles. “Everywhere.”
Across the room, Killian laughs. “I don’t believe you. If you’d actually been inside her ass, you’d know what to write to her.”
“A sonnet to her juicy ass?” Joey asks, laughing.
“Thinking of her juicy ass, I can survive the harshest gas,” Killian says with mock severity.
“Oh man, that was horrible,” I laugh, wiping tears from my eyes.
“When I see her juicy ass, I want her to blow my brass,” somebody else quips.
“Dude, I lose my fucking wits, sucking on her awesome tits,” yells another bard from the other side of the dorm. I laugh because it just feels good to be young and stupid for a change.
“Let me be blunt, I’d fuck her cunt.”
“She sucks my dick, it’s hard as a brick.”
“Good thing none of you have to make a living as a poet,” Joey says. “I actually like her, okay?”
“Hey, man, there’s no need to wallow. She might like you too—does she swallow?”
“Well, if she doesn’t suck it up, you can serve it to her in a cup.”
We laugh and laugh until we hear: “What exactly is there to laugh about, recruits? Free time’s over. A hundred and twenty seconds to get showered. Go!”
A hundred and twenty seconds isn’t that long, but you learn really quickly to only wash the important parts. Normally, this would include my dick—just in case it gets sucked—but there’s nobody here I would want on the job. And besides, I kind of swore an oath I would only ever let Mac do it.
Fuck. I really didn’t think that promise through.
Overall, it gets easier. A person can get used to anything. The tough training becomes second nature, and it gets easier to adjust to the whole drill. Phase Two is mainly weapons training. We’re sent to Edson Range, at Pendleton, for three weeks, where we practice marksmanship. We have to pass several exams, but they prepare us well. And let’s face it. We’ve been through worse. Still, when we get our first badges for marksmanship, it feels good to have achieved something tangible, to get to tick some boxes.
I don’t know whether it’s because we’re going through the same experience, or maybe you just get used to each other more easily in times of crisis, but Killian and Joey become like brothers to me. I don’t want to put Carey down, but I would entrust my life to them before him.
It also quickly becomes clear why the buddy system is such a hit. It is much easier to make it through difficult situations when you have moral support. We cheer and egg each other on—whenever we’re not too tired to open our mouths. Without my two buddies, this would be much harder.
Killian is from Texas and looks like an all-American boy. Normally. There’s hardly anything left of his blond hair, but his blue eyes still shine, even at the ends of the toughest days. He’s tall, not as tall as me, but then again, few are. He has a sunny disposition, and nothing can faze him. He’s always cool, never reacts to people teasing him. Not that a lot of them would try. I guess with his looks, you’re predestined to be respected.
Joey, on the other hand, is small. Sometimes I wonder aloud how he passed the minimum height and weight requirements—but only to tease him. He’s not actually that small, and he has endless strength and endurance. Where Killian and I have trouble with our height, Joey always gets through. Not that I’m jealous or anything.
At the end of our marksmanship training, the platoons compete with each other, and we win, breaking out into enthusiastic cheers. This really lifts morale on our team, and it also earns us a bonus. We’re allowed to make phone calls. A privilege I don’t use…
Still, the next week feels like we’re on break. They take our measurements for our gala uniforms, and any medical conditions are treated. It’s only four weeks left. Then we’re done. The goal during our final phase is to put everything we’ve learned together and polish our initial skill set. This includes an exam and a performance test that I pass with flying colors.
I’m stronger than I was a few weeks ago, not just physically, but mentally, too. I no longer have any doubt: I know what my life is going to look like, and I have accepted it. Physically, I’m somewhat wider, having built up more muscle. And it’s made me feel more at home inside my body. Often, when you’re tall, you subconsciously hunch down in order not to stand out. And even though I’ve always been relatively confident, I’ve always had to bend down to communicate with other people. Which messed with my posture. And, in psychological terms, it does the same to you as walking through life with a bent back.
But now? Now I have a completely different outlook.
Boot camp has given me a new confidence, the type of confidence you can only gain knowing that you’ll be able to defend yourself in any situation you’ll ever face—be it with words, weapons, or your own bare hands.
At the end of boot camp, we’re divided into groups to do a final exam lasting two days. It’s a combat simulation testing us in different stress situations, including sleep and food deprivation, and danger to your body and your life.
It is difficult, but it’s surprising how you can turn into a completely different person in such a short period of time. Twelve weeks ago, I would never have believed I could do this. Now, it seems like I was born to do it, like I’ve never done anything else in my life. And it feels good. It shows what I’ve achieved, what I can achieve if I make up my mind. A lot of it is physical, but it is the mental strength I’ve gained that really surprises me.
After twelve weeks, we’re done. Finally, I want to say. But that’s not how I feel.
Now it feels like I’m leaving my family all over again. It’s not a good feeling.
Joey wants to join the infantry, while Killian and I are going to do twenty-nine days of Marine Combat Training before joining the Marine Combatant Divers. At least it’s good to know I don’t have to leave everybody behind again.
After graduation, we’ll get ten days off. Killian has invited me to Texas, and I’ve decided to accept because I still can’t imagine going home. And I have nowhere else to go.

Everybody is desperate for our graduation ceremony. Not just because it means we’ve made it, but because they’re proud. They want to show their loved ones what they’ve achieved. Personally, I don’t care about that part of it, but I haven’t told the others that when I’m done here, I won’t have anybody waiting to congratulate for me.
At the ceremony, we stand in formation to listen to the final talk, the finish to this chapter of our training. As Marines. All around me, my comrades are hugging their mothers, sisters, and girlfriends. All around me, there is love.
But I’m all alone.
“Hey, soldier!” I hear the voice behind me but don’t turn.
For a moment, I stay completely still, certain I’m hallucinating. Finally, I turn around.
And there’s Mac, standing in front of me in a summer dress. She is so beautiful my breath stops for a moment.
“Marine,” I say softly.
She smiles. “Hey, Marine.”
She comes closer, somewhat unsure about how to act, before throwing herself around my neck. I hug her back, pick her up, and squeeze her really tight.
“I’m so proud of you,” she whispers in my ear.
Fuck, hearing that from her really turns me on!
When, after half an eternity, I put her back down, I look into her teary eyes. “How did you know?”
She shrugs. “I’m stalking you.”
I smile. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything more beautiful in my life. “Oh, really?”
“I knew you wouldn’t tell me, but I wanted you to know how incredibly proud of you I am. I knew you’d make it.”
Right now, I feel ten feet tall instead of six. No, wait! I’m not even mortal. I’m a god!
My girl is proud of me. Is there anything in the world better than that?
“Carey’s here, too,” she says.
I look around and see him standing a little off to the side. He looks insecure, like he doesn’t know whether he’s welcome here. I hate myself for making my brother question whether I care about him. I run over to him and pull him into my arms.
“I’ve missed you, bro,” I say quietly, patting him on the back
“You never wrote back,” he says, his fingers clawing into my uniform like he never wants to let me go again.
“I’m sorry. I couldn’t. I always wanted to, but I couldn’t. It would have broken my focus.”
Carey nods. “I thought…”
“I’m sorry, man. I always want you in my life. You’re my brother. The only family I’ve got.”
“You’ve got Mac, too,” he says quietly, and I look over at her. She’s standing a few steps away, her cheeks shiny, looking at us but giving us privacy.
I nod. “I’ve got Mac, too, but not like I want her.” Oops. That just came out. I wasn’t planning to tell Carey.
But he says, “I know.”
I give him a surprised look. “You do?”
“I’m not blind. Your goodbye kiss was pretty obvious,” he says. “And I’m not deaf, either. Dad and Mac fight about you all the time.”
“That bad?”
He shrugs just as Mac steps closer. “Is everything okay, boys?”
I nod, putting my arm around her shoulders to pull her close again. I plant a kiss on her head.
“Hey, Tilman!” Joey calls, coming toward us.
“Hands off,” I joke before I introduce him. He kisses Mac’s hand and smiles at Carey.
“My parents want to go grab a bite to eat. They wanted to invite my friends. You coming?”
I look at Mac and Carey.
“They can come,” Joey says quickly.
Mac shakes her head. “Thanks, that’s really sweet, but I need to go.” She avoids my eye, and I know she’s thinking about Dad.
I make an effort to hide my disappointment as I tell Joey, “Carey and I’ll be there in a second.”
“I’m sorry,” Mac whispers.
“It’s okay,” I say, even though nothing is okay. In that moment, I realize—no, remember—that she’s never going to leave Dad for me.
This needs to stop. Otherwise I will not survive it.
“How long do you get off?” she asks.
“Ten days.”
“Are you coming home?”
“Home. Nice word, but I no longer have one,” I say, shocked at the bitterness in my own voice.
She nods, tears running down her cheeks. “I—”
“Let it go, Mac. Let it go.”
She quickly presses herself against me and runs away without turning around again. I look after her.
“Hunt…”
“She’s never going to leave him, is she?”
Carey shrugs. “No idea, man. But I wouldn’t wait for it.”

 

I’m a contemporary romance writer, who likes her men tattooed, her women independent and her coffee strong.

My stories are all about love, but some are of the romantic kind, some of the sad kind and others of the very steamy kind. So if you can stand drama, foul language and sex, you came to the right place.

Love, Annie

 

Author Links